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Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I would call 13 1/2 a psychological thriller rather than a mystery. There are flashbacks in the lives of the two main characters: Dylan, who is sent to prison at the age of 11 for killing his parents and baby sister, and Polly, who runs away from her abusive mother after her stepfather attempts to sexually abuse her. The details of the family murder are pretty brutal and so is Polly's life before she leaves home. Of course, the book has a twist. I figured that part out quite quickly, but I'm not sure that the author was trying to keep it a big mystery. The true suspense comes form wondering if the characters in the book will figure everything out before history repeats itself. Barr does an incredible job in keeping the reader on the edge of her seat as the final drama unfolds.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This book . . . aside from the nine F-words, thirteen Sh-words, four A-holes, page 257, and the entire Warren Beatty chapter . . . is dedicated to you. You might want to avoid chapters twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, anything I quote Mom saying, and most of the end as well. Sorry, am I still cute as a button?" It's always a good thing when you start a book laughing, isn't it? I like that she tested her beliefs which in the beginning only strengthened them. What I struggled with was the way she tried to make deals with the Lord, never a good idea because what you want may not be the best for you. As in any life, faith is on ongoing process; and it seems fitting that it is still ongoing for the author as well. I really did enjoy the book except for the profanity and some sexual encounters, again way too much information there.
Let me start by saying that I loved Doig's English Creek. And House of Sky contains the same lyrical, breathtaking prose and cowboy realism. After getting his PHD in history, Doig decides instead to write a book about his father, a Montana sheeprancher; and his grandmother, the mother of Doig's mother who died when he was six. The two have a hate/dislike relationship but overlook that in the interests of raising Ivan. Still, they're both quite the characters. I learned a lot about sheep ranching, enough to confirm that sheep really are stupid animals and a lot of work. I learned that a family can live with so little, overcome so much; and still develop that binding love that remains with you all your life. As I said, Doig writes beautifully and tells a good story. However, midway through the book, I lost a little interest. The final scenes were pretty gut-wrenching and I was glad to have Kleenex close by. While I didn't like House nearly as much as Creek; I'm still looking forward to reading the rest of Doig's books which are sitting on the shelf. I classified these as western literature. If you like the great outdoors, ranching, horses, tough men and tougher women; you should read this book.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Every once in a while, it is fun to read a book in just one night. I can do that when there are only 84 pages involved. The Fairy's Mistake tells the tale of twin sisters, one good and one bad and her mother's favorite. Rosella does all the chores including fetching water from the well. She graciously gives an old woman (the fairy in disguise) a drink and is rewarded by spewing jewels from her mouth every time she speaks. Myrtle (bad sister) tries to find the fairy to get a similar reward but offends a knight (again, the fairy in disguise) and is punished with bugs and snakes coming from her mouth whenever she speaks. Yuck. Shortly, a prince joins the tale and things don't go quite as the fairy envisioned them. It's such a cute, funny story, written very simplistically so children will enjoy it as well. Great way to spend an evening.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
After reading six books straight from the Narnia series, I felt I needed a good dose of adult realism. Ahh, Jodi Picoult, just the ticket, get myself immersed in some real life issues and away from children's fantasy and C. S. Lewis' Biblical retelling. Like the other Picoult books I have read, this one deals with some social, medical, political; and, to my dismay, religious issues. While it is certainly not children's literature (a man is stabbed in the throat with the end of a broom handle), there is definitely an element of fantasy to this book as well. It took me about halfway through the book to just suspend my disbelief and read the story for what it was. Here is a synopsis from Amazon:
Picoult bangs out another ripped-from-the-zeitgeist winner, this time examining a condemned inmate's desire to be an organ donor. Freelance carpenter Shay Bourne was sentenced to death for killing a little girl, Elizabeth Nealon, and her cop stepfather. Eleven years after the murders, Elizabeth's sister, Claire, needs a heart transplant, and Shay volunteers, which complicates the state's execution plans. Meanwhile, death row has been the scene of some odd events since Shay's arrival—an AIDS victim goes into remission, an inmate's pet bird dies and is brought back to life, wine flows from the water faucets. The author brings other compelling elements to an already complex plot line: the priest who serves as Shay's spiritual adviser was on the jury that sentenced him; Shay's ACLU representative, Maggie Bloom, balances her professional moxie with her negative self-image and difficult relationship with her mother. Picoult moves the story along with lively debates about prisoner rights and religion, while plumbing the depths of mother-daughter relationships and examining the literal and metaphorical meanings of having heart. The point-of-view switches are abrupt, but this is a small flaw in an impressive book.Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
Eventually I began to enjoy the religious issues that Picoult presents because she lets the reader draw her own conclusions. I've heard very little about the Gnostic Gospels and found that information very interesting. I felt that she did carry the Messianic comparisons a little far, but she also capably portrayed the polarizing effects of religion; something mankind has yet to find a way to overcome. I like the use of four narrators as it allows you to get to know those characters so well as they unfold the story. Picoult's research into so many different topics never fails to astound and impress me. I always learn something when I read her books. It's always good to see other viewpoints. Even though I struggled with this book at first, I ended up liking it very much. Except for the epilogue; that was over the top.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
7. The Last Battle In this book, Scrubb and Poole return to Narnia where many years have passed since their last visit. An ape has convinced many Narnians that a donkey wearing a lion skin is really Aslan and commands them to do things in Aslan's name. In this way, he slowly gives Narnia over to its enemies. Tirian is the king and along with his friends makes a last stand against the Calorenes and evil. While I know there is a lot of Biblical allegory in all the books, it is certainly the strongest in this one, which may explain why I didn't like it as well. In the others, I could enjoy the adventures and the fantasy; but Battle is so Biblically heavy-handed that the story suffered for me. Or maybe I just got tired of the whole series. Or I'm not into stories about Armageddon. Whatever. Not only that, but I really hated what happens to Susan. Sorry, can't tell you more. Rating: 3.25