Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Didn't quite do it for me 6/10

It came close but didn't quite to it for me. I can't put my finger on exactly what put me off, there was much about the book I did like but somehow I did finish not caring much for the book. Maybe I should have started with a different Murakami book, I've heard so much about him and was very curious about his books. I did not have any issue with the writing itself, I think mostly I didn't care for the main character Kafka Tamura, although I really enjoyed many of the other characters, Oshima & Nakata were really the ones that captured my attention and pulled me through the story. I will definitely try more Murakami books but was less than thrilled with this one.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Adventure through familiar fairy tales 8/10

It is a dark, sometimes gory adventure through many familiar fairy tales with new twists. Although it was somewhat predictable I enjoyed it and it was a quick, easy read.

From the cover- "High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother. He is angry and alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in his imagination, he finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a land that is a strange reflection of his own world, populated by heroes and monsters, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book ... The Book of Lost Things." "An imaginative tribute to the journey we must all make through the loss of innocence into adulthood."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

A shame the story is lost in repetitious filler 5/10

I really wanted to like this book, being a plant person with some interest in orchids and a small knowledge of their history. The book did have some interesting information, too bad it was buried in all the filler or repeated so many times you wondered if the book had an editor and if that editor bothered to read it or just skimmed through. I would think 1/3-1/2 could have been trimmed off and not taken any of the story away. It was as if whole paragraphs were copied & pasted again and again throughout the book.

The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen

Good vs. Evil, suspense/thriller 7/10

From the cover- "Peccavi. The Latin phrase is scrawled in blood at the scene of a young woman's brutal murder: I HAVE SINNED. It's a chilling Christmas greeting for Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, who swiftly link the victim to controversial celebrity psychiatrist Joyce O'Donnell - Jane's professional nemesis and member of a sinister cabal called the Mephisto Club." "On Beacon Hill, the club's acolytes devote themselves to the analysis of evil: Can it be explained by science? Does it have a physical presence? Do demons walk the earth? Drawing on a wealth of dark historical data and mysterious religious symbolism, the Mephisto scholars aim to prove a startling theory: that Satan himself exists among us." "With the grisly appearance of a corpse on their doorstep, it's clear that someone - or something - is indeed prowling the city. Soon, the members of the club begin to fear the very subject of their study. Could this maniacal killer be one of their own - or have they inadvertently summoned an evil entity from the darkness?"

Another, quick, easy book. It was a good story, if typical of this genre. It was my first time reading a Tess Gerritsen book and I liked it, she set a spooky tone, it was not far fetched and it was very easy to get into.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Quick, light, interesting read 7/10

From the cover-
"On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this story that unfolds over a quarter of a century - in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night. Norah henry, who knows only that her daughter died at birth, remains inconsolable; her grief weighs heavily on their marriage. And Paul, their son, raises himself as best he can, in a house grown cold with mourning. Meanwhile, Phoebe, the lost daughter, grows from a sunny child to a vibrant young woman whose mother loves her as fiercely as if she were her own." "The Memory Keeper's Daughter articulates a silent fear close to the heart of every mother: What would happen if you lost your child, and she grew up without you?"

I liked the concept of this book very much, twins are born one is perfect and one is not, what do you do? How does your decison effect your life? your family's? The story was good, although to me, there were places where it seemed to stretch the bounds of normal human reactions. It was a fast read, I finished it in 2 sittings.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lucky by Alice Sebold

I can't really sum this up without diminishing it 9/10

This book deals very bluntly, vividly and honestly with the tough topic of the author's rape during her freshman year of college. Sexual assault has touched the lives of so many and yet so few will talk about it or truely listen to those that do share their experiences. I think Sebold did a remarkable job of sharing hers and it will resonate with many.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Average vampire book 6/10

Okay vampire book, nothing too bad or too good about it. I had never read it but heard it mentioned a bit and gave it a go.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Life And Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Funny, quick look at childhood in the 50s 8/10

Bryson gives a quick, funny, nostalgic glimpse into his 1950s childhood. I saw a review comparing this book to Jean Sheperd's, A Christmas Story, and would agree that the two are very similiar in style. Full of familiar (even to those that came along later like me) items and events from the 50s.

Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

Beautiful, sad and engrossing 10/10

This book was full of wonderfully drawn characters, the best of which was Trudi, the main character and narrator of the story. Set in a small town in Germany, spanning both world wars and giving a very intricate account of how the Nazi party seeped in and infected the town. Trudi, who helps run the pay library with her father, lost her mentally ill mother at a very young age, runs the town's rumor mill and is also a dwarf, introduces us to everyone in town and their family stories, she also gives detailed accounts of their lives as the Nazis steadily take over the town.

For me this was the only book I have read that really showed how that would of been possible, how so many would have let the holocaust happen and even been percipients, Hegi shows the transformation of the decent, close knit community, to the hate filled, war torn town, in awful but very plausible detail. She also paints the picture of the everyday workings of their lives as the war progresses and how some do heroic deeds for strangers, while others turn their backs on close friends and relatives to try to save themselves.

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