Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Salon: A Bouquet of Mini-Reviews

All the issues that Blogger had this week took the wind out of my blogging sails.  I have so many books to talk about, but I'm not so interested in pouring my thoughts into to a randomly flushing toilet.  I think I'm over it now, however, and thought it might be a good time to do some mini-reviews.  There are some books that I've read this year and just don't have a lot to say about, for whatever reason, but I still want to mention them.  Sounds like much more fun than cleaning out the garage, which is what I'm onto next!  

FlippedFlipped, Wendelin Van Draanen   (...this book has also been made into a movie...)  I heard about Flipped from one of my only book-loving friends.  It sounded like a nice little detour--(life has been so crazy this year that shorter books have been a mainstay in my literary diet)--something out of the ordinary.  And it was: short and sweet.  It is a rather innocent YA title that does the POV switch every chapter (one chapter is from his POV, the next is from hers).  What I liked is how it dealt with crushes, peer pressure, stereotypes and prejudice without being too gritty or age-inappropriate.  This is a title that I'll keep around for my girls to read.
Expiration DateExpiration Date, Sherril Jaffe  (...a LibraryThing Early Reviewer book...)  I was looking forward to reading Expiration Date because of the publisher.  I've become very interested in small press this year, and The Permanent Press is one that I had my eye on.  I'd previously read another of their books, and liked how different it was from mainstream Lit.  Both books however, in addition to sharing a uniqueness, also shared a very rough, unfinished feel.  They felt more like a first or second draft than a copy about to be published.  Expiration Date explores the idea of whether we'd live our lives differently if we knew when we were going to die...although the story ends up focusing less on this idea and more on the life and personality of the main character's mother.  I think it was supposed to be humorous, but it ended up just feeling tedious to me.  A good premise that fell flat.

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins  ( for one of my Book Clubs...)  I don't have a lot to say about this book because it has all been said already, has it not?  Apart from the disturbing premise, I enjoyed it a lot.  Good character development, plot, etc.  But I just couldn't stop thinking about the horrible idea that everything was based on.  I'm glad I read it because I love knowing what the buzz is all about, but I'm not a series girl so I won't be reading the rest.  My kids haven't really expressed an interest in reading it, which I find strange, but I'll keep it around in case they get the urge.

The Tapestry of LoveThe Tapestry of Love, Rosy Thornton  (...a review copy was sent to me by the author--thank you, Rosy!)  To be honest, I was initially worried that this book would be too heavy on the romance for my taste, but it turned out to be pretty balanced.  I couldn't help being reminded of Under the Tuscan Sun, (although I've only seen the movie, haven't read the book) which is pretty inevitable considering that it is about a woman in a new phase of life that decides to move out of the country and become part of a small, foreign community.  In this case, a woman moves from England to France, and decides to start a tapestry/furnishing service in a small mountain community.  At times it was a bit too detailed, but I enjoyed experiencing the discovery of a new place and new people.  I can't help but be fascinated by the idea of relocating somewhere far away.  Although I'm not too familiar with the French countryside, reading this book felt like I was there...except without the amazing food and drink.  [pout]

If I StayIf I Stay, Gayle Forman  (...given to me by my 10 year old daughter for Mother's Day--what a sweetie!)  While I'm not a huge fan of YA fiction, I'm not opposed to reading it either.  Especially since reading Speak, (Laurie Halse Anderson) because I have a hope to hold onto that I'll find another YA book that manages to be everything it should be: gripping, realistic, well written, and not too irreverent in language/content.  If I Stay did pretty good at these things.  It was gripping, it felt fairly realistic, the writing was average, language/content was a tad more than it needed to be in my opinion...only because those are the parts that didn't feel realistic. The storyline was fascinating, and pulled me straight through to the end of the book: If you were in a coma and had to decided whether to stay with the friends/family who remain, or go with those who didn't make it, how would you decide?  The characters, if not fully developed, were at least unique people.  All in all it was a book I didn't want to put down until I'd read the last page.


  1. I have put Hunger Games on my hype TBR pile but have yet to read it.

  2. I know what you mean about Blogger...a major glitch like that one can make one wary, suspicious, paranoid...etc.

    I had the same kinds of thoughts about Tapestry of Love...I, too, thought of Under the Tuscan Sun.

    Thanks for sharing some intriguing little books.


  3. I don't know how you could keep from finishing the Hunger Games series. :) You have much more will-power than I do. I had to stay up half the night to finish reading it.

  4. Your description of a malfunctioning Blogger as a randomly flushing toilet made me laugh. But I must admit, it made me appreciate how well it normally works - especially as it's free.

    Thanks for the mini-reviews. Have a great week.

  5. I'm with Heidi on this one: how can you not want to finish Hunger Games? It was the ending that divided everyone (I'm in the "loved" corner).

  6. I read The Hunger Games but never got through the other two. It's still on my list of things to do but who knows when I'll get around to it!

  7. Shannon, a "hype TBR"? Haha! I've never thought of forming one of those, but I like the thought!

    Laurel-Rain, I felt bad about comparing Tapestry of Love to Under the Tuscan Sun the whole time I read it, but after a little while I just decided that it was really inevitable since the basic plotline was so similar.

    Heidi, it isn't willpower, I assure you! I'm just bad with series. I guess I think that the subsequent books will never be as good as the first, so I have to drum up extra willpower to dive into each new installment. :)

    Helen, once I got over my frustration I had to admit that it is very rarely that Blogger has issues like that. Guess I should be thankful! :)

    Alexandra, maybe someday. :) Honestly, the basic premise was probably a big reason why I didn't read on. I thought about it throughout the whole story. It weirded me out. :)

    Andi, yay! someone to hang in my corner (for a little while at least) ;) There are so many books I want to read that it seems to take extra effort to stay in the same series. I'll blame it on my Literary ADD. :)

  8. That's annoying, it's so frustrating when technical glitches are happening over and over!

    I kind if like these types of reviews sometimes, though. It can be nice to get a bunch of books in one shot and see small synopsis of them!

  9. Hi Melody! I think that all of your reviews are great! Well, you know your brother Eric Baland, he's my teacher in Korea right now! We also do blogger daily and he showed us your blog and we were all very proud! You're such a great blogger!
    Keep It Up

  10. Hi Megan, thanks for the comment! I love that you all work on your own blogs - I think that it's a great way to help you think through what you've read (and isn't it fun to see your writing look so professional??) It's also a lot of fun to be able to talk about the books you read, which is something that book blogging provides.

    I'm a new follower on your blog (so keep writing!!) & I'm glad to see that you enjoyed Hunger Games. What are you reading now?

  11. Hi Melody!!! I think that all of your book reviews are AWESOME!!! And I also know your brother, Eric Baland, He's My teacher in Korea!!! And again.... YOU HAVE AN AWESOME BLOG!!!

  12. Hi Melody!!! I really love all your book reviews cause you have such a good way of describing things!!!! Also, I know your brother, Eric Baland!!! He's my teacher her in Seoul, South Korea!!!! Love your blog!!! Keep it up!!!

  13. Right now our whole grade is reading a book called The Phantom Tollbooth. It's mainly about characters and all the things that they do.


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