Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The End of Your Life Book Club

Title: The End of Your Life Book Club

Author: Will Schwalbe [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Knopf

ISBN: 9780307961112

Length: 326 pages

Obtained: Library book club kit copy AND library Kindle ebook version

Why this book?:

I already had the ARC and planned to read this someday.  But then it was a book club selection, so I actually started it for that.  I also checked it out on ebook and have been slowly (very) been working my way on with it since then.

Comments:

My feelings for the book are very mixed.  I was sure I would love it, but it wasn't what I expected at all.  I highlighted tons of lines and sections to note but I don't know that I can intelligibly speak about all of them, especially without this post becoming a book of it's own. But here are some quotes that caught my attention (All quotes were taken from the ebook version):

I found this line interesting and was a little amused at the imagery.
I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me.  They may make me feel, but I can't feel them.  They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight.  They can get in your head but can't whack you upside it. 
This would never have happened in my house, or I would never have had any chores.
There was one sure way to avoid being assigned an impromptu chore in our house - be it taking out the trash or cleaning your room - and that was to have your face buried in a book. 
I would totally have agreed with this quote... before I read this book.
Also, how could anyone who loves books not love a book that is itself so in love with books?
So now we move on to some of the quotes that bothered me.   If she was only referring to truly absurd books it might be okay.  But no, based on the tastes shown throughout the book not to mention the context of the quote, I couldn't help but suspect she would apply this to the majority of the books I read...those "genre" books.
I think it's much harder for me now to read very silly things when there are so many wonderful things to read and reread.  And if the book is too silly, I find that it's often because the writer doesn't really have anything to say - or because there are no values.  Or because the whole book is just a lead-up to a trick at the end.  If you read the ends first, you have much less patience for wasting time with that kind of book.  Even a well-written book can be silly and a waste of time.
But wait! There is more!
I'm talking about those novels where the characters aren't really interesting and you don't care about them or anything they care about.  It's those I won't read anymore.  There's too much else to read - books about people and things that matter, books about life and death.
Why I should be reading the books that make me feel sick to my stomach and give me no enjoyment...
"So you don't mind if we read depressing books?" I asked.
"No- not at all.  It's cruelty that gets to me.  Still, it is important to read about cruelty."
"Why is it important?"
"Because when you read about it, it's easier to recognize.  That was always the hardest thing in the refugee camps - to hear stories of the people who had been raped or mutilated or forced to watch a parent or a sister or a child be raped or killed.  It's very hard to come face-to-face with such cruelty.  But the people can be cruel in lots of ways, some very subtle.   I think that's why we all need to read about it. [...]"
Anyway, there were many more, but it all amounts to...

I read the book.  But in trying to show how wonderful his mother was, he put her on a pedestal.  She became this high and mighty figure, so much better than the average Joe (or Jo as the case may be), that I felt much in the way of resentment rather than inspiration.  And the same happened with the book/reading aspect.

I wanted so badly to love this book.  It just didn't happen.  That's me personally.  For you, well, it could be (or might already have been) a different story.

The Broken


Title: The Broken

Author: Shelley Coriell [Website][Twitter][Facebook]

Publisher: Grand Central Romantic Suspense (Forever)

Series: Apostle, Bk 1

ISBN: 9781455528493

Length: 375 pages

Obtained: Free at ALA "Isn't it Romantic?" panel program

Why this book?:

I've been intrigued and wanting to read it since I heard the author talk, not only about the main plot, but also about how she first had the idea and came up with the story.

Comments:

I used to read a lot more romantic suspense than I do these days, but I still enjoy it.  The Broken was no exception.  I quickly read through the story.  (During which time I creased the front cover of my signed copy.  I accidentally sat on it when I took it to the parade - like I was going to have a chance to read there.  Grrr.  But I couldn't leave it behind just in case.)

I liked the heroine (Kate), the hero (Hayden), and of course Smokey Joe (whose character was all the better from hearing how he was inspired by the author's father!).  The butcher was horrible, and I wasn't sure how the story would work when the heroine said she knew who it was so early on in the story, but it did work.  I had some pretty conflicting thoughts about Kate's family.  Wow.

Anyway, I was happy about the HEA.  I've already put requests in for the next two books in the series and look forward to reading them.  (I also requested this one since we don't already have it.)

Interview/Chat with Shelley Coriell:

Click here to watch. (I couldn't get the video to play properly on here.)  (Apparently this only works on some browsers.)  This video includes the inspirational story I mentioned.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

Title: The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

Author: Stephen Collins [Website][Twitter][Tumblr]

Publisher: Picador

ISBN: 9781250050397

Length: 240 pages

Obtained: Free copy picked up at ALA Annual Conference 2014

Why this book?:

I thought it looked interesting and fun.  I love the title.  The description on the back cover is great.  And I just had to read it.

Comments:

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is a graphic novel done all in black and white.  But that works because the people of Here seem to be very in the box black and white thinkers.  But then something strange happens.  Dave, who is the definition of a model Here citizen, suddenly begins growing a quite unwanted beard.  And everything goes downhill from there - or does it?

The description I read mentions that the book covers, "life, death, and what it means to be different."  Being third in the list, I didn't quite expect the book to be so much about being different, but that was the main theme I saw.

I read the last 3rd to the kiddos (while we waited in the car for their mama) - with some impromptu editing to make it more age appropriate.  It was very interesting, with some parts rather funny, and others very much a statement about society.

I'm now passing it on to coworkers...

Shakespeare's Christmas

Title: Shakespeare's Christmas

Author: Charlaine Harris [Website][Facebook][IMDb]

Publisher: Penguin Group

Series: Lily Bard Mystery, Bk 3

ISBN: 9781440635014

Length: 241 pages

Obtained: Library ebook copy

Why this book?:

I'm working my way through this series and this ebook was convenient.

Comments:

While most of this book is NOT set in Shakespeare, I still enjoyed it as a look into Lily's family, as well as her budding relationship.

Lily's sister is getting married and Lily has come home to face the whispers and fill the part of bridesmaid for her sister.  It's stressful, but she's managing.  It helps that her romantic interest has surprised her by showing up and offering moral support.  The problem?  Oh, just a case of a kidnapped child and some murders.

While I tend to prefer reading holiday book around the holiday taking place this one wasn't too overwhelmingly Christmas and I still enjoyed it.  I did guess the bad guy, but it was a gut feeling and not something based on the clues (though I'm sure they were there).

Anyway, I will be continuing the series with Shakespeare's Trollop.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dust AND Tribes

Title: Dust

Author: Arthur Slade [Website][Website Bio 2][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

ISBN: 0385730047

Length: 183 pages

Obtained: Libray copy

Why this book?:

I searched Amazon for Books by Canadian authors and Arthur Slade's books came up.  This is one that my library has.

Comments:

I didn't know what to expect of this book.  It is set in the Depression-era, when drought is overtaking the land and 5 cents is a big deal.  Robert's little brother Matthew goes missing.  At first his parents are devastated, but someone new comes to town and suddenly its seems most of the adults in town are not themselves.  Robert knows something isn't right, but what can one 11 year old boy do?

This story had a very mystical sort of twist that I did not expect.  And the title means so much more than I first realized.  I did enjoy the story - I certainly breezed through it - but it was very strange.

In some ways it was difficult to wrap my head around.

Title: Tribes

Author: Arthur Slade [Website][Website Bio 2][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

ISBN: 0385730039

Length: 134 pages

Obtained: Library copy

Why this book?:

For the same reason as Dust.  I found it for the 7th annual Canadian Book Challenge.

Comments:

I read this while away at the ALA annual conference.  I finished it on the plane home.  It was short and bizarre.  I did know going in that the main character (Percy) considered the various cliques to be "tribes."  But I did not realize Percy's character would be so... different.  And perhaps I should have guessed the end sooner, bu I didn't.

Blood Red

Title: Blood Red

Author: Mercedes Lackey [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: DAW Books

Series: Elemental Masters, Bk 10 (officially Bk 9)

ISBN: 9780756408978

Length: 312 pages

Obtained: Library copy

Why this book?:

It is a Mercedes Lackey book, and it is from the Elemental Masters series, and I have a fondness for both.

Comments:

I was worried about this one.  The story of "Red Riding Hood" has never been my favorite in any variation that I'm familiar with.  I wasn't sure how the story would go from the expected encounter with the "big bad wolf."  It turned out to be a very interesting turn.  I won't say much lest I give too much away, but Rosamund aka Rosa survives and becomes a great hunter of evil (like a Van Helsing only different).  She is rather emotionally detached in some ways that made be uneasy.  She is an Earth Master, but without the healing, nurturing aspect that so many of Earth have.  I gather that has something to do with her reservation (though her upbringing and power may also be factors).  She also shows some prejudice (thankfully short lived) that I wasn't especially happy with.  But when it comes down to it, she fights evil without letting her humanity be stolen or worn down.  She just has some flaws to work on.  And the ending is horrifying and sickening and fits the story rather well.  I eagerly await the next book in the series, and hope it comes soon.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bonechiller

Title: Bonechiller

Author: Graham McNamee [RandomHouse Kids][Goodreads] (He's a modern award-winning author with no website and no good biographic information available...this is the best I managed to find.)

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

ISBN: 9780385908955

Length: 294 pages

Obtained: Library copy

Why this book?:

1) I needed to read some more Canadian books to finish the  7th annual Canadian Book Challenge 
2) I did a basic Amazon search and saw this title listed.
3) It sounded interesting enough to request (along with others), and when it came time to pick something, it appealed.

Comments: 

I very carefully did not read a description of these beyond the initial Amazon search I had made (most of which I promptly forgot), so I got to enjoy the story as it came.  It was not what I expected.  The protagonist, Danny has a strange encounter with a beast.  He's attacked by a "beast," but when he wakes up there isn't much evidence that what he remembers is real.

I really enjoyed this story.  I was with Danny all the way, rooting for him and his mixed-up bunch of friends.  Graham McNamee is an award-winning author and I can see why.  The situation had me guessing the whole time.  Is this beast the Wendigo, some sort of Yeti, some unheard of creature, or some group delusion between him and his friends?  Whatever it is, will Danny and friends triumph, or are they helpless?  I appreciated the cultural touches, the finding-himself aspect, and the horror suspense.

I would definitely read more by this author.

Hexed, Hammered, Tricked, Two Ravens and One Crow, Trapped

Title: Hexed

Author: Kevin Hearne

Publisher: Ballantine Books Del Rey

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, Bk 2

ISBN: 9780345522498

Obtained: Library copy


Title: Hammered

Author: Kevin Hearne

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, Bk 3

ISBN: 9780345522542

Obtained: Library ebook copy


Title: Tricked

Author: Kevin Hearne

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, Bk 4

ISBN: 9780345534637

Obtained: Library ebook copy



Title: Two Ravens and One Crow

Author: Kevin Hearne

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, Bk 4.5

ISBN: 9780345535436

Obtained: Library ebook novella copy


Title: Trapped

Author: Kevin Hearne

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, Bk 5

ISBN: 9780345535627

Obtained: Library ebook copy





Comments:

I was reading this series one after the other in a whirl so to some extent they have become blurred together in my mind.  I have to admit I was a bit startled and even somewhat offended by the portrayal of Christianity and Jesus in Hexed.  The portrayal may fit some, but not myself or my beliefs.  The lumping together bothered me.  But moving beyond that I continued to enjoy the series.  Atticus makes some stupid decisions in Hammered.  He seems to become further and further embroiled in a mess as his story makes its way through Tricked.  So I was started when, in Trapped, time had jumped 12 years.  I realized I had missed something very important and backtracked to the novella Two Ravens and One Crow.  There are short stories that I missed that belong within this timeline, but apparently they aren't as vital to the story.  The novella in question is important though, and you don't want to miss it.  Once I had read it I moved back into Trapped where the consequences of Atticus's decisions and choices become more glaringly obvious.  But there is no choice now but to keep moving.

I have not moved on with the series yet because Hunted was not readily available, but I look forward to reading both it and Shattered.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hounded

Title: Hounded

Author: Kevin Hearne [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Del Rey Ballantine Books

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, Bk 1

ISBN: 9780345522474

Length: 289 pages

Obtained: Complimentary copy provided at a signing at a convention

Why this book?:

I took it because it was free, the series sounded interesting from a panel I had heard Kevin Hearne speak at, and I wanted the author's signature.

I read it because I was in the right mood and remembered it sounded interesting from the panel.

Comments: 

I enjoyed this book and immediately found (in ebook format), and read, the short story that comes before it, Grimoire of the Lamb, once I'd finished it.    

But I'm jumping ahead, so let me backtrack.  Hounded features the Druid currently called Atticus O'Sullivan.  He's lived thousands of years.  He's been pretty much on the run (if you can call it that) with a highly coveted magical sword from an angry Celtic love god. But now he's found a comfortable place and is starting to develop roots.  Which means he is ready to stand his ground and fight.

And all the earth-related phrases I just used were unintentional but surprisingly accurate.  Because as a Druid, Atticus is very connected with the earth and actually draws his power from it.

Anyway, I'm excited to read the 2nd book in the series, Hexed, which has finally came in at the library.  I just needed to write this up first before the series becomes a blur in my head.

Title: Grimoire of the Lamb

Author: Kevin Hearne [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Del Rey Ballantine Books

Series: Iron Druid Chronicles, Bk 0.5

ISBN: 9780345548290

Length: 76 pages

Obtained: Library ebook copy

Why this book?:

It comes before Hounded and I like to read books as much in order as possible.  Plus it was available that night.

Comments: 

This is a story of Druid meets (or meets again) Egyptian mythology.  It was quick, fun, and interesting.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Bad Beginning

Title: The Bad Beginning

Author: Lemony Snicket [Website] [Website 2][Facebook] aka Daniel Handler [Steven Barclay Agency][IMDb]; Read by Tim Curry [Website][IMDb]

Publisher: Listening Library

Series: Series of Unfortunate Events, Bk 1

ISBN: 0807219908

Length: 3 hours and 17 minutes (Features Interview with the Author)

Obtained: Library copy

Why this book?:

I'd been meaning to start this series for some time.  But I was researching great audiobooks for family road trips (for work), and this was recommended.  And I wanted to be sure the discs were in good playable condition.  So I started it as a test and ended up listening to it all the way through.

Comments:

I enjoyed this on multiple levels.  I enjoyed how vocab and phrases were both used and explained (something like: "[word] in this case meaning [explanation]").  The events in the story itself were pretty dark and had my stomach in knots because the reader is as helpless as the Baudelaire children (or more so).  This most certainly made the story more enthralling and involved.

Regarding the reading, I found Mr. Poe's continuous hacking quite annoying, but I guess that is part of the story and character. Tim Curry did a great job of catching the feel and voice of the story.

I look forward to reading more of the series. And of course it will have to be in audio.