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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

If you are friended with me on goodreads you will notice I did not review this as this book was a birthday gift from my BFF (also on goodreads) and, I really thought it was crappy.  But for those of you who read this stuff, I felt you should be warned....

The goodreads review that never was - 2.5 stars (I'm feeling generous!)

Vampires! How... well, really boring as it turns out.

Eh.  That pretty much says it all.  Had this been a library book, I would have abandoned after a week but as a gift from a good friend (who I suspected thought 'She likes Buffy! She'll love this' (friend does not 'get' Buffy; yes, I know!)) I wanted to read the whole thing so I could say thank you I enjoyed it. 

The good:  Kostova tells a good story.  This very long tome is her angle on the Dracula legend.  She follows a teenage girl and her family (and assorted others) as they look into the Dracula legend and OMG, it's real! and then they have to figure out what to do with it.  Interesting idea.  Boring execution. 

The bad:  It just read to me like sort of B minus fan fiction.  Again, I liked the story and thought - cool! - many times while I was reading it but it took me two months to get through as it was just that boring and on top of that while her pacing is consistent, to me it was just tooooooo slow and her writing was just, well, like B minus fan fiction.  I am actually really surprised this got published.  It reads like something I would have written at age 14 and thought OMG this is so good! and then reread years later and thought, that is so, well, reads like a 14 year old wrote it, so, go me, but thank God I'm not 14 anymore. 

So, I'd give this 2 stars and very much not recommend it.  Do not be lured into the 'it's got vamps!' angle of the book unless you want to waste YOUR entire unlife reading it. Because only if you had unlimited time would it approach being worth it IMO.  For me, I'd prefer to have that time back.  Pretty please?

Admin Post & Poll!

Now that school is over, finals of doom are finished, and my baby sister is happily married and no longer plaguing my life with her wedding, I really want to get this community up and running again.

I'm interested in doing a summer book club in order to encourage community participating. Thus...a book club poll. How many of you are interested in participating in a summer book club? Book club books and book club dates will be decided by you (the community). So, if this is something that enough of you are interested in, I'm willing to push it on the admin side.

Poll #1201585 Book Club?

Would you participate in a community summer book club?


If you answered "yes" to Q1, what kind of timing would work best for you.

A monthly book club, one book per month in June, July, and August.
A bi-montly book club, two books per month, for the months of June, July, and August.
Other (reponse in comments).

I suggest that we read ______ as a part of our book club!

I'm also willing to take any suggestions about how we can 1) increase community participation, and 2) increase our numbers in order to create a more active and vibrant community.

Please leave any suggestions in the comments, and feel free to comment on the suggestions made by others!

Thanks! :D


The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner 

I got this book at Target, which tends to cater to book groups, and this seems to me to be an excellent book group book.  It was a fairly easy and fast read but very well written. The chapters are divided by event and further into sections which are written by the different women.  Sometimes there are excerpts from their conversations between the sections which allows the reader to hear the interaction between the three women.  

They bond over chocolate, their children, and chandeliers (Ranya and Priscilla have the same one hanging in their respective homes), but they don't ignore the tough stuff either.  Priscilla and Suzanne butt heads over the cruxifiction; Ranya talks about her family's Palestinian roots; all three undergo their own unique crises in the book.  After all, these three New Yorkers came together after 9-11.  

Writing a book with three authors isn't easy, but they make it look simple and the book flows very well.  But in the end what makes this book compelling is that it gives the reader a chance to see three women from three different religions from a personal angle.  After reading this I felt like I understood the followers of all three religions better.  Definitely recommended.

One caveat to the recommendation, this book is definitely geared more towards women, particularily women with children and out of school.  So teen boys, for example, likely wouldn't connect with it as well as a book group mom.


Anyone willing to share their catalog?

We finally have started to get ours up, Here. (Hubby started it and used *his* online nickname :D)
What is your favorite: young adult author, young adult series, young adult book?

Why does the young adult genre appeal to you?

Are there any break-out young adult authors that we should know about?

Are the young adult authors who are currently "hot" worthy of the label?

Give us what you've got!

Night by Elie Wiesel.

Night by Elie Wiesel.

In the preface to the newest translation of Night, Elie Wiesel writes, "If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one."

I love to read. Books are like air to me. Books are my vice. All kinds of books. Classics. Biographies. Romance. Memoirs. Chick-lit. Books on politics. Mysteries. So long as the literary style is readable, I'll read it, whatever it might be.

But if, in my lifetime, I was to read only one book, Night would be that book.

The original Yiddish version of Night opened with the following narrative:

In the beginning there was faith—which is childish; trust—which is vain; and illusion—which is dangerous.

We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark from the Shekhinah's flame; that every one of us carries in his eyes and in his soul a reflection of God's image.

That was the source if not the cause of all our ordeals.

That quote was cut from the version that eventually made print, but it resonates.

People generally dwell, for a short time, on the horror we inflict on one another, through mishap or purpose, and then we forget. Memories slip through the cracks of our minds, and we move on. Live on. Until we repeat the terrifying mistakes of before.

Night is a book dedicated to remembering. And, the picture it paints is so clear, so vivid that you can reach out and touch it.

Read this book.

If you only read one book in your lifetime, read this book.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill

Very interesting. The author writes for the Nation so you should know going in that he's extremely anti-Bush (which is fine with me :-)) and a bit self-justified. That said, ignoring the book's slant, it's an extremely well-organized and well-written book about Blackwater and, tangentially, the business of 'security' in Iraq. Fascinating to read about the privatization of war and the implications thereof, scary to think that basically an uberChristian has his own *legal* ARMY in my country.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone. I gave it three stars only because of the slant which I found to be a bit irritating. That said, the facts of the war, how it's being run, our government, Iraq government, etc. are fascinating and important in this day and age. It would behoove all to get this info.

3 stars out of 5.

Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson

Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson

This was a gift from a dear friend in response to my gift to her of Time and Again. If you liked Time and Again, you would likely like this. It takes place in the 70s (like T&A!) and also explores time travel and romance connected thereto.

The writing style is extremely jarring and took me a few pages to adjust to. The writer writes like he's taking notes, and you realize as you go that he is in fact doing that: recording notes into a tape recorder. It's extremely romantic and desperate (a bit too much for me) but the time travel aspect is fun. I was a bit bummed out at the ending but overall the book was a page turner, the characters likable and the pacing good.

3 stars out of 5.

Admin Note: Posting Requirements!

If you are posting a review or commentary on a specific book, please follow this format:

Subject: Title of Book by Author

Post Content: The first line of your post should repeat the title of the book (with a hyperlink to the book's Google Book Page) and the author's name (with a hyperlink to the author's website if one can be found).


I chose Google Book page because it has descriptions of the book, other information about the author or book, and hyperlinks to a variety of websites where you can purchase the book. So, its somewhat of a catch-all.

If the Google Book Page does not have a listing for the book you are posting about, please link to the Amazon.com webpage for the book.

Spoilers: If the book was published less than six months ago, please cut for spoilers. Otherwise, I leave cutting up to each individual poster's judgment. This is a book discussion community, so obviously, the point of the community is to discuss books. Each post is headlined with the title of the book and the author, which in itself, minimizes spoiling. I'm open to suggestions, and I'm willing to change or amend this policy. But, I find hardline spoiling rules, particularly with regards to books, difficult.

"Ratings:" You can use whatever rating system you think appropriate. We are not going to have a standardized rating system because each book is unique and the way each individual views and reads a book is unique. Using "stars" is appropriate and welcome, but comments like, "check it out from the library instead of buying it," are appropriate as well. I don't want people to feel like a specific kind of rating is required or necessary. The point of the community is to engender discussion of a book - if you liked it, why you liked it, etc. If you want to give a specific "rating" to the book beyond that, feel free, but don't feel obligated to do so.

Anything else? Comments. Concerns. Cookies?


The Amber Room by Steve Berry

The Amber Room by Steve Berry

I enjoy Russian history a lot, so when my mom lent me this book, I was eager to read it despite it not being a genre I generally read. I'm not even sure what to call it. Fiction Thriller? It's very much in the vein of The DaVinci code. I don't know if that book's popularity has created its own sub-genre yet or not.

I thought Berry's prose was pretty tight. It was a fast read with a spare style that I quite enjoyed. I will say that it was obviously written by a man. And I don't mean that in any sort of derogatory way. It's just that I generally read women authors and stylistically (in the stuff I've read), the gender divide in prose is pretty pronounced. At one point, he used the term "inviting crotch" to describe a woman's appeal. That did make me cringe. But I'm also not too fond of "velvet swords" either.

I thought the history of the Amber Room was handled very well within the plot of the book. It felt as though Berry really went out of his way to include a good deal of historical fact and as someone who enjoys Russian history, I liked that. As a reader, I enjoyed that Berry managed to convey the information without having his characters turn into talking heads.

The fictional story itself was okay. Not great. Not awful, just okay, though it did really wane toward the end of the book. And let me clarify that by wane, I mean in interest. I felt the book went from having some pretty compelling, realistic characters to being off the charts absurd action.

The book ostensibly centers around the Cutler family, Rachel and Paul (divorced), their children and both of their deceased (and possibly murdered) parents. Truth be told, the Cutlers don't get the majority of the plot time. There is a lot of plot involving this secret society of European billionaire art collectors and their staff.

All of the connections between the characters were messy. It seemed there was a push-pull between every set of characters. I'm not sure if that was realistic, or just sloppy. Most of the characters were working on their own agendas. I found it interesting that while the male characters could quite cheerfully smile and laugh with each other and then turn around and stab one another in the back, none of them ever seemed to take it personally. The female characters were every bit as self-involved and murderous, but the readers were often privy to them thinking of each other as bitches and whores. That didn't particularly impress me.

The historical perspective on the Amber Room was well done. All in all, it was a decent read even if I did roll an eye or two toward the end.