Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Wow. There are certain books that stay with you. That are haunting. That change how you think of things. That make you feel like you aren't sure what happened....but that something important has taken place and maybe you better go back and read it again and figure this out. That you should read more about the subject, the author, that you should figure out what is real and what was fantasy.
These types of books are few and far between (The Sparrow, Life of Pi, The History of Love and now Beatrice and Virgil).
This book was so engrossing. I don't think it has chapters so once you start it, its hard to take a break. And then once you finish it, you find the need to just sit and think about it and then think about it. I know that many people I know will hate this book. It is a book for READERS.
So what's it about? Hahaha. Throughout this book, people are asking 'what's it about?'. Some stories are about nothing and everything. This story is about 2 Henry's and their written art and taxidermy and the holocaust and death and loss and love and how fake hapiness might be the first rung on the philosophical ladder that leads to real happiness. I loved this book. LOVED this book. I am glad Yann Martel is a writer. Thank you Yann Martel.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

This book was okay...but the flyleaf and introduction were so bizarre that I was distracted the whole time. The first 3 pages of the books are testimonials from readers (even though the book is hard-cover so I assume it was the first run?) about how amazing the book is, the author is, etc. And there is verbage along the lines of, 'read more to see how this book is changing lives' UH What?
Basically this is a vampire story. And not a good one. Well, maybe it would have been good if there wasn't this random, odd, glowing minibook of raving testimonials.
HOWEVER, I did become interested in the author, who has the typical glowering head shoot in the back of the book. His parents are (were?) missionaries who worked with headhunting tribes in Indonesia. It seems like his real life is maybe more interesting than he stories if they are all like this one. I won't be reading his other books, but would love to read his biography/memoir (if he ever writes one).

The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

I have read a couple of books with this title and I have to say I LOVED THIS BOOK. I am excited to read other books by this author. This is the perfect book to read in the winter in Ohio or on the beach in Jamaica.
This is the story of Birdie and India who are sisters and Chess and Tate who are Birdie's daughters. After Chess has broken her engagement, the four women are off to spend a month in the family beach house on an island off Nantucket. The house has limited electricity and limited running water (and to me) sounded like paradise. Also in the cast of characters are love interests to each of the 4 women. This was a beautiful story of how love changes over time, what love is, and the relationships between women, specifically mothers and daughters and sisters.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes: A Novel by Cathy Holton

Three friends, living outside Atlanta, decide to take control of their lives and get revenge on the husbands who have done them wrong. They will lie, cheat, and blackmail in order to regain control over their lives.
This book is cute and fun and interesting.

Bad Heir Day by Wendy Holden

The best way to describe Bad Heir Day is to refer to it as 'British'. It is very much in the vein of Bridget Jones. Anna, the main character is dating a complete ass of a man and suddenly isn't and is homeless to boot. She accepts the job of a writer's assistant, but really becomes the live-in nanny to the worst child alive. She does meet another nanny who offers inspiration and advice. There are several zany adventures and a nice, wrapped-up ending. A great book to take on vacation. I liked it, but eventually will forget all about it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Cookbook Collector: A Novel by Allegra Goodman

The flyleaf refers to the author as a modern-day Jane Austen. Um, yeah. Why would you do that to someone? This book was good, but clearly, it was going to be a disappointment. The story lacks the humor of Austen, but it was good.
It's about two sisters who are complete opposites. One is about to be rich in the explosion. The other is a wanderer who can't seem to get it together but is blissfully unaware (they are no Elinor and her sister in Sense and Sensibility). It was interesting and a good read.

Leaving Earth: A Novel by Helen Humphreys

Lately, I seem to be reading a lot of books with :A Novel as part of their title. Not sure what that's about.

This book is about 2 women who are trying to beat a stamina record for time in flight. It seems about the turn of the century, there were constant contest as to who could fly the fastest, the furthest, the highest and the longest. It was an interesting story of the dynamic between the two women who stay in flight for 18 days straight. There are side-stories of a young girl who is fascinated by the 'girl fliers' and the husband of one of the flyers. It was an interesting read about a period of time that I do not know much about. It really made me want to find out if the characters are fictional and who they are based upon. I think it could lead to some really great discussions.

The Killing of Strangers by Jerry Holt

This book is based around the Kent State shootings. I was interested in this book because I had heard about this event, but didn't know any details. I now live not far from Kent State and have several friends who graduated from the school.
The Killing of Strangers follows Haggard, a former police officer turned fired security guard, who has been hired as security for one of the central figures of the shootings, a woman named Crystal. At the time of the shootings, Crystal was a star in the anti-establishment movement. She was married to Delbert who disappeared in the aftermath of the shooting leaving Crystal pregnant and bewildered. Now, years later, Crystal is a drunk who believes that Delbert is back. A lot of government agencies are also interested in where Delbert has been and what he knows about what really happened on the day of the shootings.
The story involves Haggard traveling back and forth across the state of Ohio tracking down a conspiracy. I enjoyed the recognition of places in Ohio but thought the book wasn't well written or polished. I did learn some about the history of the Kent State Shootings but am left wondering which parts of the story are truth and which are fiction. It was just 'alright'.

Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin

This book was very interesting. Especially if you like reading about other cultures. It takes place from 1960s through 1990s China. It is the story of Lin. He is a doctor and lives in the city, away from his wife and daughter who are in the rural countryside. His wife was chosen for him by his parents who needed someone to take care of them in their ailing states. Lin and his wife never really lived together, sharing a home only during brief holidays. Lin is embarrased by his rural wife and starts a romantic, non-physical relationship with a nurse at his hospital. Yearly, he returns to the country-side to ask his wife for a divorce which is not granted for 19 years.
The book portrays life in China which is quite different than life in the US during the same time period. It brings up topics for discussion as to the nature of love, marriage, home, friendship, duty and the power of anticipation. What is worth waiting for? At what point should you give up waiting and make a life out of what you have? What is love? Is the love you want as a young person the same as the love you want as an older person? Can you grow to love someone? I found the book interesting and thought provoking.