Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

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.