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12th-Mar-2004 11:28 pm - Lo's Diary by Pia Pera
Book: Lo's Diary
Author: Pia Pera
Reader rating: 4 (out of 5)

Lo's Diary is Lolita (Delores Haze's) side of the events that Humbert Humbert told in Lolita. Once again, John Ray is presented with a manuscript this time from the hands of the famed nymphet herself.

She tells Mr. Ray that some of the details of Lolita were just over-romanticized lies thought up by Humbert, but then she sort of recants and decides that maybe Humbert was so deluded he really thought those things happened. So, we learn the "true" story of what happened starting with Lolita's diary a few months before Humbert Humbert entered the picture.

I really, really disliked Humbert Humbert while reading Lolita, and I don't think I was supposed to like him. This book was quite a jewel since Lolita's assessment of Humbert coincides with they way I felt he really was in Lolita, a bumbling fool.

This wasn't written in the same style as Nabokov's Lolita. This is quite a bit more down-to-earth. You don't have to go through pages and pages of description about one minute detail. Lo just tells it like it is. Sometimes, Lolita seems a little too mature for her age, and sometimes she seems a little childish, just as she's presented in Lolita, though. I thought it was an amusing read.
7th-Mar-2004 02:12 am - Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Book: Lolita
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Reading Rating: 3½ (out of 5)

A note to myself: Never believe the hype again. This is the story of Humbert Humbert, a former French citizen who is captivated by special, young girls who ooze in sexuality, whom he describes as "nymphets". He becomes a tenant of a widowed woman Mrs. Haze after he becomes enchanted by her twelve-year-old daughter Delores whom he calls Lolita.

I felt this book was overhyped and this particular edition contained a lot of spoilerish notes. I stopped reading this for a while and picked it up again, read it in its entirety without looking at the notes, which is the best thing to do if you haven't read the book (or seen the movie) and want to experience it as a new thing and not be spoiled.

Admitedly, this is very lyrical (to the point of making a reader crazy at certain points) and tragic even. I really hated Humbert Humbert. He tried to romanticized his need to violate Lolita (which if he would have done had she been an angel), and I know that Lolita wasn't the picture of virginal perfection, but still I was appalled by Humbert.

When I read this book I have to ask myself what was Nabokov trying to say? Was he trying to say that pedophilia was okay, to take heed to "nymphets"? Was he trying to teach a moral lesson? Was he trying to make us feel sorry for Humbert, for Lolita? Was he trying to say that just because innocence is expected that we're really jaded?

This was a good book, but I was expecting better considering all the nonstop praise I have heard for this book. I wouldn't rant and rave on it like so many others, but it is an interesting, haunting read.
4th-Mar-2004 01:53 am - Demon Within by Dana Reed
Book: Demon Within
Author: Dana Reed
Reader Rating: 1 (out of 5)

Young women are dying in very gruesome deaths in an apartment complex, and one of the tenants feels that she is somehow involved that because of her past she has made this monster come to hurt the women of her building. I really can't say too much more about this book without giving away too much of the plot.

This book was horrible. It was so bad that I had to find out what happened to the characters. The heroine annoyed me to no end, but I had to find out what was going to happen to her. It didn't help that 100 pages into the book I already knew who the killer was and why it was happening.

I had to read it for myself just to see if I was right. I will give Ms. Reed points for trying to make something new and interesting, but she failed to get me to care about the characters, and despite having a plot that could have been superb, it was weakly executed. She could have really had a winner with this one.
8th-Feb-2004 04:45 pm - Trauma by Graham Masterton
Book: Trauma
Author: Graham Masterton
Reader Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Bonnie Winters runs a crime scene clean-up service, meaning she goes in and clean up places where violent scenes have taken place. She also works as a cosmetics lady when she's not cleaning crime scenes, just to remind herself that she's something other than a mother/wife/cleaning lady. Bonnie works as the sole supporter of her family since her husband lost his job, which he blames on the Mexicans as a whole, and her son is just a teenager going through a difficult time.

I really liked how they didn't clue you in much on Bonnie. Bits and pieces of her life is shown through her interactions. One minute you're reading about a particularly gruesome crime scene, and the next you're reading about what she's cooking for dinner. I like this because it seems that the author is trying to show you some kind of normalcy in Bonnie's life.

This book turned out a lot different than I expected. I never saw that plot twist toward the end coming. Well, I did gradually, but in the beginning, it's not something you expect to happen. Everything so matter-of-fact in the book that I just didn't expect that at first. It could have been considered a deus ex machina if it hadn't been for the fact that there were subtle clues about what was happening.

There are a few editing problems in the book, but overall, it's a really good read.
6th-Feb-2004 05:59 pm - Primal Fear by William Diehl
Book: Primal Fear
Author: William Diehl
Reader Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Aaron Stampler is found in a confessional booth holding a knife, proclaiming his innocence, after someone killed the revered Bishop of the city. Martin Vail, a quick-witted lawyer who isn't afraid to leap before he looks, is basically coerced into defending the young man who appears guilty in every sense of the word. Every politician in the city seems to have a vendetta against Vail and looks foward to seeing him lose the case.

Liked the movie. Loved the book. As with most book-to-movie adaptations, the book was better. Unlike his movie persona, Vail isn't cool, well-dressed sauveness that Richard Gere presented. The Vail in the book is a man who isn't overly concerned about his personal appearance, and he isn't afraid to grab at straws, and he makes lawyers tremble just at the mention of his name.

The book also provided more insight on Aaron. You get a taste of his childhood and find out more about what molded him. In the book, Aaron is a genius, despite the accent and his angelic appearance. His childhood wasn't the best thing, and he's even described as being able to detach himself from tragedies. Is that enough to make him a killer? Is he mentally stable?

I'm sure by now, most people have heard about the twist, but that doesn't take the impact away from reading it for yourself. I read the "twist" over and over again, even though I've seen the movie and knew what to expect. A first-rate legal thriller. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Book: Belladonna: A Novel of Revenge
Author: Karen Moline
Reader Rating: 4½ (out of 5)

Isabella Ariel Nickerson is kidnapped and auctioned for 1 million pounds in 1930s England. She finds herself the unwilling play thing of a club of men who get their kicks out of forcing sexual tortures on women. Isabella is actually purchased by a man she knows only as "His Lordship", a man she will dedicate the rest of her life to finding and destroying once she escapes her hell.

The story is narrated by a man named Tomasino, one of the few men that Belladonna truly trusts (along with his twin Matteo). They were castrated in the war, and therefore, Belladonna doesn't see them as a threat. Belladonna finds herself the heir of a large fortune, and she dedicates her money and time to Club Belladonna, a popular club, where she hopes to lure one of the members into her club. One member is all it will take to find the rest.

I went into this expecting that I wouldn't like it, and honestly, the very beginning, the chapter before the actual story of Belladonna begins, was quite dull. It had that same rambling, verbose, tedious style as Middlesex did in the beginning, which sort of throws me off for a second because I like to get immediately sucked into a book. After that first chapter though, I was thorougly engrossed with Belladonna's story.

Tomasino is a witty narrator. He loves to talk. He loves to gloat. He loves to be right. Honestly, I'm glad he was the one telling the story. It gives it a flair that I think would be missing if Belladonna, or even his brother Matteo, told the story. Belladonna's diary is also scattered throughout the book; the diary she kept while she was imprisoned. The diary format was an interesting one as well, as it was written in third person rather than first.

I think the concept of revenge appealed to me, as it would many people. How many people get the chance to get their revenge against someone who wrongs them? Many of us have wanted to, but we've never had the satisfaction of doing so. Sure, Belladonna's methods seem a little out there, but wouldn't we all go to great lengths, if we could, to get payback? You can't help but root for Belladonna.

So, while this book seems a little extreme, it is a good novel. I wasn't too satisfied with the ending. It seemed a little rushed, a real let down to the climatic events that were taking place before it. Still well worth the read.
31st-Jan-2004 04:48 am - The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Book: The Princess Diaries
Author: Meg Cabot
Reader Rating: 3½ (out of 5)

Young adult book. Mia Thermopolis is a ninth grader living in Greenwich village. She thinks that her life is pretty normal -- despite the fact that her mom is famous and her dad is rich. She still struggles with school, hangs out with her friends, lusts after boys.

Then she finds out that her dad is really a prince who's unable to have anymore children, making her a princess and the sole heir to the throne. Most girls would be thrilled to hear that news, but Mia isn't happy about it at all. She figures life is already hard enough without adding princess duties to the mix.

I saw the movie first and thought I would give the book a try. It wasn't a bad book. It was cute, funny, and lighthearted. This is the kind of book that takes your mind away from your troubles. Despite the fantastical element of Mia being a princess, Cabot manages to catch teenage life pretty well. She even knows what "cool" words to use and how to use them.

You find yourself rolling your eyes, laughing, and snorting at things that happen in the book, and that's the fun part of it. You react to the situations presented. All-in-all, this was a cute book. There were some things that irked me, but, overall, I enjoyed it.
31st-Jan-2004 04:35 am - Short Straw Bride by Dallas Schulze
Book: Short Straw Bride
Author: Dallas Schulze
Reader Rating: 3 (out of 5)

Harlequin (Historical) romance. When Daniel McClain (Luke's younger brother) decides they need a woman's touch around the house, Daniel and Luke pull straws to see who's going to get a bride. Luke pulled the short straw. Then, Luke starts the search for the "perfect" bride by attending church. There he meets Eleanor who isn't a beauty, by her own perception of course, but she's just what Luke is looking for.

Eleanor is living with aunt, uncle, and her snooty, beautiful cousin, and she's more than glad to get out the house when Luke comes a'calling. Think Cinderella. When she finds out that she's a short-straw bride, well, things aren't too pretty after that.

I rarely read romance books these days. That's a phase that I've moved beyond in my life. I didn't even know this was a Harlequin book until I was looking up the ASIN at Amazon.com. It doesn't read like your typical Harlequin book, and my edition has no indication on the cover that it is a Harlequin romance.

This wasn't a bad book. Like most romance that's written these days, there wasn't a lot of substance to it, but it was sweet and very cute. It's something to read on a boring day or if you're looking for something that's not too "deep".
Book: Selected Poems of Walt Whitman
Author: Walt Whitman
Reader Rating: 2 (out of 5)

A selection of poetry from Leaves of Grass. Really, there isn't a lot I can say for this book. I haven't been exposed to a lot of Whitman's poetry. I'm not exactly sure why, so I thought this would be a nice chance for me to get a little acquainted with his style.

I tried really hard to like the guy and failed. I found the subjects of Whitman's poems interesting, but his style isn't engaging to me. I think I really only enjoyed a couple of poems from this book, but I guess this is a must for any Whitman enthusiast.
29th-Jan-2004 02:00 am - She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Book: She's Come Undone
Author: Wally Lamb
Reader Rating: 4½ (out of 5)

I'm not sure what I can say about this book without giving away too much of the plot. Everything I want to say seems like a potential spoiler, but I'll try.

Delores Price spends the early part of childhood in a sort of childish bliss. She somewhat oblivious to the problems her parents are having. It only matters that they're somewhat well-off. Then, Delores's parents divorce and she spends the next few years of her life sitting in front of the television and eating junk food to combat her problems.

Delores is like any other teen. She just wants to be accepted and liked. She admires movie stars, she likes music and guys, but she's not accepted because she's fat. Kids at school bully her (and that's the least of her worries), but instead of fighting back, she retreats into a world of overeating and the television.

I heard some people say that Lamb can't write women. I beg to differ. He wrote women exceptionally well in my opinion. Books rarely make me cry, but this one caused me to tear up quite a few times. Delores emotions, her failures, her successes were so true, so believable, as you follow Delores through tragedy after tragedy.
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