Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Life Class: Pat Barker

Interesting title to this novel since it was the name of an art class he was taking and summed up how he had grown by the end of the book. The main character Paul admires a classmate, but then when he realizes she is unattainable he falls for her married friend. After that fiasco WWI breaks out and he volunteers for the Belgium red cross. Through letters between him and the unattainable woman we see how he changes and tries to share his life and experiences with her and she remains trapped in an unrealistic world. She admits she is selfish and I don't know if that makes her character more interesting or more unbearable, but in the end Paul still claims to love her even after seeing all her faults. A very deep and moving story that exposes both sides of war, those fighting and those still at home.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sitting Practice: Caroline Adderson

A heartbreakingly honest book that makes you cry and then feel giddy with relief. The first part of the story covering the accident would have made a fantastic book in itself, but it went on to show how they healed and grew as individuals. This was an excellent story and I enjoyed it for how humbling it was, pointing out what you take for granted and the strength of human relationships.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Rose and the Beast: Francesca Lia Block

I remember liking this author's stories when I was younger and decided to read some of her newer writings. This one was a collection of fairy tales retold in modern day setting. It was interesting, the last story I wasn't familiar with, but the rest were pretty easy to guess. This would be an original and fun read for the right age gropu, I still found the stories amusing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When Will There Be Good News: Kate Atkinson

This book started off very shockingly and I started frantically reading to find out how it could happen. It was then slow for a little while developing characters until you realize who is who in modern day. Again the events are surprising, how so many lives intertwine, crazy events happening, but all very believable. the characters are also very likable, it was an enjoyable read and I will be looking for her other books. I felt content after reading it even though some horrible things happened. I especially enjoyed the mix up with the rental car.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Year of the Flood: Margaret Atwood

I had some trouble keeping the characters straight at the beginning of this book, but I was impressed by the poetry. A post Apocalyptic world caused by man where man made creations roam because everything natural is extinct. The cults of people and the world itself are original, believable, and interesting. The time spans seemed off, but I did enjoy the book.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fragile Beasts: Tawni O'Dell

I loved this book. It was a story about a wealthy spinster and two orphaned teenaged boys. The humor was great and I was impressed by how Kyle and Candace's humor was so different coming from the same author. Great character development.I was surprised by the ending, I really thought Klint was going to commit suicide using the bull. I also enjoyed the flashbacks and development of each character.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lost: Alice Lichtenstein

An excellent book on the topic of dementia. A woman moves herself and husband to a new smaller town after he starts losing memory and is embarrassed to be around their old friends. She ends up taking a walk while he sleeps, she comes back to find the door open and him gone. the book progresses with his search and intertwines with other character's stories. In the end she ends up fostering a little boy with pyromania, whose story mixed with finding her husband. This book really made me think about what our future may hold.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Man Who Forgot How to Read: Howard Engel

This was detective writer Howard Engel's story of suffering from Alexia after a stroke. He was able to write, but couldn't read what he'd written. This story touches on the experience as well as his miraculous recovery. I think writing this book was part of the healing process for him and it served well as advertisement for the most recent detective novel he wrote because now I want to read that too!

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Feel Bad About My Neck; and other thoughts on being a woman: Nora Ephron

A witty book through a different view on simple things like carrying a purse, and how you can tell someones age by their neck or her time working for JFK. The neck part sort of frightened me since the neck is supposed to get flabby at the age of 43!! Her last chapter where she talks about aging and death made me cry since she just died earlier this year. A very cute quick read.

Sophie's Choice: William Styron

So much happened in this book, it will be hard to cover. I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before coming across a list of banned books because it is an incredible story. I liked that the narrator tells us his nickname is stinky within the first few pages. The voice of this novel is very down to earth and likable, I enjoyed how Styron made the narrator an author. The story weaves together the lives of three very different people; Stingo, a southern boy aspiring to be an author, Nathan, a person we believe to be a doctor, but is actually crazy and Sofia, a survivor of Auschwitz. The story goes back and forth between Sofia's past at the concentration camp and her history to what happens at present time in the book. Sofia tells about her Father, who was a supporter of the "final solution" and was one of the first people murdered, having to choose which of her children would go to the gas chamber and which would live, and her life with the crazy man in the United States. This was an excellent book and I look forward to reading Styron's other stories.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How To Break A Terrorist: Matthew Alexander with John R. Bruning

This was a book about how Interrogators changed tactics to get information through hospitality rather than violence. The book focuses on Adu Musab al Zarqawi, the terrorist who murdered Nicolas Berg. I especially liked the voice in this book, it is very honest and open. It was very easy to read. I was glad both the success's and the mistakes were included.

Simone Weil: Francine Du Plessix Gray

An excellent biography about Simone Weil, a french philosopher and social activist. She was a Jewess during World War II and ended up committing suicide by starving herself while in the hospital. She was inspiring by how much she did in her short lifetime. She is known for her compassion for the less fortunate and seemed like an interesting, if highly opinionated person. I hadn't known who she was before coming across this book, so it was nice to learn about someone so different from the normal "famous person".

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rabbit, Run: John Updike

At the beginning of the book you sort of feel sorry for Rabbit because he is just starting to realize he has become ordinary after being a basketball star in high school. He realizes how much he detests his wife whom he married because he got her pregnant ( who is now expecting their second child) and one evening just drives away from everything. He Spends the night with his old basketball coach, who makes him feel like someone important again and meets a girl in a bar. He ends up living with her for a while and gets her pregnant also. His wife then gives birth to their daughter and he leaves the girlfriend (Ruth) to play the role of father again. Every attractive woman he comes across he believes is in love with him and he convinces himself that what he feels for them is love as well. He seems content for a couple weeks and then takes off again to go back to Ruth and finds her place empty. In the meantime we finally see the wife's perspective and see she is depressed and takes to drink to comfort herself on her immature husband. While intoxicated she tries bathing her new daughter and ends up drowning her. Rabbit comes back and is supportive until the funeral where people look at him in distaste. In anger he cries that the death was his wife's fault not him, which earns him looks of horror- once again he runs off and learns Ruth is pregnant with his child, but she doesn't want him either. The books ends with him running again from the mess he has made and responsibility. This was an interesting as well as infuriating book due to Rabbit's behaviour.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Denial: A Memoir of Terror: Jessica Stern

I had originally picked this up because I liked the author's book "Terror in the Name of God". At that time I didn't realize this book wasn't about Terrorists, but a different type of terror. In this book she revisits her childhood rape. She talks about the haziness of her memories of the event and the aftermath. She didn't remember some of the details until reading the police reports. She talks about the trauma, the PTSD, and how her mind has helped her cope. This book was so full of strength. She interviews her father, who survived the Nazi's, another rape survivor, friends and family of the diseased rapist, and a soldier also suffering from PTSD. I was so irritated during her interviews of the Rapist's family and friends because of their denial that he could or would rape, while the proof was interviewing them. Though I guess it shows how loved ones don't want to see what is right in front of them and how you never really know someone. I applaud the author for not only her journey in dealing with such a horrific crime, but for her voice in this book as well.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Lady of the Sea: Rosalind Miles

This was the third and final book of the Tristan and Isolde trilogy. I was hoping for an unpredictable ending, but they ended up together riding horses under rainbows with thoughts of children. I did like how most of the characters were brought back together and the book ended with some finality. There is turmoil with the Pict's, King Mark, Andred, and between Tristan and Isolde. These weren't my favorite books, but I think they are probably targeted for young girls. They were still entertaining and an easy read.

The Maid of the White Hands: Rosalind Miles

This was the second of the Tristan and Isole Novels, I was really hoping it would end similar to how it is documented, but oh well... The whole section at Castle Plaisir de Fay was sort of corny, all these women holding a man hostage for a little something something? I laughed and moved along in hopes the book would get better. This second story was definatly less historical and more a romance, which wasn't what I was looking for. I couldn't figure out how Mark was supposed to be, at first he's portrayed as witless, then mean, but loves Tristan, then he can't think for himself.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle: Rosalind Miles

I thought this was going to be more of a fiction novel than a romance. It was still an interesting read, but the queen's (Isolde's mom) character seemed forced and I didn't understand how Tristan had a sword and shield available when the tournament happened if he had come to the island ill and dressed like a Pilgrim. The story seemed to never end, but I can' understand it was being set up as a trilogy...and I have decided to read all three. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Micro: Michael Crighton and Richard Preston

An interesting story again dealing with science. A company learns how to shrink objects, and then people, to approximately one inch. At first they intended to use the technology to send people out into the jungles of Hawaii to find new medicines, but then the founder gets greedy there is some question on if he stole the blueprints from another company he had worked for previously. People start disappearing. When I started reading I was afraid it was going to be similar to "Honey I shrunk the kids", but it wasn't a comedy. I was surprised on how many and which characters died. This story was good at pointing out how people you don't like seem to evolve into something pleasant once you get to know them. An enjoyable read, but I was still baffled on how there was a waterfall in the mud puddle they swam in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1984: George Orwell

After reading Fahrenheit 451, I decided to reread this story as well. I thought the section where Winston is reading the brotherhood's book was long and slow not to mention repetitive. Knowing what happens, the story was filled with moments of- NO don't do that! and was a depressing read. At least the first time I read it there was a possibility of a happy ending, there was hope. I did find the idea of three countries interesting especially that Oceania was so separated, the Americas, South Africa, Australia, and Britain. I would think that would be hard to protect across so many oceans. I was also interested in the idea of three social classes and how they evolve into one party and separate again. I had forgotten that he was left to live, if you can call his wandering state living, for some reason I thought he became an "unperson".

Peaches for Father Francis: Joanne Harris

I love the voice in her books. This story was a sequel to Chocolat. Vivianne goes back to the town in Chocolat after receiving a posthumous letter from a friend. She finds town has changed. Middle Easterners have moved into the part of town the "river rats" used to inhabit. The Priest was accused of setting fire to one of the new women's home and had become an outcast. The story seemed forced, the turmoil was between the Muslims and the French townsmen and was different than her other stories in that I didn't really get into the story. I did find out there are two of her stories that I don't remember reading, so I am looking for those now...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury

I had read this as a child and decided to read it again to refresh my memory. I had forgotten most of the happenings of the book, merging them with 1984 and The Giver. I had forgotten that his wife Mildred turned him in and that the neighbor girl was killed by a car. The ending was new to me. I thought the teacher he had met was killed and I had forgotten the robot dog chasing him and he meeting with a pack of hobo teachers in the end. I was confused about the war. Who they were fighting against and who exactly bombed his town. I also don't think I realized when I was little that his wife did him a favor by turning him in for having forbidden books because it got him out of the town which saved his life. Reading this book as an adult made me think about the evolution of children's books, today most child and teen books have main characters that are around the same age as the target audience. This story followed an adult's life. It was still a great book for an adult and I enjoyed it all over again.

Dune: Frank Herbert

When Starting this book I kept thinking about how similar it was to Star Wars, after doing some research I realized it was written over 10 years before Star Wars. A family gets "relocated" from their planet to another desert one by order of the emperor. I don't know if I missed why this happened, but I didn't understand this throughout the book, anyway the Baron that had previously ruled the planet killed the duke.The duke's son and concubine were assumed dead, but actually sought refuge with the natives. The son gains power, realizes he had super human powers and his arrival had been prophesied. He seeks revenge and marries the emperor's daughter to ensure peace throughout the galaxy. There are large worms that get ridden and too many references to there being limited water on the planet. My husband really liked the book and it seemed geared towards young boys. It was still entertaining though.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Terror in the Name of God; Why Religious Militants Kill: Jessica Stern

Another interesting book about terrorism, read one book you like and it leads you to more! I liked a lot of the statements in this book. It was definitely one that I mused over taking notes. "Male children raised in cultures of violence are more likely to become delinquents or violent criminals. Not surprisingly, many of the terrorists described in this book grew up in failed or failing states where violence was commonplace." It was odd to me to see abolitionist classified as terrorist, since they were doing what was morally right, but I guess doing it by violent means created that classification. "For these reasons, Lincoln supported punishing the terrorist abolitionist, even though he concurred entirely with their cause."
"Writing this book has helped me to understand that religion is a kind of technology. It is terribly seductive in its ability to soothe and explain, but it is also dangerous. Convents such as the one I visited as a child may make good people better, but they don't necessarily make bad people good. They might make bad people worse." "What is so deeply painful about terrorism is that our enemies, whom we see as evil, view themselves as saints and martyrs." "attacks sometimes have more to do with rousing troops than terrorizing the victims. Bin Laden, for example, appears to believe that spectacular attacks made him more appealing to his followers. In his words, people follow the strong horse, and abandon the weak one."
The chapters talk about cults in America, The Middle East- Hamas as well as other organizations, the jihad in the Philippines, the radical right Jewish Groups, and the anti-abortionists who kill doctors.
I thought the fourth chapter where one of the people Stern interviewed was insightful when they started discussing the United States. His point of view was "Americans think they've succeeded in using the Internet to occupy the whole world. They're mistaken. Some people use the Internet to promote the most extreme fringes of Islam, using the tools that America gave them. and other people use the Internet to promote the most vicious neo-Nazi ideology." "There's nothing left of what America used to be...In America, People have no education, no religion. They play with computers, television, pop music.These people have no values to fight for. This is the way fascism is created psychologically. First by absence of values. Then by accepting violence."  He goes on to say "America emphasizes the individual to the extent that the individual becomes nobody." I see a lot of truth in these statements. Internet has allowed hate groups to bond with other hate groups in other countries with relative ease. The statement about American people having no values, is also becoming true, and no pride, I am from an area of the country where people move across the river because one state offers higher welfare benefits and more children equals more money. (OK I am getting off my soapbox now- back to the book) It was very well written and insightful. She was risking her life interviewing like she did, but brought back such interesting material.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Next: Michael Crichton

A book warning about the evilness of patenting Genes. At the end it talked about SARS and how scientific research was halted because they didn't know who owned the patent three people/companies were claiming it. I loved the transgenic animals (animals with added human genes) especially the talking parrot. I also like how this book has multiple important characters who all seem to come together at the end with different stories of genetic issues and where the future may be headed. It is hard to summarize this book because so much goes on and there are so many characters, many of them swindlers and thieves.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Crossed: Aly Condie

The second book in the trilogy, which started with Matched. In this book Cassia does find Ky in the outer providence after they both escape from the decoy posts. They come across an abandoned town belonging to the "farmers" and decide where to go from there after finding maps and propaganda from the rebellion. Ky, Cassia, and their new addition "Indy" all join up with the rebellion. In this book we find out Xander is part of the rebellion in town and we begin to believe that the "rebellion" is actually a faction of the government set up for weeding people out. At the end Ky notices that one of the "airships" is damaged and seems to line up with the damage the farmer had mentioned the 12 people who had died on the hill were setting up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Name: Wilkie Collins

I so enjoyed this book, I assumed it would be drab and wordy like other books in its day, but it was quite lovely! Two sisters find out they are penniless after a freak accident befalls their father and their mother dies in childbirth. The parents hadn't been married until the year they passed away and hadn't updated the will. The children weren't "legitimate" at the time of the old wills creation. The fortune was left to the nearest relative, the eldest brother of the father. We end up following the fortune from person to person as the brother dies leaving the wealth to his son- Noel Vanstone.
I thought the characters were clever- I especially liked Mr. Wragge's speech on how he was a leech and how he was entitled to what other people had-regardless on how hard they had worked for it even though he never worked. His scheming was probably more stressful than if he just got a job. It reminded me of a lot of people today! The housekeeper of Noel Vanstone was also intriguing on how obvious her manipulating was, but Noel really believed he thought up everything she told him to do because she added "I agree with you sir" as if they were his thoughts. The book was amusing. It was suspenseful up to the very end and you just knew Magdalen's (the youngest sister) plan to marry her father's nephew was going to fail. I also liked how things ended where the oldest sister who just gave up and succumbed to her fate married the man who got their fortune after Noel Vanstone's death. I was glad Mr. Wragge ended up working in the end, though how honest his work was is debatable.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Matched: Ally Condie

A cute teen girl book about a future society where everything is done via computer. Even Matchmaking. At first, she is excited about her match and her future, then she starts thinking for herself and freedom of choice. She falls in love with someone else who is from the "outer Providences" and cannot marry. It is very reminiscent of the Hunger Games. Two boys- one rebellious, one perfect in the eyes of society and one is already chosen for her. The book ended where there would be a sequel, she and this new guy she likes-Ky are separated. It was interesting and enjoyable to read and I will seek out the rest of the series. I just have a problem with the "teen girl" character type, but it is probably accurate for girls that age- I just can't remember it was so long ago!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Permanent Security: Kip Hawley and Nathan Means

I am sure this was an interesting book, but the voice sort of put me off. It was a bit bitter and pompous. I liked learning about how everyone came together and the organization was born and evolved. This book also mentioned disphoria with the FBI. The book alternated between what the terrorist cells were doing to what the TSA was doing to battle the threat. I hadn't realized the exact threats that were being prevented with each new security procedure- like a person claiming they have a pin in their hip and that they will set off the detector, but they actually had a gun?! Bombs in wheelchair wheels?! I guess they are clever :(

The Grand Inquisitor's Manual: Jonathan Kirsch

A very interesting read I happened to pick up simply because I liked the old timey cover. The book covered all the inquistitions from the 600 years of persecution of Cathars, witches, Jewish and Muslim converts, protestants to WWII, Moscow show trials, and the McCarthy Era. There are several other things that could be added like the Chinese Revolution, Rowanda, and Bosnia etc.
I knew a lot of the ideas the Nazi's used were used previously, but I was reminded that the nuremberg Laws were similar to the Jewry Law of 1268.
Disturbing book, but very insightful- I seem to be reading a lot of disturbing books lately...but this was very educational about history and how it repeats itself. It leaves you realizing humans can be very vile.

Terrorist Hunter: Anonymous

A fantastic book, it is frightening that the same theme I read in this genre of books over and over again is how messed up the FBI and CIA are throughout the entire organization. A woman attends terrorist funding activities and the religious services of extremist to obtain information about terrorist activites. Her findings were paramount in stopping funding for terrorist organizations and their leaders in the US from getting citizenship. It was both ridiculous and terrifying that our government agencies who are dedicated to this sort of thing knew less than she did about the terrorist and activities and all she was able to access were public records. I cannot believe she was then sued by some of the terrorist organizations- messed up! This woman was incredibly brave and a true patriot. A very well written and interesting read.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Double Cross: James Patterson

I haven't read a Patterson book in a while and after reading this one, I want to catch up on the series. A fast paced, didn't see it coming sort of book. Alex Cross, who has retired from fighting crime and become a psychiatrist, gets drawn back into the action when his detective girlfriend's crime scene evidence was addressed to Cross. Two killers sort of working together from different parts of the country are trying to get at Cross and his girlfriend. In the end one gets away to wreck havoc in another book. Clever story though, a fun to read- page turner.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Zen and Now on the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance :Mark Richardson

I thought I had put a hold on the actual Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, so I was a little irritated when I started reading and realized it was someone reliving the Zen experience and writing about it. I thought it was going to be a copycat. It was actually a writer for a motorcycle magazine (which was the only reason I decided to read it and give this book a chance) who took the route to see where it would take him. This Zen and Now was Mark sharing his story about his collection of people and memories. He referenced Pirsig and quoted the original book throughout his story which made it seem more heartfelt about his purpose. I did enjoy it and if anything it made me want to read the original even more.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Red Flower of China: Zhai Zhenhua

Frightening book about a girl who becomes part of China's cultural revolution. It's terrifying not only that it happened shortly after WWII's atrocities, but that it could easily happen today. Following Zhenhua's childhood was so similar to the Nazi Youth, it wasn't until her party turned on her that she began to think for herself and the people she murdered or abused. Really well written and very honest. (and did I mention frightening?)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I am Forbidden: Anouk Markovits

Wow- what a heartbreaking story! I cried several times, very artfully written. The story begins pre-World War II Europe and ends in present-ish day New York. It weaves in and out of several lives forming love, distance, redemption, destruction, the whole gamut of emotions in life. The struggles within religion and family are so believable and despairing. I don't even know how to summarize this book, it is one you have to read to do it justice.

The Coral Island: Robert Ballantyne

This book was the inspiration for Golding's Lord of the Flies. It's about 3 shipwrecked boys; Ralph- the narrator who is 15, Peterkin-13 and Jack-18.The story is kind of dull until chapter 19 when Ballantyne stops spending time describing  the island and its wonders and adds some action. Though before wikipedia and TV this book was probably packed full of interesting exotics; penguins, breadfruit trees, sharks, water caves, wild pigs etc. The last half of the book includes visitors to the islands, battles, kidnappings. So at least it ended excitingly!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

America The Vulnerable: Joel Brenner

Rather frightening eye opener. You hear all about conspiracies with china hacking into that hardware that they have made- since all our stuff is now made in china, however this book hits on actual hacking of things you'd never think of. Prison inmate files, The Cloud- where information is scattered about, internet banking, stolen thumbdrives, powerplants and grids being taken over. Wikileaks, possible scenarios for future war, if it can be called war. Seriously scarey stuff. Makes me wish I was born 100 yrs ago! I really loved this quote from the book "Lack of imagination can't be fixed by supplying more information"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romola: George Eliot

I wasn't sure how to feel at the end. I think it was supposed to be a happy ending, but I was still irritated with Tito and the blood on his hands. It was a wonderful story, I only searched for it because it was mentioned in another book I had read. I like George Eliot and will now make a point to read all of her books, since I didn't realise she had so many.- Ok back to the book, A young woman (Romola) lives with her father who has gone blind. Her brother is "dead" though later in the book we learn he became part of the church and was disinherited for that move, he does die shortly after being introduced. Romola is raised believing she is less important than her brother (takes place in Florence in 1492) and falls in love quickly. At first we believe Tito is a decent fella, but then like the city around them, everything falls apart. Tito finds out his adoptive father has become a slave and chooses not to rescue him. He then "marries" a simple child (Tessa) and has two children with her while married to Romola. He sells the most important thing to Romola, her father's books, after the father dies and acts like he doesn't recognize his own father when he escapes slavery. - Fast forward Tito becomes a traitor and is responsible for the hanging of Romola's god father and the town priest in exchange for saving his own hide. He is killed by his stepfather in the end and Romola ends up taking care of Tessa and the two children. Obviously there is more to the story than that, symbolism and the like. A really good story if you like oldies, but goodies.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Dead Witness, A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories: Michael Sims

A collection of 22 detective stories presented in chronological order with a short biography of each author before their work.

The Secret Cell-William E Burton
 Known as the first detective story and supposedly inspired Poe to write The Murders in Rue Morgue. Predictable suspect and not very engaging, but a good reminder on how far mysteries have come. An ill woman leaves her fortune to a young girl (who nursed her through sickness) instead of her heirs. The will stated that the family would only receive the wealth if the benefactor died. Whelp, the benefactor came up missing not too long after. After a series of bumbles and dead ends, the detective finds the girl alive (with the help of a hound with a good nose).

The Murders in Rue Morgue- Edgar Allan Poe
The entire time I was reading this story I thought I can see why they don't have any other friends! "You were thinking this at the precise moment that this happened because 4 minutes ago you passed this person who"...normal conversation please! Though it was amusing. I also liked how different the witness statements to the crime were- it was an Italian, no a Spaniard, no a Frenchmen! So true how people perceive things differently. The murderer ends up being an orangutan.

On Duty With Inspector Field- Charles Dickens
Interesting story in that I have no idea what the problem was. Dickens spent so much time describing the unfortunate town and people that if there was a crime, it was forgotten. I found it interesting how times have changed- this is how profanity was hinted at, but not actually included " I won't, says Bark, have no adjective police and adjective strangers in my adjective premises!" That was about all I gathered from this story, and that Dickens had no respect for the poor?

The Diary of Anne Rodway- Wilkie Collins
Collins seemed to be an interesting character and I like learning about how their lives intertwine with others. (as with Harper Lee and friend Truman Capote, who was supposedly inspiration for Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird) Collins was friends with Dickens and his little brother married Dicken's daughter. Collin's story was fascinating in that the protagonist was a woman (the author a male, but the narrator's voice was believable) and on top of that she became a detective. It was a good solid story.

You Are Not Human, Monsieur d'Artagnan- Alexandre Dumas
I loved this story. One of the first stories I read for pleasure and got me to like reading was the Count of Monte Cristo. Anyway, this story is about a man who was reported to have been dueling and rumor moved through town that he was near dead. The Landlord had banned dueling and sent a man out to look at the site and give his impression. The way he describes the events makes it obvious that he was the other who took part in the duel, but the Landlord just thinks he is skilled in looking for clues. A very cute read.

Arrested on Suspicion- Andrew Forrester Jr.
A mystery where women are viewed as lazy, childish, and dumb. A brother and sister live together in a apartment and get new borders below them. The sister remarks on how similar she and the daughter of the boarder downstairs look and then suddenly the sister is arrested for thief. She was wearing a stolen ring- though the story behind how it was given to her was never told. The brother realizes the borders downstairs are thieves and his sister was arrested because she looked similar. he confirms his suspicions by finding, then decoding a letter sent between mother and daughter and then gets the police to make arrests. Sort of dull, devoted 3 pages to deciphering the letter and several more to finding it.

The Dead Witness-W.W. (Mary Fortune)
Sad life for the author, lost a son and when she wrote under her own name she was rejected. It sounds like she died a street bum. A good short mystery. Different from the others in this collection so far. A detective is sent to the outback to determine if a missing camera man has been murdered. Finds the murderer in one of the last pictures the man takes ( he was hiding in the bushes) then while talking with that man, the camera man's body floats up from a watering hole where it had been tossed. The arrest was made and peace was restored.

The Mysterious Human Leg- James McGovan
Interesting Author- he was a Violinist and wrote under this pen name. All sorts of things were going on in this story, it was like a Seinfeld episode. A leg was found with tacks all through it, which was taken off by a Doctor, who was being blackmailed by a bum about visiting a married woman. We then find out that a man shot someone with tacks because they were breaking into his house and he couldn't find his bullets. We get to see a lovely side of humanity.

The Little Old Man of Batignolles- Emile Gaboriau
Interesting story in that it is told from the perspective of a neighbor who befriends the detective. An old man is found murdered and beside him in blood is the first few letters of his nephew's name, who was in line to inherit his wealth. the neighbor realizes that the wrong finger is bloodied to have written the name and a search ensues. The murderer ends up being the nephew's closest friend, who was coveting his wife. By murdering the uncle he thought it would get his friend out of the way and he could marry the wife, who would then be rich.

The Science of Destruction- Arthur Conan Doyle
A cute story dealing with the introduction of Sherlock Holmes and his oddness. He unravels how he knew his companion was recently in Afghanistan.

The White Chapel Mystery- Anonymous
Creepy... story? I was confused on if this was written about Jack the Ripper's victims or inspired by it, but it was disturbing. Written as it was included in the paper.

The Assassin's Natal Autograph- Mark Twain
I have never been a Mark Twain fan, but this was a good story. It dealt with both race and the new idea (at the time) of fingerprinting to solve a crime. Two babies were switched at birth- which was brought to light during a murder trial, though I am not sure what we are meant to conclude. A white baby was swapped to slavery and the baby born in slavery was swapped to live as a white person. The baby who grew up white ended up being the murderer.

The Murder at Troyte's Hill- C.L. Pirkis
Another murder mystery by a woman author, with a woman detective. She is sent to live in the house  where the murder took place and realizes the owner is a mad man, she narrowly escapes with her life before the police show up as she requested.

The Haverstock Hill Murder-George R Sims
An original story with a male author and female detective told through the eyes of the detective's helper. A woman is murdered and her husband is taken into custody. We find out that her first husband was an embezzler and supposedly died. In the end the detective finds out the previous husband is the murder and had fakes his death. The bank notes he was using were traced and lead to his guilt.

The Stolen Cigar-Case- Bret Harte
This was SUCH a copy of a Sherlock Holmes story, but still cute. A friend of a Holmes-like character listens to him as he complains of losing his cigar case. a few days go by, then the Holmes-ish guy invites him to his house where he accuses him of stealing his cigar case. He then explains how he thinks the theft went down. They end up finding the case still in the drawer and their friendship ends. However the story of theft was so convincing that the narrator starts wondering if he did in fact steal it.

The Absent-Minded Coterie- Robert Barr
A cute mystery in which the crime is found out, but then the wrong doers are freed to continue cheating people. A detective sneaks into a house and finds evidence of the owner selling items to people in payments and then never closing the tab so that the person ends up paying several years after the item had actually been paid off. Since the detective wasn't working for the local police and did not have jurisdiction, the guilty party pointed out the detective broke in. He quickly burned the incriminating evidence and walked out. There was nothing the police or detective could do since they did not have any unburned evidence and had been in the wrong.

The Hammer of God- G.K.Chesterton
Odd story, though unpredictable. An adulterer is murdered and the murder weapon, a small hammer is near the body. The first person suspected was the black smith because it was his hammer, then they realize he was out with two others all day and he is so strong- why would he use a small hammer? They then suspect the murdered man's wife, but the priest thinks only a mad man would do such a thing. in the end they find out the murder was committed by the "hand of god". The priest had killed his brother for sinning.

The Angel of the Lord-Melville Davisson Post
Weird little bitty. An uncle and dad sent the boy off to deliver money to "someone". In the end we find out this was a trap to find the man who murdered a man who was "missing". The uncle bursts into the Inn right before the murderer gets the little boy and tells how he thinks the deed was done. He then lets the guy off with a promise to kill him if he ever returns.

The Crime at Big Tree Portage- Hesketh Prichard
Oddly enough this story leaves you feeling peaceful. A man is murdered and a tracker is sent to find out what happened. By determining the person was wearing new moose moccasins and was a religious man because he cut a branch for a candle and what would one read at night, but the bible they catch their man. But they let him go unless the police can figure out who did it. The man killed his son in law because he was beating up his daughter.

The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage-Ernest Bramah
Tragic indeed. A man suspects his brother in law is trying to kill his sister and hires a detective. The detective does some ground work and finds that the man did indeed plan to kill her and make it look like accidental electricity from a storm. They end up telling her what was happening and put her in another room where she ended up drinking poison and dying anyway.

The Case of Padages Palmer-Harvey O'Higgins
Cute story about a kid detective who used to do telegraphs and with his nosiness landed a job as a detective assistant.He follow the detective around and acts like he's his uncle so they can be undercover believably. they then entrap the thief at a hotel dining room.

An Intangible Clue- Anna Katherine Green
I had to keep reminding myself how different life was when this was written. There are all these excuses and set ups to create reasons for a woman to be investigating a crime scene. I found it sort of lame, but maybe it was an amazing work then. A woman is murdered and the detective has to be escorted to the scene by her brother since it isn't "fit" for her to be there. She then looks out the window at an empty home and says- gee if someone were only there to see what happened. Low and behold, someone was.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Keeper of Lost Causes: Jussi Adler-Olsen

For some reason this author reminded me of J A Konrath, who is one of my favorite authors (the other being Crichton). Loved the book, loved the characters, loved the humor. I was surprised at the end after so much characterization of Merete Lyngaard that it would end with "in spite of the sad outcome". Fast paced and fascinating until the last word. An investigator comes back to work after healing from a shoot out which leaves one of his team dead, the other in the hospital paralyzed. His coworkers become fed up with him and give him a "raise" dealing with old unsolved cases. Investigating the one his new helper picks to work on first, they discover the person is still alive...  I am in he process of looking for more of his stories, in English of course.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 lives John Sutherland

A HUGE book with varying lengths of writing on each of the 294 authors he chose to research. A really enjoyable read, most of the authors I had never heard of, so this book created a chase to read the suggested books by each author. I was surprised on how many Authors were from Edinburgh Scotland.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mark Twain: Geoffrey Ward

Wow, I hadn't realized Samuel Clemens had such a sad life. His father dies when he is young so he goes to work, his little brother died on a boat he too was supposed to be working on. His wife is sickly, but they have 4 children, the first born doesn't make it through infancy. His next child- a daughter died of spinal meningitis at age 24. His wife dies (tuberculosis?) at 58,  a few years before their youngest daughter at age 29 , who had a heart attack and drowned in the bathtub(she also had an amputated leg as a child). His last living daughter makes it to age 88.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Cop and the Anthem: O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)

I love his writtings. I remember my mother reading the Gift of the Magi when we were younger and it was the most powerful work for me at the time. This story was equally simple, yet impressionable. A homeless man is fed up with the shelters and aid for the needy and decides he wants to spend the winter in jail where is it really nice. He tries all day to get arrested by doing various petty, mischievious things. He happens upon a church and once inside becomes ashamed of himself and decides to look for a job and become a respectable citizen. It is then that a police man finds him and he gets the time in jail he was originally wanting.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:Robson and Ekarius

An excellent source for determining what breed of animal you may want to raise, or even purchase fiber from. The book lists nearly every breed, if not all, animals used for fiber. Each breed is talked about in length and pictures are provided for the clips of hair, what they look like raw, clean, and spun. They also talk about the qualities of the yarn and good uses for each. I loved this book, I now want to spin my dog's hair, lol.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Guinea Pig Diaries: A.J. Jacobs

Another great book of Jacob's. I enjoy the serious topics discussed in such light hearted ways. Reading his books makes me want to try these experiments in my own life. He inspires you to be a better person by trying to be one himself. I like that he is not considered and such a normal everyday person with a lot of odd habits. The section about what he has to do every time he walks past a mirror made me laugh out loud- oh yeah, and his books are not ones you want to read on the plane- you WILL laugh out loud, which makes seat mates a little uncomfortable.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Year of Living Biblically: AJ Jacobs

A very entertaining read. Enlightening in a non threatening way and not pushy about any beliefs.Jacobs is comical and I liked how we as readers got to know the family dynamics while he was doing his quest. I liked that his wife did not support some of the odd things and got fed up, making all the characters human, believable and likable. I especially enjoyed the section about stoning and the childish effort to throw pebbles, yet not wanting to hurt anyone. An excellent, funny read. I will be reading more of his works.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Forever: Maggie Stiefvater

She is such a good writer. A really entertaining, not corny teen book about Werewolves. I just learned this is a trilogy and I read the last one. This is a book I would recommend for anyone.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ashes Ashes: Jo Treggiari

As I read more Apocalypse teen books I realize the quality of the Hunger Games Trilogy. This is a story about EVERYTHING happening- global warming, zombie-like people, viruses, and a love story. Only the protagonist can save the world and escape the evil doctors, dun dun dun because she was the chosen one immune to the virus. I think I am done with this genre.

Writing Effective Speeches, The Ultimate Guide to Making Every Word Count: Henry Ehrlich

I was expecting this book to be rather dull, but informative. I was delightfully surprised. It was very interesting to read and not a chore due to the humor and educational tidbits included throughout. Who else would one want to learn to write from, than someone who is an excellent writer. A very well thought out and useful book in learning how to write good speeches for the correct audience in the perfect amount of time.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Eleventh Plague: Jeff Hirsch

I am on a teen Apocalypse kick for some reason and this one was ok. Not much to say about it- the protagonist was a 15yr old boy who lost his family and was taken in by a town. He brings destruction with him and finds love.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Black Banners: Ali H Soufan

Wow, an insightful book about everything Al Qaeda and the Taliban as well as about how our government agencies work against each other. It was sickening to find out how many things the US knew about and did not even attempt to stop. I am really hoping things have been corrected, but since it all appears to stem from power struggles one wonders how many other things will be "Overlooked". This book was a very interesting read though the black out spots made me start to loose interest since it broke up the smoothness of reading. It did set the mood effectively on how the reader is sorting through classified information.  

The Craft of Lyric Writing: Shelia Davis

A really interesting book. I hadn't really thought about how most music follows one of a few different patterns and only really talented artist can deviate from the norm and have a hit song. The authors observances and examples were great and she really knew what she was talking about.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Unorthodox The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots: Deborah Feldman

My thoughts as I read this book is how amazingly strong this woman must be to leave her community knowing there will be backlash from not only the extremists in her community but her family as well. I checked out her blog and was so happy to see how she is not bitter about the hate mail she probably receives, but that she uses her intelligence to point out that her Hasidic community will collapse and she just wants to better life and provide opportunities for those trapped. Her book was eye opening and inspiring about all cult like religions who shun education knowing the educated will leave. It starts with her childhood and how she came to be raised by her grandparents then moves through her life as she realizes door after door is closed to her by religious restrictions. The section with her marriage and how she is blamed for not consummating it was so primitive it was laughable, yet irritating. I am proud of her for making a better life for her son and hope she finds the peace and happiness she has lived without.

Legend: Marie Lu

An excellent teen read. In a dystopian United States two 15yr olds from different worlds find out they have a lot in common. This was a modern day Romeo and Juliet-ish read where the characters were very real. I think teen readers would really connect with the story and can see this becoming a best seller. I really enjoyed it and I am old :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Writer's Handbook for Editing and Revision: Rick Wilber

A helpful tool to get your writing cleaned up and sounding intelligent. It included sections on commonly misspelled, misused and unnecessary words. There was a chapter to prepare the writer for plenty of revisions and not to get discouraged.It listed legal terms to be conscious of if your story is published.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In Cold Blood: Truman Capote

DISTURBING book, though well written. Based on the true murder of a family of four in Holcomb Kansas. It seemed like catching the murderers was pure luck. They had just come from the post office with a box holding the incriminating evidence when they were arrested. Without the box the police may not have been able to actually hold them to the murders. It made me wonder how often things fall into place like they did in this case and how often the correct person is caught, then mistakenly let off.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Hand Tossed Waves: Carrie Ryan

This was the second in a trilogy about an apocolyptic world overrun with Zombies. I know- how lame am I complaining about a book geared for teens, but this second book in the trilogy was too much like the first. Girl on a trail in the woods with her best friend and two love interests. I didn't get what happened to the Griffin kid who was in the fenced in roller coaster area. He was a threat and then he disappeared? I was also unconvinced that the mom- Mary- wouldn't have been looked for when she decided to go look for her old friends, if leaving the town was a crime. No one saw her for days and the important people she was to meet with all buy that she was sick? I wanted to know who the Mudo on the beach was that Mary seemingly recognized, but that was never mentioned. I didn't think Gabry was very remorseful about killing Daniel and couldn't relate to her constant "Oh I am so in love with you"  when the other boy wasn't around. At the end of the story I thought Catcher was ill- and he is manhandling cars? And why don't the mudo climb over the cars?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Small Scale Poultry Flock: Harvey Ussery

I will be buying this book if and when I get chickens. It basically includes EVERYTHING you would need to know when raising chickens with fantastic pictures. Breed selection, brooders, how to make a home for them, step by step instructions for butchering. A really spectacular book to have for reference.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Carrie Ryan

A futuristic romance? novel for teen readers. It was OK. I hate finding inconsistencies and unbelievable things, but young teens may not question them. The love story was a bit too forced while she couldn't decide who she liked or what she wanted. I was amused by how the main character climbed out of the boy's window to hers, but she couldn't get into a girl's who was next door. At the end the lighthouse keeper said " we haven't seen this many Mudo before" then a few paragraphs later he says "some days it looks like this" talking about the number of Mudo on the beach...
I didn't particularly like the book, (though I think the zombie idea will be a hit with teens) yet I requested the second one in the series curious on where the author goes with it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Bro Code: Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn

A cute humorous guy book about the "code" of friendship. Amusing a quick read. I especially liked "If a bro is driving ahead of another bro...he is required to attempt to lose him in traffic as a funny joke.

Silent Spring: Rachel Carson

WOW, an excellent book and very scary. It discusses everything; the affect of chemicals on water, soil, animals, and humans. Terribly frightening that we are seeing all the issues she mentioned. Ground water contamination, loss of insects, cancer... and we haven't stopped using chemicals, it's gotten much worse.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Melungeons The Resurrection of a Proud People: N. Brent Kennedy

A really interesting book about a people I had never heard existed. Supposedly they started out in North Carolina and Virgina and were people from Turkey and Portugal. Through the past 400 years no one knew- or believed, where they had come from and they were sort of a mystery. With modern day advancements DNA was determined to be a match. Abraham Lincoln and Elvis Presley were possible Melungeon descendants. Dark skinned people with European features.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Lost Continent: Bill Bryson

HILARIOUS book. He is able to be entertaining without coming across as bitter and his observances are so accurate. I loved this book, I breezed through it laughing out loud all the while. Must get more of his books!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

City Chicks: Patricia Foreman

Another excellent source for those wanted to raise chickens for the first time, I especially like the extensive section on treating ailments and what to look for. Another must buy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Chicken In Every yard: Robert and Hannah Litt

An excellent source for first time chicken owners. Walks you through EVERYTHING, picking out the right breed, bedding, collecting eggs, and diseases. The only thing left out was butchering, but they raise chickens for the eggs- even included times on freezing eggs and recipes. Definitely a book I will buy in the near future.

Their Blood Cries Out: Paul Marshall

A book about how every country with a minority population of Christians is handling the "situation" It was both surprising and monstrous. Countries as close as Mexico are persecuting, and the situation in the Middle East is appalling. This book gives examples that are usually in the news and it make you wonder about the majority of violence that is not being reported. I also like the chapter that highlighted how the US deals with countries who they don't agree with. There is so much that I do not know.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Ransom Riggs

A really cute story for young readers. I think tackling the idea of time travel is difficult because it usually brings up a lot of questions on how things can happen, but Riggs does a really thorough job of explaining everything. I was still confused on why the date for the loop was chosen and why they were keeping Victor even though he was dead. I didn't seem like they would be able to create another loop and bring him back to life. I also thought it was odd that the main character's grandfather was not in the story for the 1940 date- when he supposedly left the island then. Other than that, it was an entertaining read and I can see the next generation loving these books as we loved Cirque Du Freak. I though it was clever creating both a strong girl and strong boy character, attracting both genders of readers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What the Body Remembers: Shauna Singh Baldwin

So much goes on in this book. It is both heartfelt and informative. It describes both life in India as a woman, and life under British rule. I hadn't realized that Pakistan was formed (violently) from India after WWII. The main character becomes a second wife and through her we see the hardships women endure, not just through the protagonist's life, but the first wife, the servants, and her sister-in-law. As shocking as the events towards the end of the book are, the honor killings and the way the neighbors turned, they are all believable. I thought the last chapter with Satya's rebirth was interesting and an excellent way to end the book that seemed like it was going to end hopeful.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Possum Living: Dolly Freed

A sassy book about living off the land and being self sustaining, I liked that the author was 18 when she wrote it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Intelligence in the Rum War at Sea: Eric Ensign

Got an autographed book, doesn't get much more exciting than that!! A really interesting read about the coastguard's role during prohibition. The encrypting done by a woman (Elizabeth Friedman), passenger pigeons, spies, and moon cycles were all really interesting! I encourage one to read it, very informative and a short quick read.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Extraordinary Coach: John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett

Another great resource for coaching. It goes into a lot of detail defining who you are as a leader and who you want to be. I liked the charts and tools it provided.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Turn of Mind: Alice La Plante

An excellent book about a woman with dementia told from her point of view. It is not only heart wrenching watching her decline, but she is charged in the murder of her best friend and it isn't until the very last chapter that the reader learns what happened. A very quick read with different stories of a persons life woven together, you don't realize how many stories one has to tell until they aren't in a linear fashion.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service

A great place to start if you are some sort of leader in your company- it was inspiring and had other sources to seek out throughout the book, I especially liked the section about different types of caller, it went into social aspects of different cultures as well as generational differences and expectations. A great resource.

The Dream: Harry Bernstein

I love this man's writing style. The invisible wall was the other story of his that I read. Again, very reminiscent of Angel's Ashes. A very sad life, but somehow still fulfilling and warm- a must read about what happened to his family when they came to America and how they separated and then found each other again.

Friday, March 9, 2012

They Must Be Stopped: Brigitte Gabriel

Another one of those eye opening books that worries you about what we as Americans are oblivious to. I appreciate her mission and what she is doing attempting to slowly educate everyone. Thank You.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Customer Service Training 101: Renee Evenson

A cute motivational book with tips on how to inspire yourself and others to pretty much be respectful, helpful, and kind while remaining calm when dealing with difficult people.

The Turnaround: George Pelecanos

Wow, I really thought this book was going to end unhappily and was completely unprepared for it to continue to be uplifting. the book starts with a group of white boys driving around a black neighborhood. One of the boys throws something out the window and hits a boy in the chest. the road they are on then dead ends- the title is about both this and the way the boys turned their lives around. The night ends with one boy running away from his two friends in the car leaving one to be killed and one to be scarred for life. In present day the boy with the gun, his brother, and the scarred boy meet up and become friends and start a business, there are other characters, but seeing that I have pretty much ruined the book for anyone who hasn't read it, I'll leave them as a surprise.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Drop: Bliss Broyard

This was a really good book, I wasn't sure in the beginning how is was going to read. It started out with her talking about her dad when he was ill and how he wanted to tell them something important, but kept changing his mind and never did. It then switched to her journey in finding her relatives, whom she didn't know existed, then switching to a chronological journey through her ansesters lives. Once I got into the book it read smoothly and was both touching and intreguing just in the journey of finding out about ancestors lives. It made me want to do some genealogy researching of my own.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Junot Diaz

A really good book about Trujillo and the Dominican Republic through telling about a family and the curse that has plagued them. The chapters alternate between telling the story of mother's wealthy family, mother's life with a Trujillo mobster, unpopular heavy son, and abused daughter. oddly enough the narrator is revealed at the end and is the son (Oscar)s only friend and was in love with Lola, the daughter. The book is violent as well as fascinating and leaves you with an unlikely positive feeling. It talks about a lot of Dominican history such as the Mirabel sisters and Anacoana and weaves through the lives of everyday citizens.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dude, Where's My Country?: Michael Moore

I understand Michael Moore's books are his personal views, freedom of speech etc, but it seems like this one was nothing but speculation for the first half. The second half was a little better, i don't know if it was because I was worn down by that point or he was delivering actual information instead of a one man crusade. Even if I agreed with everything he said, I still think I would be turned off by how he delivers his information. He believes the readers should take his view without question, yes, the president made some huge mistakes, they all have- to err is to be human, yet Moore delivers the information in hindsight making it sound like he couldn't make errors in judgement. His arrogant tone alienated me and I was also raised patriotically where instead of bad mouthing those elected, you are proud of democracy. Just because you have the freedom of speech doesn't mean you should use it to be hateful.

House of Daughters: Sarah-Kate Lynch

This was not a book I would normally pick up, I considered it a "grandma book", yet I finished it with a lot of skimming just because the wine process was interesting. It seemed kind of disconnected as if there were a bunch of ideas that the author wanted to include, but they weren't really lead up to or seemed to flow with the book. Things were haphazardly added and the whole section with Mathilde suffering from depression or whatever was weak. The character development was dry and the book was anti climatic. I also wondered why that cover was chosen since the girls did not fit those descriptions. Not a riveting book nor would I suggest it to someone.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ghosts in the Fog: Samantha Seiple

The tone of the book seemed like it was written for children, but it's an adult book. It was still something everyone should read though. I knew the Japanese landed in Alaska, but had assumed it was on an uninhibited island and no one was hurt. I was irritated to learn of how the soldiers and government treated the people living there during the war- looting and destroying their homes, and even before war ensued using them as cheap seal skin laborers. After the war the people were left with dilapidated, empty homes, yet still rebuilt their lives with virtually nothing.

The Invisable Wall: Harry Bernstein

An excellent story. It reminded me of Angela's Ashes where you think things have to get better, but difficulties just keep piling on for the family. I felt terrible not only for the children, but for the wife who had to deal with a horrid husband and her teenagers without any help or support. I requested the rest of his books from the library since I want to know what happens with the family you begin to care about. I wonder how many stories like Bernstein's are lost because they were never written down or orally passed down through the family. I was depressed to learn his sister and her entire family passed away within the next several years when they were the ones trying to improve relations in their neighborhood. His writing was superb and you could feel the love he had for his family.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Look me in the eye: John Elder Robison

A really good book about living with Aspergers. John had an interesting life, some of the jobs he had were atypical and how he got them were even more interesting. I liked how the tone of the story was consistent with how he described how people with Asperger's communicate. It was very matter of fact, yet the section where he was talking about his shop was done with excitement. I also liked the dry humor about wondering if he got the perfect wife since she had two sisters and was the middle one.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wishful Drinking: Carrie Fisher

A good, very quick read. I found her life and family really interesting as well as the tidbits about Star Wars, but her tone bothered me. I was funny throughout, but there were sections where it was as if she felt like she had to be funny and it was forced. What a sad life she has had starting with growing up!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Jew Is Not My Enemy: Tarek Fatah

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I know I got some stares from coworkers while reading it, based on the title. Someone even told me I was being racist? I thought it was a great, informative read and especially appreciated that the author tried to remain neutral and stuck with his purpose of the book throughout (which was to inform) instead of some personal agenda. He made it obvious that instead of being offended by any questions toward religion we need to be realistic and admit that there may be problems. The part that stuck out the most was his comment on what the hadith has done to the Quran stating "One would expect Muslims to denounce the depiction of their Prophet as a mass murder" but instead it is viewed as noble. Fatah mentions a lot of people who are true to their faith, without being extremist, who are actually advocating to make things better and to get believers back on track. Sadly I had not heard of any of them, but of course I did some research. I also appreciated how honest he was when talking about Israel and Palestine as well as the confusion on why Muslims were not upset about Saudi Arabia's take over of Mecca and Medina. This book made me hopeful as well as felt sorry for those whose religion has been hijacked by extremist while live in fear.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some Angry Angel: Richard Condon

I am not sure how to feel about this book. It is reminiscent of An American Tragedy with the fall of man. It was hard to predict what was going to happen, you know it will end tragically, but not the way it does. A man marries a big newspaper's heir, cheats on her, loses her, loses the use of his legs, becomes bitter and writes mean things in his advice column to the writers. At the end of the story he visits the first ten people he replied to with his advice column- a few were already dead- his fault or not, and finds out that he actually changed their lives for the better. Then he is murdered. Such an abrupt end, yet that is what the story was building up to.

Because They Hate: Brigitte Gabriel

An incredibly well written book that did disturb me. This writer is neither an extremist nor a hater, she shares her life with the reader and brings up very valid concerns comparing what is happening in the US to what happened to her home of Lebanon. I especially liked her saying after 9/11 -where were the Muslims in our country showing outrage? Where were the Muslims around the world who were upset? All I have seen on TV are the leaders claiming they are being stereotyped, I never see them condeming violence or the teaching of hatred. This book made me realise that the leaders of the Arab countries are responsible for creating violent extremist, they control what their people are allowed to see and think. Reading this book has made me look want to research and has maybe made me a little paranoid. ;p

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Burning: Jane Casey

I loved this book. It reminded me of J A Konrath a little bit and I think it was simply the sarcastic protagonist, evidently I like those characters. I was pretty sure I knew who the villain was, but I liked how the story didn't lose momentum and all of the stories were wrapped up in the end...well, accept the flirting with Rob. The story was based around a murderer in London who has killed 4 women and burned their bodies, then another body is found burnt that was vastly different from the others. Did I mention I really enjoyed this book? Currently checking to see if she has others.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Amber Spyglass: Philip Pullman

Odd book, of course it is sci-fi, but the sexual undertone was disturbing if it is for young readers. The characters are 13 so the targeted readers would be younger than that. A lot of the occurances in this story were hard to believe, like how were the Harpies so easily presuaded to help Lyra and Will and the idea that Mr. Parry knew there was a hair lock bomb, etc. I was also hoping the reason for Mrs. Coulter having a golden monkey would be explained. I felt the author had too many ideas he wanted to inject into the story and they weren't linked very strongly.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Subtle Knife: Philip Pullman

The second book of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Another cute book which doesn't end, but continues into The Amber Spyglass. So if you decide to read this book you may want to pick up the spyglass at the same time. The subtle knife was a short book and quick read, but I understand why these two books were split up since it would have made an 800 page book for young readers. In this one Lyra meets a young boy from our world and together they battle evil, yes, as cheesy as it sounds I still want to finish the series and can see how they would be appealing to young readers, boys and girls alike.