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Bending the Spine

Friday, March 23, 2012

Follow Friday (19)

Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read

This weeks question:

Q: What is the longest book you’ve read? What are your favorite 600+ page reads?

A: Do people really read books that long?  Seriously, all kidding aside, I think the longest book I have ever read would be The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, which tops out at 528 pages.  I read it for a 6th (?) grade book project and hadn’t finished reading the night before the project was due!  I actually skipped the 200 pages in the middle.

While giving my report, I broke down into tears.  The book was just so sad!  Or was it really the sleep deprivation rearing it’s ugly head?  Either way, I was “that” kid who cried at school.

I don’t not read books that are 600+ pages, I just haven’t ever found anything that happened to be that long that interested me.  So, I can’t make any recommendations.

The Yearling
What is your longest book read?

Get to reading,

Coming soon to B&D: the SOUTHERN BOOK TOUR.  During April, my blog will be all about the literary South, with guest posts and plenty of GIVEAWAYS!  Drop by and check it out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.
Library Binding, 432 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published July 7th 2011)
ISBN: 0385906366 (ISBN13: 9780385906364)


I have no clue what “gothic” means as it relates to a book, so I looked it up on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.  Here’s what it says:
Goth·ic   adj \ˈgä-thik\
3 often not capitalized : of or relating to a style of fiction characterized by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious, or violent incidents
By this definition Texas Gothic is gothic.  I guess my own definition was something much darker, much drearier, much more gruesome and sinister.  And I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, since I had my definition wrong.
I really enjoyed this book. Honestly, a lot more than I thought I would.  The first 80 pages or so had me lost and baffled.  I couldn’t quite figure out who the characters were or what was really going on.  Once things got going, I really got into the story and was hooked.  Though, I wasn’t completely sold on the book until I got past the halfway point.  Up till then I was only partly invested, thinking this was just a cute YA story that happened to involve ghost stories and kitchen magic.
Boy was I too quick to judge!  What we really get is a clever, well-crafted paranormal YA novel.  Clement-Moore has a very clever writing style, that mixes deadpan humor and sarcasm to bring a lightness to a very serious plot.  I like that parts had me cringing and on the edge of my seat, and parts had me laughing out loud.  And more often than not, these two mingled together to create one fantastic adventure.
“Lila found it,” I said automatically.

I think she did a spell by accident,” said Phin, because she always had to go there.

His grin turned teasing.  “Do you do a lot of magic spells?”

“No,” I answer emphatically.

“That’s true,” said Phin.  “Amy prefers to operate in a more mundane world than the rest of our family.”

Jennie asked, “So is your family…what do you call it? Wiccan?”

“Good grief, no,” said Phin.  “We’re all Lutherans.”
(page 134-5)
I liked that we weren’t dealing with the normal YA teens.  Amy and Phin are in their late teens, college age.  The rest of the main cast are young adults, college kids.  It was also nice that Amy, our heroine, was not helpless or hopeless.  She was strong and independent.  Quite a contrast from other YA female leads.  Another key factor in my admiration for Texas Gothic, that the paranormal is balanced by the normal.  Not everyone is ok with magic, not everyone is convinced of it’s worth.  It made a story that could have been in left field, relatable and real.
The one cliché YA thing was the relationship between Amy and Ben.  At one point, I made the note, “gag me soon.”  It was the normal love-hate-at-first-sight we’re-from-two-different-worlds-and-can’t-be-together hoopla.  I tired quickly of how Amy would describe how amazingly handsome Ben was every time she saw him for (what felt like) the first half of the book. I’m sure chicks swoon over that kind of stuff, but dudes don’t.  I would have understood his attractiveness with one Amy-swooing-over-Ben scene.  Just a little too much for this dude to digest.
But, with it all said and done, Texas Gothic should be added to your TBR pile soon.  I really liked it, and I bet you will, too.
4 Trees: It doesn’t take magic to love this book!

Get to reading,

About the author:

I’ve always loved to write, even when I should have been doing other things, like Algebra homework. My first job was as Chuck E. Cheese, and I worked in theater for years, but now I put my drama queen skills to use writing books, which is a much better job, since I get to work in my pajamas and take a break in the afternoon to play video games.
(Rosemary's Website)
You can find her on Twitter, too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: In the Woods by Tana French

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Paperback, 429 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Penguin (Non-Classics) (first published May 17th 2007)
ISBN: 0143113496 (ISBN13: 9780143113492)
series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
literary awards: Barry Award for Best First Novel (2008), Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel (2008), Anthony Award for Best First Novel (2008), Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author (2008)


I have eyed this book for years.  The cover and description intrigued me, and it’s an Edgar Award Winner.  So, I thought that the chances this being an amazing book were good.  AND, I was hoping that it would be wonderfully scary to fit in with Rebecca’s Spooking The Spine event during October.

What we have for the first two thirds of the book is a typical police/crime novel.  Nothing new here.  Just your basics set in Ireland.  You’ve got the cop with the past, the lady-cop, and the male-chauvinist coworkers.  Frankly, the book really disappointed me.  I kept waiting for something paranormal or even exciting to happen.  It never did.  They would make some head-way on the case, and then nothingness.  Really, the only thing that happened was Rob, the main character, looses his mind.  That’s actually pretty entertaining.  Him snapping, made this book worthwhile.  And that’s saying something—there’s nothing else great, or even good about this book.  I just don’t see how it won so many awards.  At the point of writing this part of my review (October 8, 2011), I’m not sure I’m going to finish it.

Update (February 26, 2012): I tried to finish this again yesterday.  And couldn’t get into it.  Instead, I just skimmed the remaining few chapters.  All I feel about In the Woods is major disappointment.  There is so much out there that is way better than this. 
1 Tree: This book was amazingly mediocre.

Get to reading,