Category Archives: Books

Book Club 8 Jan 17

The premise being that roughly once a week I’ll take stock of what I’m reading, and whether I’m learning anything and why not.  No spoilers though, that would be wrong. Fuller (though not necessarily BETTER) reviews can be found in my Goodreads account.

I have quite a range here this week.

  • City On Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
    • learning a lot about fireworks, but I don’t think we said ‘like’ as much as these kids do, I think we said ‘you know’ – “so, I said, you know, how do you, you know, KNOW, you know, whether…”
  • Cocktail Time by P. G. Wodehouse
    • learning that I still love Wodehouse.
  • Chosen Prey by John Sandford
    • learning that I still love Sandford.
  • A Death in China by Carl Hiaasen and Bill Montalbano (ebook)
    • learning that I do NOT like reading ebooks, and I’m blaming my dislike of this book on that.
  • The Death of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (audiobook)
    • learning that I like Poirot, and that I’m ashamed to say I waited this long to read any of this series.
  • The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
    • No comment yet, it’s too early.
  • Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham
    • learning that not all millennial snowflakes annoy the shit out of me.

Well, Now I Feel Bad

I just lied to someone on the interweps. Someone I don’t even know. JoHanna Massey on her beautiful blog reviewed The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold and I said I would rush out tomorrow  to get it and start reading it. I won’t. I have a STUPIDLY LARGE STACK of books on my nightstand, that I am reading in rotation – one or two chapters from the top book, then it goes to the bottom. I won’t get to that Moon thing for at least a month.

But I WILL get to it. Really. I will!

A Confederacy Of Dunces 2: Ignatius Takes Manhattan

“Dear Reader,” dictated Ignatius as Myrna struggled to keep up, pen scratching on the rough paper of the Big Chief tablet propped on her lap.  “If you are fortunate enough to be perusing this entry in the original monograph, you will of course have noticed that this is not the elegant hand of Your Working Boy. Do not be alarmed by this. I have resorted to the use of an amanuensis rather than allow the often capricious workings of my valve to keep me trapped in silence -”

” ‘Silence’?!”, roared Myrna, “I WISH you’d be trapped in silence.”

And that’s as far as I got. Which is how I know I’m not destined to be a writer. I think they generally come up with more than 99 words before giving up. But it’s a wonderful idea and I wish SOMEBODY would write the rest of the story. After I.J.Reilly and M.Minkoff head off to NYC  -what then, dear reader, what then?

J is for Jack

J

…Reacher, of course!

I don’t want to read about Reacher  being 85 and still kicking butt the way he does; nor do I want to read about him enfeebled and Alzheimery and unable to BE Reacher any more. So either the books are going to have to just STOP and leave us all to our own devices, or he’s going to have to … gulp… die. I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision, and of course no matter which way Lee Child goes, there will be haters who wanted it the other way.

However – we do need LOTS more Reacher books, and here’s what I’d like to see:

A series of children’s books – little Reacher (never Jack, for those who don’t know, which makes it kind of a cheat for the A-to-Z, I know), travelling around the world with his Marine family, getting into scrapes, stopping bullying wherever he finds it, protecting those smaller and weaker than himself… but all told with age-appropriate language and situations. “See Reacher fight. See Reacher win. Win, Reacher, win! See Reacher be nice. Be like Reacher. Be nice.”

A series of YA books – teenage Reacher, travelling around the world with his Marine family, getting into scrapes, stopping bullying wherever he finds it, protecting those smaller and weaker than himself – and finding out about GIRLS!

A series of DIY books – a lot of this could be culled  from the existing books, and then just enhanced – calculating trajectories of fist-to-face, weight vs speed, the best kind of cup for coffee, care and maintenance of a folding toothbrush, where to buy the best sturdy workingman’s clothing, you get the idea.

This needs to happen. This would make me very happy.

 

Written as part of the April 2015 A to Z Challenge.

H is for Horns

HI recently watched Horns, the movie made from the Joe Hill book of the same name. This post will contain MAJOR SPOILERS, so if you haven’t read/seen it and you intend to – DO NOT READ FURTHER.

I’m a terrible reviewer, so I won’t even try – I just want to bitch about the entire underlying premise.  None of the story would have been able to happen (and that would have been a shame, because it’s a wonderful book and a pretty good movie – one of the better adaptations ever) if damned Merrin  hadn’t been so selfish. She wouldn’t have run out of  the diner  that night and the rest of it just never would have happened.

Ok sure, she’s dying – that’s hers and she owns it. But by deciding to hide it from Ig, by LYING to him about it, she’s making a life-altering decision FOR HIM that is not hers to make. If he wants to waste a couple years of his life watching her die, he should be allowed to. On the plus side: he gets the massive sympathy vote for the rest of his life for it. If he wants to walk away like a bastard, that’s his choice to make, too. She had no right to take that choice from him, and in the process,  open up the major can of worms that became the rest of the story.

 

Written as part of the April 2015 A to Z Challenge.

G is for Goodreads

G

 

Goodreads is an awesome resource – you can read 1000s of reviews of books, to help you decide whether you’ll like something. According to Forbes, “There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe.” You can’t read all of them. Spending an hour reading a bunch of reviews, both positive and negative (as long as there are no spoilers) can be a worthwhile way to not spend  $20, $30, $50 on a book that you end up hating. After a while, you will know which  reviewers have similar tastes to your own – and at that point they will become not just reviewers of books you already think you want to read, but also sources of books you didn’t know existed.

It can also help you keep track of those  books you know you WANT to read, but just haven’t gotten around to yet. If you’re like me (until recently), you carry a little notebook around filled with titles and authors. Haul it out at the library and the bookstore, scratch them out when you’ve bought/borrowed them. Welcome to the 20th century and Goodreads mobile app.

And speaking of the 20th century, I find it especially helpful now, in the era of ebooks and  audio books. When ALL the books I was reading at one time were ALL piled up on my nightstand, it was easy to not lose track of any (except the ones the cat knocked down behind). But just before I signed on with Goodreads, while adding a new ebook  to my collection, I saw one that I had started reading AGES ago and had completely forgotten about. If I’d had a Goodreads “currently reading” list, I couldn’t have forgotten it.

The only thing I would like to see changed is a way to identify the format  of my books – ebook, audio,  brick-and-mortar book, papyrus scroll.

 

Written as part of the April 2015 A to Z Challenge.

An Open Letter To BluChickenNinja

Hey Emma – The world sometimes works out right. I was in need of a reading challenge, but not really thinking about it when I stumbled across your 52 Books. As I read down the list, I kept saying “oh, YEAH!” and “ooh, I LOVED that one”. I said it so many times that I had to comment on your blog and follow you immediately.

Of course, it IS possible that even though you READ these, you might have HATED them, so my assumption that I should read all the other ones on your list is probably flawed.  Anyway, here are the 12 that made my day:

  1. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window by Jonas Jonasson
    • What a fun little book this was, I didn’t want it to end.
  2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
    • WEIRD, it reminded me of Gaiman a lot
  3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
    • A quiet charmer, I was prepared to not like it (I was bullied into reading it) but I’m so glad I did.
  4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    • I’m a sucker for ‘stranger in a strange land’ stories, and this one is a beauty. Crap movie, I thought, and I had SO been looking forward to it. 😦
  5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    • I did this one as an audio book while commuting, and I swear for the couple of weeks that I was listening to it, I have NO recollection of driving AT ALL. Enthralling.
  6. Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
    • Another strange surreal story, great fun.
  7. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
    • It’s Stephenson.  I needn’t say any more for those who know him, and I couldn’t begin for those who don’t. The book was irrelevant – whichever of his I saw on a list, I would have gone “ooh, I loved that”.
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    • A classic; I’ve probably read it 4 times. Still haven’t seen the movie, I’m too afraid of it disappointing.
  9. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
    • Short and hilarious.
  10. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
    • I haven’t finished this one yet; but as it’s the first known published fiction by a Data Modeler (for my sins that is my profession as well), I had to read it, and I’m liking it so far. So maybe technically I can’t put it on the “I loved it” list, but it did make me go ‘ooh’ when I saw it.
    • And I didn’t even know there WAS a 2nd book! Yay!
  11. The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
    • Twins, assassination, diamond teeth – what more could you want?
  12. Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
    • As with Stephenson, words can’t do Sir Terry justice. And as with Stephenson, it wouldn’t have mattered which book was on the list.

So, Emma – now need to know whether I’ve chosen favorites, in which case I guess I can count on the rest of your list to become my own 2015 Challenge, or did I manage to pick only the duds?

The Most Unputdownable Yet Simultaneously Worst Book I Ever Read

It was GROSS! I couldn’t stop reading it. The writing was HORRIBLE. I read it in one day. Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk.

First if all, let me say that I love all his stuff, well, ok, I LIKE all his stuff, I love a LOT of it. And I know a lot of people do NOT. This is going to be one of those love/loathe books. You’re not going to be able to be neutral on this one.

Seriously, Ron Howard’s red-freckled “private man-parts”? Ummm… no thanks.

By the time I got to our heroine climbing Mt Everest in her Christian Louboutin shoes, and DKNY slacks and blouse, I was 3/4 of the way through and couldn’t stop now if my life depended on it.