Sunday, July 28, 2013

The To Read List

It's been a while and I think I only have one book left on my Anticipating for 2013 list, but I have put a few more on hold at the library that I'm looking forward to reading....



Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to SeeIn her tour-de-force first novel, Juliann Garey takes us inside the restless mind, ravaged heart, and anguished soul of Greyson Todd, a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free rein to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years. The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo twelve 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward. This is a literary page-turner of the first order, and a brilliant inside look at mental illness.






Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreThe Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.


With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane



Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.


Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Laneis told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.



CoralineCoraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.


Arcadia





In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after. The story is told from the point of view of Bit, a fascinating character and the first child born in Arcadia.







The Love ChildrenIt is the late 1960s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Grateful Dead is playing on the radio and teenagers are wearing long hair and blue jeans. Jess Leighton, the daughter of a temperamental painter and a proto-feminist Harvard professor, is struggling to make sense of her world amid racial tensions, Vietnam War protests, and anti-government rage. With more options than her mother's generation, but no role model for creating the life she desires, Jess experiments with sex and psychedelic drugs as she searches for happiness on her own terms. In the midst of joining and fleeing a commune, growing organic vegetables, and operating a sustainable restaurant, Jess grapples with the legacy of her mother's generation.











Evermore (The Immortals #1) by Alyson Noel

Read: July 4-27, 2013
read: took far too long
pages: 301

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)

Book blurb:

After a horrible accident claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact to suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school — but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.

Damen is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head - wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is - or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.


I'm finding more and more that I really can't tolerate some of this Young Adult stuff that is out there. Some are decent reads and I am not at all put off by the fact that it is Young Adult. But THIS, this is the kind of stuff that annoys the crap out of me. I finished it. It was a terrible struggle, but I did finish it. I'm not the target audience sure, but then I know even if I were I wouldn't have enjoyed this. I mean jeez a guy who is completely mysterious who really does not share anything with you, who flirts with other girls and really isn't all that great to you, but somehow you fall madly in love with him?!?

What annoys me the most about these books is there is nothing remotely original to this story or this book. I found myself thinking of other books I've read that had similar concepts that I enjoyed much more! The idea of reincarnation is interesting, but I enjoyed the book series The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller MUCH more. And the falling for a mysterious boy has been done time and time again. He rarely eats, he drinks this strange red liquid....can we say hints of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer here?

At least now I'm done and I can mark the book off my list, AND the entire series for that matter. So I've cleaned up my reading list a bit just by reading one book! I guess I'd recommend this to the target audience, but even then I'd hope the girls could find something with a bit more substance to read. I really hate to think girls would model themselves after this character or even wish they could live a life like hers. I cringe at that thought.

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

Read: July 22-24, 2013
read in 3 days
pages: 180

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1)

Book blurb:

Nancy Drew's keen mind is tested when she searches for a missing will.

This was my first read of the Nancy Drew novels. I've been reading some of the graphic novels that are bit more updated than this series that was originally released in the 1930's and they are decent little reads. The novel format is much the same with a little more detail than the graphic novels which has to do with the different format I believe.

Either way this was a nice short read and I may continue with the series, I see there are many more books and many more different series, but I think I'll start with some other reading in between these. This could get a little boring if I were only reading strictly these books. They are junior fiction and sometimes my adult brain likes these little books that don't require much brain power, other times my brain needs something with actual substance!!

What I find to most interesting about these books is that the entire series was written by a group of ghost writers and that the books were published but then re-edited and re-released starting around 1959 to eliminate racist stereotypes. I find that annoying. It was a piece of literature, while not high literature mind you but literature, that was and is still like a time-capsule that showed the time period in which it was written. I hate how things have to be changed due to people's sensitivities to such things. It reminds me of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell. Let's not scrub our history and hide what things were really like. Let's let it be so children of the future can see what times were really like.

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Read: July 16-21, 2013
read in 7 days
pages: 475

Dead Ever After

Book blurb:

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte's. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance...and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated. 
Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.
But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she'll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough...

Finally the last novel. I wasn't even aware this was out until I was doing some random book researching and discovered it was to be out a couple months ago. So I log into the library app and request it. Quite surprised to only find 28 people on hold before me and that the library had bought so few copies. Strange given how popular the series was or at least I thought it was.

This was an ok book. I didn't find it fabulous, but it wasn't terrible. I guess I'm ok with the way things turned out. Some of the aspects were a little disappointing and I expected a slightly different end to things, but as Charlaine Harris explains in the notes at the beginning of the book she could not make everyone happy; she had to follow through with the ending she believed to fit. Course that didn't stop her from writing yet ANOTHER book to show what happens after the FINAL book. I have that book on hold too and may just flip through it when it comes in at the library. It sounds like it is more a guide book to what happens to the characters not an actual novel. I don't care for guide books or a recounting of the characters in a series. If it is not story that actually progresses the overall story then I don't spend time on it.

I'd recommend to others who have been reading the series if for nothing else than a conclusion as to what happens. Its much like the other novels so if you at all enjoyed them, then you're likely to enjoy this one as well. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Read: July 4, 2013
read in a day
pages: 97

84, Charing Cross Road

Book blurb:

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

I picked this up because after having watched the movie You've Got Mail for I don't know the millionth time (one of my all-time favorites) I saw that there was a reference to this book on IMDB. This was a collection of letters written by Helene Hanff and a group of workers and others who worked for a book store. Helene lived in New York and was writing for particular copies of books at a better price and condition than what she was finding should she traipse all the way down to the local used book store. Being the 50's times were tough and it didn't appear that she had a car, so for the books to be delivered right to her door that was a great deal!

These letters show incredible friendships form after these letters in a pen-pal like nature that continued for 20 years. This was a very quick light read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to finding more books similar to this!


Joyland by Stephen King

Read: June 30-July 3, 2013
read in  4 days
pages: 283

Joyland

Book blurb:

"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts," says Stephen King, who has combined these elements into a wonderful new story. Joyland is a whodunit noir crime novel and a haunting ghost story set in the world of an amusement park.

It tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a 'carny' in small-town North Carolina and has to confront the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the way both will change his life forever. It is also a wonderful coming-of-age novel about friendship, loss, and your first heartbreak. Who dares enter the funhouse of fear?

This was not the typical Stephen King novel I'm used to, there was  no horror to speak of and very little tension. This was very much a coming of age story with a great backdrop. I loved the 70's feel and the circus. I'm interested in books with a circus. Why? I'm not sure but I do!

Likable enough characters with a few not so likable. Overall a good read. I was not disappointed reading it and was glad I picked it up from the library. You really can't go wrong with Stephen King. 

Inferno by Dan Brown

Read: June 23-29, 2013
read in 6 days
pages: 465

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)

Book blurb:
In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

I always look forward to this Robert Langdon series and I'll be very interested to see what follows in this series. This just left me wondering what will happen next. I would think there would be another book to follow this plot since sure some things were wrapped up but not entirely.

It has been too long for me to write a decent review on this aside from saying I enjoyed it. Makes me want to pick up a copy of Dante's Inferno because I've never read it. I feel like that should have been something required at some point in my career as an English major, but sadly it was not. I'll pick it up myself one of these days! Sooner rather than later!