Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chernobyl: Svetlana Alexievich

Story of the aftermath of Chernobyl. Can't put the book into words, one you have to read for yourself. How the explosion was handled is unbelievable.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Live to Tell: Wendy Corsi

Fantastic mystery, I was pegging the wrong person as the "bad guy" and never saw the twist coming, though the author hinted at the character being suspicious. I was also wondering how all the characters would come together. There were a lot of open ties that weren't revealed until the end. Very interesting and gripping read.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Promise Not to Tell: Jennifer McMahon

I have now read all of McMahon's books and am surprise on how they all have the same elements, but are very different books. This story is centered around secrets and people who are not at their best, but so believably human, selfish, and flawed. As in her other books the twists and turns have the reader thinking the wrong person is the villain.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Star Island:Carl Hiaasen

Star Island is hilarious, just as good if not better than Nature Girl. I hadn't realized Hiaasen had written Hoot, actually I didn't even know he wrote for children. The story is centered around a famous singer and various people that need her to survive, interesting twist on what happens in the lives of the rich and famous. Cherry Pye is habitually wasted so her family hires a body double whom the actress does not know existed, until she was kidnapped. Clever and witty read.

The Agency: Ally O'Brien

Very cute lighthearted read. I enjoyed the protagonist's wit and likability. The book was very realistic in when things start falling apart, everything seems to go at once. Well thought out and pieced together. I enjoyed the book ending with hope, if not exactly a happy ending, very believable.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Triskellion: Will Peterson

It was hard to figure out where the author was taking you with mysterious powers and unexplainable events. It was a cleverly constructed book appealing to both female and male young readers by having characters of both genders, but was lacking in an exciting read for an adult- hence being a teen book. The whole time I kept thinking "why do we need...in the book" but it was to add mystery for young readers.

Summer Shift: Lynn Kiele Bonasia

I would have assumed this was the author's first book since she pushed her opinions but not effectively through the characters voices. I thought maybe it would take a while to get into the book, but I never really did, though the recipes in the back were a cute addition. The occurrences in the story were too convenient and not very clever, unfortunately I felt like the book was about nothing and a waste of time to read.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kings of The Earth: Jon Clinch

Very much like a Falconer book, the writing style and the characters are developed so much like The Sound and the Fury. The book is not very exciting or fast paced, but the realness makes it a great read. Something uneventful happens in a small town and is turned into a crime. The story uncovers the lives of the key players uncovering the past and providing insight into current day. I wouldn't recommend this book when there are so many other good ones available.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Tiki Girl: Jennifer McMahon

A story for teens and different than her other stories. She confronts the issues of teenage love and peer pressure in a realistic way. So far I have only REALLY liked one of the three books by this author that I have read.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Island of Lost Girls: Jennifer McMahon

Disturbing book, this Author really likes to write reaccurring themes about young girls and death. I do enjoy how she twists and turns things so you can never figure out who "done it". A very fast read, though it starts out slow, and interesting.

What is Left the Daughter: Howard Norman

This was truly a sad story about not living life, written as though it were a letter to his daughter. The protagonist bounced through life doing what he thought would make peace with others, but never really DID anything. Later in life he does not seem to realize how he was responsible and tried to place blame on everyone else. He still never comes to terms with fatherhood and does not meet his daughter, who had moved to his town.

Purge: Sofi Oksanen

The first few chapters are mysterious, you have no idea where the book is going. Gradually the characters are exposed for who they are, giving life to the saying "walk a mile in anothers shoes". It is difficult to judge the characters and not feel sad for their lost lives. Though Aliide is motivated by greed throughout the book. It is difficult to decide if she snapped when brought in for questioning, or was always so selfish. Very interesting book.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Purge: Sarah Darer Littman

An excellent story about a teenager battling bulimia and deciding what is important in her life. A must read for adolescences about coming of age and peer pressure.

Days of Grace: Catherine Hall

Interesting book from an elderly woman's point of view. As she is preparing for death she revisits the past with her greatest mistakes and moments of joy. The book creates this impending doom, which you are wanted to find out, but at the same time not sure you want to know. The war time slogan of keep your mouth shut and smile meant much more to the protagonist. i felt like the story ended without really concluding.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dismantled: Jennifer McMahon

Messed up, twisted, weird story! Very very good, will be getting the other books she has published. the story has so many twists and turns you can form an opinion on who is doing what and why. Very well written and super entertaining.

Between Here and April: Deborah Copaken Kogan

Very original story, never read anything remotely close to it. Very interesting, quick read. I love how she compared her life to not only her friend's mother's, but to the gerbil as well. Great use of imagery. It was ingenious how the author was able to develop the character as a person, and then add all of her other titles as the story progressed, mother, wife, lover, etc, but developed her character as a person first. There is a certain distance I have not come across in reading before. The book gave insight on how one can have the perfect life on the outside, but still be a wreck.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: Daniyal Mueenuddin

I felt as though I should have listed the characters in this book. Since the stories are interwoven it was hard to keep track of who did what and was related to whom. The stories were all very touching and most were sad. The title couldn't have been better as it compares how vastly different lives can be.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: David Sedaris

Filled with Sedaris' clever wit, these stories model human life and occupations in a humorous way, showing that "aren't we all just animals?"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Girl in Translation: Jean Kwok

The best book I have read in a while, I finished it in a couple hours. She has an amazing, vibrant voice. You are proud of the protagonist and the choices she makes. A very good read. I eagerly await her next book.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hannah's List: Debbie Macomber

A very lighthearted simple book, a little too scripted to be believable, but a quick, easy, predictable read.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Anna Karenina: Leo Tolstoy

I hadn't known this quote was from Anna Karenina, but I love it " All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I enjoyed how the story started right away and there is little in the way of extra unimportant information. The story starts with a woman hurt by a man, switches to a man hurt by a woman, both couples are reconciled, but ends with another woman hurt by a man. Parts of the book reminded me of Vanity Fair and it felt like three books ( each about a different couple) combined into one story about the family as a whole. The Middle got sort of dry, but the ending was unpredictable. Tolstoy combined everything; one love story ends happily, another mediocre, and the last dramatically. It was a very good book though and was insightful on human nature and human relations reacting with life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Father of the Rain: Lily King

Very raw and emotional book, you can actually feel the hurt Daley experiences and the feeling of not being wanted by anyone. This book has to be written by someone with these experiences, it's just too acurate to be envisioned. The ties she has to her father who is such a selfish individual are completely believable too, how she has to hold on to good memories of him from her childhood in order to last her for her entire life.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mockingjay: Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay is the third and possibly final story in the Hunger Games series. It had been a while since I had read the previous book and it took me a few chapters to remember what had happened. Collins recapped what happened previously in such a way that it wasn't a bunch of extra garble for the reader. The plot is Hard to predict and the storyline keeps the fast pace as in the other books. It was impossible to determine what Peeta's role in this book was to be. I did have a hard time believing all the plots and plans were devoted to keeping Katniss content, come on who is that important lol! The book did seem to finish the series and was just as good as the other two, with more action and death. It seemed like Katniss did a lot of sleeping through this story.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Widow of the South: Robert Hicks

The story moves forward as different characters take up the narrative. Expertly written about not only the pointlessness of war, but the way everyone is affected. Interesting and informative, makes you wonder how many heroes are forgotten. This novel was based on a true story and very heartfelt as well as wonderfully crafted.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Passage: Justin Cronin

Interesting book about the battle between good and evil. I enjoyed the different means of delivering the Story. The beginning of is oddly distant and impersonal, followed by a section of letters describing bizarre events. The next section is more personable and the characters are developed followed by a journal entry, laws and a watch log. The story was formated really believably, as if the world were starting over. This would be a great movie since there are a lot of characters and the "glowing people" and "vampires" would be more effective if seen. Towards page 200 it gets sort of Stephan King-like and seems like the ending, but only about a quarter of the way. The book is divided up into sections and each is very different from the next, It reminded me of growth, where the characters all die out and new ones emerge. It was a very entertaining read and reminded me of several other things I have read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: Victor Hugo

Interesting book. I still liked Les Miserables more. Though I understand why Hugo spent so much time describing the architecture it took away from the story for me. I would get into a section, then there would be a few chapters of description breaking up the flow for me. Even though I knew it was a sad story, I was still hoping for a happy ending. I didn't like any of the men in this story but the hunchback and was a fan of the goat. I want to know what happens to her!

Peace Breaks Out By: John Knowles

From the beginning this book seemed like an attempt to rewrite "A Separate Peace", or at least as a hope for a sequel to be as successful. I like subtle hints and this story seemed to push the reader into what to think. It also pointed out too much the similarities between Phinny and Pete and Wexford and Hochschwender as well as English vrs. German. There did not seem to be much of a storyline and a lot of filler to make it long enough. Wexford's friends set up Hochschwender as the one responsible for breaking out the glass in the chapel, then beat him up. Hochschwender, having a rheumatic heart, ended up dieing. In the end, the school blamed the war.

My Friend Flicka By: Mary O'Hara

I was thinking this would be an Old Yeller type story for young boys, but it ended up having a happy ending. A story about the coming of age and responsibilities as well as different parenting styles. It was a cute book, but not one I would recommend for any reason. Probably more of an old classic type story like Louis L'Amour's.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee By: Dee Brown

This book made me physically ill. I didn't even know one percent of the atrocities the Native American Nations suffered. White man did everything in their power for hundreds of years to make the Indians go the way of the buffalo, to extinction. After taking their land and putting them in the shittiest places they decided they could then use something in the new reservations, weather it be land for a train, road, lumber, minerals. If the natives were able to survive in these places, they then wanted them back for settlers, and it wasn't even there land to parcel out to begin with. After taking away their livelihoods and land to live off, for they were completely self sufficient which settlers couldn't seem to understand, They expected a thank you and still put a white person to oversee them to ensure they did not find happiness. The Whites started massacres over putting up a flagpole, or if someone sneezed it seemed. After reading this book I realized I would fight to the death rather than live the way the whites made them. I was devastated time after time the natives lost, whole tribes were wiped out, tribes hunted out others as mercenaries and deceived the very people they should have been helping. I was very impressed with Sitting Horse and his conduct. The whites feared him with good reason. He was a man of dignity and pride and would not cave to intimidation. He said "White man knows how to make everything, but not how distribute it" about how they treated their own poor". The same thing can be said today about white man in general. The Government even went so far as to call the natives communist, who must be wiped out. So many times I wanted to put down the book since I felt numb, but the desire to know the whole story prevailed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mythology By: Edith Hamilton

The first sentence in this book was insightful and I have never thought of it before " The Greeks did not believe that the gods created the universe. It was the other way around: the universe created the gods". This was a very comprehensible and complete list of characters I had never heard about. I also did not know that mythology started with only man on the earth similar to the story of Adam and Eve. The Story of Cupid and Psyche was also very similar to both Cinderella and Snow White...hmm...

A Stitch in Time By: Ann Rinaldi

This was a cute story for young readers giving perspective on early colonial life and the push for western expansion after the civil war. It covered universal topics for a children's story of adventure, scandal, love, and heartbreak complete with a happy ending.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Asylum Prophecies By: Daniel Keyes

Weird beginning. So the father hypnotises the girl with histrionic personality who knows a terrorist plan of attack and he tells someone on the phone in front of the terrorists that his daughter knows the secrets, yet the terrorist don't know she knows the plan? Ten pages into the story two people have been shot, a plot has been revealed and there is minimal character development. I really liked his non-fiction books, but this one has a lot "don't think of why it would happen like this, it just would" sections. Like the fact that all this is happening at an asylum, why would terrorist hide out working in an asylum? Raven's in the asylum as a patient and her dad just happens to work there, her mom had committed suicide earlier so he was her last relative. It seemed a little to convenient. Raven is kidnapped by the same terrorists that she "secretly" knows the plan from and they try to get information about the activities that they should already know about. The story got better as it went on, but the split personality came across as corny and the love scenes were out of place. I feel he tried to include too many undeveloped ideas into a single book. There weren't any characters that I liked either, but I was able to finish the story without too much frustration.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brave New World Revisited By: Aldous Huxley

This...essay? made me laugh, then sober up real quick. Huxley spends the first chapter arguing that his vision of the future is better than Orwell's 1984. He does go on to explain why he is so bitter towards Henry Ford, which he did predict accurately. He was worried about the larger businesses, using assembly lines enabling them to put products out faster, would "gobble up" the little businesses. Although he did not go on to envision us relying on foreign countries for these cheaper goods, hurting small businesses even more. His theory of "herd thinking" versus "individual thinking" was a sort of epiphany for me. I knew this was true, but he explained how Hitler used it as "Herd Poison" which made it much more serious for me. The stress limit tested by Pavlov was equally interesting- people can last between 15- 50 days until stress before they break down. I also learned that Soldiers in World War II were given supplemental hypnopaedia instruction at night to go with their day time training with favorable results.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Brave New World By: Aldous Huxley

Frightening book for the insight Huxley had in 1932 about the future of society. The first chapter is reminiscent of cloning and test tube babies. Huxley thought out everything, shock treatment in babies to form the desired response to modeling a child for a particular life, to creating a need in people to keep them consuming and the economy running. There is an obsession about sex, yet sex is not necessary, other then for enjoyment. Yet instead of the government enforcing sterilization, they enforce condoms, Huxley dreamed big on some things and couldn't imagine a world much different than the one he was living in. Where Orwell (1984) included technology monitoring people, Huxley who wrote before the television was invented, had a different approach in learned behaviors and pills (closer to today's world). Where It was interesting that Huxley included "The two thousand million inhabitants of the planet had only ten names between them" furthering the idea that people no longer think for themselves and there is no need for names, since there are no parents to name them. He creates a world where there is no emotion, therefore no satisfaction in life. The story is woven by smaller stories progressing together. It amused me that the clothing style was still that of the 1930's. The "Georgie porgie " remix song gave insight on Huxley's sense of humor. Though I did not understand why Huxley was so against Henry Ford, and referred to his envisioned society as "Fordism", where the symbol is a T, from the model T, but the society isn't founded on production lines. The embryos are all worked on assembly lines, but is odd that it is done by humans, who make errors, there were really no advancements in his world. He gets his point across with his quote "getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it". Which is basically what we do as modern humans.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A River Runs Through It By: Norman Maclean

I am confused as to if this is a story from the author's life or just includes some of his experiences. The reader fells an intimate kinship with the characters in the book and learns a lot about fly fishing. It was not until the end of the story that we find out how the little brother was killed and even then there are very little details. It took one paragraph to explain how someone who lived a simple yet satisfying life was brutally beaten to death. I don't remember the movie being much like the book.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Still Missing By: Chevy Stevens

So Disturbing. An amazing book, the story of the abduction is story enough without adding the rest, mind boggling. This book really gets you thinking about the abductor, whom no one knew and how this could actually happen to someone, maybe even yourself. The physical abuse was atrocious, but no one ever thinks about the rest in these cases, how thoroughly he psychologically screwed her up. Her mom was unbelievable- selling all of her stuff for a search and then donating it to charity instead of letting her have it back to live on. I cried through the entire book and read it in one setting. The people were just so unbelievably horrific. "The truth doesn't always set you free" was a great quote for the front cover. Still disturbed after reading it.

The Help By: Kathryn Stockett

One of those books you think about long after you've finished reading. The setting was reminiscent of Secret Life of Bees for adults. The characters are so real and described so vividly. Within less than 500 pages so much happens, it is one of those hard to put down books, where you get annoyed when someone interrupts you. All of the main characters are such strong and inspiring women, it was a very emotional and inspiring book. The entire time reading it I was stiffened up with fear for the characters. Her message was very much about taking a chance. After doing some research about Stockett, who is from Jackson Mississippi, I realized the character of skeeter was very similar to the author. Stockett is a wonderful writer and I just learned Dreamworks is making a movie from her book. This is exciting news since this is her first book.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hiroshima By: John Hersey

A devastating and depressing book due to its content, but uplifting in the courage of Japan's citizens. When asked about the bomb, most citizens claimed such things were to be expected during times of war. This story follows the lives of six citizens and where they were when the bomb was dropped to years later and how their lives changed. Very interesting book with plenty of informative facts about World War Two mixed with the telling of personal stories.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tiger Eyes By: Judy Blume

A clever book for teens where the girl is not characterized as bitter or a goody two shoes, making it very believable. The protagonist's father was shot in a burglary and she found him. The book is about dealing with the loss of a parent and the change in family dynamics, while still having to go about daily life. Very well written for any age reader.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sybil By: Flora Rheta Schreiber

Intriguing story about a woman diagnosed with sixteen personalities. While reading it I was completely absorbed and wouldn't even know how to tackle writing a story like this, Schreiber did an impressive job. There is a feeling of surrealness about Sybil, but then the cat could tell the different personalities and had favorites. Plus, why would Sybil make all this up and still go through electric shock therapy? What a terrible ordeal to go through, though very interesting to read!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

To Be A Slave By: Julius Lester

Intriguing story. I had not thought of slaves being brought to the Americas for exploration before Jamestown was even settled. They were ideal for the settlers since they did not know the lay of the land like the natives who could escape successfully, and they looked different unlike indentured servants who could run off and blend in with other settlers. Written very well for children, it alludes to the gruesome facts without going into gory detail. The story is created from a collection of quotes taken from actual slave accounts. I also learned that three fourths of the South's population did not have slaves and most owners had less than twenty slaves. The ending of the book was dark and ominous though "The white folks have been and are now and always will be against the negro". Did he feel that was an effective way to be objective?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers By: Lillian Jackson Braun

Braun's books are more cute and enjoyable than serious hair pulling detective dramas, so although this book did not get much praise, it was still enjoyable and did it's job, which was to entertain. Set in Moose County CoCo goes crazy over a box and once again solves a mystery, but not before someone is mysteriously killed by a bee sting and Qwill's home burns down. Light hearted and interesting read, from the monotony of life when you age to clever witticisms, it was enjoyable.

Something Wicked This Way Comes By: Ray Bradbury

Interesting children's story. Very Stephen King meets Cirque Du Freak. Two teenage boys find trouble when the carnival comes to town...in October. Bizarre and unexplainable events start to happen and the boys figure it out. Interestingly enough the one boy's father, who is a janitor at the local library and a well read, older, and unremarkable man is the hero. Unable to keep themselves out of trouble the father saves them...but was it too late? Interesting read for either gender and ahead of his time. After reading more on Bradbury I learned he wrote this story based on an event from his childhood. When he was 12 a carnival preformer "Mr. Electrico" tapped him on the nose and shouted "live forever" which inspired him to write everyday in order to "live forever". Incredible!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finnegan's Wake By James Joyce

Holy Cow! After reading the first chapter twice and still not making any sense of it I decided to move on. Someone died, there was something about a guy on a horse and then I kept zoning off. Thank goodness I found this... "Finnegan's Wake is a work of comic fiction by Irish author James Joyce, significant for its experimental style and resulting reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the English language."( Wikipedia) Well, that makes me feel better! Chapter two is easier to understand and in that I mean I COULD understand it. The character is evidently a man named HCE for "here comes everybody" apparently there was some scandal he was involved in with some girls. AAHHh- I give up! Some people hail this as an amazing work, but they are much more dedicated than me!

My Name is Mary Sutter By: Robin Oliveira

Very nicely written historical fiction. Set during the Civil War. Mary Sutter is determined to become a surgeon, but she is met with one obstacle. She is a woman. Interesting story and wonderful characterization. The reader becomes upset with the way Mary is treated as well as educated about the war. Although a bloody and gruesome time, some good comes from the devastation, like medical advances and the correlation between bacteria and illness. Mary eventually gets her wish, but continues to face hardships and begins to doubt her effectiveness and her wish.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Minds of Billy Milligan By: Daniel Keyes

Fascinating book. I was awed by the fact that one of his 24 personalities was right handed, two were siblings, one had dyslexia and all have different physical descriptions and speech patterns. It would not only be confusing to keep track of what each personality does and acts, but to keep up the charade for any amount of time would be exhausting, so I completely believe the character when he claims to have different personalities. There is also the evidence that his family could sense the changes when he was a small child. My heart went out to him, and anyone who has to live with such a condition on top of the event which caused the dramatic self preservation technique. I was floored by the difference in Billy's pictures, which were credited to different personalities and that he was able to live a somewhat functional life being controlled by such different conflicting uhm...minds.

My Life in France by: Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme

A very fun book. Made me want to get her cookbook and give it an attempt. She made the most of life and seemed like such a fun person. A good book to put into perspective how much work she put into her dreams to accomplish them not only for herself, but her two girlfriends as well. She had such an interesting and busy life, cooking school in France, her husband tried for communism, and appeared to have such a dynamic personality. An inspirational and motivating book.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Catching Fire By: Suzanne Collins

A sequel to Hunger Games, this book did not disappoint and may have been even better than the first. I could have read for another 1,000 pages and am searching for the last book in the trilogy now. The book starts a year after the hunger games and is entertaining and unpredictable. I want her to write more books, she is better than Stephenie Meyer in my humble opinion.

The BFG By: Roald Dahl

I was inspired to read something of Dahl's after reading Mountains Beyond Mountians (since Farmer had dated his daughter Ophelia). The BFG was dedicated to his daughter Olivia, who died when she was seven years old from measles encephalitis (twenty years before the book)
I can see the book being a hit with children since Dahl uses a bunch of funny made up words and it is a happy fairytale where kids do heroic things, like save the Queen.

Madame Dread By: Kathie Klarreich

A journalist who lived in Haiti before, during and after the political strife between 1980's- 2006? interesting to hear from the perspective of someone who wasn't raised there, but became a local. She went from having confidence in Aristide to watching him become a murderous dictator like the others. The story ends on a positive note for her life getting back on track, but depressing since Haiti is still dangerous and going through constant upheavals. It makes the reader realize how posh our life is when we had to decide what to get at Starbucks and they are fighting for their lives.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

61 Hours By: Lee Child

Is it sad that the most memorable thing from this novel was the line "He was the first in his family to own a Boeing"? It was a great book as far as detective novels, that line just amused me and was an insight to the author's dry sense of humor. The protagonist finds himself assisting the small town authorities in solving a few cases after his ride breaks down. Halfway through the book you figure out who "done it" but have to wait until the end for the motive. I enjoyed the book because it was very realistic, things did not go as planned and good people were...
Amusing sort of McGyver story, with the hint of romance.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Small Island By: Andrea Levy

Very interesting and a hard to put down book about World War II from a different perspective. The reader learns to distaste almost everyone in the book. One feels awful for the protagonists. Their desperation for something more in their life, finding discrimination they didn't know existed in a place they dreamed about as a type of Eden. It was heartbreaking to see them not only give up their home and friends to a loveless marriage and move to the mother land, but also how they were misinterpreted. People assumed their shock was ignorance and treated them as children and idiots, when they were actually portraying those attributes. theough the bbook you realize the story is not just about two people but four and all are dynamic characters. Amazing ending, the whole story is centered around the theme of coming full circle, in a heartbreaking way. The characters started their life thinking they were escaping their upbringing, only to find another set of troubles in which no one is happy with the way their lives turn out. It shows how war changes people and the importance of forgiveness.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Missing Mark By: Julie Kramer

Author of Stalking Susan, I liked this book even more than her first. Very upbeat, witty and enjoyable and I hope she is working on more! News anchor Riley Spartz gets involved in another murder mystery, but completely different from her first story. A very clever and fun read.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gregor and The Marks of Secret By: Suzanne Collins

Another one of those cute stories for young readers. Different from Collin's other book I read " The Hunger Games" which seemed to be cross gender, Gregor, which is a series, is most definitely for boys. There are scorpions, bats, mice, rats, adventure, and heroism, not to mention a budding star crossed romance. The entire book lead up to an "impending battle", with mention after mention of prophesies (boys must like that type of thing) to Gregor raising his sword and..oops, story is over forcing the reader to get the next book. I still enjoyed it for its genre and found it both original and clever.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Well Witched By: Frances Hardinge

For ages 8-12, a cute story about what might happen if you steal coins from a fountain. The take is a little different from 3oh3's music video "starstruck". It was fitting for children, but I kept finding my over age twelve self going...huh? So in the end, a very fitting read, liked her book The Lost Conspiracy much better.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mountains Beyond Mountains By: Tracy Kidder

Interesting read from a true humanitarian. He is so humble in his work and adds things like "A girl arrived by donkey ambulance" "working against sorcery" making the reader stop and realize in what poverty stricken areas he is practicing. Farmer's childhood was very reminiscent of "Glass Castles" by Jeannette Walls, although not as traumatizing. OK I guess the only similarity is the non-mainstream parents, but I found it intriguing never-the-less. I unfortunately had never heard about Farmer prior to picking up this book by chance, but what an amazing person. I was amused that he dated Roald Dahl's daughter, which makes me want to do more research there as well. Not only did Farmer change the way TB was treated but also lead the way to medicating Peru, Haiti, and Russia. Though I understand treatment in confined areas, I was still amused that inmates were treated before actively contributing citizens. It was also interesting to learn that Cuba has more doctors per capita than any other country in the world and about 500 of them worked gratis in Haiti.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Second Bend in the River By: Ann Rinaldi

A cute children's story about Tecumseh and Rebecca Galloway. Follow along with the ideas in "A Sorrow in our Heart" by Allan Eckert, which she used as a reference. Very quick read giving insight into why Galloway refused marriage.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Three Weissmans of Westport By: Cathleen Schine

One of those clever "coming full circle" books that you know will have a happy ending, I just wasn't expecting it to end like it did! A cute, heartwarming read about a couple in their seventies who get a divorce and how if affects their lives and the lives of their grown family.I enjoyed how the author developed the characters without spending a lot of time on exact characteristics. It was very natural getting to know them, not forced.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Sorrow In Our Hearts By: Allan W. Eckert

A very impressive and thoroughly researched novel about Tecumseh. Interestingly enough he was born when a comet passed through the sky, which is how he got his name "the panther passing across". They believed the great panther spirit was seeking a place to sleep. The tale was that every night this happened somewhere although it was rarely witnessed. Then his little brothers (triplets) were born which was also unusual for the tribe.interestingly enough the brother that would end up ruining everything Tecumseh worked towards was also rude and ill mannered as a child and Tecumseh was the only one who could tolerate him, so he was extra kind to him. It was interesting to learn more about Simon Kent, Daniel Boone, and other frontiersmen from a different angle where they are just people and not seen as heroes. It's devastating reading a novel, where you feel more " in the moment" (opposed to a historical reference) how the natives were tossed about. It is hard to fathom how many tribes are now extinct and not having any rights- they signed peace treaty after peace treaty where they did not benefit at all. They were relocated time and time again and it was surprising anyone survived with the difference in weaponry. Tecumseh was truly an amazing man, I thought his creation of the sacred sticks was an amazing idea.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner By: Stephenie Meyer

This is a story developing a character that was mentioned in the Twilight series, though I don't remember the character AT ALL. Still an interesting read, but lacked the elements of the twilight series where you needed to finish the book to find out what happened. Unfortunately I kept putting the book down and coming back to it simply because it bothered me that I didn't remember this character. Very short read where everything comes together in the last few pages.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Hunger Games By: Suzanne Collins

Very clever and interesting novel. Collins was able to pull me into the story like Stephanie Meyer's novels. Set in the future, it is believable and frightening. Very reminiscent of Stephen King's Running Man, where people are pitted against each other purely for entertainment, but a teen version. This story was the first of a trilogy, and she has also written another chronicle series about Gregory. I have reserved them all at the library since I was into the story and NEED to know how it ends.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell By: Tucker Max

Stories about one boy's college frat life. Amusing in his retrospective writing, he is uncouth and uncaring, but at some point in the book you think enough is enough. He is too old for this behavior and realize he must know he lives a sad pathetic life when he has to bare all to get attention. By the end you (are not only embarrassed that you were caught reading the book) feel bad for the guy. He is in his prime now, I don't think it will get any better for him. He is a clever writer, but could he write on anything else? When he matures and sits around with the guys telling stories, will they still have the same amusing quality? He is one of those people you find funny from a distance, but wouldn't want to be friends with because he is also embarrassing. he definitely has a target age group for his popularity. Yet I still enjoyed reading his book.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Name is Memory By: Ann Brashares

Author of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, this book was written for adults. Very powerful, had me crying several times...yeah yeah, sappy girl, I know. A man remembers his lives for over a thousand years to finally be with the woman he burned alive in the first life he remembers. Very powerful as he describes the years they met, but were in incompatible age groups and then the times they could have been together, but things didn't work out. You want them to be together so badly, but like she ends up saying...maybe they weren't meant to be together.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hell Gate By: Linda Fairstein

Very interesting and complex read. Fairstein has a lot going on in her novel , but it is very concise and impossible to predict. intermingled with the story are interesting tidbits on New York's history. I really enjoyed this story and it was obvious she is an experienced writer. I just couldn't help thinking towards the end...Why does the murderer always confess his crimes to the girl before he kills her and then something goes wrong!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ransom By: Lois Duncan

A cute book for kids, I enjoyed the childlike romance parts that I would have related to at the proper age. It was a very nostalgic sort of book to what I would have read when I was younger. A happy ending and characters are exposed for who they really are at the end.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Keep By: Jennifer Egan

Interesting book, It started off at a castle and the characters were introduced and you think you know what is going to happen. Then the story changes and the protagonist is telling the story from jail making you change everything you thought was being foreshadowed and you can't figure out how he came to be in jail. Then you find out he left home due to some "trouble" with some guys. The book had me until the "twist" (to not give it away). I had to read the page twice since I was thinking "what just happened...huh?". I liked what she was trying to do, but then felt like it wasn't very effective. I sort of lost interest after that. The beginning was much better than the ending.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Seven Story Mountain By: Thomas Merton

A very humble story without being preachy , it is solely about his search for self-completion. Merton credits becoming a monk on having " the mentality of a medieval serf when I was barely out of the cradle". He is very opinionated though, which seems funny, he says "Thousands of Catholics everywhere, have the consummate audacity to weep and complain because God does not hear their prayers for peace, when they have neglected not only His will, but the ordinary dictates of natural reason and prudence, and let their children grow up according to the standards of a civilization of hyenas. He had a very interesting and painful life. His mother dies when he is six, his father when he was still a child, and both grandparents while he was in college. Then his brother is killed in World War II when Thomas is in his twenties, leaving him with no family. After his father's death his grandparents give him his inheritance (while they are still alive) in allotments so he can live and he pretty much raises himself, travelling the world as a teenager. He didn't tell his story with any hints of bitterness, simply stated what happened. It was humbling to know Merton did a lot of soul searching before he knew what he needed in his life, which he found as a monk.

The Lost Conspiracy By: Frances Hardinge

This was a science fiction sort of book for children. It was a "Harry Potter" for girls and very cleverly written. The last 40 pages or so seemed to drag, but I still enjoyed it for entertainment purposes. A tribal girl has been raised to be the keeper of her sister, who the tribe is not sure if she is handicapped or special where her spirit can leave her body. The tribal term for this "soul flyer" is "LOST". Mysteriously all of the LOST in this culture are found dead. The protagonist is then not only responsible for her and her sisters safety, but also for unraveling the mystery.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

If I Loved You I Would Tell You This By: Robin Black

A collection of short stories about human relationships. Very different characters and issues being dealt with, but all stories deal with the notion of love in some sense. They were a miss of heartwarming and hurtful. I wouldn't read it again, not enough spice for me, but was interesting never the less.

Making Toast By: Roger Rosenblatt

A sad, but very heartwarming story. The author has such a different perspective looking back over his daughter's life after she has died and appreciates her even more. It was touching to visualize his interactions with his grandchildren and he is able to appreciate them so much more as a grandparent, since he doesn't have to fill the role of father. A very good celebratory, yet painful memoir.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beauty Salon By Mario Bellatin

The Narrator's voice was very David Sedaris, but not as masterfully crafted. The 63 page story is simply about the narrator opening up his salon to the diseased of the town awaiting death, as a place to die. It frustrated me not knowing what the disease was, at first I thought it was AIDS, but then he states that one of the younger men died of tuberculosis. Then the narrator gets the disease (seemingly from wearing their clothes and not just from being around them) and has sores on his face, which didn't sound like tuberculosis, though I am not a tuberculosis expert. The tone is one of bitter detachment and seems to get joy from causing pain. He keeps the people at the salon almost as prisoners and won't take anyone who still has some life left in them. Interestingly enough the story of him caring for the sick is coupled with him caring for his fish. When he gets bored with the fish he stops feeding them and lets them die or eat one another. Disturbing read.

Friday, August 13, 2010

American Music By: Jane Mendelsohn

Story of the unexplained occurrences between a Veteran of the Iraq war and his physical therapist. When she massages his back she is struck with visions of things she believes he has seen. After a session he is also plagued by memories he didn't remember having. The book is confusing at first because what is happening isn't explained real well, I had to read the summary for that eureka moment. As it turns out, the veteran is able to glimpse parts of other peoples lives from the therapy. The therapist and patient are aware that the other also sees the visions. At first I believed that they were lovers in past lives and are able to remember by being together. The power of love and all that jazz. Then maybe 20 pages from the end we learn that the visions they see are actually the stories of their ancestors. Personally I thought it was too jumbled. The author intermingles the visions with the background on the characters and since there are several different people in the visions it is hard to keep them straight. Fascinating idea, but I didn't feel it was executed effectively, and wouldn't actually recommend this book, though Oprah did. it wasn't until the end that I was able to understand what was going on and then the layout made sense.

Burning Bright by Tracy Chavalier

A cute book about adolescence which indirectly is also about Writer William Blake. I always find Chavalier's stories intriguing and this one did not let me down. Her stories are simply about life, in another time, at another place, indirectly describing someone famous. The characters were so real and different from each other. In the beginning of the story Jem's family moves from the farm to London and he relies on Maggie to get him through life in the city. As they grow up their roles switch and Maggie seeks for Jem when there are troubles. A very interesting read where Blake is characterized as sort of an odd fellow who forges his own path and does what is right.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Silent Sky By: Allan Eckert

This book was reminiscent of The March of the Penguins. You find yourself wondering how any birds ever survived even before man became a predator. Throughout the story I found myself rooting for the pigeons and hoping they would make it even though they are extinct. It was a very powerful book and you learn to hate poachers even more. it was sickening to read, but found myself unable to stop reading.

Where are the Children? By: Mary Higgins Clark

Disturbing story due to the antagonist, but very believable and unfortunately truthful to today's society. Dealt with one sick person, whose sole purpose seemed to be to cause harm and well, sicken the reader. I actually listened to this story via book on tape and found myself laughing at the recurrent line "Where are the children?" due to the way it was said. Once I got past that, it was an enjoyable story. It wasn't until the towards the end that the reader knew for certain the identity of the kidnapper. I especially enjoyed the way the characters kept overlooking major clues and found an ordinary explanation for everything, similar to how the reader would in their own life. I enjoyed this mystery and will look for more of her books in the future.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Witch of Blackbird Pond By: Elizabeth George Speare

A cute children's story with a predictable and happy ending. A young girl from Barbados moves to New England to live with an aunt and was raised very differently from the people there. She befriends another outcast like herself and is tried with witchcraft. Interesting and quick, light-hearted read.

The Gunslinger By Stephen King

A boys beat um up shoot um up story. Very bizarre Science Fiction Western type book. Not one of my favorites.

Ramona By Helen Hunt Jackson

This was a very sad story. Reminded me of the Thornbirds and Gone With the Wind, the heroine after struggling, gets the man only to lose him. The book deals with the treatment of the Native Americans during manifest destiny and goes into further details than most stories. Not only is their land and livelihood taken, but they are accused of stealing, violence and all the injustices that white society is actually doing to them. Time and time again settlers come to their home and simply say "I am going to live here" and they are forced to move. they have absolutely no rights and no respect. Jackson did a splendid job of making you feel the helplessness both for Ramona, Felipe, and Alessandro. She also showed the mind set of the time where the natives were slaughtered like animals for petty things, if there were in fact even reasons.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mysterious Skin By Scott Heim

Well written book, I felt like I was reading someones diary and violating their privacy. Hard to believe a person can write a book like this just from imagination. Heim makes you feel like you are in each of the character's head and feel their fears and hurts, a very powerful book. I was a little apprehensive on where the story was going with the UFO's and alien encounters, but it was very interesting at the end. The characters were also all very amusing and entertaining and I felt sorry for all of them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd By Agatha Christie

Very clever story! This was surprisingly the first Agatha Christie book I have read and was completely flabbergasted. I never suspected the Murderer. Very good quick read, will be looking for more of her stories. Delightful characterization as well, I enjoyed the character of Caroline immensely.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Black Like Me By: John Howard Griffin

Taking place in 1959, a white man decides to darken his skin to see what it is really like to live as a black man. His basis was that a black man will never tell him how bad his life truly is to a white man, being scared that there will be reprisals from the white man. I was saddened by the precautions the narrator takes in setting up his "Experiment". He acts like a guilty man at the beginning , not wanting to get his friends involved in case they get attacked for allowing him to do this study. Then after reading up on John Griffin, realized that was exactly what happened. After the story got out an effigy of him was hung in his home town and he received death threats. He was eventually forced to move to Mexico. The book was extremely powerful and showed how utterly powerless Griffin was as a black man. He goes from being treated with respect and kindness from the black population to being treated with contempt and like a child from the whites. He realizes the absurdity of his position while standing outside a restaurant. He says " though I am the same person with the same appetite, the same appreciation, the same wallet, no power on earth can get me inside this place for a meal." This was a very powerful read and makes you hope this heart wrenching treatment isn't tolerated today. In his book Griffin talks about his time of blindness and how his senses of smell and hearing were heightened. Upon further research into Griffin's life, I found that he was blinded from an accident while in the United States Air Force and was blind for 10 years between 1947-1957. Two years later he began this book. This experience lasted for one month, when Griffin realized he couldn't withstand anymore. It really made you think about the people that cannot say "I've had enough" and live another life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Caves of Perigord By Martin Walker

The Narrator is a female and I would have sworn the author was too, he nailed the female thought process. The book started with a gentleman bringing a stone slab to an antique dealer, which sounds like a boring story, but became very interesting. The book has three stories intertwined;the story of the painting on the rock, the soldier in WWII who found the rock, and the current day man with the stone. I also found it odd for a male writer that each was composed of a love story. It was a very quick, cute read, with something surprising happening in each story. I would even read it again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trent's Last Case

Detective Phillip Trent is called to a murder investigation and throughout the book becomes a rather atypical detective. First he falls in love with a suspect and then solves the case, only to realize he was wrong. The Murder is complex and neatly cleaned up, so it is amusing to find out at the end of the book that the person who actually committed the murder is the person Trent is dinning with. Trent claims he is done with crime detection and that this will be his last case. Published in 1913, it was a dry read and I had to force myself to finish. The ending was very surprising and acted as a reward for getting through the book.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Talisman By Stephen King and Peter Straub

It was hard to get into the first few chapters of this story, it was as though the authors were taking turns writing sections, then it became almost completely a Stephen King book. It was a cute story about good verses evil. A young boy has to save his mother and a kingdom against the unexplainable and prevails. Filled with clever happenings and adventure it was an enjoyable book.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Castle of Otranto By Horace Walpole

The story starts on a prince's wedding day, but the prince is killed by a helmet falling from a statute? The king only has the one heir and decides he will divorce the queen and marry his son's betrothed to insure the kingdom will remain in his family (assuming he will have sons with the new wife). The princess runs off and seeks help from a peasant and a friar, who hide her until her family comes back to bring her home. The princesse's father falls in love with the king's daughter and the kings decide to marry one another's daughters. In the meantime King A thinks his son's betrothed, now his betrothed is meeting the peasant who was attempting to hide her (wow, this is getting confusing) and ends up stabbing her killing his own daughter who had fallen in love with the peasant. So neither of the princesses want to marry old kings is what I am starting to get out of this story! In the end Rescuer A the peasant marries princess B who was first betrothed to the Prince, then to the Prince's father. King B goes home unwed, but with a new son-in-law. If you like puzzles, you'll like this book. If princess A was wearing a red dress and princess B was bethothed to the king who did not own the black horse, who wore fairy slippers?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dimanche By Irene Nemirovsky

Irene Nemirovsky converted to Roman Catholicism 3 years before her death at age 39 in Auschwitz in hopes of protecting her family from Antisemitism. She even began writing with anti-Semitic views. Her daughters survived along with her writings, many were published post-humously, the most famous being "Suite Fancasise".
Dimanche is about the relationship between a girl and her mother. The mother resents her husband who thinks he is being a clever cheater and that no one suspects his infidelity. She looks back on her life and realizes it was all a waste, she spent her life waiting around for her husband and is just now realizing that he had never told her he loved her. She is relieved that her girls are not filled with silly notions of love and that they are cold and indifferent. The daughter sees her mother as cold and indifferent and believes her mother doesn't know what it is like to be young and in love. She goes off to meet a boy after getting permission to stay out late, and the boy never shows. She waits 2 hours until she calls him and another girl answers, crying she wanders home. When he calls and claims the girl was a passing fancy and he will meet her the next day she agrees and is happy again. neither mother or daughter realise how similar they are and that they are destined for the same type of unhappy life.

IT by Stephen King

Very Bizarre. This book took me almost a month to finish, it was hard to get into. I usually love King's character development, but I think he chose to develop too many characters in this story. A couple characters he introduced, developed, then killed. Making me wonder why I spent the time reading about them. I was also confused on a few contradictory points in the story. Throughout the book only the kids are able to see the clown. The narrator actually mentions this twice, yet when interviewing the elderly about episodes of violence in the past, the clown is always remembered. The characters remembering It were adults at the time of the sightings. I was also confused on motive. It sends messages to call the loser's club home, yet when they get there It warns them to leave. It is scared if them, yet wants revenge, then why didn't It attack when they were scouring the town individually instead of when they met back up as a group? The movie was also odd and the ending was left up in the air. So the kids come back as adults and the movie ends with the kids killing It and Stan committing suicide. It never touched on the reason for the adults coming back. I was a little disappointed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Story Without an End By Mark Twain

Funny short story, a bunch of men get together to tell stories and take turns finishing it to see who has the best ending. One story is about a man that loses his hat in the river and strips down to get it, but before he can get redressed he happens upon some ladies that request his help and his carriage. How will this story end?

Sucker by Carson McCullers

This is a cute coming of age story. A boy ignores his cousin Sucker, who lives with him and is like a brother, but then when he starts dating a girl they become buddies. When the girl ditches and embarrasses him he starts being mean to Sucker and finds out how it is to be treated as he was treating Sucker.

The Good, the Bad, and the Mad By E. Randall Floyd

Intriguing book, providing more insight on famous people from history. P.T.Barnum was a deeply religious man, even though he based his life on misleading people. His first exhibit was a woman who claimed to be 161 and a nurse to George Washington. He believed he was providing people with the entertainment they craved at a fair price. His museum burned down twice which made him decide to create "The Greatest Show on Earth" with his rival James Anthony Bailey.

Giacomo Beltrami was an Italian wanderer who roamed the US looking for the secret source of the Mississippi carrying nothing more than a red umbrella. He could neither hunt or row a canoe, but was saved time and time again by the natives. He never discovered the source of the Mississippi, but did collect Indian artifacts which are still displayed in Italy.

Edgar Cayce was a photographer who suddenly lost his voice. He tried hypnosis, the newest treatment at the time, and not only got his voice back, but was able to shout out remedies and prescriptions for other maladies while under hypnosis. Soon he was able to diagnose and treat patients with only an address, though he completely forgot anything that happened when he came out of hypnosis. He then started making predictions about nuclear energy and reincarnation, which baffled even himself.

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was a hypochondriac and feared "evil spirits had taken control of his body". He sucked on lemons constantly and had to keep his posture erect, rarely using chairs. he would ride in battle with one arm over his head to "establish equilibrium". Ultimately scholars believe he died from pneumonia when he lost his arm since he had the habit of covering himself with cold towels to relieve pain.

Tecumseh was a prophet and predicted the rivers running backwards (earthquake) and the eclipse, although unfortunately not a whole lot is known about him.

Nikola Tesla was an inventor who's work was mostly credited to Edison. He was supposedly working on a "Death Ray" when he died, government espionage was suspected.

Sarah Winchester (wife of the rifle manufacture) heard voices when her husband passed and kept building onto her house. When she finished (after 38 years, 24 hours a day) it had 40 stairways, ten thousand windows and 467 doors. she believed the voices were from people killed by her husband's invention.

This book motivated me to research further into some if these people and was an interesting read.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

The Narrator is an older gentleman confined to a wheelchair and appears to be an embarrassment to his family. His son believes he should just check himself into assisted living instead of insisting on moving out to the farm, which the son wants to sell for personal financial gain. The narrator has moved to the farm in hopes of writing a book about his grandparents through their letters and papers scattered throughout the house. Intermingled between the mundane routines of the man's day the story comes to life. It is an interesting comparison between the narrator, whose unpretentious life has become very simple and painful from aging, to the grandparents in their prime. Lyman Ward is an amusing narrator, he plays the part of a crotchety old man, who says funny things like "thanks for your help, which I suppose I will recover from" and picks on a friend's lisp. It includes very simple and humbling entertainment. Lyman starts reading his grandmother's letters and is embarrassed by the content, he realizes he is prying into her heart. After learning his grandmother was a lesbian, he realizes she probably never felt this great love for his grandfather like he had assumed. It is confusing if the pieces between reading the letters and his daily activities are all speculation or if the reader is to believe it is a flashback to his grandparent's day. The story is about life in the mine and the grandfather keeps losing his job, forcing the grandmother to keep moving back in with her parents. At the end Lyman realises how similar he has made his grandparent's life to his. Although a good book, it was not really something I would read for entertainment, you should have an agenda in picking this piece. It comes alive in the last 100 pages.

QB VII by Leon Uris

QB VII stands for Queen's Bench courtroom number 7 in a London Court. The story starts with a doctor being accused of being a war criminal in the Nazi camps during World War II. He spends two years in jail until his name is cleared and he is released, seeing his son for the first time. The first portion of the book creates the background for the Plaintiff and how he lived his life in the furthest reaches of the earth hoping to remain anonymous. This portion serves to show that the doctor is a good man and seeks betterment. The second portion is dedicated to an author who decides to write a story about the atrocities of the holocaust and stumbles across information against the doctor. He includes it in his book even though he is not sure that the doctor actually committed the crimes. The book is brought to the doctor's attention from a boy he considers a son and want to give his business to after retirement. To save face he presses charges and both men's lives are changed (the doctor and the author). The Defendant's attorney brings witnesses to the stands that testify to the treatment in the camps, but no one can actually attest that the doctor was the one responsible. There are stories of "shock therapy" and castration and the focus appeared to be on the lack of pain killer used and the Whys to the happenings. Nothing seems to be relevant to the doctor's guilt, but the fact that conditions in the holocaust were unspeakable. In the end the Defendant brings in a witness that holds a medical log indicating how operations by the doctor were preformed and ties all the patient that gave testimonies to the victims operated on by doctor Kelno. The plaintiff's closing speech states "We have learned that Adam Kelno was not a madman, but an ordinary man in an insane situation. He is the tragedy of us all, suddenly trapped in the most horrendous circumstances." But doctor Kelno loses the respect of his family and community. He tried to redeem himself through acts of kindness postwar, but lived in paranoia because of the horrible things he had done. This book shows that even the aftermath continues to destroy people.
After doing more research on QB VII, I learned Uris wrote it about his own experience writing about Dr Wladislaw Dering in his book exodus. The Doctor was also awared the half penny.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Seamstress by: Frances De Ponted Peebles

This story is set in rural Brazil and is about two sisters who are as different as the dreams they keep. This was not a book with happy endings, it leaves you numb after reading. It is a complex story expertly woven about the strength of love when you do not expect it and exposes heart breakingly that you cannot understand love nor the ones you love. Though a larger book (641 pages) it moves quickly and painfully. The reader easily gets into the book and roots for the characters in their lives which differ in everything but their desire to help the same people, though they have different ideas on how it should be done. Their only connection to each other is through news in the paper, one an outlaw, the other a philanthropist, each finding solace in their sewing, neither happy with the turns their lives made. A must read although it is geared more for women.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer

This was a cute lighthearted mystery told from a different source. A news anchor is given a story from a police officer friend about a serial killer.The protagonist makes a story about it for the nightly news and makes some enemies as well. Although she is not really trying to solve the murders, but make a comeback and save her job with a shocking story, she solves it. The murder is identified by the reader before the story reveals him, but it is still a cute and interesting story. Defiantly a girl book and worth the quick read.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

wow- where do I even begin with this book...I will admit I did not know much about Malcolm X before reading this book, so in the beginning where he is telling about his life as a juvenile delinquent I was getting upset. Thinking, who wants a leader with no morals, then I thought maybe this was included to show his journey of finding himself. But he glorifies that he is too cowardly to go to war (yet carries a gun) that he is with a married woman and with her just for the sex and status it gives him, he is selling drugs, working for train stations for a couple weeks just to get the passes, breaks into peoples homes and than states "I want to say that I have never previously told anyone my sordid past in detail. I haven't done it now to sound as though I might be proud of how bad, how evil, I was" as though he knows he glorified it, if he has to make a disclosure.

OK, so then he goes to jail for robbery and betters himself. He has all this time to reflect on his life and he cannot take the blame for anything he has done. He needed to find an outlet for his pain and directed his anger and blame towards a race. It is as though he cannot feel any love for anyone and then justifies his ideas with if you do not believe this, then you are brainwashed.

(Which is what cults do and discredit thinking for yourself, but it is sad he cannot accept that he was doing wrong by his own choice and had to find something to blame for his bad decisions.) He does not see that it was due to his hard work and dedication in prison that lead him to be a literate public speaker. Everything to him was racial- black and white, there were no grey areas and not simply right and wrong between races. Granted I never lived in the 1940's, but he would have more been effective to me if he could stick to one idea. At one point he says the Jewish population is as bad as the white devil, but then talks about WWII and the atrocities suffered from the white man to show how the whites are devils, but then two pages later he talks about how the "Jews"rip them off in the ghetto. He talks about his complete faith in the Nation of Islam and then states that they will probably take the only thing he owns, his house. It is hard to determine if he can think for himself or if he is just parroting what Elijah Muhammad said since his beliefs constantly conflict. I was amused by the scandal of adultery with Elijah Muhammad because he justified it with stating it was a "fulfillment of prophecy", " When you read about how David took another man's wife, I'm that David. You read about Noah, who got drunk-that's me. You read about Lot, who went and laid up with his own daughters. I have to fulfill all of those things." It seemed too similar to the YFZ raid in 2008. When you continue reading you realize Elijah Muhammad is actually crazy and the best thing he could have done was to oust Malcolm X, although he does not stop there and orders Malcolm's death. Malcolm states "I knew that no one would kill you quicker than a Muslim if he felt that's what Allah wanted him to do "To be fair though Malcolm did do a lot of good in his community under Elijah, he cleaned up the junkies and gave people the confidence and support to open businesses as well as a sense of unity.

By the end of the book I did respect him, but this did not come until he learned to think for himself. While reading I kept thinking, he is undoing all the work Martin Luther King had done. He completely changed his beliefs each time he had a scare in life, and I truly think he wanted to make a better country, he just needed to find himself first. This book had me on an emotional roller coaster, I did not like the man at all until the very end when he stops having such extremist views and wanted to seek compassion and unite instead of spreading hatred. Now I realize it was written by Alex Haley as the events were occurring, it was not written as a reflection on his life.

On Stanger Tides by Tim Powers

This book was the basis for the movie Pirates of the Caribbean and was followed loosely. Jack Shandy's uncle made off with their inheritance and the story is about him seeking revenge. Unfortunately his ship is taken over by pirates and he chooses to become a pirate over death. These pirates are lead by a man searching for the Fountain of Youth to bring his dead wife back to life. Unfortunately this book did not hold my interest and was too weird for me to enjoy, I wished the characters were a little more developed.

Storm of the Century by Stephen King

This book was written as a screen play for television and surprisingly easy to read. It usually takes a while to get into the groove of reading solely dialogue, but it read very smoothly and was...well... creepy. The small town of Little Tall Island (remember Dolores Claiborne) is hit by a "monstrous" storm when a newcomer comes to town. You learn a lot about the evilness of man and what fear turns a person into. It was a very good book and I am sure an intriguing movie, which I have yet to see. I plan on viewing it if only to see how the supernatural plays out. It was believable in the book, but on screen would possibly be difficult to capture.

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

This was a very interesting book coming from Stephen King. Purely a fantasy, it did not include any supernatural beings and lacked his elements of horror. It was very enjoyable and hard to put down. This story has everything, adventure, humor, love, evil beings, good people doing evil things, sorcery, and even a happy ending. King did a great job making this book believable, he is a mastermind in developing interesting characters that are instantly likable or despicable and always realistic. I am still looking for another book similar to this one and think everyone should read it at least once.

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Published posthumously, this book is completely different than his others. Though still very good, I usually pick up his books to enjoy the scientific twist. Interesting enough some believe this to be the basis for a video game he was going to develop. It was not a very long book, but it seemed to take me a while to read, I had trouble getting into the plot and enjoying the characters. I kept looking for a character like Gerard the African grey parrot in Next. The plot is a typical pirate movie searching for gold, but nothing atypical occurs. There is the bout of witchcraft and a few fast paced sections, but nothing real memorable. Pirates of The Caribbean, which was written from the book Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, seemed to also incorporate this book, the similarities were astonishing. I found myself thinking if he were to publish this himself he would have adding to it, this was a sort of skeleton for a great book. If you have never read a Crichton book I would start with his others so you can see what a truly great author he was, such an educated creative man.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Moon and Sixpence by William Somerset Maugham

The moon and sixpence is based on the life of Eugene Henri Paul Guaguin a french painter who's style eventually lead to the Synthetist style of Art. The book talks about how he abruptly left his wife and children as well as his position as a stockbroker to pursue his desire to paint. At the time no one saw the beauty of his paintings and he had never actually sold anything until after his death of syphilis. It was interesting how the book does not put him in a good light like so many other influential people are characterized. He left his family destitute and lived the rest of his life off of others. The author describes him as a person who has no feelings and very little talent. This was a short easy read, and I learned a lot about a little known painter. There was also one quote I really liked. " A woman can forgive a man for the harm he does her, but she can never forgive him the sacrifices he makes on her account".

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

I like to read the books before watching the movie, since the books are usually so much better. This story started out a little slow, but once you get into it you cannot put it down. Taking place on an island once used as a fort and possibly by pirates before that, it has been turned into a mental hospital. The protagonist is a marshal sent to find a missing person, who was not really missing. Once you think you know what is happening, the partner becomes a little suspicious and then disappears leaving the Marshal to determine what is really happening on this island and more importantly how to leave.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle in this story refers to a few different things. it is a story about finding yourself once you don't care what others think anymore. A man is in a car crash and his body is badly burnt, he elaborately plans for his suicide and the day he is released from the hospital when he makes an unlikely friend. The author did a wonderful job making the book readable for everyone, the friend is schizophrenic and believes they had met in several other lives. The man does not believe in the possibility, but he begins to look forward to her stories and he finds peace with himself and something to look forward to in his life. Oddly enough at the end she does what the protagonist had wanted to do from the beginning, bringing the story full circle. If you found this story interesting you may also enjoy Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Labyrinth toys with the idea of Reincarnation and weaves two stories together over a span of time. It deals with the idea of the holy grail, very much like the Da Vinci Code series and ends with supernatural happenings much like a Stephen King book, but while reading it you are completely absorbed. The main character who was a protector of the books of the holy Grail in a past life is the Archaeologist who rediscovers them in present day. This was Mosses first book and was written very well. If you like this book, you may like Andrew Davidson's first book Gargoyle.