ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Members try to read 50 books in 2010. Anyone can participate. Keep track of your progress with your own thread.

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ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:41

Edited to add the disclaimer!: In compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255 (http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm), I hereby declare that all books read and reviewed by me on this site have been purchased by me or received as a gift from someone other than the author, publisher, or editor; that I have not been requested to write a review by the author, publisher, or editor; and that I have received no compensation in any form for posting these reviews. (Thanks for the reminder, Tanner!)
:lol:

Well, I've got one under my belt:

#1 Alex & Me
4stars : really good; I recommend it
Nonfiction.
For thirty years, Irene Pepperberg toiled away in relative obscurity training Alex, an African Grey parrot, to speak so she could learn how he thinks and communicates. He became a modest celebrity, which only added to her troubles as a "serious" researcher and she often found herself scrambling for lab space. If the last animal behavior course you took was in the 1970s (like me) then this will open your eyes. Rather than use the accepted "operant conditioning," Pepperberg worked with Alex on a new approach (not her own), where she worked with an assistant, with Alex watching, then they talked to him. He learned 100 words, but also how to recombine them to form novel phrases, some with really hysterical results.

From the blurb: Alex could add, sound out words, understand concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none, and disproved the widely accepted idea that birds possess no potential for language or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence.

This story made me think about how other species perceive and communicate, something anyone writing science fiction with aliens could find helpful. Also read Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin (not on my list because I finished be before the new year, but an excellent look into the minds of both animals and autistic humans).
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:41

#2 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Fiction)
I got this book for Christmas, otherwise would have just continued to wonder why it has gotten such buzz but not been curious enough to buy it. I enjoyed it, but the whole thing is written as letters and that got a bit old for me. I felt it distanced me from the characters, who are plenty and colorful. It's the story of a woman in England right after WWII who begins a correspondence with people on Guernsey about the German occupation of the island during the war. It's at times amusing and sad. The details trickle out and build, but the whole thing felt a bit gimmicky and I never got the whallop that it could have given if told a different way. But it is different and clever. 3+stars: pretty good; you will probably enjoy it.
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:42

#3 Renegade by Cheyne Curry
Not sure what kind of stars to give this. Three seems generous, but I liked it better than two. The writing is cringe worthy, but I found myself liking it. You can go to our reading challenge discussion to get all the dirt. I think this had the potential to be a really good book but just failed in the execution. I liked the premise, I thought she did a good job with the dialog and the action scenes. The back story info dumps were atrocious, the telling and not showing appalling. Trace was very difficult to like in the beginning because she was just an idiot with not reason behind it. Once I got to know her, I liked her better. Plus, she changed.
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:42

All right, plodding along here...

#4 The Ties That Bind by Andi Marquette
4stars: really good; I recommend it
This is the third in Andi's New Mexico mystery series. She alternates main characters between scholar-wonk K.C. Fontero and Albuquerque detective Chris Gutierrez, but both have big parts in each. This one is K.C.'s turn and leads us to the Navajo reservation for a possible murder mystery that hits close to home--affecting K.C.'s partner, Sage. These two have been together now for a couple of years and I like how this one digs deep into their relationship. The honeymoon is over and the real work begins. The mystery is pretty solid, though I find I like best the relationships in these books. The mysteries are more the broth in which the meat steeps. The only things that annoyed me, and they are minor, are the mutual navel gazing--friends and lovers are constantly telling each other how much they love each other. To the point that you wonder that there could be any doubt to the strength of K.C. and Sage's bond, but yet... Then there's the psychobabble. Everyone, including K.C., is telling her she needs to be "present" for Sage. Lastly, the swearing. They all swear the same--Chris just throws in some Spanish. For adult, college-educated, middle-class women, they swear like truck drivers and the patterns are the same. Remove the tag and you often can't be sure who's talking. I found it weakening the impact of what was being said. (That said, I'm always surprised how much more my characters swear than I do. I have to rein them in!)

And I love the covers! The best in lesfic.
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:43

Athena wrote:
ElaineB wrote:#3 Renegade by Cheyne Curry
Not sure what kind of stars to give this. Three seems generous, but I liked it better than two.


You could give it 2 1/2 stars then :;) Image
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:43

Baker wrote::snigger: She's right, Elaine, you could.
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:43

wildlx wrote::lol:
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:44

HH wrote:rofl We're not laughing at you, Elaine, we're laughing with you. (Or, we would be, if you'd only laugh...)
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:45

lol
Does that help?
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Re: ElaineB's 50 Books in 52 Weeks

Postby ElaineB » 26 Mar 2010, 04:45

Well. Moving right along...

#5 Push by Saffire
Another one that defies stars, though for a different reason. This is the book the movie Precious is based on. The book is excellent, but is not something that falls into the "enjoy" category. It also defies easy description. A tale of horrific abuse, personal fortitude, disgusting bureaucracy, morbid humor, it is full of images that no one wants seared into their memory, it is a tale that should not need to have been written. Yes, it's fiction. But you know it's not.
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