Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Really Good Murder Mystery

The Aniversary Man by R.J. Ellory was one of the best murder mysteries I've ever read.  It keeps you guessing until the end.  It's about a copycat serial killer.  And, I didn't realize until the end of the book, that all the serial killers in the book are real, or as real as Ellory could make them.  It was easy to read, although it took me a while to get used to all of his sentence fragments, but I really had trouble putting the book down.  I would highly recommend this one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

An interesting mystery

The Brutal Telling, by Louise Penny, is my latest read.  I really enjoyed this mystery which is the sixth of her "Chief Inspector Gamache" series.  He's a detective in Canada.  The setting is a little village in Canada that is richly described and each and every character has a unique and well-defined persona.  I like the fact that you aren't sure who committed the hideous murder until the end, and the path of discovery really kept my interest.  This book also made me want to visit the Queen Charlotte Islands, off of the coast of Canada, but I'm not sure I could survive the airplane ride to get there.  I would give another Inspector Gamache novel a try sometime, I think.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Freefall, by Ariela Anhalt was a very good young adult novel.  Luke and Hayden are best friends at a private high school.  During an initiation rite that involves jumping off a cliff, the new kid, Russell is pushed/falls off the cliff and dies.  That's the question -- did he fall or was he pushed.

The turmoil that Luke goes through during the rest of the book is painful to read.  He can't talk to anyone, he loses all of his friends, and just really becomes a totally different person.  I thought this was very realistically portrayed, and I felt his pain in my gut.

I think young adult readers will like this book, and it should provide some excellent moral quandaries for discussion.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Raven Summer

I like the way David Almond writes.  It's easy to read and the message doesn't slap you in the face, it's subtle and usually I think about his books for some time after I've finished them.  I've not read Skellig yet but I enjoyed Clay.  I also enjoyed Raven Summer.  The cover really draws your attention to the book, with the little baby's hand.  The story begins with the main character finding a baby abandoned.  But the baby is only the catalyst that allows him to meet the other characters in the book, that allow the story to unfold.  You'll be surprised where it takes you.  I very often read books without reading the back or the flap, then I'm really surprised, as in this case, and the message and tone of the book was unexpected, but enjoyed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Spectacular Now

This book, The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp was a finalist for the national book award and I don't know why.  The main character, Sutter, is a high school senior and an alcoholic.  He is constantly drinking and never wants the think past today (the "Spectacular Now.)  He's always the hit of the party and keeps everyone laughing.

The book is written in the first person and reminds me of The Catcher in the Rye, which I didn't like very much either.  Sutter, predictably, can't keep a girlfriend, or even a close boy friend.  He hooks up with a very shy, nerdy girl (Aimee) who falls in love with him because he's the only person who has ever shown any interest in her.  Aimee starts drinking with him. 

I won't give the "ending" away, but not much happens.  I don't get the message of this story.  Is it, "High school drunks shouldn't corrupt quiet shy nerds?"  That's not a very powerful message, in my opinion.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lips Touch

I finished Lips Touch:  Three Times by Laini Taylor.  It is a book that has three short stories, all about the "supernatural" and all involve kissing.  I have always had a problem with short stories.  For the most part, I think they are too short and don't portray a complete story.  The always leave me wanting more.  I do have some short stories that I like -- Stephen King for example, has written a lot of short stories that I love.  Margo Lanagan, on the other hand, writes the types of short stories that I cannot enjoy.  After I read the first story in this book I almost didn't finish it.  I feel like this story was included because the other two weren't enough to make a book.  The story, Goblin Fruit, basically tells you what's going to happen, and then it happens and the story ends and you think, "now what??? That's it?"

I did finish the book and enjoyed the other two stories.  They were much more intricate and developed some unusual and unique characters.  There was suspense, and an ending.  So, overall, I would recommend the book.  Even the first story -- it was short, so it's not too much of a time investment.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another non-fiction book

I just finished The Forever War by Dexter Filkins.  He spent nine years in Iraq covering the war for the New York Times.  The stories he tells are unbelievable.  I am so glad I don't have any close relatives involved in that war, but on the other hand I feel so "coddled" and fortunate to live in this country.  Not just our service people but the people whose country this is have suffered so much for so long.  It is really painful to read, and think about, and that makes me feel guilty too.  I know we collect supplies for the troops, and do what we can, but it just doesn't seem like enough after what they are being asked to sacrifice.   I was afraid the book was going to be very anti-war, but I thought Filkins did a good job reporting the unbiased truth.  The United States made mistakes, but also, that culture is entirely different than any culture we have ever been at war with.  There just isn't a lot of good to say about the situation, and this book makes me believe (as I have heard many times) that they will just end up fighting it out themselves (and probably for a long, long time.)

I would recommend this book if you are interested in the war in Iraq.  However, I haven't read a lot of other books on this topic so I don't have much to compare this one to.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lots of Reading

Just got home from another camping trip.  I finished several books.  The first one was Jodi Picoult's Vanishing Acts.  This wasn't one of my favorite books of hers.  I didn't like the way she went into so much detail about the Hopi Indian traditions, but it really had nothing to do with the story.  Usually she explains those things in a very interesting way, but it always comes back to the motivations in the story.  I just didn't get the connection.  The main premise is that a 29-year-old girl finds out her father kidnapped her from her mother (who was an alcoholic) when she was 4 years old.  She was always told her mother was dead.  The legal system catches up with her father, and this is the story of his trial.  It is complicated by the fact that the daughter's fiance is the attorney for her father.  I would recommend this book.  It was interesting -- it's just hard to compare it to her other books that I've read.

Then I read I, Alex Cross, by James Patterson.  I liked this one better than the last one (Cross Country.) This one was a more traditional Alex Cross nove.  You know I like them, so I don't need to say more.

Then a book I'm ashamed to say I've never read before -- To Kill a Mockingbird.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can see why it is so studied by our students.  What a lot of moral issues to discuss!  Great book.


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