Monday, March 29, 2010

Splendor by Anna Godbersen

iconiconThe other night, just a couple of days after finishing Anna Godbersen's Envy, I finished reading the fourth book, Splendor. It seems like this is the final book in the series, as the girls' stories were pretty much all wrapped up at the end — no cliffhangers this time.

During most of the book, you had the feeling that you were approaching some kind of climax in each of the girls' stories. Interestingly, though, not all of them had the typically "happy" endings — meaning that not all of them ended up with the man they loved. In fact, certain characters that I felt certain would end up together, didn't.

I think that's one of the things that I ended up liking most about this entire series. The girls' characters were very well-written, and all of them were very different. You had the schemer; the independent girl; the super feminine, slightly helpless girl; and another character who started out as a schemer but turned out to be quite strong and independent in her own right. Not all of them got what they wanted, but it was right somehow, the way it all turned out.

I've liked these books since the beginning, but as I've already mentioned, I liked them more and more as I went along. They are quite addictive — Godbersen's pacing is perfect, and you can't help but keep reading to find out what will happen to each of the characters. And now that all of the books have been published, you won't have the problem I had — you won't have to wait for the next book to come out before you can find out what happened to each of the characters!

For those who are interested, here are my reviews to each of the three books that came before Splendor:

The Luxe

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Envy by Anna Godbersen

iconiconIt has been a while since I read The Luxe and Rumors, and I was worried at first about remembering what had happened in the earlier books. I needn't have worried, though — Anna Godbersen skillfully wove little reminders into the narrative, without boring you with all the backup (I used to hate the way series books did that when I read them as a kid).

Looking back at my earlier reviews, I guess I didn't like The Luxe as much as Rumors. I said it was good, but not necessarily moving. Rumors, however, I found "addictive." Perhaps Godbersen is improving with practice, or maybe I've just gotten more into the spirit of her books, which are full of conniving young debutantes and set in turn of the century New York City.

I found Envy equally as addicting as Rumors, and finished it in just a couple of days — fast turnaround for me, lately. I wanted to be able to read Splendor, which I'd also checked out from the library, before it was due back, since I probably won't be able to renew it. I'm sure it will have a hold on it.

Envy did resolve the cliffhanger ending that I was so disappointed about in Rumors, and didn't end with quite as painful a cliffhanger as its predecessor. Maybe that's because I knew I had the next one waiting for me, though! I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to Godbersen's compelling — and growing! — cast of characters next.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

iconiconBeing on the subject of horses, I guess, after I finished reading How to Think Like a Horse I decided to read Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. It was more of a practical decision, though — I'd gotten the book from the library, and knew I wouldn't be able to renew it because it had a hold on it.

You may remember earlier this month when I read The Glass Castle, a memoir of the author's childhood. Half Broke Horses is a novelization of her grandmother's life, so kind of a prequel to her memoir. You do see some of the same people from the memoir, but it also tells you more about her grandmother, whom you only glimpse in her memoir.

Horses are definitely a theme of her grandmother's life. Lily was breaking horses from the time she was a little girl, and then of course there is also the delightful story of when the locals tricked her — their young, innocent schoolteacher — into riding a bronc. At least, they thought they tricked her — but they soon found out she knew what she was doing, and she was able to earn their respect that way.

The same ironic humor that I loved in The Glass Castle also appears in the narration of Half Broke Horses. From how Walls described her grandmother in the first book, I'm sure she is right on target using a similar narrative style for Lily. She sounds like she was quite the pistol — someone I would no doubt have loved to know!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to Think Like a Horse by Cherry Hill

iconiconI've actually been reading quite a bit lately, but I've gotten behind on posting my reviews because I've been so busy with work and riding my horse. Now it's time to play catch-up!

I spotted How to Think Like a Horse a couple of months ago when my husband and I were at Tattered Cover, Denver's indie bookstore chain. I spent most of our visit flipping through the book, and skimmed probably half of it while we were there. I wasn't sure if I wanted to buy it, though, so I decided to check it out from the library.

Like most of Cherry Hill's books, though, it turns out that this would be a great one to have on my shelf of horse books. I'll probably end up buying it at some point, even though I've already read it. I'd decided not to because I thought it would appeal more to beginners than to someone who already has a horse, but as it turned out I still found lots of useful stuff in this book.

If you want to read a more in-depth review, including what I think of the book from a horse owner's standpoint, please visit my Pony Tales Blog.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Changing affiliate programs

Amazon has canceled the accounts for all of their Colorado-based affiliates. As a result, I will be changing over to a new affiliate program. In the coming days, you'll be seeing the picture links on my blog disappear, hopefully to be replaced with new ones. Please be patient with me during this change!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

iconiconI heard about this book from a horse blog I follow, Nuzzling Muzzles, when she reviewed Half Broke Horses — the sequel to The Glass Castle. Half Broke Horses sounded really good, but the blogger said I should read this one first, as the author refers to it in the sequel.

The Glass Castle is the story of Jeannette Walls's childhood — in all its dysfunctional glory. She grew up in the 60s and 70s, but you wouldn't know it from the stuff she describes in the book. Her parents moved around a lot when she was young, eventually ending up in the dirt-poor town in West Virginia where her father had grown up. Her father was an alcoholic, and a lot of the family's poverty had to do with his inability to hold down a job — and his habit of drinking away any money they had. Her mother was also unwilling to work, and as a result Walls and her siblings struggled to feed themselves for a lot of their childhood.

The things she describes are pretty horrific, and virtually unimaginable for someone who grew up with a full belly and a varied, if not extravagant, arsenal of toys. The one thing that did strike me, though, is that Walls's parents weren't the way they were for lack of education — they were intelligent and well-educated, and as a result Walls and her siblings were usually light-years ahead of their classmates.

Interestingly, it was this education that allowed the kids to escape and forge better lives for themselves. While their parents were living on the streets of New York City, Walls was going to an Ivy League college on scholarship, her sister was working as a freelance artist, and her brother became a cop.

The Glass Castle is a fast, compelling read, not to mention it will probably make just about everyone who reads it feel that maybe their family isn't so bad, after all. I'm really looking forward to reading Half Broke Horses, which is about Walls's maternal grandmother!