Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

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.