Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gone Girl

This book left me feeling gross.  Like I went out alone, drank too much, and woke up next to some guy I don't know.... and it was awesome.  Maybe I'm not reading the right books, but it's rare that I find something that completely surprises me.  This one did.  I don't want to say too much, because I believe this one is best read clueless, but I'm tempted to go back and read it again to see if I can connect all the little dots.  Any married person out there can find a little bit of their own relationship in this couples'.  Hopefully not too much.  I think every relationship comes to a point where both people realize they probably haven't been 100% themselves with their partner, and maybe they never will.  Gillian Flynn puts this into words perfectly with these characters.

If you are open to a few sleepless nights (you won't be able to put this one down) and a total reading hangover when you're done, READ IT.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Struggle that is Hilary Mantel and my YA Break

So.... I've have been working my way through Wolf Hall for almost two months now.  When it comes to my reading method, two months is an eternity.  I don't necessarily read quickly, I just sleep very little.  There is no question that she is a genius writer.  It's probably also safe to say that she is just a general genius given her knowledge of history.  It would take me about 500 years to get a thorough enough understanding of the Tudor period to write a piece of historical fiction like this.  I don't dislike Wolf Hall.  I am genuinely interested in the story line and the characters, I just can't pull it all together.  I am constantly flipping to the character list at the front of the book to figure out which "Thomas" is speaking.  I have to stop every few paragraphs to make sure I'm really understanding what I'm reading and not getting caught up in dialect.  Worst of all, I worry about all the other great books I'm missing out on while I toil over this one.  Even when I'm reading the best of books, I'm like an impatient toddler who has no more picked up one toy before they are thinking about what they will play with next. 

In the interest of my sanity, I took a couple days off from Wolf Hall for a YA break.  Recently, I got into this series by Michael Scott, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.  There's no use trying to lie and convince myself or anyone else that I just happened to stumble upon this series.  Finding this author was purely the work of my Harry Potter obsession.  It has been years, and I still mourn the ending of the series.  So when I saw this on the shelf, I jumped; Nicholas Flamel, the philosopher's stone, alchemy.  What if this is the next series I've been waiting for?

Well, it wasn't.  Nothing will ever compare to Harry, but it is good, and smart.  It's a series I will read all of for the enjoyment of it.  Not out of a sense of obligation.  I am currently on the third book of the series.  They books continue to be smart and incredibly engaging.  The characters seem to be historically accurate, whether they be from history or lore.  I appreciate that the main characters are brother and sister, and I don't have to deal with a ridiculous adolescent love story in the middle of it all.  The series is definatly one I would recommend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I finished this around 2:00 am and I still can't find the right words to relate how it has left me.  The only way to describe is to say that at a certain point in reading this, I drew in this huge gasp, and since then, the air has sat in my lungs making it feel like a truck is sitting on my chest.

What I'm ReadingThis book is one of the most disingenuous I've ever experienced.  It makes the entire thing more bearable, but more heartbreaking all at the same time.  After moving to "Out-With" due to his father's new job, Bruno lolls around in an angry daze until he meets Shmuel, his new and only friend.  Bruno is a selfish friend; something he is totally unaware of due to his naivety.  He complains about the unfairness of being stuck outside the fence. He opines about the Schmuel's luckiness in getting to wear comfortable pajamas every day. He regularly brings the starving Shmuel snack, but he also regularly eats them on his way to their meetings.  He whines about hating the Lieutenant because he insists on calling him "little man" while Shmuel is regularly subject to his physical and mental brutality. Schmuel is the exact opposite of Bruno in every way.  He only sees the good in his friend and sees him as a kind and giving acquaintance. 

The story ends with a turn around.  Bruno's final and only act of selflessness toward his friend. 

The Boy in the Stryped Pyjamas is jarring to say the least.  It paints a disturbing picture of the holocaust that can only be achieved through the eyes of a child.

Monday, November 26, 2012

She's Back...

Okay kids, it has been a very long time, but I'm ready to go at this again.  While, I haven't been blogging, I have been doing a TON of reading.  It's time to get back to writing it all down.  There have been some amazing books on my reading list in the past few months, and I've decided the only thing that could make some of the good ones better and some of the bad ones worth the read would be to share them with the world and find out what everyone else is thinking.  It will definitely take me awhile to get completely back into the swing of things, so your patience and blogger love is greatly appreciated.  In the spirit of getting started, her are some of the better works I've read lately with a mini word review.
  •  The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Polluck - Terrifying yet unavoidable
  •  The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg - Heartbreakingly hilarious

  •  The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - Incredibly good writing, incredibly horrible circumstance

Friday, February 17, 2012

In Cold Blood

When I first started this book, I was thinking I would probably describe it as the quintessential true-crime novel.  Now that I've finished it, I know that would be a grave injustice.  In Cold Blood laid the foundation upon which all true-crime novels are built.  The fact that it was written by Truman Capote only makes it even more amazing. 

In cold blood chronicles the murder of a family in western Kansas in the late 50's, and the subsequent hunt for their killer/killers.  What makes the book especially interesting, is that the murderers hadn't been caught when Capote commenced research on the novel.  Yet, he still walks the reader through the story with the organization necessary to keep track of the evidence, but the emotion required to bring about the question that any good true-crime novel provokes: Why? 

Capote places himself in an unusual situation as an author.  There is no suspense revolving around who did it or will they get caught.  Everybody new the answer to these questions by the time the book was published.  From the beginning, the book sets out to profile the type of men who could commit such a horrible crime.  We learn about their backgrounds, families, and their relationship with each other.  Endlessly twisting and turning in the mind why they did what they did. Did Dick talk Perry into it?  Did Perry have a plan ulterior to Dicks?  Were both men just insane?

In addition to the why, Capote leaves us wanting to know how; regardless of how gruesome it is.  Early on you learn the outline of how the family ideas, which only leaves you wanting to know more about the scene of the crime.  There are clues dropped here and there in the sections describing the murderers' trek after the crime, but the suspense of it builds and builds until it reaches an apex in the confession room. 

In Cold Blood is suspenseful and well-written.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Top Ten Tuesdays 2/7/12

I'm a day late, but the stomach flu is not conducive to heavy blogging (or anything for that matter.)  Since I'm late making my list, I got the chance to read a few that other people posted.  This week, Top Ten Tuesday's calls for a list of books for book haters.  What would you throw at someone who claims to not like reading? 

  1. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson This is a YA novel, which makes it perfect for a proclaimed non-reader.  The writing in this novel is simple, but completely powerful and effective.  I managed to read the entire thing in one sitting, which I would imagine to be appealing for a non-reader. 
  2. Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris David Sedaris always has, and always will end up on my lists.  His books are hilarious.  Anyone who claims to dislike reading will reconsider their claim when this book has them laughing so hard they're about to pee their pants.
  3. The Lovely Bones - Alice Seabold This choice is very similar to Speak in that the narrative is from the perspective of a young girl.  The writing here is a bit more polished, and the story is gripping enough to keep anyone reading.
  4. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell This book can be terrifying due to its size, but anyone who starts reading won't be able to put it down.  Margaret Mitchell manages to throw everything into a single novel: history, society, love, hate..... Everyone should be able to find something they enjoy about this book.
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee No doubt, this will end up on many people's lists this week.  A classic must read that brings to light the humanity we are capable of.  If someone reads this and still claims to be a non-reader, they will at least walk away wishing they were capable of enjoying books.
  6. James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl Of course I couldn't compose an entire list without at least one children's book.  These books are easy to read, they remind us of the imagination and joy of being little.  All of Roald Dahl's books are fun, but this one is especially light hearted.
  7. The Stranger Beside Me - Ann Rule Generally, I don't read a lot of true crime, but I do think that Ann Rule does a good job of turning true events into a "story".  If you ever start drifting while reading this, you just have to remind yourself that it actually happened, and you won't be able to put it down.
  8. The Giver - Lois Lowry It's likely that the majority of people of my generation had to read this at some point during their middle school years.  If you not, read it.  If you did, read it again.  This dystopian story keeps you in the dark and then hits you over the head with reality about 1/2 way through. 
I'm cutting it short this week.  I'm going to use the sick excuse.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Read To Me Picture Book Challenge - January

Ok, so maybe I'm going a little challenge crazy, but I couldn't resist this one: The Read to Me Picture Book Challenge..  It's basically a no brainer given that around 7:00pm every night I'll have little man chasing me around while carrying two or three books he has to read with mom before bedtime. We're aiming high and hope to reach the "growing" level (120 picture books with child during the year).   I'm really excited to get some new ideas for books we can be reading together.  Here are my first few reviews from the new books we read in January.

1.   The Little Engine That Could - Watty Piper  - I ordered this off my favorite used book website and was so surprised to receive a pristine version with huge colorful pictures.  Little man loved pointing out all the different toys and food that the train was carrying to the little kids over the mountain.  I loved all the different bad attitude engines and have now designated certain attorneys I go against regularly with corresponding names.  Great story. Great pictures.  I would definitely recommend it.

2.     Humphrey's Corner - Sally Hunter - Humprhey is an adorable elephant trying to find the perfect atmosphere for the perfect day of play.  He searches the house the house for everything he needs to achieve his goal, including his beloved stuffed animal.  Humprehy is sweet, and I love any book where mama makes a cameo to bring it all together.  Little man like the repetition, but the picture's weren't quite bold enough to keep his attention the entire time.  This one may need to be reserved for the older crowd (meaning those beyond 19 months).

3.     Dear Zoo - Rod Campbell - This is one I may have to buy an extra copy of to bring out when the first one just can't handle anymore little hands.  Dear Zoo was perfect for my little animal lover.  The hiding pets gave us a great opportunity to practice the names of animals and the sounds they made.  The windows kept my busy bee's attention for the entire story. 

4.    Miffy - Dick Bruna - Miffy is a book about family that is taken down to the toddler level.  The way that it explains mommy and daddy's family growing is age-appropriate and adorable.  The bright colors and geometric pictures were great for little man.  There have been several mornings where I run to check on him and find him sitting in his chair reading Miffy.  I'm excited to explore more of the Miffy series and suspect there will be plenty of other Miffy reviews by the time this challenge is over.

5.    The Runaway Bunny - Margaret Wise Brown - Another momma story that I could read over and over.  Unfortunately, little man was not very interested.  The pictures in this book are beautiful, but more in an artsy kind of way than a keep my 2 year old interested way.  The pictures actually were confusing for someone so little.  (i.e. a bunny swimming in the lake like a fish).  I did find that "acting" out some of the mommy parts kept him intrigued and entertained.  This sentimental story is one that all mamas should read.

6.  Goodnight Alfie Atkins - Gunilla Bergstrom - Alfie Atkins is amazing for several reasons.  First; a bright orange book.  Without even knowing why, little man can't stop himself from grabbing this one off the shelf.  Second; it's laugh out loud funny.  Alfie is a silly little boy (a trait that is almost exaggerated by the silliness of the illustrations) who won't let his daddy go to bed.  Little man literally screamed with merriment when Alfie dropped his drink on the sheets.  He giggled when Alfie had daddy get him out of bed to "pee".  I laughed when Alfie discovered daddy knocked out cold from exhaustion.  Read it!

7.    Good Dog Carl - Alexandra Day A pure picture book.  Good Dog Carl is hilarious and sweet and the entire book only has two sentences.  Carl, a big rottweiler, is left in charge of baby for the day (a little weird, I know).  They play, make messes, have a great time, and clean up just as mom walks back in the door.  Good Dog Carl is a testament to the power that good illustrations can have on a book.  Little man and I have "read" this several times and made up our own little stories about Carl and baby's adventures.