Thursday, December 24, 2009

What goes around...

The Infinite Plan, Isabel Allende.
Gregory is a lonely man, he doesn't know it for most of the novel but he is lonely and running from himself and his losses.As someone who has been this person I could entirely relate to the premise if not the individual circumstances behind this.
The Infinite Plan itself preaches of Karma-like experiences, what goes around comes around. You will see this reflected in the story. While the copyright for the English translation is 1993, you see much of this story reflected in our times, now. Gregory's story could be ours, the United States, story. In the way we don't always learn from our mistakes nor self regulate enough. We seem to overlook fundamental values for monetary values/ We could benefit from entertaining life as if we were humble peasants instead of facing life as if we were rulers of all kingdoms.
While staged in the U. S., this is an Isabel Allende novel. I would highly recommend it.


The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson.
Yes! Another fantastic read by Stieg Larsson, why o why did he have to die? My original thoughts were that because of occurrences in the first novel I already had this second novel figured out. How wrong I was!
Again, this novel had me guessing until the end with many layered twists and turns between the first page and the last.
The main characters are the same, Lisbeth, the girl with the dragon tattoo, and Michael, the political journalist with the heart of gold. This time the mystery had more to do with Lisbeth. Was she a multiple murderess or being framed? Who is Zala, a Kaiser Soze type character?
For much of the story Lisbeth is absent, leaving the reader to question her innocence. Then she uses her prodigious hacking skills to infiltrate Michael's computer with messages leaving just enough information to keep him searching while she is also conducting her own investigation.
Kudos to Stieg Larsson for another drug-like, well written suspenseful novel. Now bring the third in this series to the U.S.!

Really? Asperger's Syndrome?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson.

Shortly after I finally decided to read this book I learned that the author had had a fatal heart attack a couple of years ago. I was immediately disappointed, I had already read enough to know that I loved these characters and this style.

The main character, the girl with the dragon tattoo, is a tragic, stoic, antisocial creature or her upbringing. I believe I've heard terms such as asperger's syndrome and autistic used to describe her. Since some of this is written first person, it's easy to avoid those terms, being in her mind vs. judging her from outside. I have some sympathy for the character you can see.

The other main character is a womanizing, loyal, political journalist. A man true to his word but just a little mixed up personally. A likable character, I think.

With many layered twists and turns the bulk of the story lies in solving a thirty - forty year old family mystery. This mystery wasn't nearly as straightforward as I expected, which I always admire in a mystery. If I figure them out too quickly they are a bit disappointing no matter how well written & interesting the rest of the story is.

I found this story so intriguing that I immediately reserved the second book in this series and read it just as quickly.

I would strongly recommend this to any fan of mysteries and will probably bring it up as my next book club choice.

I am excited for the release in the U.S. of the third book and hear that there is a fourth book on Stieg Larsson's laptop, but his estate may hold that one up for a while.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dead again.

I have another review to write beford this one but I wrote this one first so here goes. My latest read in The Southern Vampire Series/Sookie Stackhouse books was Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris. I have trouble with these but I still keep on reading them. I think because they are fun & quirky & easy reads. The stories are crazy & there's something new every time. With that said, I STILL don't understand what all these supernatural dudes see in Sookie Stackhouse. I can acknowledge that my opinion is influenced by Anna Paquin and the other characters from True Blood. I can't read the books without seeing Anna Paquin etc. & I'm not sure I like some of the actors/actresses in their roles.

But back to my issues with these dudes craving some Sookie. There's a very powerful Werewolf, a Lead WerePanther, the Sheriff of Area 5 Vampire, an everyday shifter, and Bill, the very old & powerful vampire...all craving Sookie. I don't get it. Someone please help me, she's just a somewhat ordinary southern girl with a little power & these men HAVE to have her. What's it all about?

Back to the main part of this review... In this story I loved Eric without a memory & I really loved Sookie & Eric without a memory hooking up. So sensitive & caring, Eric. Yum! Bill's arrival back from Peru was a surprise that drew my interest & had me exclaim out loud, even though it was a bit anticlimatic since Bill never confronted Sookie with her relationship with Eric. In this story as in the others I was bored with the continued references to information previously mentioned in the other books or previously in this story. Charlaine could really tone this down. There was a bit of predictability to the story as well & this tends to frustrate me.

In end, it looks as if I'm going to keep reading this series for whatever reason, so it continues to hold my interest but there are these things that get on my darn take that with you & try the stories out for yourselves. You may have a better or worse experience than I.

Delicate flowers

Ahhhh, It's been a little while & I have a few posts to write. This last read was Peony in Love by Lisa See. Lately I've been finding reads that pull me right in and make me feel a part of the story and this on is no exception. I felt I was in China and the afterworld with Peony, in her struggle to grow and be the woman she was meant to be. I learned a bit about ancient China and the expectations of women in the world that Peony lived.

There were unforseen twists and unexpected surprises, I always love this.

This, my first read by Lisa See has opened up a new world and a new curiousity for me. It led me to research bound feet and created pictures in my mind that I won't forget for a long time.

Reading this was like sitting in front of and reviewing a beautiful Chinese painting for a few hours. Your eye following the story on the painting around and around because you can't seem to take it all in and you keep finding little gems for your eye to follow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sherlock & Mary at it again

I have very happily completed the newest Mary Russell stor, The Language of Bees by Laurie R, King. This one kept me drawn in and wondering what was going to happen, when & by whom! There's nothing worse than a mystery that I figure out too soon. Sherlock's son gets himself into a bad way & calls for his estranged father's help. You know it can't be that simple but I don't want to write much else so I don't give anything away.

This read took me back to the earlier Mary Russell novels, when I was first introduced to her & was instantly drawn into her world. If you love a good mystery, start with The Beekeeper's Apprentice just in case you want to read them all like I did.

To be "in the business" again.

I also finished Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica on my trip. This totally reminded me of the days when I worked in the restaurant business. It brought back so many memories, the fun times, the not so fun times, the really weird times... There is so much truth in this book I recommend it to everyone that reads my blog (that means you, Tahnia!). It's an easy, light read & I guarantee that you will learn something. When I was in the business my crew swore that everyone, and we meant everyone, should be required to work in food service for at least six months of their lives. Everyone.

I love the explanations of why some people work in this business, especially when they are well educated, there does seem to be a smear on the idea that there's something temporary about working in this business. I felt it after I graduated with my BA & still worked at the restaurant I had been in for 5 years. A certain amount of shame at still working there, waiting tables, for tips, not for a "real" salary like others my age. When I did leave and got a "real job" I took a $10,000 pay cut & worked more hours. Think about that for a minute.

I also really liked what Mr. Dublanica wrote about how people let their guard down when they eat, how you can really get to know someone's true self just by watching them in a restaurant. This is very true. I learned so much about human nature when I worked in the business. Much of my job required that I watch my tables at all times so I could be there when the diners needed me. With this watching I couldn't help but see things that I normally woudl miss. Like the little nuances between partners, how they really treat each other & how they treat strangers, or help (like me).

One of the most important lessons that I learned was that you can't please everyone all the time. This may be the most important lesson learned, this has helped me in my current life and career & helped me with my own trouble with perfectionism. Some people may never learn this lesson which could cause them unending duress in their lives. Work in a restaurant for six months, you will learn to let go & relax a little more, life is just too damn short!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'm back in Love Again

This summer I was able to read Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest & Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water by A. A. Milne. I'm back in love with Pooh! I don't know what was in my corn flakes before but Edward Bear & crew are delightfully entertaining. I took more to our trip to CR but I wasn't able to read them much & sure didn't take them in. I will write more about my travels with Winnie the Pooh later.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Graveyard Book

I JUST finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimen! I have two other reviews to write, books I finished on my trip but since I just finished this one and have the time I thought I'd write this one first.

Neil Gaimen is a master storyteller. This one is the story of a baby that ends up without a family & raised in a Graveyard. It's more than that, too. It's a mystery and a coming of age story. A story of longing and maturity. I love how Neil Gaimen can create these magical, extremely creative environments that surround his stories so completely, engolfing the reader in the surreal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lovely, wonderful, moving...

I finished this on my trip, sorry it's taken soooo long to post but this is my life, now!

Someone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill was a wonderful read, so moving and delicious. I could not get enough of it and even neglected my 6 month old child to get to the book. Okay, not really, but I tried. To follow the narrators story was like living in someone's else's shoes. Her spirit was so strong in times that weren't meant for strong women of color, it's surprising that a man wrote this novel.
Read it, and weap.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It really didn't suck.

I have finished book two of three on my bedside table. This one was It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong. OMG it was terrific! It was witty and heartbreaking and so, so sweet and revealing. I could relate to many of the situations Heather went through and sympathize with her struggles so very deeply. I LOVE the monthly letters she wrote to her daughter and this has insired me to write a few to my son. Since he's five months old I think I'll do letters every six months. This so fits my personality & I'm surprised I forgot this about myself. Every once in a while one of my closest girlfriends reminds me, with love in her voice, that she still has the letter I wrote her daughter several years ago...shoot, Miss Loo Hoo is 12 or 14 now, I wrote the letter back when she was a wee one.

I strongly recommend this book to edgy new mothers. It's so funny and heartwarming that it's easy to forget the harder things Heather suffered through. It makes me feel sooo much better about myself and life as a new mother.

I will read Heather's other book, Things I Learned about my Dad in Therapy: Humorous and Heartfelt Essays, at some point when I get through my stack. Hmmm, maybe I chould create a reading wish list on this blog to keep me on track & my "followers"in the know. ;) T

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Finally, I can have that cup of coffee!

I finally finished one of the many books in my pile. The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella. This one took a while, I'm not entirely sure it wasn't my own fault that it took so long since my time for reading is less than it used to be before my life changed COMPLETELY when the boy was born.

I picked this book up mostly because of the cover & because I like coffee. Not my most thoughtful choice but it was lunch & I had to pick something fast so I could eat.

I love the descriptives in this book. Reading all of the flavors that can be found in coffee makes me want to explore being a connoisseur but then I am reminded that I hardly have time to shower, where will I get time to drink coffee all day and what will that do to the baby when I nurse him? Yikes!

Honestly I found this story a little frustrating & a little slow. I often wondered where it was going & it wasn't until the very end that I got it. I like how the ending tied it all together a lot. It added an additional layer that helped me understand. There was a sub story in the plot that I found frustrating & unbelieveable. The narrator is seduced by a slave & her master & the way it was played out was hard to believe. The concept of a virgin slave disobeying her master from the first moment she meets this gentleman is so hard to believe I was never far from wondering where it was going & not at all surprised when it turns out to be a plan between she & her master to rob the narrator.

I guess if I had to rate this out of 10 I'd give it a 6, because I really did enjoy the discriptives of coffee etc.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A little disorganized.

I'm working on too many books right now, as if I have time for even one.

The first is The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Cappella. I picked this up one day at lunch time because I needed something to read. The cover looked nice & I love coffee so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm on page 133 & it's a little slow going so we'll see how far I get.

The next is It Sucked and then I Cried by Heather B. Armstrong. This author has a great blog (thanks T) & I thought I'd try one of her books since I enjoy the blog so much. The book has to do with Heather's first pregnancy & birth. I'm a new Momma so I'm thinking I can relate & even if I can't, this chick is funny!

The last is The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies. This was chosen as the next book at my AWESOME bookclub. I have no idea what it's all about but I bet it's great, I've only disliked one of the books chosen. We all take turns so we get some interesting books presented. I really enjoy this bookclub, it's nice to get a fresh look at the world of books, I can get really caught up in what to read sometimes.

I'll be in touch when I get somewhere with all this!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

So can you tell I'm a new mother?

Yet another book read, I'm doing pretty well for myself. The year before The Man was born I was reading about a book a week, not so anymore.

The most recent book completed was Pooh Goes Visiting and Pooh and Piglet Nearly Catch a Woozle by A. A. Milne.

First let me tell you that I had forgotten that Pooh's given name was Edward Bear.

Second, after not reading Pooh for many, many years I am surprised at how Pooh gets into the situations that he does. In my memory Pooh is a hero, not a "Silly old bear" as Christopher Robin likes to call him. Where did my superbear come from?
I read this aloud to The Man & I would recommend reading aloud to your listeners. I'm not sure how much he paid attention but that should change in the future.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dead as a Doornail

That's not the title of the book.

I just finished reading Club Dead by Charlaine Harris, it's one of the Sookie Stackhouse (think True Blood) books. While I will probably finish this series I am not thrilled by this work. The references to the previous books are very tiring. There seems to be this constant reference to information previously mentioned, sometimes in the same book. I find this BORING.

Some things that are out of place for me are how Sookie has gone from a back country, innocent virgin to this highly spirited, afraid of nuthin', horny assed woman...all in the first book. I also wonder why in the world all of the handsome, hunky male characters that come into Sookie's life have the serious hots for her. How does she have these super-powers? What the hell is up with that?

I think my reasons for continuing are because I am curious about the future relationship between Sookie & Eric...what is it going to be, how will the author get rid of Bill, how is it that Eric knows it will happen?

They are easy reads so they aren't that painful, I'll enjoy them more than they annoy me so I'll carry on.

Monday, June 22, 2009


So I'm on to Suzette's granddaughter, a free person of color living with a white man after the Civil War, still in the Cane River area of Louisiana. I have fallen in love with Suzette's daughter Philomene & now her granddaughter.

Something that gets me about so many of the narratives for this era is the rape of the slave women. I know it happened & this always makes me wonder what kind of man wants to have sex with someone that lays for him, barely responding. These actions are so degrading to himself and to his chosen victim it just doesn't seem enjoyabe or worth it to me

I have a book called American Pictures by Jacob Holdt, which documents the South from 1971 - 1976. The author traveled and slept where he was offered a room. Sometimes he slept at the homes of poor blacks, sometimes rich whites. He wrote something along the lines of seeing lasting affects of the master/slave mentality. The whites that had financially successful lives often had serious family & alcohol problems. The blacks were often times poor, living in squander, seeming unable to care for themselves or rise above any poverty that they lived in. I think of this often when faced with narrow thinkers. Sometimes those of us "with" have really no idea what it is like to be without.