Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Hundred and One Dalmatians

The 101 DalmatiansThe Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
Evan’s ESS = 7.5 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = G (Mild Violence, Directionally Challenged Dogs, Biting, Dognapping)

Why: While the plot is a mystery to few people, Dodie Smith knows how to write a book.  In The Hundred and One Dalmatians she was somehow able to penetrate into the world of dog and bring to light several mysteries.  The narrative is brilliantly unique and well worth the read (even if you’ve already seen the Disney movie 101 times).

The story surrounds Pongo and Missis and the dognapping of their litter of 15 puppies.  While the subsequent rescue effort is slightly less than epic, the reader is able to glimpse the highly connected and efficient canine underworld.  Under the harsh orders of one of the most fashion challenged woman in all of literature, the pups will be drowned and converted into a line of fur coats.  The liberation effort takes all the intelligence of Pongo and Missis and a few other helpful friends.

First of all, we had no idea dogs were so hospitable towards other dogs.  In our experience there’s a lot of sniffing and barking when two dogs come into contact.   It was also quite a jolt to find that dogs actually consider humans their pets.  And to think that all this time we’ve thought it was the other way around...  We also learned the downfalls of watching too much television, which is a message we’ve yet to get across to our own children. 

The book was easy to read and surprisingly intelligent.  We love Dodie Smith and wish that she had written 101 other novels.  Our only issue was with the white carpet / black soot scene.  Seriously, it was great to rejoice in the rescue effort, but that poor, poor carpet.  Plus, has anyone considered the clean-up of 101 Dalmations?  Yikes. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Top 10 meanest females in books

Question: Top 10 meanest females in books?

Answer: Okay, so other than Pansy Parkinson, we couldn’t think of any horribly diabolical girls, which is why we changed the question to meanest females.  Plus, at one time or another, everyone on our list was a girl – chances are they were probably mean even back then...

  1. Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca) – Hands down, the meanest housekeeper in the history of housekeeping.
  2. Dolores Jane Umbridge (Harry Potter) – E.V.I.L.
  3. Redd Heart (The Looking Glass Wars) – Although the Queen of Hearts first made an appearance in Lewis Carroll’s work, this novel starring her imperial viciousness is far more enjoyable.    
  4. Lady Regan Hamleigh (Pillars of the Earth) – Even with the plethora of unkind people, Lady Hamleigh still managed to rise to the top.
  5. Corrine Dollanganger / Olivia Foxworth (Flowers in the Attic) –Seriously how could you do THAT to your own flesh and blood?
  6. Hatsumomo (Memoirs of a Geisha) – She’s the single reason we decided against pursuing a career in this Japanese art.
  7. Cathy Ames (East of Eden) – She really was quite unpleasant. 
  8. Detta Walker (The Drawing of the Three) – Not to be confused with Odetta walker, this alternative personality really packed a nasty punch.
  9. Lindsay (Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging) – While the Ace gang had their fair share of internal strife, they were at least able to rally around bringing Robbie’s girlfriend to justice. 
  10. The Lilim (Stardust) – Technically this is three people, and technically they are a group of witches, but technically the're still pretty foul.
Have a great week and head on over to The Broke and the Bookish to join the fun!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Blogging Videos (Kids Choice)

Join us for another installment of the wildly popular and always unpredictable BOOK BLOGGING VIDEOS (and when we say wildly popular, we’d like to thank the 3 people that actually watched our previous two Vlogs)!!!
As we described last week, the rules are eerily simple: Participants should substitute one written book review every other week with a video review. Any genre is acceptable and frankly, as long as the video is related to bookish topics, we want to see it (reading off camera while your cat sits on the couch IS acceptable)!

Once again, we took a detour from an official book review, and decided to cute up our blog with a guest commentator.  It should also be noted that said guest did not receive any type of financial compensation for his sudden inspiration at the very end of the segment... Just watch the clip!

Please enter the link to your Vlog in the below linky so we can visit your masterpiece!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cleaning Our Bookshelves...

Please excuse the dust as we make a few design changes to our blog.  We’re very excited about our new header and would like to thank The 200lb Man for his very capable design skills.  We’re still trying to agree on our new color scheme (this would be soooo much easier if the other bibliomaniac would just agree with me), but when we re-emerge... it will be a sight to see!!!! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011


MarchMarch – Geraldine Brooks
Evan’s ESS = 8 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG-13 (Adult Content, Language, Violence, Hot Headedness, High Minded Aunts)

“For to know a man’s library is, in some measure, to know his mind.”

Why:  We here at Two Bibliomaniacs have never claimed a monopoly on intelligence (although we are super fun at parties), which was reinforced during the reading of March.  Our ignorance lasted all the way until page 197 when we could no longer ignore the eerie references to one of literatures classic novels.  Let’s see if you can connect the dots...  The main character’s surname is March.  The second oldest daughter is fiery and LOVES reading.   The main character refers to his daughters as his “little women” – on multiple occasions.  Hummm....  A quick Wikipedia searched confirmed our suspicion that March is in fact a parallel companion to Louisa May Alcott’s masterpiece.  How do we not know this stuff???

Whenever possible we try to enter a novel with very little background information.  On most occasions we won’t even read the summary on the back.  This technique helps us guard against PPR (premature plot reveal) until just the right moment.  Unfortunately, in the case of March, not knowing the premise caused us to miss out trying to connect the earliest plot elements of the story to Little Women. 

March is a retelling of Mr. March’s experience while off fighting in the civil war.  Overall the story was captivating.  It took some time to acclimate to the new personalities given to each character, and in some instances we were left wanting.  Still, very few liberties were taken based on the information provided in Little Women.  The narrative is very plausible and we had no trouble being swept into the drama.  The topics in March are also far weightier than the original, which was actually welcomed.  Plus, as an added bonus, both Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson make personal appearances. 

The novel did feel a tad disjointed with 95% of the story being told from Mr. March’s perspective and then Marmee jumps in with some quick perspective.  Some have also claimed that March is merely glorified “fan fiction”, yet having a Pulitzer on your résumé has a way of adding instant credibility.  Whether or not you’re a fan of Little Women, you should absolutely read this novel!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Top 10 Most Intimidating Books

Question: Top 10 Most Intimidating Books.

Answer:  In celebration of rewind week (past topics we missed), we decided to pick the topic of the most intimidating books we actually DID read.  In almost every occasion our anxiety was linked solely to page length, however, there are a few authors who by name alone have the ability to strike fear into the hearts of readers.

  1. A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth) – 1300+ pages.  Enough said.
  2. Ulysses (James Joyce) – Joyce is currently on double secret probation with us.  What he did with Ulysses was completely unjust and for the foreseeable future he will suffer our retribution (whatever that means).
  3. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) – Another 1300+ page novel.  Our experience with this one was rather pleasant...   
  4. David Copperfield (Charles Dickens) – For many years we ran from this novel.  As it turns out this is one of our all time favorite novels of all time...    
  5. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy) – Tolstoy is a very intimidating author.  His beard alone is enough to strike fear into the hearts of small children.  For us, War and Peace exceeded expectations, Anna Karenina, not so much... 
  6. Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell) – Sooooo glad we read this one!  The book is a bazillion times better than the movie.  And the movie is a bazillion times better than most other movies. 
  7. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) – Not sure why, but this one was always a little scary.  Another shining example of how baseless our fear can be.
  8. The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner) – Even without a wicked awesome beard, Faulkner is another author who can be very scary.  Following our read of The Sound and the Fury, he’s even more intimidating.
  9. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – For at least one of us, starting this novel required several pep talks.  Jane Austen ROCKS!
  10. Moby Dick (Herman Melville) – Ouch.  Or maybe the better choice of words would be - snore. 

For your convenience (and hopefully entertainment), links have been provided for those book’s we’ve reviewed.  Customer service is our number 1 goal!

Have a great week and head on over to The Broke and the Bookish to join the fun!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure (Thrift Edition)Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Evan’s ESS = 5.1 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = R
(Adult Content, Violence, Controversial Subject Matters, Jaw Dropping Moment)

Why: Even before starting Jude the Obscure, we were familiar with the controversial nature of the plot. Because of this, we felt a little more at ease knowing what to expect, and set our expectations accordingly. Kind of like when your eyes involuntarily squint during a horror movie right before the super nasty bad guy jumps out from behind the closet door. Unfortunately for us, the bad guy didn’t jump out of the closet like we thought... He attacked us from behind without so much as a courtesy attack cry.

Jude the Obscure tells of an obscure man tricked into marriage and abandoned two years later. From there, Jude becomes acquainted with his eccentric and rather attractive cousin. The love affair that follows is as intense as it is scandalous in late 19th century England. And then about 85% into the novel, “the event” happens that nearly caused us to abandon the reading. Wow! Seriously, it almost made us sick. Even if we wanted to reveal the plot, it would be impossible to detail the single event that has drawn the full force of our ire.

Sadly, our entire opinion of Jude the Obscure is hinged on this single horrific event. It’s not as if similar events haven’t happened in other books, they have – plenty of times (okay maybe not plenty...), but we were completely unprepared and blindsided. The imagery seriously took our breath away and we had to reread the text multiple times just to make sure we didn’t misunderstand something. We then had to check the title on the front cover just to make sure that we hadn’t inadvertently picked up the wrong book... Okay, we realize that by dwelling on “the event”, the curiosity factor alone might cause our readers to undertake this novel – our only hope is that you will be more prepared.

For us, there’s little else to say about Jude the Obscure. Overall the novel was compelling and up until “the event”, engaging. We had a difficult time with some of the character’s decisions and philosophical arguments, but we at least understood their motivations. The novel is truly tragic, and as readers, we could feel the pain that Jude and Sue experienced. If nothing else Thomas Hardy succeeded in stirring our emotions – maybe a little too much.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Follow Friday - April 15th

Thanks to Parajunkee’s View for hosting this fun event. On to the question!

Follow Friday: Do you have anyone that you can discuss books with IRL?

Having two bibliomaniacs in the family has certainly provided us with an outlet to discuss bookish topics.  Plus, we are very fortunate to enjoy many of the same tastes in novels.  Although, documented in our latest Vlog (Top 5 best novel debate), our disagreements can get a little personal...    

Maintaining a book blog has also increased our opportunities to discuss books.  Frequently, complete strangers will stop us on the street and inquire about our latest book recommendation.  Okay, while the previous statement is completely untrue, our blog has helped establish the fact that we welcome book talk amidst our network of friends.   

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to be your Class President

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President – Josh Lieb
Evan’s ESS = 8 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG – 13
(Mild Language, Mild Violence, Bullying, Name Calling, Evil Schemes)

“It’s simply the most adorable thing ever: My mother has joined a gang.”

“Sunrises and sunsets are real jerks about putting things in perspective.”

Why: The title alone should inspire you to check this one out. The actual content, well....

Actually, we really enjoyed I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President, however, more than once we wondered what in the world we were reading. The rest of the time we were laughing wildly. Seriously, the narrator is a middle school boy, who happens to be the world’s premier mastermind bent on world domination. Oh, and little Oliver Watson doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s a genius or that he’s actually the 3rd richest person in the world. He LOVES grilled cheese sandwiches and he has a knack for bribing high ranking officials with a rare Boba Fett action figure. Oliver also takes time away from his busy schedule to run for class office.

We hesitate to brand I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President as a mindless read, because there are several profound thoughts within the text, yet don’t be expected to feel “changed”. Maybe a little dirty... The novel wins several style points for its originality, although, at times, we were put off by the mean spiritedness of the main character. Despite his confident narrative, Oliver has some pretty significant daddy issues he must wrestle with.

Still, the novel hit its mark with us and caused a few untimely public outbursts of laughter. The title really does summarize the book quite well. As for Oliver’s success in the world of cutthroat middle school politics... you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top 10 Books That Should Be Movies

Question: Top 10 Books that should be movies.

Answer: There are several movies that we desperately wish could be remade, but we’ll save that EXTENSIVE list for a later date *cough* Dune...  What you’ll find below are the movies that still haven’t had their shot at the big screen (assuming we didn’t overlook something in our research).

  1. The Shadow of the Wind – There are more reasons than just witnessing the Cemetery of Forgotten Books – suspense, love, action, betrayal, pyromania.  We could literally go on for hours. 
  2. The Hobbit – Yes, we know there have been several small scale interpretations of this novel, but we don’t consider the movie version of this epic novel complete until Peter Jackson does what he did with Lord of the Rings.  Hopefully, we won’t have to wait much longer.
  3. The Eyre Affair – While this could turn out to be the most disorienting and disconnected movie of all time, we still want to see Thursday Next, the Prose Portal, and a few SpecOps-12 agents come alive on the big screen. 
  4. Artemis Fowl – The LEPrecon population is woefully underrepresented in Hollywood.  This novel would make a great olive branch.
  5. Bag of Bones – Thanks to Top 10 Tuesday, the vast research wing here at Two Bibliomaniacs has unearthed that this novel will soon become a 2011 mini-series!!!  We don’t have many details, but this is cause for celebration nonetheless (We really should give this department a raise)!
  6. Napoleon’s Pyramids – The ultimate cross between James Bond and Sherlock Holmes (with a pinch of Dirk Pitt sprinkled on top). 
  7. Dragon Rider – Every other book with a Dragon has been made into a movie.  We want to add this one to the list.
  8. Life of Pi – What could be more enthralling than a man and a tiger marooned on a lifeboat together for a ridiculously long time?  We’re very interested to see what the movie people will do with this... coming in 2012
  9. Ender’s Game – This movie is long overdue.  The movie people should also have the technology to do it right!  Coming in 2013
  10. The Historian- Dracula at his finest with a love story and some digging and uncovering of the past – much like The DaVinci Code.

Have a great week and head on over to The Broke and the Bookish to join the fun!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Blogging Videos (Best Books Debate)

We’re baaaaack!!!!

As we described last week, the rules are eerily simple: Participants should substitute one written book review every other week with a video review. Any genre is acceptable and frankly, as long as the video is related to bookish topics, we want to see it (reading off camera while your cat sits on the couch IS acceptable)!

We took a slight detour this week and instead of an official book review, we decided to debate our favorite books of all time.  Fortunately, no one’s feelings were here (too bad), although there was some off camera drama involving a really bad British accent... Just watch the clip!

Please enter the link to your Vlog in the below linky so we can visit your masterpiece!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

David Copperfield

David Copperfield (Collector's Library)David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Evan’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Content = PG (Adult Content, Mild Violence, Mild Violence, Hardship, Redheaded Villainy)

Why: For us it was so amazing to read about David Copperfield’s life.  Personally, we’re not that into magic, but as it turns out, the famous American illuminist had quite an extraordinary past.  Our only problem is that the text isn’t too clear on when his love for magic actually began and there’s not much about his marriage and subsequent divorce with Claudia Schiffer???

Fine, we’ll be done with this lame and overplayed joke, although by now you should have come to expect (and adore) our cheap juvenile humor.  In truth, David Copperfield is a story about a boy who is repeatedly placed in tragic situations.  His youth is filled with grief, abandonment, and physical violence, yet David perseveres.  There are bright spots along the way in the form of several friendships, and one loyal and dear house servant.  Even as the main character’s prospects improve, hardship is never too far away.  In the end, David must wrestle with love, betrayal, revenge and loyalty all of which will define him as a man.

For us, we constantly go back and forth between Great Expectations and David Copperfield as Dickens greatest novel.  Yesterday it was Great Expectations, but the more we reflect on the latter, the more impressive David Copperfield stands in our mind.  The narrative is delightfully complex and the characters are as real as any we’ve encountered in classical literature.  The cast understands how to stir emotions and can be both infuriating and enduring.  Some of our favorite characters include Agnes Wickfield, Mr. Dick, and Dora Spenlow (and her dog Jib).  Divulging our list of most loathsome characters would cause PPR (premature plot reveal).  Here’s a hint, though.  If someone has to keep telling you how “umble” he is, chances are he’s JUST the opposite. 

The novel also contains a couple great “what goes around comes around” scenes.  In many cases revenge comes in the form of perseverance, yet in a few deliciously rewarding scenes retribution comes in the form of a cold slap to the face (literally and figuratively).  The figurative example comes from one of David’s relatives, while the literal example comes from the main character himself.  The novel is truly coming of age fiction at its best and as of this day forth, Two Bibliomaniacs can proclaim, in accordance with Leo Tolstoy, that David Copperfield is Dickens’s greatest novel.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Shutter Island

Shutter IslandShutter Island – Dennis Lehane
Evan’s ESS = 9.5 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = R (Language, Violence, Language, Eerie Settings)

Why:  Shutter Island will absolutely make you shutter (in a good way). 

The book opens as US Marshal, Teddy Daniels, arrives via ferry boat at a hospital for the criminally insane.  His assignment is to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an inmate on the island.  Seems pretty straightforward, right?  Wrong.  Almost at once Teddy realizes something is terribly amiss on the creepy and harsh island.  No one can be trusted and in the end, the web of deceit is arguably more preferable than the truth. 

As a rule, psychological thrillers aren’t really our favorite genre, but Shutter Island knocked our socks off (and turned them a little yellow).  The novel is fast paced and veiled in lies and half truths.  It’s impossible to know who to trust and even more difficult to predict the ending – we tried multiple times and failed.  Teddy Daniels is an incredibly complex character and extremely well written.  In fact, all the characters received our Two Bibliomaniacs stamp of approval for realness.  Additionally, the setting is epic-scary and enough to give any reader nightmares for a week to ten days.

We should also mention that our primary motivation for reading this novel was to allow the viewing of the movie.  (We maintain a very strict book before movie policy in our family).  We are very happy to report that the movie also scored high on our Likeability Scale.  Probably an 8 out of 10 or a 4 out of 5 depending out your preferred rating methodology.  While it was a little difficult to actually watch the pivotal lake scene from the book, overall the screen play was faithful and the suspense was maintained throughout.  

For us, its full speed ahead to Mystic River... as soon our library copy becomes available.  Hopefully Lehane will deliver for us again! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge Update - March

All things considering March was a very strong bookish month.  We (Evan) completed 9 total books bringing our (Evan’s) 2011 total to 32.  We’re also happy to report that Two Bibliomaniacs now has a brand new MP3 player to help with our audio listening needs.  Finally, we’re nearly through season 3 of Lost, which, from an episode count, means we’re over half way finished.  While captivating, this series has had a measureable impact on our reading levels...  By mid April we fully expect to be rereleased back into the literary world (baring any new addictive television shows, of course).     

Here are the reviews that we posted in March that fit into our 2011 Challenges.
Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Here’s an update on our 2011 Challenge.  All the gory details can be found HERE.
Gothic Reading Challenge – 2/8
Back to the Classics – 6/8
What’s in a Name Challenge – 2/6
2nds Challenge – 9/20
100+ Reading Challenge – 32/100

Our TBR list for April is filled with all kinds of good stuff.  Titus Groan, The Haunting of Hill House, The Drawing of the Three, and The Well of Lost Plots.  How did everyone else do in their March reading endeavors?  Send us a link so we can check out your progress!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blog Hop and Follow Friday - April 1st

Thanks to Crazy-For-Books and Parajunkee’s View for hosting these fun events. On to the questions!
Blog HopSince today is April’s Fool’s Day in the USA, what is the best prank you have ever played on someone or that someone has played on you?
I know we’re going to lose some street cred on this one, but our practical joke résumé isn’t that impressive.  Inversely, our remarkable cleverness and sense of awareness has prevented us from being an April’s Fool’s Day victim... okay, maybe we've just been lucky!

Follow FridayWhat is the book that you really don’t want to admit to loving?
Up to this point, a book has not come across our desk that we’re ashamed of loving.  We (Evan) have taken some heat for including Gone with the Wind on our (his) Top 25 list, but we refuse to apologize for awesomeness!!!

Also, don’t forget to check out our first ever (critically acclaimed) video review!!!  The Other Boleyn Girl.