Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Thoughts - catching up!

Whew! Even though I felt like I was way ahead of the game on holiday prep, somehow those days just flew past! I did manage to get a couple of books read, though - here are some quick thoughts on what I read.

 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
560 pages
published 2010

Synopsis from publisher:

A lost child...
On the eve of the first world war, a little girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia. A mysterious woman called the Authoress had promised to look after her — but the Authoress has disappeared without a trace. A terrible secret...
On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell O'Connor learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the windswept Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family.
A mysterious inheritance...
On Nell's death, her grand-daughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold - secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost.

 My thoughts:

 Oh, this was a great winter read. The pace and atmosphere was perfect for dark evenings under a blanket. I'd read Morton's previous novel (The House at Riverton) and remember having a bit of trouble initially getting into the story, but this one grabbed me from the first. I really enjoyed the shifting narrative - Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra were each fascinating women, and their stories complemented each other well. I did figure out the BIG PLOT TWIST about 2/3 of the way through the novel, but it didn't make the story feel disappointing. Recommended if you like a good, character-driven mystery.

 Finished: 11/24/11
Source: library
MPAA rating: PG-13
My rating: 7/10

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling
(Kindle edition)
published 11/11

Synopsis from publisher:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

My thoughts:

This was really funny, and a great way to end 2011/start 2012. I am one of the (probably) 10 people in the US who don't watch "The Office" regularly, but after reading Kaling's book I might have to start, because she is darn funny. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"...I don't think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are 'bad with names'. No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people's names isn't a neurological condition; it's a choice. You choose not to make learning people's names a priority. It's like saying, 'Hey, a disclaimer about me; I'm rude.' " (location 82)

"When most people sing karaoke, they think of themselves as contestants on American Idol, and they sing and perform their hearts out. But I really think people should be thinking of themselves more as temporary DJs for the party. It's kind of a responsibility....And it kind of behooves you to pick a short song. I don't care if Don freakin' McLean shows up in a red-white-and-blue tuxedo, no one is allowed to sing 'American Pie.' It's actually kind of hostile to a group of partiers to pick a song longer than three minutes." (location 817)

"Skinny girls like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen look ethereal and gorgeous in hippie clothes with lots of volume. I love the bohemian look, but when I try it, I look like a chubby gypsy. Also, chubby people can never truly pull off ethereal the same way skinny people can never be jolly. The only fat ethereal person I can think of was Anna Nicole Smith, and in her case, ethereal might have meant 'drugged.' " (location 2461)

My only complaint with the book is that I wanted a lot of the bits to be longer - perhaps I would have liked fewer, longer chapters. I had a lot of fun with it, though, and her homage to marriage is worth finding a copy just for that section. Good stuff - recommended!

Finished: 1/1/12
Source - Christmas present from my sister!
MPAA Rating - R - probably not for kids
My rating: 7/10


Kristen M. said...

I liked The Forgotten Garden better than The House at Riverton but totally guessed the "mystery" in both. I'm starting to think that Kate Morton really doesn't intend these to be real mysteries. I guess I'll find out when I read her third book this year!

bermudaonion said...

I've heard wonderful things about The Forgotten Garden and have it on my wish list.

Kailana said...

I really enjoyed The Forgotten Garden and then I read The House at Riverton in 2011 and mostly enjoyed it. I am hoping to read The Distant Hours this year. I also have the Mindy Kaling book on my TBR pile but I haven't read it yet.

Michelle Shannon said...

I thought THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN was much better than THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON. I've heard that THE DISTANT HOURS is even better. It's on my list of books I definitely want to read this year.