Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Dogs of War: Fredrick Forsyth

A mining company finds platinum in a small, poorly run country in Africa and decides to stage a coup and set up a puppet dictatorship so they can mine the mountain for free. They contact the mercenary Cat Shannon to stage the coup. Most of the book is about gathering the supplies and men for the takeover. At the end the invasion was successful, but three of Shannon's men die. Once the Mining industry brings the new dictator in, Shannon shoots him. Shannon then escorts the mining man to the countries border and bids him farewell explaining that he would not see another bad dictator come to power and found his own man who was educated and who was once an islander. Interesting book, but geared towards boys will all the military planning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Serpent: Clive Cussler

This was an interesting NUMA story, the first in the series I have read, but it seemed to move so slowly. There were interesting parts followed by scenes that seemed never-ending. The book starts with a ship wreck when two ships collide 50 years before the rest of the story takes place. By the middle of the book the reader forgets about the ships. A terrorism organization "The Brotherhood" which existed from the time of Columbus, tries to cover up scientific evidence that the Mayans had contact with Europeans before Columbus. An Archeologist narrowly escapes a massacre and helps NUMA uncover the plot. The brotherhood was trying to find the riches which would allow them to finance a civil war in the US so Mexico could regain land they lost to the United States.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Little Book: Seldon Edwards

This book had surprises. It was about a man that time travels from present day to Vienna at the turn of the 20th century. The story starts out with the narrator telling us that they are telling us about their son's journey. The first question one wonders is why the son can't tell the story for himself. The second question was on why the deseased father is telling the story. It wasn't until page 99 that the narrator uses the word "she" and we realize the mother is giving us the story of her son, Wheeler. Wheeler mysteriously ends up in Vienna and meets not only his father, who is younger than himself and also apparently time travelled to the same place, and his grandfather, who was actually alive at that time, and younger than both his son and grandson. There is some mystery surrounding the grandfather that he killed a Jew in Europe. Wheeler's mother was Jewish. Later Wheeler starts seeing a woman he finds out was his grandmother after she broke it off. I especially liked that the Era where Freud was alive was chosen, because this book is filled with Freud fodder. His grandmother, who we learned wasn't really related, because his father was someone else, comes back and they dance the waltz together. We now know his grandmother knew who he was before she passed away. She insisted he dance the waltz with her and he remarked how beautiful she looked. Her parting words were that he must remember, above all else, she was happy with her life. The journel Wheeler wrote in while he was in Vienna was found by his father, what was amusing is that the speech his father presented at his graduation ceremony came from the book and became a sort of motto for the school, Wheeler wrote it in the book because he remembered it from school. This creates a situation where you aren't sure which came first.

The Surrendered: Chang-Rae Lee

This book was a masterpiece. It followed three lives throughout Asia and the United States. The three people meet during the Korean War, then separate, only for two of them to find each other again. The book starts with June a Korean girl who was travelling with her mother, older sister, and twin siblings after her brother and father were conscripted into the army. Her mother and sister are killed by a bomb right before their eyes. The three remaining children climb aboard a train and the twins are killed from a horrible accident. She meets an American soldier (Hector) who leads her to an orphanage he decides to work at after killing a Korean soldier, who we are lead to believe could have been June's brother. At the orphanage we meet Sylvie who is with her minister husband running the orphanage. Her parents were ministers and she watched them die during the Sino- Japanese war. Sylvie becomes a drug addict and even though they were eventually supposed to adopt children form the orphanage when they returned home, her husband realizes she is too sick to do so. Two of the children, Min and June, once they realize they aren't going home with Sylvie, and no one will want them, decide to die in a fire. The fire ends up killing Min and Sylvie and her husband. Hector ends up marrying June and brings her to the US, just so she can escape the orphanage. They copulate once and June has a son, which Hector does not find out about until June is dying and tracks him down because she wants them to have each other after she's gone. After tracking down the son June is too sick to realize "Nick" is not her son, but a con artist (her son had died). Hector gives him money to fulfill June's dying wish to see her son once more. The Story ends with June, the last of her family, dying.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Disgrace: J.M.Coetzee

This was such a potent book, it starts off distasteful enough, but then that last line in the book had me sobbing. The story centers on a professor, David, who develops a passion for one of his students. It is difficult to determine what happened, if he lured her in or if she too was interested in the older man. The affair ends spectacularly when the girl's boyfriend attacks David's property. Then her parents find out and David loses his job. For a break he decides to visit his daughter and write a book on his favorite author- Byron. Within the week he spends with his daughter they are attacked. Three natives, two men and a boy try to catch him on fire, rape David's daughter, steal everything valuable and after shooting their six dogs they steal the car. David is furious, but the daughter, Lucy, doesn't want anyone to know she was raped. David is certain the hired hand, who is also native, ordered the attack and was conveniently gone the day it happened. Later David and Lucy attend a party Petrus has to celebrate Lucy giving him some land and the boy attacker is there. He is part of Petrus' family and David then knows it was an elaborate plan to get Lucy to leave so he could have the land. David goes back home and realizes there is nothing there for him, his house was also broken into and all valuables taken, even the food, while he was gone. He calls Lucy to see how she is doing and she doesn't sound right so he goes back and finds she is pregnant from one of the attackers. David asks why she didn't get an abortion and she states that she can't go through that again. He finds out she had already had an abortion once before and he realizes he doesn't know his daughter at all. He is frustrated by how naive and trusting she is to these people she lives near and how they are taking advantage of her. David goes back to Petrus and asks what happens now that she is carrying a child that is his relation. Petrus says he will "marry" her, he already has two wives. He acts unfazed by David's anger. David tells Lucy what Petrus said, still indignant, but Lucy said she would take him up on the offer. She would give him her land as long as she could keep the house in return for her protection from the rapists. Later he finds the boy peeping through the window at Lucy and smacks him around, but Lucy comes to his rescue. The last scene is of David at the shelter where he volunteers; he had become friends with a maimed dog and admitted he hadn't felt such kinship with an animal before. Then he puts him down- the woman he works with says " I thought you would save him for another week, are you giving him up? He replies “yes, I am giving him up". That line speaks volumes, it is as though he has finally given up on his daughter whom he doesn't understand or agree with her decisions- she seems to be so persistent in doing the opposite of what her father wants to prove it is her life, that she has destroyed everything she loved. He also seems to be saying he is giving up, giving up on the Bryon book, giving up on life since he was spending money he didn't have and wasn't worried about the bills catching up.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Breaking Night: Liz Murray

This was an amazing book about a girl born to drug addicted parents and how she turned her life into something inspirational. Liz talks about her childhood growing up hungry, dirty, and basically neglected. She stops going to school at a young age because her mother lets her stay home from school and watch her get high. She rarely attends middle school because she is a social outcast after her lice incident. She didn't attend high school at all. Her mother finds a new boyfriend and moves her older sister in with them, Liz stays with her father- still using drugs, until child welfare take her away. Eventually she is released into her mother's care, whom is dying of AIDS. She eventually runs away from home and becomes homeless; crashing at friends’ houses once their parents leave. For a short time she lives in a hotel room with a boyfriend that deals drugs. He eventually gets addicted and Liz runs away and is back to looking for a place to sleep every night. She meets a girl who was also homeless and has gotten her life in order and is inspired to go back to school. She finds out she actually enjoys school and decides to try to get into college. To her surprise she wins a scholarship from Times Magazine and gets into Harvard. She finds out her father has AIDS, which her mother died from when she was homeless and not in school, and spends time taking care of him. She went on to start her own company helping others and is a motivational speaker. This book really made me think about all I took for granted growing up and how much I still take for granted.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Garden of Forking Paths: Jorge Luis Borges

This author is interesting in that he writes in a way that hasn't been done before. The collection of stories I read were all focused on critiquing or retelling of "stories" that don't actually exist. I was confused at first, but then you realize there must be something else the author is trying to tell by not just telling the story. The author distances himself from the work by putting another, though fictional, author in between the story and himself. The story is about an Asian man, Dr Yu Tsun, who was living in England during WWII and became a spy for Germany. The only reason he became a spy was to prove that an Asian could pull it off. He learns of that his handler has been found out and that a British captain named Madden is after him, He devises a way to get his last mission completed and sets off, narrowly missing Madden at the train station. Once he gets to a man named "Albert"'s house he is shocked to learn Albert was expecting him. We learn Yu's grandfather had been a famous writer who had supposedly also created a labyrinth. No one understood his book, and no one had found the labyrinth. Albert tells Yu the book is a labyrinth and talks about the meaning of his grandfather's work. He explains that there are many times and places and that Yu could have come to his house as a friend or enemy. When reading you suspect Albert knows why Yu is there and accepts his role in the story as the one who will die. Yu asks Albert to get something for him once he sees madden coming up the road, and then shots Albert in the back. We learn Yu's last mission was to get the name of a town to be bombed back to Germany. The town's name was "Albert" and Yu hears that Germany does bomb the town while he is awaiting his hanging. This book haunts you long after you've finished reading it because you think "what are the chances he would end up at this Albert’s house who was familiar with his grandfather's work", it all seems predestined.

Nothing but the truth: Avi

This book made me mad because it could happen so easily. A high school boy doesn't like his English teacher and doesn't understand the books. So he doesn't try in her class and becomes disruptive as the class clown in order to get his classmates to laugh. He gets his report card and gets a D in English and then finds out he can't try out for track if he isn't passing all of his classes. Instead of being mad at himself he takes it out on his teacher and is disruptive during the morning announcements. The teacher asks him to stop and he does, but when he gets home he changes the story and his parents tell him to stand up for his rights. The next two days he is disruptive during the announcements and will not stop. The teacher sends him to the principal both times. The principal decides to suspend him for two days. The parents are upset because they work and this is a hassle for them, the father goes to the media thinking his son was suspended for singing the national anthem. Soon TV and radio talk shows get the story and begin bombarding the teacher with hate mail and demanding her removal. The boy goes back to school thinking he will be a hero and when he goes to the teacher to try to get extra credit she informs him he has been placed in another English class. He pouts and tries to get the track teacher to let him on the team because she can't change his grade now, the track teacher sticks up for the teacher and has two students try to get the boy to admit he lied. He no longer has friends at the school because he gets the teacher fired because of his anger at not getting a passing grade in her class. Both lives end up being ruined.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Elimination: Rithy Panh

This was a novel about the Khmer Rouge. It was told in two formats, Panh's memories of growing up and surviving through the Khmer Rouge rule and through interviews with "Dutch" a commander of the killings. Panh speaks of losing half his family, watching his dad, niece and nephew starve to death, the various duties he performed and the violence. The story is told in a semi-linear fashion, things are mentioned as they flash back for him. Towards the end he talks about how remembering what happened still makes him physically ill today. This was an incredible story of survival against all odds.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Long Way Gone; Memoirs of a boy soldier:Ishmael Beah

This was very well written and needed to be written. It is the Biography of Ishmael Beah during the 1990's in Sierra Leone's civil war. I appreciated how the story was told. It is in a linear order, but then after leaving the army the atrocities of war are told through flashbacks. This mimics the way he experienced the events since he was on drugs and caffeine pills while in doing the fighting and had very little emotional responses as the events transpired. Once something triggers a memory he has to deal with it, years after the event. This book leaves a lot of unanswered questions, I wanted to know if he saw his aunt again and what happened to that family. A boy’s village is taken over by the rebel army and he wanders the country with a band of boys searching for news of his family. He comes to the town they fled to and as he comes into town there are gunshots and fires. I am still bothered by how close he was to reuniting with his parents and brothers when the town was overtaken and no one survived. He is then taken in by the country’s army and becomes a boy soldier. All the children are then taken into the capital to be rehabilitated. He meets up with his uncle, who then dies when the rebel’s take over the capital. This was a very powerful story.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Light in August: William Falconer

This story follows the live of Lena. Her parents both die when she is a child and she goes to live with an older brother. She lives with him for several years until she gets pregnant and then decides to go after the man who claimed he would marry her once he made a living. She arrives in the town her boyfriend Lucas supposedly ran off to and sees a house on fire. As the story progresses we learn Lucas aka "Joe Brown" started the fire and murdered the woman in it. The story doesn't come right out and say this, but it can be deduced. The story switches back and forth between points of view and we learn pretty much every character's history. The story centers on Joe Christmas. He was raised in an orphanage until he stumbles upon the dietician having sex with a doctor. The dietician wants to get rid of him in case he gets her in trouble. He is adopted by a very religious couple. The man is obsessed on religion and abusive to Joe. Eventually Joe accidently kills him when he finds Joe with a prostitute. Present day, Joe comes into town and decides to live as a white man after spending the last 15 years crossing the lines every few years. The abolitionist he lives with gets pregnant shortly after "Joe Brown" comes to town and starts helping Joe Christmas with his bootlegging. Joe Brown finds out Joe Christmas is partially black and sleeping with a white woman so he kills the white woman and burns her house down trying to hide the evidence. There is a $1,000 reward for the murderer and he makes up a story that it was Joe Christmas, who recently left town. Since Christmas is black the town instantly believes he was the murderer and goes after him. He is eventually killed and castrated. During the man hunt we meet Christmas' grandparents who recognize him, his grandfather wants him killed, his grandmother wants him to live 1 more day as a free man. We learn Christmas' mother died in childbirth and the grandfather dropped him off at the orphanage after killing the black father. At the end of the story Joe Brown runs off after finding Lena and his baby. The man helping Lena, who had fallen in love with her, is seen at the end of the book with her still helping her track down Brown.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte

This is the second time I've read this book. This reading surprised me since I didn't realize how much it was a book about violence when I read it as a teenager. There is violence in Jane's childhood, Mr. Rochester, his wife Bertha, and her cousin St John. It seems like Jane and Mr. Rochester can only be equals once he feels inferior to her. The roles reverse where she picks on him. The book follows Jane through her rough life. Her parents die when she is an infant and her mother's brother vows to raise her as his own, but then he dies and makes his wife promise to care for Jane as if she were her own child. Jane grows up in a sad household where no one shows her love. Finally, at the suggestion of a doctor, Jane is sent off to school where she gets along quite well. Many girls die of tuberculosis, but she survives and eventually teaches at the school. Needing a change she advertises as a governess and is taken into a house where an orphaned girl is cared for by a bachelor who is rarely home. Jane ends up falling in love with the guardian "Mr. Rochester" who is engaged to someone else of his standing. This flirting goes on for a while, and then he finally admits he loves her and they decide to get married. When they are at the church she finds out he already has a wife, the crazy woman living in the house. She goes off to find work at another place and wanders aimlessly for a while. Quite by chance she ends up with her cousins and learns an Uncle left her everything from his estate when he died. She ends up sharing it with her cousins and starts a school. Her male cousin wants her to marry him and do missionary work with him, but she refuses because she doesn't love him. Right when she is about to give in she hears Rochester's voice. She goes back to him to find all she finds is a burnt up estate. From rumors in town she finds Rochester at another of his houses, blind and missing a hand. They get married and he recovers a little of his site, enough to see his first born son.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Lightning- Rod Man: Herman Melville

This was a short story about a man who hears knocking at his door during a thunderstorm. He opens it to a man that hurries to the middle of the house. He introduces himself as a "lightening Rod Man" he was selling lightning rods. He was frantic during the storm telling all the ways you can die. He is holding the lightening rod the whole time. The owner of the house seems to know more about lightening that the "expert" and is soon thrown out of the house.

Benito Cereno: Herman Melville

This short story was based on actual events. The protagonist and narrator is the fictionalized character of Amasa Delano who actually battled against the slaves who took over the boat. The story begins with Captain Delano spotting a boat in the distance with tattered sails moving listlessly. He drops a boat and goes to investigate. One he meets up with the boat he is surprised there are so many black crew and so few white. The captain of the boat, Benito Cereno, welcomes him aboard and is a very jittery man who seems to lose his train of though. Delano sends his men back to get this boat some supplies, and spend most of the afternoon aboard with the strange crew. Cereno has a very attentive personal slave, Babo, who seems to help Cereno focus and answer Delano's questions about events that brought them to this ruin. Delano has trouble understanding a lot of the story and eventually realizes there has been mutiny and the slaves have taken over the ship and Cereno's Slave is actually the new captain of the ship and Cereno has become the slave. Delano orders his boat to attack and they take Cereno safely to shore. Once in the court the whole story comes out, but Cereno dies a few weeks after the trial finishes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Country Doctor: Frank Kafka

This was an odd short story that I couldn't find a simple explanation for. A doctor is summoned to a home of a sick boy 10 miles away. His horse died the night before and as he walks to the stable is unsure what to do. Just then a man comes out of the stable with two beastly horses. He puts the doctor in the carriage and claims his payment will be the servant girl, and then slaps the horses so they take off. The doctor can't control the horses and leaves knowing Rosa, the servant, is going to be raped. He arrives to the home in record time and finds a healthy boy who asks the doctor to just let him die. After some weirdness where people make him strip and lay down with the patient he sees the boy has a huge gaping wound with worms coming out of it. He leaves knowing the boy will die and it takes for seemingly ever for him to get home. The book seems to be describing a dream the doctor had, or is having. There seems to be these ideas that the Doctor wants to “have” his servant Rosa, and maybe there is a fear of not knowing what is wrong with a patient, hence the gnarly wound.

Metamorphosis: Frank Kafka

This was an entertaining, yet heartbreaking read. A young man, Gregor, wakes up one morning to find he has turned into a beetle. (I originally pictured a cockroach, but the maid calls him a dung beetle.) We learn he is the sole provider for his family and is stressed about getting to work on time, but since he is in bed on his back he has trouble getting up. Eventually his family comes to the room to rouse him, but he had locked his door, then his boss shows up. Once Gregor finds the strength to get up he shocks and horrifies all waiting by the door for him. His father shoos him back into his room and he scraps his side. He remains injured and locked in his room until his sister leaves him some milk and bread, but now he doesn’t like milk. We learn Gregor had intended to send his sister to the conservatoy since she was a violinist that was going to be her Christmas gift. We also learn he had a girlfriend, but didn't court her too quickly because his family needed him to provide for them since his dad had been out of work for 5 years and in debt. Once Gregor doesn't have money coming in we learn Gregor’s father had been keeping a stash of money, some from his previous job, and some from Gregor’s earnings. Gregor has mixed feelings because he could have left his job earlier if he had that money since he was paying off his family's debt, but then again they would have something to live on now. Eventually each family member gets a job and Gregor seems to be forgotten about. The food he is brought he doesn't enjoy or eat and he becomes thin. His father threw an apple at him when he wandered out of his room and it became imbedded and infected in his back. the family takes on renters and once they see Gregor leave, but his family gets outraged and his sister says they need to dispose of him, he is no longer their brother, if he were he would have left the place and let them live in peace. It seemed as though as soon as they realized he was never going to be human again, he disgusted them and they forgot all about what he had done for them. He does die that night whether from infection, starvation or a broken heart we do not know. When the family finds him, they are delighted and call off sick for the day and head downtown to celebrate. The physical injuries are all inflicted by his father, hurting himself getting back into the room, the apple stuck in his back, but the most painful to gregor seems to be the verbal abuse from his sister whom he was very close.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bartleby, the Scrivener: Herman Melville

This was a humorous story told by a lawyer who hired Bartleby to be a scrivener (a clerk or copyist). He starts out actually doing some work, but then when the lawyer asks him to do tasks, Bartleby does less and less work retorting with "I would prefer not to" when asked to do something. It is around this time that the lawyer realizes Bartleby has actually moved in to the office. The Lawyer tries to find him other career choices, but Bartleby replies to all the ideas with "I would prefer not to". The lawyer has become fond of Bartleby and doesn't have it in him to kick him out; he decides instead to move his office leaving Bartleby behind. He later finds out the new tenants have forcibly moved Bartleby out and he was living in Prison. The lawyer bribes a guard with money to ensure Bartleby eats, but when he returns a while later he finds Bartleby had died from starvation. He preferred not to eat.

To The Lighthouse: Virginia Woolf

I did have some trouble at the beginning of the book with the stream of consciousness way it was presented. I had some stumbles on who was thinking what, but once I got into it, it was an enjoyable read. The first part of the book takes place over only a matter of hours and follows Mrs. Ramsey and her evening. She spends time with her children and entertains in the evening. Her youngest son wants to go see the lighthouse, but the father says it will rain and he cannot go. A friend, Lily starts painting a portrait of Mrs. Ramsey. Mrs. Ramsey plays matchmaker to Minta and Paul The second section goes through the deaths in the family, first Mrs Ramsey followed by Prue who died in childbirth, Andrew in war. The house falls apart since no one visits it, then one day the remainder of the family comes back- we find out Minta and Paul are not happily married. James, the baby, still resents his father for not letting him go to the lighthouse, which he never did get to see. They go to the lighthouse and Lily finishes her painting. The book ends in a feeling of peace. I have done some reading on this and was interested to learn this was supposed to be a portrait of Virginia's parents in the characters of the Ramseys.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Manon Lescaut: Abbe Prevosts

This was an amusing story very similar to Romeo and Juliet in that instead of star cross lovers, they are "class cross" lovers. Maybe I am cynical, but I didn't read the story as both characters being in love. The man seemed infatuated to the point of obsession, but in the beginning he was always overly in love with her. It seemed too showy for it to be believable and he made his affections known in front of a crowd. I read it as he may be homosexual, then after chasing this girl did develop feelings for her. She, Manon, on the other hand never seemed to show genuine affection for him. She was poor and constantly strived to have nice things and he was a means of getting them. When she first meets him she is on her way to a convent and he offers her an escape. She then becomes a mistress to an older rich man, who gives her pretty jewels. Once she is imprisoned for prostitution and sent to America he comes back. She seems resigned to be with him now in America because she is lost and believes he is her only way to a better life once again. Towards the end she seems to settle herself into her life since she has come full circle. He was there at the beginning and there at the end.

Points of View; An Anthology of Short Stories: James Moffett and Kenneth R McElheny

This is a collection of stories A telephone call: Dorothy Parker In this story the protagonist talks to herself about why her boyfriend isn't calling at 5:00 like he said he would. She goes back and forth between praying to god and telling herself to be strong, then starts all over again. I Stand Here Ironing: Tillie Olsen This story is about a mother being asked by the school to come in and talk about her daughter. The woman spends the afternoon reminiscing about her daughter's childhood and feeling guilty about what sort of mother she was. Straight Pool: John O'Hara A man talks to a buddy of his about the problems he is having with his wife. In his story he and his wife are always arguing about him telling his pool buddy about her (which is ironic because that is exactly what he is doing) and it is obvious she is in love with the buddy, which the husband doesn't see. The Lady's Maid: Katherine Mansfield A maid is talking to someone, though I couldn't figure out whom, about her "Lady" who is elderly, and how she takes care of her. She reminisces on how she didn't get married so she could watch over the lady, who guilted her into staying. She mentions that she doesn't know what will happen to her one the woman passes away. ...& Answers: Joyce Carol Oates A woman talks to a psychologist about an accident she was in that killed her daughter. She says there was another car on the road, of which there is evidently no evidence. We only see the woman's dialog and must surmise what the man interviewing her is asking. He believes the accident was a suicide. When the woman woke up in the hospital she asked if the man (other driver) was ok instead of asking about her own daughter. Inter-office: Rosellen Brown A man talks about what he sees in his town walking around and how the community has declined. A Bundle of Letters: Henry James This story was amusing in that it is a collection of letters from People staying at the same house together to their family. You get to learn who likes who and how each character acts based on these letters. A Wilderness Station: Alice Munro An odd story that alternates between letters to tell the story of a woman and her knowledge that her brother-in-law killed her husband. She starts the story out seeming insane. Once we find out what happen she becomes "the victim", then she seems destined to spend the rest of her life as a recluse before she becomes a servant for a family. The Yellow Wallpaper: Charlotte Perkins Gilman This story has always confused me. A woman suffers from postnatal depression and her husband who is a doctor prescribes a month in the country in a rental house. He chooses an airy room with hideous wallpaper for her recovery. I don't understand if he chooses this room to torture her or if he actually wanted her to get well. There is mention of a gate at the top of the stairs, but she is able to come and go as needed and takes walks around the property, but I get the sense we are to believe she is locked up in the room which makes her eventually go crazy and she doesn't want to leave. In the end her husband comes up to get her because their lease is up and faints when he sees her crawling around the room in madness. When she gets to his fallen body she simply crawls over it and continues her circle around the room. The Night Watchman's Occurrence Book: V.S. Naipaul I found this humorous though the tone is serious. The story is told through entries in the watchman's log book. The first entry in the log claims the night was uneventful. The next log is from the manager and explains that the watchman was sleeping on the job and fired. The next log is by the replacement and he claims the night was calm. The next entry is from the watch manager telling the newbie that the bar is to stay open all night and people can come and go as they please. Then the log becomes interesting, every night the hotel guests get drunker and rowdier and every morning the manager asks the watch man why the notes are detailed enough to explain everything that's occurred. The watch man's logs get more and more comical as he claims he doesn't have enough time to write everything down and the job wasn't what he expected. During one of the last entries we learn a woman is kidnapped and seemingly murdered while the local cops are in the bar getting drunk. The next log is from a person taking over for the manager who was injured in the nightly brawls. His entry asks for as little documentation as possible. One humorous thing is that the watch man keeps writing "cigarette cartoons" instead of carton, which drives the manager batty. Amahl and the Night Visitors: Lorrie Moore This is a sad story about a woman who knows she is losing the man she loves and we never find out if he is in fact having an affair and if it would be with a man or a woman. She lets her cat outside on the same day the boyfriend moves out and you know neither is coming back. The Somebody: Danny Santiago This was an amusing read. A teenage boy is in a gang that has basically disbanded. He acts like he thinks it is cool he is the last member, but he is constantly watching his back for other gangs. He gets a kick out of writing his name all over town- graffiti- even though the other gang members know where he lives. My Sister's Marriage: Cynthia Marshall Rich This was a story about two sisters fighting for the attention of their widowed father. The eldest sister gets a boyfriend that the father doesn't approve of, she elopes and the family decides to have nothing to do with her. The little sister expresses excitement that she has her father all to herself. The obsession she has with filling the deceased mother's shoes is disturbing and she vows she will never leave her father. Why, You Reckon? Langston Hughes The protagonist tells his side of the story of a robbery and how the other party made off with everything while he was stuck with the victim. He is more concerned at the end of the story on why the robbed white guy thought it was exciting and complained of his life when he had food and money all the time. A&P: John Updike A young boy is a cashier at the local grocery store and one day three girls come in wearing just their bathing suits, after the men watch them walk all around the store the manager tells them once they hit the checkout line, that the need to wear clothes. The cashier, seeing the girls blush, decides to be heroic and quits. Of course the girls didn't seem to notice and once he gets to the parking lot they have disappeared. He realizes this moment has probably defined the rest of his life. Distance: Grace Paley This story doesn't really tell you anything. It is about a woman whose son states he is going to ask the town floosy to marry him, the mother has a fit and he ends up marrying a plain girl who he cheats on like his father did to his mother.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Devil In the White City: Erik Larson

This book covered EVERYTHING that seemed to happen during the World's Fair in Chicago. It was interesting to know which things that exist today that were a result of the fair; juicy fruit, cracker jacks, shredded wheat, the Ferris wheel etc. I went back and forth between enjoying the complete history and not. It was interesting, but I felt as though I had to keep changing my mind set with each new chapter. This book covered in detail the architects of the world's fair, the mayor, the killer, and some of his know victims. The story wove back and forth between the characters and happens at the fair and at times I felt everything was included because there wasn't enough information on each to make a book on its own. I also didn't know what the start and end added to the book, it was about one of the architects being on a ship that was supposed to help the Titanic after hitting the iceberg. It was interesting that one person would experience certain events, but by the time I got to the end I had completely forgotten about that story. I was a little surprised there didn't seem to be much of a wrap up on the killer. We will never know how many victims he actually had and what happened to those missing girls.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Basket Case: Carl Hiaasen

The protagonist is a newspaper writer who covers an obituary on an old rock star. As he interviews family members and the spouse he starts to suspect foul play in the singer's "accidental" death. I love how quirky Hiaasen makes his characters. The protagonist knows a famous person that has died at every age and is obsessed with his own demise. Every time he talks to his mother he pressures her to tell him when his father, who is not a part of his life, died. She refuses. The story moves along once he figures out the motive for the deceased's wife to murder him. She had no artistic ability and wanted her husband to give her a catchy song he had written; He was trying to get back in the scene, not having had any hits since the 80's and refuses. The writer comes across the tape and makes a trade to get his kidnapped girlfriend back to the boons. The book ends on his birthday when his mother sends him his father's obituary, His father died at the age he just passed.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rain of Gold: Victor Villasenor

I can't praise this book enough, wonderfully written. The author tells the story of his parents; how they survived the Mexican revolution, came to America, and the love story of how his parents met. It was told brilliantly and I loved how he took his family stories and put it into a linear order capturing the characters as purely human. Lupe's sister Carlota was the typical jealous sister so it was hard to hate her. The way Juan's friends weren't there for him when he was in need was realistic with how "friends" really behave. It was heart warming to see who was there to really support him. I really enjoyed the love story aspect of his parents and how they kept meeting up. This was a very heartwarming read and has made it to my top ten favorites.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Always Watching: Chevy Stevens

This was the third Book I have read by this author and I was happy again about the originality. This book was told from a psychologist's point of view. One of Nadine's patients escapes from a cult and tries to commit suicide after having a miscarriage. The woman's experiences trigger memories from Nadine's past where her mother took her and her brother and they lived with the same cult for 8 months. Years ago Nadine tried to find the answers to why she had such anxiety and claustrophobia. Through the book she has flashbacks of her time with the cult and the leader molesting her. Things escalate when her own daughter, who was a drug addict, joins the cult. This was a really good, fast paced book.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Top Secret Twenty-One: Janet Evanovich

Another cute read. This time someone wants Briggs dead and he ends up moving in with Stephanie while she hunts for his Killer. One of her bonds ends up having a collection of Chihuahuas which also end up at her apartment which is firebombed as someone goes after Briggs. Grandma Mazer and Lulu live up to expectations and Stephanie totals a few more cars.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Postman Always Rings Twice: James M. Cain

I wasn't sure what this book would be about, I picked it up recognizing it as a classic. It was a thriller about a man who is a drifter, but then stops at a gas station with a restaurant and falls in love with the owner's wife. After one botched attempted murder of her husband the drifter leaves, but months later runs into the husband in town. Realizing they are still in love they concoct a scheme to kill the husband in a car accident and make it look like they were drunk and it was an accident. They just barely were found innocent and then start fighting amongst themselves. She finds out she is pregnant and while he rushes her to the hospital he accidently crashes into a wall and kills her. He is put to death for the murder of both of them.

Jaws: Peter Benchley

This book was very different than I had expected, though I have never seen the whole movie. The book focused more on the townspeople and the sheriff’s life in general, than on the Shark. A tourist town is plagued by a great white shark and no one understands why it has chosen that shoreline to hang out on. The policeman of the town had married one of the "summer people" and it is this summer his wife believes she has had enough of the simple life and misses the carefree abundance of her youth. She runs into the little brother of an old boyfriend and has an affair with him. The police officer listens to the town after the 1st death that the shark has moved on and not to mention anything because it would be bad for business. Two more people die. Then the Policeman, the "boyfriend" and a fisherman go to sea to hunt the shark down, only the policeman comes back but it is believed that the shark will die. The idea is that the shark is smarter than possible for a fish...and huge...and could pop up anywhere.

Never Knowing: Chevy Stevens

This is the second book by this author. I really enjoyed the originality of the first book, this one was still original, but I didn't see the need for it to be told in the same format as "Still Missing" where the protagonist tells the story by telling her psychologist. A woman, Sara, who was adopted, decides to search for her real parents, evidently driven by the need to know her family's medical history for her daughter, who is seemingly healthy? She finds her mother who seems terrified that Sara found her and wants nothing to do with her. She eventually learns her father was the notorious "Campsite Killer" and her mother was the only one of his victim who escaped and survived. The News gets a hold of the story and her father finds her location and contacts her. He wants to meet, then finds out she has a daughter and wants to meet his granddaughter as well. In the end he kidnaps them both, but to protect them from the police officer who had his own motive.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lottery: Patricia Wood

I found this book to be hilarious, the narrator Perry L Crandall starts the story with " I am not retarded", you have to have an IQ under 75 and he is 76. He lives with his grandmother who says hilarious things like at KFC "You'd think they raise chickens with nothing but six flappers and an ass, the way they pack those boxes". His mother raised his two brothers and only visits him occasionally. his immediate family will not claim him, his mother wants to be called by her first name and his brothers are "cousin brothers" It is interesting to see the world through Perry's eyes, his comment about Social Security was "I thought it was cool you got a prize for dying". Once his grandmothers passes away his family miraculously appears and cleans out the valuables in the house. He was listed in the Will, but they tell him to sign some paperwork and give him $500 for the sale of the house. His mother changes her phone number as soon as the house sells so he cannot contact her. He has two friends, his boss and a coworker and they make sure he is ok. He wins the lottery after getting a bill for the hospital for his grandmother and his brother forwarded him the last electric bill from the house. Once again his family shows up and wants him to sign over his money. His friends try to protect him as much as possible. He falls in love with a checkout girl at the grocery store and you just know the story is going to end sadly. The girl, Cherry, falls in love with Keith who is a friend of Perry's. In the end Perry willingly gives his lottery winnings to his family, Keith dies in a car accident, we learn Cherry was a minor when she got pregnant by Keith, and then Cherry and Perry get married and raise the baby. It was nice there was a happy ending. This was a very enjoyable book.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Area 51: Annie Jacobsen

I guess I didn't know what to expect out of this book, it read like a report you'd do for school, hinting at things, but never really proving or disproving them. The book, since the information was gathered from interviews of people that worked there, was mostly about the lives of those who worked on the base. One person claimed to have seen aliens, others say the UFO sightings in both the US and Russia during the cold war were actually the newest technology, U2 planes and such. I got bored with the book bout 1/2- 3/4 of the way through, but then again I am not all that interested in spy planes and such, though some of the tests were frightening with the deadly chemicals they released. The nearby farmers lost a lot of animals and the ground at the test range is uninhabitable without proper garments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Still Missing: Chevy Stevens

It's a little disturbing to state this was an excellent book since it dealt with a woman being kidnapped and raped for a year, but it really was excellent. The book deals with the psychological aspect of the abduction and the healing process. The story is told in first person and the dialogue is solely what she tells her therapist as she relives the experience. The therapist and other characters never directly speak in the book and the personalities of the other characters are only told through what the protagonist reveals. The protagonist is very likeable and while being sarcastic you can see she is also very tough. She was a realtor and is taken captive by someone who came to an open house. While with the man she called "The Freak" she gets pregnant. After having the baby girl, The Freak brings home a cold which the baby gets and he ends up killing the baby because he refuses to get medical attention and can't take the crying. So on top of trying to adjust back into her previous life after escaping (she ends up killing him with an ax) she also has to deal with the loss of her child. She blames herself for the baby's death because she wasn't able to save her. Although she knows The Freak is dead she still feels like she is in danger. At the end we uncover what the abduction actually was. The protagonist's mother had her kidnapped, but it was only supposed to be for a week because she was having financial difficulties and thought she could make money from selling her daughter's story of being kidnapped.

Friday, August 15, 2014

I am Malala; The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By the Taliban: Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

This book was very good at describing not only life in Pakistan, but in how is changed once the Taliban came to power. It was also interesting to see how the United States was viewed by the capture of Osama Bin Laden and the aid we gave that never reached the people. The book was about Malala Yousafzai and her voice for education for everyone, I like how it left off as though her story is not over, but just beginning.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Shadow Year: Jeffrey Ford

This started out reminding me of "IT" by Stephen King. the protagonist is a fifth grade Boy, Scott, his older brother, Jim, is sort of a punk and the little sister, Mary, escapes into imaginary worlds more than not. The mother is a drunk and the father is never home because he works all the time. The story begins with the disappearance of a boy Scott's class. There is a peeping Tom and a man that mysteriously shows up in town after the boy disappears. The little sister starts moving people around in the town Jim made of their neighborhood and we realize she knows what is going to happen. The man in white sits in front of their house like she shows in the "town" and the boy was found in the lake after being murdered. The story ends when the peeping Tom, who used to be a neighbor, sets up a trap for "Mr. White" the man gets cornered in the school and they discover he was a murderer in several states, we then learn that the peeping Tom was murdered by him when his family moved. This was a fast pace and enjoyable read.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Restoration : John Ed Bradley

This was an interesting Novel centered on a writer who quit his job with a magazine and falls in love with a woman who is as in love with paintings from a deceased painter as his father was. They uncover a work that everyone thought was destroyed and go about getting it back to its original condition. The story then exposes that the artist was actually the woman's grandfather and the protagonist's landlord was in love with the painter and saw him commit suicide. The story is intertwined with racial issues both in the past and present.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque: Jeffrey Ford

This was a really interesting, fast paced novel that at times I wasn't sure where it was going- it was VERY unpredictable. A painter in the late 1800's gets a commission to paint a portrait; however he is not allowed to see the woman. He has to paint how he sees her based on stories she tells. The stories she chooses seem farfetched and unlikely, but the artist discovers some truth to them. The story itself keeps weaving on the brink of becoming a Stephan King Sci fi, but then comes back to a realistic occurrence. It was very interesting and I was very pleased with how it ended, I was a little worried I wouldn't get closure and he would seemingly fail like the other artists before him.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Invention of Wings: Sue Monk Kidd

I love this author and this book was another deeply touching read. Based on the true lives of two abolitionist sisters, the story creates life in the South during the early 1800's. Sarah Grimke is given a slave,(Hetty aka Handful)to be her handmaiden on her 11th birthday. Sarah tries to refuse and free Hetty, but her parents are appalled and refuse. As she grows up Sarah's ideas become more and more distanced from her parent's and southern upbringing. She promises Hetty's mother that she will find a way to free her. The Book goes through both girl's lives as well as the little Grimke sister who is born when Sarah is a teenager. Sarah finally does find a way to free Hetty, though not as we predict. This was a very well written book that I had a hard time putting down, I love that the author provided additional information on the sisters in the back and that she chose this way to tackle their story.

War! What is it Good For?: Ian Morris

This isn't something I would usually pick up, but I was taking an online course and it was recommended. It was very interesting. The introduction talked about how human remains have been found from the Stone Age giving evidence they died violently. It goes through major wars through history and touches on what good came out of them. It started with Roman Conquests and considered how the conquered territories became organized and basically "civilized" and then ended with a prediction of what the future holds. The next 40 years could be the most horrific with technical advances and such, which isn't hard to imagine, but terrifying. He explains how the British and America's have created more peace than bloodshed and how the US is a "Global Cop" using violence when necessary to keep peace. He also predicts how the world will eventually be under one power... this was a very interesting read.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rainbow Six: Tom Clancy

This seemed like a never-ending book- it is fast paced and a lot happens, but it just felt difficult to keep up with, they are on a hijacked plane, now that are with hostages in a bank. Then there is another story that eventually joins up where people are experimenting with homeless people. The book is about a group created by NATO- Rainbow Six, who consists of a person from every country. It was interesting how it came together- not your "typical" terrorist.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Summons: John Grisham

The eldest son of a judge is beckoned home to a dying father. When he gets there he finds his father already dead. The story is interwoven between the protagonist reminiscing about his childhood and being chased by someone after finding $3 million in his father's closet. The story continued to build and we learn the little brother was a drug addict and has been given millions of dollars from the father through the years. SPOILIER- the brother "assisted" in the father's death and wrote a new will leaving everything to his boys. The little brother found the money first and wanted to see if the eldest brother would divide it up equally or keep it for himself.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Virgin's Knot: Holly Payne

This was a fantastic book, but ended so sadly. Characters kept being introduced while the story progressed and eventually they all met up. A young girl, Nurdane, loses her mother when she is born and is taught by her father to weave after she gets polio. Her father kept preaching to her and the townsmen that her hands were a gift from Ali. He wanted to make sure she would have a way to support herself after he passed away since no one would probably marry her. Her weavings become famous in town and are thought to be magical and blessed. Her doctor falls in love with her and though she doesn't know, she believes he sees her as he wants to- her fixed and walking, instead of who she actually is. Then a man, Hennessey, comes in search of the goddess he believes used to be worshipped in Turkey and falls in love with Nurdane. She befriends him and shows him a cave with the goddess markings. Nurdane confesses to him that she wishes Allah had not given her the gift of weaving, but had instead made her whole so she could marry. The whole town seems to know the doctor is marrying her and that the rug she is working on is actually for her. Nurdane does not know and when Hennessey learns of it he is upset that she is being given away like livestock. On the morning of the weddings, Nurdane gives her hand back to Allah, what I don't understand is if she realized she would bleed to death or if she thought she would live without it...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Last Of The Mohicans : James Fenimore Cooper

I hadn't remembered that I had read this book, until I was about half way through. It didn't really hold my attention and is similar to Louis L Amour's books for boys. There seems to be a lot of dialogue, but little action. The story is basically about some men escorting two young girls to see their father, a British Officer trying to hold a fort against the French. They meet up with him right before the battle and in leaving the fighting get kidnapped by a Huron who wants the eldest for a wife. In the end the eldest and the Huron die while he tries to escape her search party.

An Innocent Man: John Grisham

This is a non-fiction work and is frightening on how the police just grabbed someone in order to close the case and let the murderer go free when they seem to have known with certainty who the murderer was. This story makes you wonder in this day and age how many innocent people could be charged with a crime. This story followed the lives of Ron Williamson, who's only vice was a mental disorder, being charged with Murder and doing his time. It also brings to light two other men doing time for murders they did not commit- Dennis Fritz and Greg Wilhoit. This book is very interesting, not only in these men's live, but it talks about prison life and the heartbreaking struggles of the family members. Ron WIlliamson took his frustrations of being jail out on his sisters by demanding they buy him things for his life in prison (which he would ruin in a fit of rage) and by endlessly demanding they get him out of there. They both had families and financial difficulties and I am sure the pressure and guilt were horrible.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What to Expect When No One's Expecting: Jonathan V. Last

This is very much an "END OF DAYS" book, l which is funny because he pokes fun of an earlier book that does the same thing, but warned people are having too many babies. This was a super interesting read for the statistics. I liked learning on why contraceptives were created and the statistics about the more educated one is, the less likely they are to have children. The statistics on living together before marriage and how likely one is to get married and then stay together was alarming. The chapter about car seats was all new to me; I must live under a rock because I did not know children up to age 8 have to be in a booster seat. The days of my childhood are ancient history! I liked the humor of the author “Americans expect to have just about two kids each, and they get just about two kids each. I know what you're thinking- this is the dumbest statistic you've ever heard"(pg. 121) I laughed out loud, because that was pretty much what I was thinking. I really enjoyed the book and even recommended it to another childless person.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Juror: George Dawes Green

This book draws the reader in and has just enough suspense. A woman, Annie, is picked as a juror on a Mafia murder case. The judge tries to dismiss her, but she wants to be on the jury for some excitement from her everyday life. She ends up working for the mafia since a man, the "teacher" visits her and tells her he will kill her and her son if she doesn't get the murderer acquitted. After the trial, where she accomplished the unthinkable the man doesn't leave her alone. He has become obsessed with her (that seems to be a theme in the book, men obsessed with women) and even convinces her best friend to kill herself in order to save the little boy. The story stretches across countries as the woman tries to find where to hide her son while she takes care of the "teacher" who keeps coming after them. It had an odd ending, but the "good guys" win

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Fountainhead: Ayn Rand

It would be impossible to do a quick summary of this book and do it justice. I wasn't sure what to expect with this novel since I often read great works and get disappointed. This one was Very good, I wanted to race through it, but at the same time wanted it to last longer. I didn't see how there could be a happy ending, but really wanted one. The story has a lot of depth and meaning you can pull from any and all of it. The novel starts with Howard Roark contemplating suicide after being expelled from Architect school (later another great man will also have a suicide scene) because his work is too different from the other students, too original. The story follows the lives of Roark and his classmate and antagonist Peter Keating. Peter has no pride and uses others to become successful, he is classified as having no real talent, but does what is asked of him- his life seems easy, though filled with jealousy. Roark refuses to conform and has many setbacks and difficulties in finding employment. there are several other important characters including 2 people Roark ends up loving, Dominique and Gail, they both try to ruin him before he gets started because she knows this world can't handle true talent and beauty. There is also a vile character in Elworth Toohey who is compared with Dominique, they both try to ruin people, but for different reasons. The ending was shocking in that Dominique leaves her husband when he needs her most and Toohey just seems to disappear after being fired. I would recommend reading this book; it would be a great choice for a book report since there is so much one could write on.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Honeymoon :James Patterson and Howard Roughan

The reviews on this book didn't match my opinion. The protagonist is the human version of a Black Widow spider and kills her men once she gets sick of them. She only lures in rich men and either becomes the sole beneficiary once they die, or if she doesn't marry them, she steals their money. The book seemed geared towards teen readers in that it spells everything out for you, you are meant to believe the woman became a murderess because she watched her mother kill her father. The actual content of the book (it is very sexual) made it clear to me it wasn't a teen novel. I was a bit disappointed in this novel.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Quiet Room: Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett

This is about a woman who overcame her battle with schizophrenia. Until her teenage years and a painful breakup with her boyfriend, she was a normal girl. But the breakup seemed to trigger something in her and she started hearing voices, they alternated between telling her to kill herself and directing her to kill others. She spent several years in and out of hospitals and finally with the help of new medication and encouragement from her doctors, she was able to overcome the voices for the most part. She still hears them, but can now control them- This was a very educational and emotional read.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Heat: Stuart Woods

This was a thriller where a cop is in prison for taking the fall for a crime he hadn't done (though he had stolen money which he wasn't convicted of) and is given a deal to get out if he brings down an illegal arms business. He takes on another life and enters a town that is very "valley of the dolls" meets Colorado City AZ. The mastermind of the arms dealing, Coldwater, is very charismatic and has started his own church to make the citizens believe the bunker he is building is actually for the "end of days". The ex-cop/con Jesse ends up falling in love with a member of the church who has a daughter with Coldwater. Jesse spends months spinning a web of deceit and ends up getting married during that time and finds his daughter who had been adopting when he was in prison. In the end the good guys win and Jesse takes up residence in New Zealand with his new family, the baby that the wife is pregnant with is never mentioned again. There seemed to be more going on in the book than there needed to be and a lot of time was spend building up to the climax, trips all over the place, a love story, a lost daughter, that didn't move the story forward.

I am The Messenger: Markus Zusak

Zusak's books are always original. I believe this is a teen book... In this one the protagonist gets a task from someone he doesn't know to see certain people. The message is given on a playing card. He studies the people and has to determine what they need. After he completes what he thinks he is supposed to do for the people, he is given another card and works his way through the deck. The tasks range from beating people up to keeping them company. His actions always help someone in the end. What he believes to be the last 2 cards help two of his friends, the last card is for him. The ending was sort of odd where you can't be sure the person sending the cards is actually human. The messenger becomes the message that everyone and anyone can do something for another that will improve their life. It ended with a "play it forward message"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Long Walk to Freedom: Nelson Mandela

This was an interesting read and exposed my ignorance of the apartheid in South Africa. The story starts with Mandela's childhood, where his future was very much influenced by his tribe; his father's side was from a long line of royalty. He, by chance, was given an English education and was pushed towards becoming a lawyer. The book talks about his struggles as well as those of his people. He talks about his marriages and how his imprisonments affected his family life. His life in the Robben Island prison quarry was hard, but he still remained pleasant. It was interesting to see him become president when he had started out as an enemy to the government and was sentenced to life in prision for treason. This was a very interesting book.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Frankenstein; Lost Souls: Dean Koontz

In this book a small town in Montana is taken over by one man's creation. Their goal is to get rid of all humanity and replace them with these "Alien" beings. The story gets to the climax and then just abruptly ends :( The beings are able to be killed, but they are much stronger than a human. The book sets a few people up to be the heroes while the "replacement" beings lock down the city...but that is all that happens in this book.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: James Thurber

I was most surprised when I opened this book as it was a collection of short stories. Somehow a movie (two actually) was made out of a story that was six pages long. I assume the movie will be like "Benjamin Button" where it is based on the "idea". I did enjoy Thurber's works; they are little glimpses into lives. I am curious to what his novels would be like, his only other work I have read is The 13 Clocks , which I remember being weird. I do like the way he describes things; "He had an inordinate fondness for echoes "Halloooo!" he would brawl, wherever he was, in a terrific booming voice that could have conjured up an echo on a prairie" (from Something to Say). The Macbeth Murder Mystery made me want to read Macbeth again to determine the "real" murderer.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Horse Whisperer: Nicholas Evans

I am not sure how I feel about this book, the first 2/3 of it was excellent, but then the author weaves in a love story. He creates the message that is it acceptable to have an affair, even after showing how much it hurts everyone near the adulterers. The story starts out with a young girl, Grace, and her friend taking their horses out for a ride on a winter morning. They end up getting stuck trying to go up a slippery hill near the road and are both hit by a truck. Grace's friend dies in the accident and Grace's horse Pilgrim is injured so badly they believe he needs to be put down. A large portion of the story shows the progression of both horse and rider as they heal. Grace had a leg amputated and swears she will never ride again. Pilgrim, in pain and mistreated, become wild. Grace's mother Annie finds a horse whisperer, Tom, hoping he can heal Pilgrim and in the process help her daughter. In the End Grace does ride Pilgrim again showing that you can get up after hitting rock bottom. Grace hears Tom's sister-in- law talk about the relationship between Tom and Annie. Sick to her stomach Grace takes Pilgrim and rides off. Pilgrim gets into a fight with Wild Mustangs and Tom, after finding them, uses the stallion as a means of escape, it tramples him to death. There is a lot you can read into this story, but I will leave it at that.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Beaches: Iris Rainer Dart

his book was much better than the movie adaptation. The book starts with a famous singer, Cee Cee rehearsing when she gets a call from a longtime friend saying she needs to see her. Cee Cee walks out of the rehearsal not positive she heard her friend correctly. As she makes her way to see "Bertie" she thinks back to how they met and the story weaves in and out between the past and present. They were both at the beach 30 years prior when Bertie had lost her mom and was wandering around crying. Cee Cee was a child performer who happened to have an audition right after meeting Bertie and Bertie watched Cee Cee lose the audition to another little girl because Cee Cee's mom had been bragging about the audition. The girls become pen pals and 10 years later end up living in the same town and working for the same theater, Bertie would do the costumes, Cee Cee acted. Bertie sleeps with the theater producer, whom Cee Cee later marries. Cee Cee's mom dies and the girls separate again. Bertie ends up marrying a cold, well to do lawyer and is miserable. Once they divorce she finds out she is pregnant. Cee Cee shows up again and starts dating Bert's doctor. The girls go their own way again after Cee Cee gets a call from her agent and leaves Bertie to tell the news to the Doctor. Present day- Bertie is dying of ovarian cancer and wanted to see Cee Cee once more to say goodbye and that she was talented. Cee Cee, still selfish, says goodbye and heads to the airport to get back home and finish rehearsals. When she gets to the airport the realization that this is the end hits her and she heads back and nurses Bertie until death. Cee Cee makes sure Bertie's daughter, Nina, says good-bye and then finds she was left as the guardian for Nina in Bertie's will.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

White Fire: Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

This was the first book I have read by these authors, and it was actually recommended to me by a friend. The book starts off with a flashback to the late 1800's. Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle meet over dinner and discuss a disturbing story Oscar heard from some miners in Colorado. The story then continues to present day and a girl, Corri, working on her thesis in criminology. She gets a tip that a cemetery is being moved and the remains have been dug up, which is a perfect opportunity to study the causes of death. She hears a story about a grizzly bear that killed several miners and plans to study the bones for how a large carnivore attack leaves them. Once she gets to the town she is told she can no longer view the remains and after she breaks into the shed where the bones are being temporarily kept, she gets jailed. The story then progresses where her benefactor- Pendergast- saves her from 10 yrs. in jail and obtains permission from the families to study the bodies. She finds out the people were actually eaten by humans, not bears. Then by going through historical documents (and Doyle's missing book about the incident) they realize the cannibals had mercury poisoning cause by the mine. They then realize the newer housing development is sitting in the valley where the mercury would have run off. A boy, who expressed interest in Corri, ends up trying to kill her and we learn he too suffered from mercury poisoning.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Death Without Company: Craig Johnson

This is the second book in the Walt Longmire series. This on takes place only a few weeks after the first book. A woman in assisted living dies and it is assumed to be of old age, but the past sheriff asks for an autopsy. An interesting story then unfolds. The Sheriff Lucian had once been married to the victim and suspected foul play. During the investigation Walt gains two new sheriffs and his daughter comes to visit. Lucian realizes the deceased woman's, Maria, first born was actually his and he has a granddaughter. Maria had ended up being hastily married off once her family learned of her condition. Her husband was abusive and she killed him once night when he attacked her son. His illegitimate son with a native woman was trying to kill anyone who would inherit since the father's will had left everything to him. Both Henry and Walt almost die. I liked that this story was completely different than the first. I was worried they were going to all take place during snowstorms.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Book Thief: Marcus Zusak

This was a devastating book about the common German's life during World War II. It took a few chapters to get into because it is told by the Grim Reaper. A little girl is given up for adoption by her mother, who we later learn was a communist and being sent to a camp. On the way her little brother dies and she is forever haunted by his last grappling cough. She is taken in by a couple with grown children. Rosa, the woman seems harsh, but we begin to see she is actually very warm hearted. The man, Hans, is very gentle and loving. Liesel adapts to her new life and helps her new momma with the washing she takes in for others. Once the war is well on its way they lose the laundry accounts and Liesel begins to steal books from the Mayor's wife's library. She doesn't realize until the end that the woman wants her to have the books. The story centers around how many lives Liesel touches and the devastation war causes, every family suffers death, heartbreak, and poverty. Hans ends up taking Max, a Jewish man, in and hides him in the basement, fearing discovery, Hans asks him to leave. Later in the book Liesel sees Max in the group of Jews being marched to Dachau and is frantic. She gets whipped by the guards until her friend Rudy pulls her away. Her poppa gets sent to war, miraculously survives and is sent back home with a damaged leg. Shortly afterwards, by chance Liesel happens to be in the basement one night when the air raids are going on and ends up being one of the only survivors on the street. Both her Momma and Poppa are killed along with her friend Rudy and his whole family. She ends up living with the major and working for Rudy's dad when he gets back from the war. The only happiness in the book seems to be that Max comes back to find her once he is released.

A Fatal Waltz: Tasha Alexander

This was the 3rd of the Lady Ashton series. In this one she is engaged to Colin, but is introduced to a past love of his while at a gathering at a politician's house. The Politician is murdered during a hunting accident while all are gathered at his home. The suspect is Ivy's, Emily's best friend, husband. At the party the politician and the husband had a spectacular falling out. While the husband, Brandon, is in prison he requests Emily uncover the truth. Her discoveries lead her to Vienna where she is stalked by a murderer, though not the one she wants, and meets with other murderers. She discovers that Colin is still in love with his past girlfriend and feels both relief and sorrow when she is eventually "silenced". Emily is surprised to learn the murderess was actually closer to home than she originally thought. The wife of the murdered man was the culprit. She found out he was responsible for her brother's death, and he was the last of her family left when she was an orphaned girl.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The COLd DiSH: Craig Johnson

The first book in the Walt Longmire series. Walt is characterized as a widower, who is a bit of a slob and the sheriff of a small town in Wyoming. His best friend, Henry, is from the reservation and helps him with his cases when he is not running his bar. Suddenly boys convicted in a rape case against a young, challenged girl from the reservation, turn up dead. At first Walt thinks the murderer is a native, because there are symbolic "Eagle" feathers on the bodies, but the feathers turn out to be fake. Walt goes on a few dates while he is not on the case and then learns more about the woman he is seeing than he wants to. As a child she was raped by her father, who ended up killing himself, and she wanted justice done against the four boys.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

In her Shoes: Jennifer Weiner

This was a heartfelt book about the bond between sisters. Rose and Maggie lost their mother when they were 8 and 6. Since then Rose has been taking care of selfish Maggie with varying degrees of effectiveness. Rose finally gets a boyfriend and is awoken in the middle of the night by a man telling her she needs to pick up a drunken Maggie. Maggie has lost her apartment and her father and stepmother won't take her in since she is a thief and nothing but trouble. After Maggie sleeps with Rose's boyfriend she disappears and one day sends Rose a note that she is living with a long lost grandmother. The family comes back together and Rose ends up marrying someone worthy of her.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Escape from camp 14: Blaine Harden

This book wasn't quite what I was expecting, but the author hints at what happened. I assumed the book would be mostly based on the person who escaped from camp 14, but after the author started working with the North Korean Prison camp survivor, Shin, Shin seems unable to tell his story. A lot of his story he ends up changing along the way as well. The book became a lot of political background, history of how power was given to those in control in North Korea and international relations. It was still an interesting read into North Korea's chaos.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Poisoned Season: Tasha Alexander

This is the second book in the Lady Ashton Series. This book had a lot of twists that I wasn't expecting and it was a delightful read. Interwoven with the story of the vandalism of Marie Antoinette artifacts and the Heir to France coming forward, is the story of Lady Ashton and her growing fondness for Colin. This was a quick interesting read, I especially like the historical references and how it makes you want to research for more.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Reached: Ally Condie

Wow, This book was much longer than necessary and I kept losing interest. The last chapters seemed like the author didn't know how to end the story and were brutally long while trying to tie up all loose ends and make a happy ending. A lot of things from previous books were revisited, but there didn't really seem to be a need to do so. In this one a plague breaks out and only The Rising has a cure. The rebels come into power and Cassia, Xander, and Ky are all brought together to work on a cure for the mutated virus. Ky gets the virus and they find a cure and save him along with Xander's parents and Cassia's mother. There is some belief that Ky's cousin is actually alive-if this is the last of the series I don' know why it was important to mention. A lot of the book seemed to concentrate on putting every character into a good light and explaining why they made decisions. The target audience is for someone much younger than I am, but I kept thinking that I have a pretty good attention span and I had trouble finishing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hell is Empty: Craig Johnson

This was one of the best books I have read. A sheriff, Longmire is responsible for escorting 3 criminals caught in his jurisdiction to the FBI. The transfer goes well, but on the way home the sheriff finds a hairpin in his sandwich that he got from the new girl at the local diner. The sheriff gets a bad feeling that the criminals found the pins in their sandwiches and he races back. The escort vans are on fire when he gets back and only 1 law enforcer is still alive. Longmire heads on in a blizzard to find the gang and the waitress. He suffers from getting shot at, getting stuck under his snowmobile, a fire, freezing, etc. This was a spiritual novel in a sense and I couldn't put it down. I loved this quote "Cigarettes are killers that travels in packs" (154)