Monday, October 31, 2011

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

Just in time, I finished my last spooky book. (I think November I am going to try all books about thankfulness, can I even find them?) Earlier this month, I read The Ridge by the same author and really enjoyed it. I liked this one too.

A down-and-out filmmaker, Eric, is presented with a job opportunity. He is to travel to Indiana and research the father-in-law of his client and make a movie of his life. His client gives him an old bottle of Pluto Mineral Water which is the only object from the past the man has. As Eric gets to Indiana, he starts to have visions and the bottle of water is getting colder and colder...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

This is Joe Hill's first book. I picked it up as part of my creepy Halloween reading. A couple of weeks ago, I read his other book Horns which I really liked. This one was good, but it dragged a bit or else I just wasn't in the mood for it.

Here's the deal: A Ozzy Osbourne-type aging rock star collects morbid curiousities. His assistant alerts him to the internet sale of a ghost. They buy the ghost, the ghost comes and terriorizes him. He tries to return the ghost, but all is not as it seems. BOO! It was a great premise but I got lost a bit. I do think it's worth reading though, but I found my self skipping ahead (which I rarely do).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

This is one of those books I picked up because ANOTHER book I was reading mentioned Chabon as an author of 'intelligent' books. WHY DO I PAY ATTENTION TO THIS? I think this was a movie as well. This book is DUMB. Nothing happens. Well, a lot of stuff happens, but it's dumb. The main character is constantly stoned, has a wife, a mistress, steals someone's prized possession, gets attacked by a dog, the dog gets shot, drives around with the body of dog in the car. Then he befriends a lying weirdo, takes him to his soon-to-be-ex wife's parents' house, kills their unwanted giant snake, drives around with the body of the snake next to the body of the dog. At one point there is a tuba and a transvestite. Oh, and the main character has been writing the same book, Wonder Boys, for 7 years and the mistress is pregnant and he may sleep with his young roomate and then he smokes another joint. I will never get why 'intellectuals' think this type of garbage is intelligent. I am sure that they would give a million examples of how this is symbolic of something stupid, how the story follows the story that the character is writing, etc. I DON'T CARE. This is a dumb, stupid book.

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

I got this book on kindle, free through the library. I had read it before but was confusing it with another similar book. (I am struggling to remember the name of the other book so now I am wondering if I made that book up. It was really good so maybe, if I made it up, I should write it down and be famous?)

This book follows Peter Evans, a young attorney whose primary client is a philanthropist (Morton) and his environmental activist organization (NERF). NERF is suing the US on behalf of a small island nation which is facing catastrophe due to rising ocean levels caused by global warming. However, as Evans begins to learn, there is no rising ocean levels and the science behind the theory of global warming is fairly suspect.

If you are a big 'global warming' believer, you are going to HATE this book. It is full of actual data from around the world and it basically debunks the current environmental viewpoints on global warming, rising ocean levels, humans impact on the earth etc. It's a great book but not quite as good as that other book that I may have made up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

This was the October book for my book club (let me know if you want details on the book club. It is fabulous!). I liked this book but I did NOT like the main character. It is a great book for discussion IF you can get past the debate on stay-at-home vs. working mothers.

Sarah who is a fast-paced career woman and mother of 3 is in a car accident (DO not play with your phone while you drive!!). She emerges from the accident with a traumatic brain injury that leaves her suffering with 'Left Neglect'. Basically, her mind erases the left side of everything and then fills it in with a made up version which may or may not be accurate. So if she looks at an apple, she is seeing the real right-side of the apple and then her brain fills in what the left hand side SHOULD look like. So if the left hand side has a bite out of it, a worm hole or is filled with rot, she has no idea. However, the book isn't really about that. It is about her re-prioritizing her life with what she is able to do and reconnecting with the things in her life that HAD been neglected (her relationships with her family, etc.)

I think my book club as a whole really enjoyed this book. Lisa Genova (who is my facebook friend) is a beautiful writer. Frankly, I liked Still Alice better, but probably because I just didn't relate much to this book's main character. This was a great book though and I would recommend it.

The Bachelor List by Jane Feather

This was the first book I borrowed from the library for my Kindle! This book is about three sisters Constance, Prudence and Chastity. It is part of a series, each one focusing on one of the sisters and her search for love. It is a 'romance' book. I did like the story and the characters and would be interested in reading about the other sisters but this is truly just a silly bubble gum book. Good if you are looking for that kind of thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I really like Jodi Picoult's books. I think her strength is taking an issue and presenting all sides in such a manner that you find yourself sympathizing with a viewpoint that you did not have sympathy for. She has such a gift of personalizing a story. In this book, I think she failed.

This is the story of Zoe and Max and their frozen embryos and what should happen to them once Zoe and Max get a divorce. Telling the story are Zoe, Max and Vanessa (Zoe's new spouse). Also in the story are Liddy and Reid (Max's brother and sister-in-law), Clive (Max's overzealous, extremely conservative, nasty pastor) and some nasty, conservative attorneys. By only speaking in the voices of the three characters, Picoult takes the easy route. She does not give a voice to the ultra-conservative (or even the moderately conservative voices). Instead we hear from 2 women who share the same viewpoint and an alcoholic, unintelligent surfer-boy who seemingly can't think on his own. I found this book hugely biased, while claiming not to be so. I wasn't offended, just disappointed. I enjoyed very much how her other books made you expand your mind to consider other viewpoints and stayed nuetral on the author's. This book did not do that. Disappointing.

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

As part of my theme on authors I HAVE liked, I got this book by the author of The Ridge. I liked this book, but probably not as much as The Ridge. That will teach me to read books in the order they were published. In Michael Koryta's case, I think he is getting better.

This book follows Arlen. He can see when death is approaching. He and his young friend Paul are on a train bound for a depression-era work project in the Florida Keys when Arlen sees death in the eyes of all his fellow passengers. He tries to warn them, but no one except Paul will listen. He and Paul leave the train and end up headed on a journey that gets 'curiouser and curiouser'.

I liked this book, though I had figured out portions of it before the end. If you like thrillers, this is a great author to read. I have one other of his books sitting on my shelf. I will let you know how it goes :)

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Another book by Ian McEwan. In my defense, I had picked this up at the same time as Amsterdam. As I started to read, I was pretty sure I had read this before. So obviously, since I didn't remember it, I clearly hadn't liked it. This book is LONG and wordy and I didn't like the main charecter (seems to be one of his strong points). The conclusion is less than sastisfactory. I just must be too immature and unintellectual for this author.

The story line is this: a precocious 14 year old has an unreasonable dislike for a friend of her sister as well as a very active imagination. Then some bad stuff happens (I don't want to spoil it). Then there is her atonement (get it??) which is in NO WAY adequate.

Did not like it, but didn't hate it. Hopefully I remember that I read it this time so as to not have to read it a third time! :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

This is the first book I read through kindle from my local library. It was odd and I wondered if portions were left out when it was digitized. The story is about the two granddaughters of the founders of a women's club in a mountain town. There are random instances of the supernatural that aren't well seamed into the story and not really commented on by the characters. At times, I wondered if I was going crazy. After finishing the book, I am not totally clear what the title means, which is something that really bothers me. Parts of the story were good but it was just odd in a 'what am I missing?' way.

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

I picked this book up because in another book I read there was a quote which I will paraphrase: She read intelligent books, books by ....McEwan. I thought I had read other books by him, but turns out I was thinking of Iain Pears.

This seems to be one of those 'intelligent' books that I think is stupid. The book begins at the funeral of Molly which is really just a means of introducing us to four men, all of whom, it is presumed, have slept with Molly. One is the Foreign Secretary, the next is the editor of a national paper, the third, a famous composer and the last is Molly's husband.

Some stuff happens and I think we are supposed to question who is a hypocrite, who is sanctimonious and who is morally corrupt.

None of the characters is likeable so you end up not really caring. The 'shocking' events weren't really shocking because at that point I just wanted to be done. I guess this book reminds me of those books we were forced to read in school because someone at some point decide they were 'important pieces of literature' and they were boring and stupid. Who get's to decide that, anyway?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Dr. Marina Singh heads into the rainforest of Brazil in search of answers surrounding the death of her colleague. This was a good book, hard to get into for me but an interesting premise. It reminded me of the Poisonwood Bible (which I didn't love) and other books with similar themes of the innocent American thrust into an alien land and alien culture. Didn't love it, it was wordy when there was nothing going on and then super concise when EVERYTHING was happening. Lots of obvious parallel stories. It was okay.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

GO GET THIS BOOK. Seriously, this is one of the best books I have read in a LONG time. I don't even want to tell you much about it because I don't want to ruin anything. I picked this up just grabbing it off the new book shelf at the library. It was in my stack of spooky Halloween books and my October book club book, Left Neglected. In the way that those things seem to work, it strangely related to both. The story centers on Christine who loses her memory ever night while she sleeps. Every morning starts with a rediscovery of who she is, where she is and how she got there. I LOVED THIS BOOK.

Horns by Joe Hill

This was the 2nd of three books that I got in homage to Halloween. It centers on Ig, who wakes up one morning to discover horns growing from his head. Along with the horns, comes a few strange abilities. We also meet Ig's best friend Lee, his brother Terry and his now-deceased true love, Merrin. Merrin was murdered and while Ig was suspected, no one has ever been charged. The book was good, the premise was great but I didn't feel like it lived up to the possibilities. I would definitely recommend it and would be interested in reading more by this author. He also wrote 'Heart-Shaped Box' which I feel like I heard about but maybe not?

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

I recently got a few books at the library that were spooky, in honor of Halloween. This was one that was recommended in a local publication. The story revolves around the Ridge, an isolated area in the hills of Kentucky. The Ridge is home to a lighthouse (yes, in land-locked Kentucky), an old railroad bridge and the new home to a big cat sanctuary. Then lots of strange things start happening. It was spooky and I liked it a lot. Unfortunately, the other 2 books I got were a bit better. Well worth reading though and I will look into other books by this author.