Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
The Hunger Games was an amazing book and the second in the series, Catching Fire, does even more to fire me up (pun intended) about this author’s work!
Sorry to use so much fire imagery but you read this book and see if it doesn’t get to you. I am SO hooked and the thought that I now have to WAIT until next year for the third is driving me bonkers!
My book group was reading National Book Award winners so I decided to pick Tree of Smoke because it has been a long time since I’ve read any truly literary fiction, much less 614 pages of it. I started off listening to the book, and the narrator is great, but the story shifts perspective so effortlessly and the time periods (even within the same year) shifted around a lot and I was losing track of the story line. So, I checked the actual book out and things began to flow and I loved it!
This novel spans from 1963 to 1983 and is about the Vietnam War…or at least the war from Skip Sand’s perspective. The character list is pretty long and the plot not at all straight forward. You have Colonel F.X. Sands and his legendary exploits combined with a slightly shady association with Psy Ops now. No one seems to like him or to really know what he’s doing in Vietnam. Skip looks up to his uncle and wants to help out with Psy Ops but the colonel doesn’t let him do too much except look after three footlockers of notecards full of incomprehensible information. A Canadian missionary/nurse, two brothers suffering all the different consequences of wartime service, a Vietcong operative turning spy for Colonel Sands, and a handful of other characters keep the smoke thick and further obscure what’s going on.
Even after finishing this book, I can’t really tell you what it is about. It was dense and complex and hard to keep up with and I loved every minute of it. I don’t know who on earth I’d recommend it to. It is not a straightforward war novel. It is more a philosophical, somewhat stream-of-consciousness exploration of the tolls of war on the human psyche. The book’s customer reviews on Amazon pretty much sum it up.
I don’t remember ever encountering a book where there is such a spread between love-it and hate-it. I loved it and I’d love to hear from someone else who enjoyed it though of course I won’t ignore you if you loathed it either.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
With World War Z, I have completed the R.I.P. Reading Challenge Peril the First (four books from any subgenre of horror by Oct 31st) and am edging ever closer to completing the 100+ Reading Challenge (100 book by December 31st) with a total of 89 so far.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Orphan’s Destiny is the second in the Jason Wander series. I’ve already blogged about the first book, Orphanage. It’s hard to review a series without giving away too much but I will do my best. Jason Wander is in the book so obviously he makes it through Orphanage. He is grateful to be returning to Earth but has no idea the changes 5 years can bring but I can assure you he likes none of them. The powers that be want him to say the war is over but he just can’t bring himself to believe it. Jason feels he has no place and nothing to do in a world where the war is over (I’m simultaneously reading a Vietnam War novel and some obvious parallels struck me). The war is most definitely not over and Jason may be its only hope.
I still love this character and can hardly wait to start the next one. The is always a couple of pages of the next book in the back and I was all ready to come to work and check it out but, as usual, my bookgroups are pressing and I’ve GOT to get those three read before anything else!
I’ve read one other book by this author, Chasing the Dead, and I really like him. Light and quick, just enough gore, thrilling, creepy but nothing that keeps me up at night…perfect Halloween reading!
In Eat the Dark, Mike Hughes is not too happy at having to work at the hospital on the last night it is open. All the patients have been moved out so pretty much all that’s left in the building is him, another doctor, the security guard, a nurse, some files, and hospital equipment. Don’t you think now is the perfect time to bring a convicted, depraved serial killer in for a last minute MRI? And of course he can’t wear those metal restraints in the MRI machine!
Mike is creeped out by Frank Snow’s presence in the hospital, anxious about his wife and son’s unexpected appearance, unnerved by the security guard’s assumption that he is having an affair with the nurse, and most especially, he is freaking out because Frank Snow has just passed him a note saying he can stay and do his job and take the consequences or he can take his family and leave now and be safe. Which do you think he chooses?
So, ALL the hospital windows have been boarded over, all the doors are locked, the power is out, and Frank Snow, convicted serial killer (of a decidedly Saw nature), is loose and strolling about.
Hope you’re not afraid of the dark.
Loved it! As I said before, it’s a quick read that doesn’t leave you jumpy and since I’ve been reading/watching a lot of scary stuff recently that is a blessing. I brought it on myself, I know… J
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So, Chasing the Dead.
To say that Auden West has led a sheltered life is a little bit of understatement. Possibly the worst thing about it is that she sheltered her own self...from her father's distant manner, her mother's constant analysis and judgement, her brother's wayward manner, and the friendships and relationships that made her uncomfortable. Now it's the summer before she begins college and that feeling of having missed something leads her to head to the beach for the summer to live with her father and his new young wife Heidi and her brand new baby sister Thisbe.
The Snakehead begins in 1993 when a couple of National Park Police officers on a graveyard shift patrol discover a ship that has run aground just off the Rockaway Peninsula in New York. The ship, Golden Venture, is fully loaded with skeletal, malnourished Chinese illegal immigrants, many of whom have drowned in their attempts to make it to shore. The officers call in for backup and the media circus begins.
Blood of Ambrose is the book for my science fiction bookgroup this month. Young King Lathmar VII is ruler in name only of the Ontilian Empire. The late Emperor’s brother-in-law, and likely murderer, Lord Urdhven, appoints himself Protector to his nephew but he is no benevolent uncle. He sets out to kill anyone who tries to get between him and the King, but it is generally understood that the King will be the final victim and Urdhven can crown himself Emperor. Lathmar calls Ambrosia his grandmother to simplify the fact that she is several hundred years old so he’s not really certain what her actual title might be. Ambrosia sends Lathmar out to find her brother Morlock, but he is somewhat inept and is soon caught and returned to the castle. Ambrosia is tried as a witch and sentenced to trial by combat.
As Urdhven has conveniently had both of her hands broken, it is up to the local murder of crows to deliver Ambrosia’s message to her exiled brother. Morlock—stateless person, master of all magical makers, deadly swordsman, recovering alcoholic—arrives just in time to save her, sort of. Together, Morlock and Ambrosia try in their own ways to get Lathmar to mature into the ruler they really don’t hold a lot of hope that he can be. In the face of Urdhven’s continuous, and mysteriously backed, efforts to regain control of the kingdom, Lathmar needs to find strength and conviction to rule in his own stead.
If this sounds long and drawn out, it is and it was. I like fantasy and maybe I’m such a fangirl of GRRM that I tend to view all fantasy through that lens but this was not a terribly enjoyable story for me. There was a little too much going on a little soon and I really felt like I had been dropped into the middle of a long running series.
There were numerous brief mentions of VERY IMPORTANT things that had gone on in the past to make the characters the way they were but little or no follow through to engage the reader. There were footnotes about phases of the three moons of this world which pointed you to an appendix in the back where you found this: “The novel begins on 25 Remembering, A.U. 330. It ends on 18 Cymbals, A.U. 333. 48th Ring, A.U. 330: Year of the Hunter”. A list of similar entries follows, none of which I remember reading anything about in the book. I’m happy to see such thoroughness in world building, but there is no note or explanation about why these things should be important to the reader.
There were many parts in the book which I understood were intended to be amusing, but it was a stretch. And plus, IMHO, a book cannot be a comedy when it involves a dead, rotting demon-possessed baby giving orders to its undead army from atop the carcass of a dog with four human feet and a human face sewn on to it. I am not averse to dead, rotting demon-possessed babies in my fiction, but the attempts at humor along with that didn’t ring true for me and, truthfully, felt a bit bipolar. I like a bit of morbid merriment along with the best of them (take Greg Kihn’s Horror Show or Army of Darkness) but the novel just felt like two stories unsuccessfully merged. I hate to say it, but I’ll have to pass on future novels if this is a series.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
...otherwise, and from here on out, to be known as The Mad Crapper.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
I've raved about Jonah Lehrer and his books before so I won't expound yet again, just click through if you'd like to see my previous post. I'll just say that I enjoyed my second and third go-arounds with Proust was a Neuroscientist just as much as I did the first reading. This time I was reading AND listening to it to. It's a great audio if you are a fan of such things like I am.
The cover and the inside cover copy for Dramarama reeled me in:
Two theater-mad, self-invented
fabulositon Ohio teenagers.
One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.
And SUMMER DRAMA CAMP.
It's a season of hormones,
song and dance,
that will determine their future
--and test their friendship.
This book was all that I wanted it to be and I enjoyed it immensely! These two friends are determined not to be held back by their small town roots and go after the exclusive summer drama camp with everything they have. Sayde is seeking to get rid of her shy exterior to release the bigness and razzle-dazzle she has inside while Demi is looking for acknowledgement of his talent and his first chance at a romance not frowned on by his parents and community. They both find all they could wish for and more at the Wildewood Academy for Performing Arts Summer Institute.
This book reminded me of one of my favorite movies (so sue me!), Center Stage and another sort of theater-centered book I read early in the year, Suite Scarlett. Funny, mostly light-hearted, and inspiring!
Teddy is a U.S. Marshall and he and his partner Charlie have arrived on Shutter Island to investigate the possible breakout of one of the criminally insane patients at the asylum, Ashecliffe Hospital, that makes its home on the island. Teddy quickly realizes that all is not right. The patients he interviews seem coached, the orderlies and doctors know more than they're letting on, and no one really seems concerned enough about the woman who has disappeared. The more he investigates, the more Teddy comes to realize that events are conspiring against his being able to leave the island at all.
OMG! I would love to talk to anyone who has read Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island! I've been reading about the movie for months and have seen the previews quite a bit in the last several weeks as well. I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie and I am SO glad I did. I can hardly wait to get this book into my patrons' hands at the library. It was not spooky and creepy as I once imagined that it would be, but it is a tense, tightly plotted, suspenseful thriller that I was pretty sad to finish. I've got another of Lehane's novels, Mystic River, on my TBR list now!