2013 in review for the Literary Hoarders

Thank you to the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys whom have prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

We thank you for your continued patience as we do have many changes planned for the New Year.

Shortly, and in the early new year, we will be migrating over to a new site – so stayed tuned for all of our new reviews and posts to appear on Literaryhoarders.com! It’s coming, we are working on it! All will be unveiled soon!

From all of us hear at the Literary Hoarders, we wish you a wonderful New Year and an exciting 2014!

Best wishes,

Penny, Jackie and Elizabeth

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Unknowns

15790899The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth was our Critical Era online Book Club pick for December. It was a quick and quirky read which had some funny moments but it was definitely what we at Literary Hoarders like to call a “Boy Book”.

Boy Book Definition:

  1. Computer nerd protagonist obsessed with video games, comic books and/or getting together with a “real” girl.
  2. Unlimited funds usually obtained by computer nerdiness.
  3. Obsessive masturbation (uh ya– approx. every 5 pages there is a masturbation scene– awesome).
  4. Over analysis of masturbating computer nerd’s own faults told in a sarcastic and humorous way.
  5. The perfect dream girl who eventually falls for the sarcastic, masturbating computer nerd (and not just because of the unlimited funds).

Social outcast Eric Fuller spends his early high school days reading comics, obsessing about girls that he can’t get and masturbating. After becoming the butt of all jokes he turns to his computer for solace. He eventually hooks up with the nerdiest nerd at school to develop an early 90’s role-playing game. Fast forward 20 years later and Eric is still masturbating, has invented a web advertising tracking system and is a bazillionaire. He is still hopeless with the ladies but uses drugs and alcohol to loosen himself up. He meets up with the beautiful Maya at a party given by his newly lesbian BFF and instantly falls in love. Because he is an awkward computer nerd she ignores him completely and he leaves with her friend, Lauren, instead. Even though he is “madly in love” with Maya he offers Lauren Ecstasy and they screw all night. He makes a faux pas during this little encounter and reveals a very embarrassing Oedipal thought while high and his only fear is that Maya will find out. WHAT??

The story is presented in a way that makes you think that it was meant to be a funny, ironic look at a loser who knows he’s a loser and some of the thoughts and banter did have me chuckling out loud. But, the story takes a very serious turn once the beautiful and perfect Maya (miraculously) falls for Eric’s quirkiness (not his money) and it becomes harder to stay in a laughy frame of mind after that. There was also a lot of discussion of Eric’s own dysfunctional family which was presented in a very flippant tone which I actually found more sad than funny.Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 10.32.09 PM

The ending was atypical for this kind of story which I did find kind of refreshing and Mr. Roth definitely has mad writing and story telling skills. I don’t mind Boy Books on occasion but this wasn’t really the book for me–  I never really did warm up to Eric and I wanted to pound Maya square in her hipster glasses (she was just too cool for school in my opinion). I think that The Truth in Advertising by John Kenney did a way better job in tackling heavy subjects while maintaining a light and humorous tone.

2.5 stars, Meh– take it or leave it.

Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind

17572903What a tremendously wonderful read to close out the end of 2013!

Last weekend I was floundering trying to find a book that would draw me in. I  had two ready to go, but after opening both of them I knew they just weren’t the right reads at the right time. One had a writing style that was all over the place, whatever thought popped into her mind kind of style, and the other was filled with crude language in the first eleven pages. Nope, nothing that was what I was hoping or looking for at the time.

I ventured back down to the shelves and pulled down two more titles, one being The Girl You Left Behind. A quick consultation with my fellow Hoarder Jackie cemented this as the one. The Girl You Left Behind was indeed rising to the top, but Jackie only confirmed that reading JoJo Moyes would mean a solidly good read. Oh how right she was!

The Girl You Left Behind is about two women born a century apart but joined together by one painting. We first read of Sophie and her sister Helene in1916 France. The Germans have occupied the small village where Sophie and Helene operate the family bar, Le Coq Rouge. Both of their husbands are off at war and both do not know the fate of them. The war has been long and drawn out, food is scarce and hope is dwindling. The only thing of beauty remaining in the home and bar is Sophie’s portrait, painted by her beloved husband Edouard.

Each night the Germans come in to dine at Le Coq Rouge, and the Kommandant stops to stare at the painting and discuss art with Sophie. She is reluctant, uneasy and filled with disdain for this practice at first. As the war drags on and little to no news comes in about Edouard, Sophie becomes desperate. Knowing how much the Kommandant loves the painting she offers it, herself, anything at all to reunite her with her beloved Edouard. Following this, there appears to be a great act of betrayal as Sophie is arrested and thrown into a prisoners cart to take her away to one of the camps. This my dear reader, is the stunning cliffhanger you are left with when the story jumps to current day and we begin the story of Liv. And here, you wonder how on earth is Ms. Moyes going to connect these two people?

Liv is grieving four years following the death of her young husband. She is steeped in debt yet refuses to sell the “Glass House” that David has built and where every memory of him remains. Not only is she steadfast in her refusal to give up the house, she refuses to engage with life and will not set David’s memory aside to move forward. One painting in her bedroom, a gift bought by her husband on their honeymoon, is what gives her joy, hope and happiness. “The Girl You Left Behind” means everything to Liv.

One night, feeling particularly alone and bereft, Liv sits at a bar and drinks herself into oblivion. Here also sits Paul McCafferty, an ex-cop that has now established a business of returning art stolen during WWII to their rightful ancestors. What a sad twist of fate for Liv, for Paul becomes a person she can finally see herself moving on in life with, but his next big case happens to be finding and returning The Girl You Left Behind to Sophie’s family.

Of course I will not be sharing any of the details of what happens to Sophie, Liv or Paul, but will say that once again, JoJo Moyes has crafted incredibly rich and endearing characters. So vivid, so true, so wonderful these people were. While I do have to say I grew closer to Sophie and her story, the character of Paul and the one peculiar friend of Liv’s named Mo were so cleverly and expertly drawn it truly felt as though you were right beside them every step of the way. There is a scene where Paul does something so endearing for Liv that I felt like I could jump the man’s bones. I fell completely in love with him.

A warning label needs to be affixed to the covers of her books however, because you will become so deeply involved that when you close the pages of the book, you will blink in the harsh light of reality and come to realize that an entire day, afternoon and evening has disappeared. Poof! My poor dogs were left to quench their thirst from the toilet and my kids were closely clustered around the pantry stuffing themselves with crackers as a way to quell their hunger.  I had sorely neglected them, lost all touch with reality  — this is how deeply involved I became when reading this tremendously affecting story. And yes, of course, tissues are required when you reach the ending.

Again, a wonderful, wonderful tale to close out my reading for 2013.

Audiobook Review: The House of Silk

11093329The game is afoot Watson!

But could this case mean the demise of Sherlock Holmes? Is this case too involved, too complex and could it mean the end for Mr. Holmes?

Told from the perspective of his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson, he sits to tell the one final case about the House of Silk that had many years prior.  Watson fondly remembers his now passed friend Holmes. He sorely misses him and feels that now is the best time to put pen to paper to give the public one last Holmes adventure. But the tale of the House of Silk could not be written until this time, as it is a story that was far too despicable, far too shocking to share at the time it happened.

The case of the House of Silk is very complex, with many wishing that it remains highly classified and top secret. Holmes risks a great deal when he becomes involved in trying to uncover the what, who and why.

This was an exceptionally entertaining audio book to enjoy during the commute. The theatrical narration provided by Sir Derek Jacobi was positively perfect for a Sherlock Holmes tale. The final chapters leading up to the discovery, the chase and the confrontation are exceptionally well-delivered with Jacobi’s theatrical presentation. It builds to exciting and fast-paced solution and results in fantastic entertainment!

“The House of Silk”, with its true purpose is a disturbing discovery and one that will leave an indelible mark upon its readers, just as much as it left for Holmes himself.

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate hand selected Anthony Horowitz to pen this tale “because of his proven ability to tell a transfixing story and for his passion for all things Holmes. Destined to be an instant classic, The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back with all the nuance, pacing and almost super-human powers of analysis and deduction that made him the world’s greatest detective.

I couldn’t agree more with the choice of author and the description of the tale itself. Watson’s retelling of the case and of his fond love for his trusted colleague is very well done. Excellent read. Wonderfully entertaining. Again, the enjoyment this audio book presents makes it one very worthy of the listen for its enhanced enjoyment over reading the print version. Jacobi takes the fantastic and detailed description from the pages and breathes tremendous life into it. A 4.5 star read!