Saturday, June 13, 2015

Killing Mr Griffin by Lois Duncan

I know there have been a few teachers in everyone's lives who have never been very popular among their students.  There is such a teacher in this novel.  Mr. Griffin, a young and not necessarily popular English teacher rubs many students the wrong way with his strict rules and grading.  These kids want to teach Mr. Griffin a lesson.  Unfortunately, the lesson is one that goes horribly wrong, and one that these kids will learn from for the rest of their lives.

What starts out as a plan among some students to teach Mr. Griffin a lesson in being humbled, ends up scary and very real for most of them.  It begins with a small circle of friends who decide to follow a plan made by one of them to "Scare" Mr. Griffin.  They want to kidnap and take him to a secluded place in the woods, tie him up and cause him to "beg" for his life.  The leader, Mark, assures everyone, especially the most vulnerable and caring of them all - Susan - no harm will befall their teacher.

Their plan is a success and they are able to kidnap Mr. Griffin.  After they tie him up and tease him a bit, they decide to leave their teacher in the woods alone....tied up....Susan and David, another from the group, decide to go back and free their teacher, but a horrible discovery awaits them.

This story is a fun one to read.  It keeps you wondering about the mind's of teens, are bad and good born that way, what does peer pressure really mean? The surprises that are in the pages of this book kept my attention.  It was very well written and made me realize that sometimes the parents really don't know what is going on in their kid's lives, no matter how much we think we communicate with them, and in this book the consequences are scary.  A teen read, very highly recommended... ****

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie

This novel was a required reading for my Master's of Social Work program.  Sometimes I am weary of required reading only because they are too "textbookish" and at times can be quite boring.  This novel was such a surprisingly good read.  When I finished the book I could not believe how moved I was by what this family had been through in South Boston (Southie). 

All Souls is a memoir written by Patrick MacDonald.  Patrick hails from an Irish American family deeply rooted in the belief that everything revolves around community and family.  There were 10 children borne to Helen MacDonald King.  I want to focus first on Helen MacDonald.  This lady sounds like one of the strongest women, in character and spirit than I ever could believe existed.  She suffered four failed marriages and the deaths of four of her boys.  One of her daughters suffered head trauma which ended up in a coma, and when revived, suffered unrepairable brain damage.  With only brief interludes of male father figures which came in and out of the children's lives, I would me remiss if I did not assume that she was to be socially labelled a "single parent."  I am not sure I want to use "single mother", because in my eyes she did the duties of both mother and father.

MacDonald begins his story with describing "All Souls Night" at a church where community members have gathered to name out loud the children in their family who have died prematurely due to violence and drugs in Southie.  

Then, MacDonald begins to tell the reader his memories of growing up in South Boston and the struggles that he saw his family go through.  There were all the factors of social welfare going on.  The environment of Poverty, gang warfare, drugs, guns, and strained race relations.  It would take, I think, at least ten pages to go through all the emotions I felt and why while reading this memoir.  I can only recommend that one reads it themselves in order to see what I mean, when I say, hold on to your hats, cause its a bumpy emotional ride.  You will find yourself crying, loving, hating, and straining to believe that such a world exists (existed)....especially if you have never experienced this type of rugged environment.

If you are to ever want to walk in someone else shoes, please, please, please pick up this read  ****

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Watch a video of author Michale MacDonald

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Misery by Stephen King

Oh My God!!  I loved this book!!  I think that everyone knows the story of Misery, because of the awesome Movie by the same name in the 1990's, starring Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes and James Caan as Paul Sheldon.  The book was a million times better!  I always have one book on reserve that I read by lamp light before I go to bed.  I am not sure if it was the smartest thing to have Misery be that book.  There were more than a few nights that I went to sleep in the wee hours of the AM only stopping because I had to get up a few hours later to get my children ready for school.  

Annie Wilkes is Paul Sheldon's number one fan.  She makes it a point to tell him that as he first wakes up.  Wait...wakes up?  What? Paul Sheldon is a famous writer of a series of Romance novels based on a female character named Misery Chastain.  He just finished his final novel about Misery, whom he killed off.  He was caught in a winter storm while driving and ended up crashing his car.  Annie Wilkes came across the accident and pulled Paul from the wreck.  She took him to her home, and got him set up in a makeshift hospital room.  

So, crazy woman decides that she wants to nurse her most favorite writer back to health.  There is nothing wrong with that, right?  Well, it appears that way, until Annie reads the manuscript of the new Misery novel that Paul just finished.  She finds out that Misery dies, and she loses her mind!!!  Annie Wilkes throws around her version of curses at Paul, including the ever amusing, "Dirty Bird".  She then leaves Paul to his own defenses as she storms out the room and the house for almost three days. When Annie returns she tells Paul that she needs him to write a new novel, bringing Misery back from the dead.  Paul has become Annie's hostage.

You think this is bad...well, buckle up cowboy cause it gets so much more twisted as Paul becomes a pain pill addict, Annie grows more and more nuts.  Paul eventually finds out that Annie is a psychotic killer who avoided being convicted for past murders (surprise!!).  Annie swings more frequently into  fits of depression and anger....believe me it will make your ex look sane!!  She wields weapons again Paul throughout the book, from knives, to axes, to shotguns....and he is not the only one to suffer her wrath at this time, but the only one to survive it, yet not in one piece, cough* cough*.  

The craziness involves, abuse, love *twisted on her part*, hatred *twisted on his part*, fear, desperation, and even a bit of pity for who Annie is as an adult, a very, very crazy adult.

I totally was hooked from the beginning of this book and found myself screaming at the characters, shaking my head at disbelief and totally coming undone by some parts.  I could not recommend a book more highly for people who love a little bit of crazy in their reading lives, cause this one takes the cake!  *****

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A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin

Mitch Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind was a surprising read for me.  I had never heard of this novel until I picked it up at a bargain bin.  (I have found many good reads this way.)  It is a quick read, but quite the story.  

We all know that Sherlock Holmes was not a "real" person, yet a character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, inspired by many people Doyle knew in his lifetime.  In Cullin's novel he brings Holmes to life, yet it is not the Holmes that fans have known in the past.  He isn't the young "Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., Jonny Lee Miller" type.  The Holmes read about in this novel is a 90+ year old man, his twilight years.  A man who deals with memory loss, which he admits interferes with his famous deduction skills.  

This novel deals with Holmes and how he reflects on a personal issues from past and present which ultimately affects him as a person.  The reader at times hopes and prays for him to reach an emotional realization, as we all know he is famous for his calculating reasoning when it comes to dealing with issues of emotion, and all but absent of feeling and empathy.  

Sherlock becomes a mentor to a young child of age- his housekeepers son- Roger.  Roger has become intrigued with the bee apiary that Holmes has installed in the backyard.  This mutual love for the bees draws the older and younger together, and though there is not a "Loving" relationship from the older, there is as much that Holmes can give to the younger as he only knows show caring...teaching the boy how to care for the bees.  This relationship in my mind was sweet and yet tragic, it was the crux of the novel for me.  I think this is also the basis for the movie that will be released in June, which is titled, "Mr. Holmes."  Any amount of emotions that Holmes can possess is borne in this relationship with this child.

Secondly Holmes reflects on a recent trip to Japan to visit an acquaintance he has met through written correspondence, one Mr. Umezaki.  Holmes goes to Japan to visit this man, and stays in a home with Mr. Umzaki's mother and male "companion".  The biggest thing I found interesting about this trip is that Mr. Holmes receives a dead Bee in a glass vial which he takes home and gives to Roger.  There is much more written about his trip, visits to historical places, such as the site of the Hiroshima bombing.  This part of the book was not very interesting to me.

The third part of the book is about the memory kept in written journal form about a case he had in younger years.  This case involved a woman he was investigating for her husband (his client).  The melancholy woman had lost their child and was grieving in her own way, and for some reason the husband believed that she was having an affair.  What was reality about the woman, entranced Holmes,  and he experienced the closest thing to feeling of infatuation.  

The last part of the book deals with his reflections on death and how losing so many people in his life affected him.  The most interesting part is how he realizes his mind is not as sharp as it once was, his despair about this seems subtle, and logical reasoned, but I believe it brought him face to face with his own mortality.

I highly recommend this book to Holmes is well written and keeps to the original quirky personality of the man himself.  ****

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

**I want to preface this review by saying that yes, I did see the movie based on this novel, which followed it pretty much 100 percent, but I will not be comparing the two.  I want to review the book as written.**

The Hours is a nicely written novel by Michael Cunningham.  It is voiced by three separate females, in three separate situations.  Some might see this as a feminist writing, or as a Lesbian writing, but I saw many factors played out. 

First Virginia Woolf, historically, she was a writer who committed suicide by drowning herself in a river.  In this novel, she is focusing on her writing of, Mrs. Dalloway.  She incorporates this piece of writing into her own life and experiences as a woman, a clearly depressed and lonely woman.  Virginia feels smothered, by the times, her husband, her lack of control over her own life, as a woman, wife, and artist.  It eats at her, affects her...her desires personal and professional.

The Second woman, Mrs. Dalloway (Clarissa), 21st Century female, Lesbian, who has a relationship/friendship with a male, Richard, who is dying of AIDS.  She is planning a party for him.  He has won a prize for his writing and she wants to celebrate it for him.  Richard, has other plans, and as his health deteriorates, he knows death is imminent.  Clarissa, spends the day reflecting on her life as a woman, her past romantic relationship with Richard, her life now with her partner Sally, and her daughter, Julia.  She feels lost, and questioning who she has become, homemaker, housewife.

The third woman, Laura Brown, a pregnant housewife of the 50's.  She is perfect, at least to her husband, her child and the neighbors.  She is not necessarily happy with the role she is playing. She has her own mind, her own desires, which she cannot express in the social milieu she lives in. She struggles with who she is, she wants, something...and it seems throughout the novel is unable to make a full picture of it.  Her story is one of stifling womanhood left to play the role in society she is not quite sure is what she wants. 

The way that Cunningham writes these stories, and uses the voices of the women to connect with what women have gone through, are going through is spot on.  It is very easy to see how this book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Awards.  

I really enjoyed the quote from the book:  "We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds & expectations, to burst open & give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so."

A great read, quite the thinker, highly recommend *****

For more about the book and Michael Cunningham visit:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I have been reading a good many Young Adult novels (series) lately.  I wish I had such a wide array of choices when I was a teen.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my Judy Bloom ;-).  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is such a wonderful read.  I thought it was imaginative and kept my attention from the first page to the last.  This is another Gothic type horror/fantasy that includes actual photographs in the novel to go along with the story.  I have to say that Riggs hit a goldmine with this, his debut novel.  

This novel opens with Jacob and his storytelling Grandfather Abraham.  Jacob has a keen interest in the photographs, and the stories behind them, that Abe shows him which are full of peculiar children.  (The invisible boy, levitating girl...)  These stories bonded the young boy and his grandfather.  Yet, years later, the gloss fades from the pictures (so to speak) for Jacob, and he starts to question the reality of the stories, photographs, and ....his grandfather. 

One night, a tragic event causes Jacob to travel to the small island where his Grandfather spent some of his youth after he lost his family to the horrors of Nazi Germany.  From the moment Jacob arrives in this small place called, Cairnholm, adventure and dark mystery await him.  Jacob comes face to face with situations and people he would never have thought existed in "the real world."  He becomes a part of the world he discovers, and forms friendships, joins conflict to become part of the "peculiar" family. 

The different realities of past and present, time travel, the unnaturalness of "peculiarities", are weaved together to make a great story.  This is a great tale of someone looking for belonging, and also trying to solve personal family mysteries.  The cliff hanger at the end has me ready for the next book in the series.  I highly recommend this to those who want a "different" type of read.  Let the imagination roam ....   *****

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

When it comes to spinning a tale, Joe Hill definitely takes after his father, Stephen King, NOS4A2 is a loooong book.  I want to say it is because Joe Hill has Stephen for a father, that his writing is really unique.  But, I can't.  Only because it is not really unique, well not this novel at least.  I feel like I am reading a Stephen King novel.  The writing is mirror in humor, and affectation.  I really enjoyed the book, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I did Joe's other works.  

NOS4A2 follows the formula of good versus evil.  The evil in this story is one of a child abducting Vampire like creature who uses the essence of children's innocence to live forever.  The supernatural side of the story begins when young Victoria realizes that she can transport herself from place to place using a bicycle (as a child) and a motorcycle (as an adult), and a magical "bridge."   It is not until she is an adult that she realizes that there are others out there who also have similar powers.  There is one man in particular who uses his powers for evil.  This man, Charlie Manx, drives a possessed car, and abducts children from all over the U.S.  

When Victoria is an adult she realizes that she is the only one who can help her son, who has become the latest victim of Manx and his car.  Using her own powers she takes the reader on twisting and turning rides to find and rescue her son.  

In the end everyone, of course lives happily ever after, but I found it, as a reader hard to follow at times.  My disbelief was interrupted more than once when I had to reread passages in order to try and follow the path that Hill was trying to take his readers on.  It was not always straightforward, and yet an interesting read.  If you think you can get through it, maybe give it a try. if really wouldn't be a big loss if you decided to skip it.  I've read better.... ***

The Pale Indian by Robert Arthur Alexie

I was pleasantly surprised with this novel.  The Pale Indian is a great outlook at what could be described as a common story, of identity and love and tragedy for Native Americans.  

Robert Alexie writes about a Native named John Daniel, who was adopted off of his home Indian Territory in Canada.  He and his sister went to live with a white couple.  Here lies the new challenges for these young native children.  They are thrown into white, or more accurate, "dominant" society.  This was awkward for John as he was trying to keep his/her cultural identity in an atmosphere that made him feel alien, an outsider.  

John was taken from his mother at age 11, so he had the memories of life as an Indian in Canada.  He was able to live a life of somewhat calm after his adoption.  He still had his sister, and always vowed never return to his Native home.  Yet, as an adult, John  found himself drawn back to his ancestral home looking for work.  

John eventually became more comfortable, and made connections with family and formed new friendships, especially with one young lady named Tina.  Tina would become a love that John was convinced would last a lifetime.  Fate and Circumstance would have other plans for the couple.  These two star crossed lovers found that the ending to their romance was final.  There would be no chance for reconciliation, nor rekindling.  The twist and turn that this book leads the reader down is heartbreaking, and all too common, for many natives who find themselves wrenched away from home.  Family is lost, and in this case found, in the most heartbreaking of tales.  This book had me captivated from beginning to end.  Highly recommend  ****

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Someone Not Really Her Mother by Harriet Scott Chessman

I picked up Someone Not Really Her Mother in the bargain bin at a book store, and to be honest, I was not ready for the subject, which is about 3 generations of females in a family and how they are dealing with the Matriarch of the family and her dementia.

This book to be really well written, and forces one to have their tissues handy.  The Matriarch, Hannah is a survivor of World War II and the Nazi invasion of her home Country of France. She is the only one in her family who survived the Nazi invasion.  Her father puts her on a boat to America to live with family friends.  Hannah had her daughter on the boat to America and as it turns out her beau, and father of the child died before the baby was born.

All of this accumulates in Hannah's memories which appear to flood her mind as she sways back and forth between the present and the past.  Her dementia affects her and her family, especially her daughter, Miranda, who learns more about her mother than she realizes she ever knew.  Miranda is often the one who becomes involved in conversations with Hannah, who thinks Miranda is either a helpful stranger or a long dead family member.

I like this book because it gives a sympathetic eye  into the mind of an elderly person with Dementia.  The reader has the ability to see into the unknown.  In a way it made me a bit uncomfortable, because no one really knows what goes on in the mind of someone with Dementia.  This novel gave me that opportunity.  I applaud the author in taking on this issue, and hope that those who read the book get as much out of thinking about their own aging, morality and family, as I did.

 At forty years of age it is more often that I find myself reminiscing about being twenty one than thinking about growing old(er).  To be honest it is because I really want to avoid the idea of dementia and physically becoming incompetent and needing to rely on family for all my needs.  This book put all those issues in front of me and made me come into contact with a story of what families have to deal with.  I highly recommend.   ****

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Kill Order by James Dashner

On the big screen I have been seeing many movies adapted from novels, and this summer I went to see The Maze Runner, which is based on James Dashner's novel by the same name.  I was really impressed with the characters and the plot, so I decided I wanted to read the series.  

The Kill Order, was written after the whole series was finished.  It is a prequel.  I decided I wanted to read this one first.  I am glad I did.  There's always been the notions and theories of how humans on Earth will parish...Alien invasion?  Asteroid headed for Earth?  Zombies?  Dashner's version has to do with the Sun and its effects on the Earth.  

After millions of people perish from the sudden scorching from the Sun, the government begins to realize that there is no way that even those who have escaped death, can survive.  The government come up with a plan of how to eradicate humans, and only to spare the chosen.  The main character, Mark and his friends have to try and elude those who are hunting people.

In their adventures they encounter, the evilness of human nature (what will people do to each other to survive), the effects of the government inflicted "virus", and how to trust, even each other.  I really enjoyed the feeling of immediacy and urgency in these characters.  The need for survival is portrayed in wonderful prose, storytelling, and dialogue.  This is a great read for lovers in reality based disaster fiction.  I cannot wait to read the next three novels, let the adventure continue.  ****

Friday, March 20, 2015

On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen word, GENIUS!!  Stephen King has written the best book about writing ever!  I heard that this was a great book, but I was really surprised when I read it.  It is straightforward and to the point about writing.  

This book is not a technical book about writing, focusing on grammar and "tools" of the trade; this book is from one author who has been successful in writing trying to convey to his readers his past experiences with writing.  At the end of the book he does cover some mechanics of writing, but not to the point as to be too in depth and boring.  He keeps it interesting, and down to earth.  I found myself nodding my head may times and thinking....oh my, it really doesn't have to be as hard as one may think it is. 

He made a large point of always saying, to not be afraid of writing, and to just do it, Those are not his words exactly as he is  a much more eloquent writer than I am, but you get the point. 

I think that every college writing course should make this a main part of their reading list.  I am definitely going to be putting this on my reread list....actually I am going to be reading it over and over....such a great book for writers.   I highly recommend!!  *****

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles

My daughter actually brought me Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles.  She read this book and found that she actually really enjoyed historical fiction.  She knows I am a fan also and thought I would enjoy it.  Breathing Room is considered a young adult book, but it really is a fantastic read. 

In 1940 young 13 year old Evelyn falls ill with Tuburculosis.  At this time in history, TB is still considered a dangerous illness and many Sanitariums, such as the one featured in this book, Loon Lake Sanitarium, existed just for TB patients.  It was also a fact that not all patient who entered these places survived.  TB was a very deadly respiratory illness with no cure. 

Evvy  was dropped off at the Sanitarium and left for what would be the time period from May 2, 1940 to July 9, 1941.  During her time at the Sanitarium Evvy would encounter other children who also were as ill as she was, and some who were even more so.  Evvy would make new friends, and lose old ones back home (this particular part saddened me, how parents can sometimes be cruel).  She would encounter death, and need to exhibit a large amount of maturity in the face of such loss. 

The author takes the reader through these emotional ups and downs with effortless writing and accompanies words with pictures appearing to capture the social stigma and going on in the world of the 1940's.  It is interesting that all the while the rest of the world outside the Sanitarium is experiencing World War 2, it really hardly touches those who are ill and encased in their own little world at Loon Lake.  I believe that the author kept the world of WW2 at arms length.  The focus was to be on the Hardships of the ill children, and how they survived their own war together, not by choice, but circumstance.

I recommend this read for children and adults alike.  Be forewarned, it is a heart string puller, BUT, well worth the ride.  I think it will be on my RE READ list.  *****

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

The Book of Tomorrow written by Cecelia Ahern is a young adult novel about a teenager named Tamara.  Following her father's sudden and tragic death Tamara and her mother move from the city to the country to live with relatives, and to try and recover.

Ahern does a wonderful job of digging deep inside the emotional and at times irrational reactions that teenagers often have as their coping mechanisms to life's harsher realities.  Tamara finds herself alone in her struggle to recover from her incredible loss, as her mother withdraws into a depressive state.  Tamara comes across a diary, that appears blank, but finds it actually writes on its own, about her....about every new day to come...the future.  She uses this diary to answer many question, to change the days to come, and how to actually solve a mystery about her life.

I loved the moxie that this young girl had.  She had the ability to be fearless, and to stand up against people who may not have her best interests at heart but act as though they do.  

I know this novel wasn't something I had to really ponder too much, it was a fun and easy read...a beach novel.  I enjoyed!!  ****

Red Rain by R. L. Stine

I picked up R.L. Stine's Red Rain because I have long been a fan of his "Goosebumps" seriesI figured that if Stine could do such good work scaring the kids, then imagine what he could do for adults?  

I should have kept imagining.  The theme is not overall a bad idea.  I think how he told the story became a bit ridiculous at times.  

Ok, so ... backing up, the story is about a travel blogger, Lea, who while visiting a remote island gets caught in a devastating storm.  She adopts twin boys from the island who claim to have lost their family in the storm.  The boys appear perfect, yet, deep down they aren't.  The whole story surrounds how these boys totally destroy a small town and people.

OK, now with that out of the way, I need to continue to let you know how utterly disappointed I was with this novel.  The manner in which these twin boys act and speak, are a bit on the weird side.  While reading, I felt as though Stine could have done better to make these boys appear a bit more on the Psycho side.  They walked around spouting, "Boyo, Don't you know, and Bruuver" over and over again...After awhile it became quite annoying.  

The main characters who were at the mercy of the twins in the novel, Lea and Mark made me want to scream at the book over and over again,  It was exactly the same way that I feel when watching a scary movie and the stupid kids running and screaming through the movie never knowing they shouldn't "go in there" etc.  Lea and Mark struck me as fairly shallow and frustrating.  

In the end this book was a quick read, and it wasn't really hard to get through, but I am not sure it would be one I would pick up again.  Read at your own willingness as to how much time you want to waste.  *

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman

Have you ever said the phrase...."I wish I could be a fly on the wall."  Well, what if you could be in any room, at anytime and observe.  Observe people, and what they do, who they are....??  Would it be fun?  Maybe forever?  Only for a day?  In the novel The Visible Man therapist Victoria Vick had a strange fellow walk into her office and tell her that he had the ability to do just that.  She listened as he told stories of his voyeurism.  

Chuck Klosterman takes a story of "what if" and tells a tale of humor, and at times I think the main character, the "visible" man is actually everyone..(subjectively) within the novel he is only known as "Y".  He wants to keep his anonymity because he claims what makes him invisible is his the product of research he did for the government.  

Most people may find the idea of someone sitting in the office of a therapist boring, but in my minds eye, it showed more about the therapist and how she becomes so involved in "Y".  It made me wonder how far into the lives a therapist really falls. 

The tale begins innocently enough but eventually turns into a Psychological horror tale.  Mr. "Y" controls the situation, and eventually he knows it.  The ending is unexciting, but it closes the novel nicely.  If you like a Hitchcock type novel, give this a try.  ***

The Saga of Larten Crepsley - Birth of a Killer

I know that they say one should never judge a book by its cover, but when I saw this novel, something about the cover intrigued me.  I didnt understand it, it repulsed me at the same time.  I had to read this novel.  

Larten Crepsley lived in a small town, before the time of child labor laws.  Larten and his cousin Vur worked for a silk weaving factory with other children every day so their family would not starve.  The foreman was an evil man who enjoyed causing any type of pain, physical and emotional.  One fateful day death enters Larten's life.  He flees his home, and finds a new life with a mysterious man - Seba. 

This is only where the story begins.  I really enjoyed reading this book.  It is the first in the series that proceeds Darren Shan's "Vampire Assistant" series.  This is the first of four in the series.  I fully intend to read all the novels.  I may even read his other two series.   

Darren Shan knows how to weave tales that make the imagination work.  His writing is dark, yet pulls the reader in.  I think that this book is a Young Adult novel, but it reads with the  storytelling of Stephen King.  I cant wait to read the rest, and if you read it I guarantee you will enjoy it. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

My summary of plot: Mark Watney is on a mission to Mars, and in the wake of a storm, he was left for dead by the rest of the crew.  This would have been the end of his story, but Mark, was not dead.  How does he get off Mars??  Is it even possible??

Sounds pretty awesome right? I ordered the book and started reading it as soon as it arrived in the mail.  By Chapter three I was about to do a Silver Linings Playbook move....I was not happy with what I was reading so far.  It read like a technical how to manual from a NASA handbook.  MAV EVA..There was prose peppered here and there tying the whole thing together as a story.  I began to wonder if maybe this is just not the type of book that I usually read.  I am sure there are those science people out there who may get a kick out of this read.

I did make it through the book and it did get better.  I will admit that the humor in the book  is pretty funny, and sarcastic. There were quite a few times I was on my chair with baited breath waiting to see what would happen next.  The last 40 or so pages were the best of the book...lets just say this novel, for me, went in like a lamb, a very sickly lamb, and out like a lion..well, lion cub at least.   I kept thinking to myself over and over, this would probably make a kick ass movie though.....lo and behold....    with Matt Damon as Mark Watney.  I will be seeing the movie..but I think for me this may be a case, a rare one, of the movie being better than the book. Not my cup of tea, but may be for others.. **

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

This Young adult novel, Asylum intrigued me.  The main location of the story takes place in a college dorm, a former Psychiatric Asylum.  In my opinion, this building is the main character of this novel.  The photographs in the novel include many from actual Asylums.  I believe this to be a very creative idea on the part of the author.  The pictures add to the realism and help with the visual thinking of the reader.  I believe them necessary for this thrilling ghost story.

Besides the Asylum, the novel focuses on Dan, who is entering a summer program at the college.  What Dan soon finds out is he and the Asylum hold a 'psychic', supernatural connection.  Dan becomes close with two Dorm mates, Abby and Jordan. All three of the students explore the prohibited basement of the building and find historical evidence (pictures/writings) of the head Doctor who was mistreating many of the patients.

This story follows the students as they try and uncover the truth of the Asylum.  As one reads, the twists and turns throughout the book contain more and more Supernatural elements.   As a historian, I found the idea of photographs within the book intriguing and made the height of the story intense and frightening.   I actually really enjoyed the novel, as an adult I am very picky about the young adult novels I read.   Roux did well in her subject matter, and weaved a good tale.  Highly recommend.  ****

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline was not on my radar as a book  I wanted to read until I noticed it on the Goodreads site as one of the best books of 2015.   Actually, I had to search quite a few bookstores for it.  I figured because of its popularity it would be a good read.  I was looking forward to it.

I really enjoyed the premise of the book.  I can see why it was so popular with readers, and I can say those who read the book most likely lay in the "Housewife" margin.  So, 'What if" you are in a less than perfect relationship  and you have the opportunity to talk to your "other half" from the past via a magic time traveling telephone....would you try to talk him/her out of pursuing you.  Would you sabotage your relationship in the past to avoid a heartache in the future?

The main character Georgie McCool is a writer for a popular television comedy show, and her husband, Neal is a stay at home dad.  The tension between the wife and husband grows as Christmas approaches.  At the last moment, Georgie needs to stay home over the holiday to work, and Neal leaves for his mother's home in Omaha with their daughters.  Georgie refuses to stay at her home without her family, so she stays at her mother's home in her childhood bedroom.   She uses an old/retro telephone (you know..the ones that weighed a ton and had wires attaching it to the wall) to call her husband Neal.  Here in the story is where the magic begins.....Georgie goes through depression and neurosis about her relationship with Neal, and ...well, I don't want to spoil the rest.  I can say...pick up the book and read it :-)   it is worth it..especially if you are half of a relationship, and always wanted to know..."would I do it the same if I could do it over?"  **** 1/2

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

I have always enjoyed reading Jodi Picoults novels.  A friend in Arizona introduced them to me three years ago and I never looked back.  I heard that Jodi was writing a Young Adult novel with her daughter I was beyond excited.  

Jodi usually touches on very sensitive subjects in her books, and I was hoping this one with her daughter would be different.  It pleased me to find this novel had great characters, and the storyline was fun and original.  It was a great, WHAT IF....

What if, the characters in a book actually are existing, they are playing their parts over and over again when the book is being read?  What if, once the book is closed they have completely separate lives from their "Character's".  What if one day one of the characters decides that he/she has had enough?  What if, communication begins between the reader and the characters?  

This novel explores these question and many more.  I loved it!  There are also many pictures throughout the book which coincide with the story, well, (Stories).  I read somewhere online that the daughter Samantha was the one who originally had the idea for the story.  I think that it is awesome that Jodi saw the potential for the project.  She encouraged and collaborated with her daughter to write such a fantastic story.  I highly recommend teens read this novel...maybe even read it at the same time as their mothers, and talk about it together. ****