Missed the last few months? Go to the Book
Archive to catch up!
Coming soon: a search engine for the archives! Whoopdy-doo!
By the way, my reading is going to be slooooowing down some (has been for
the last couple of weeks). Reason why? I got a kitten! So, instead of
reading in the evenings, I'm much more likely to be found running around
the apartment trailing a piece of string and a little white ball of fluff.
Hope I don't disappoint anyone, but some things are more important than
books. Like play!
Book Archive | My
- (2/28)George Bush, Dark Prince of Love by Lydia Miller.
- Very funny short novel about a beefy female ex-con who falls
head over heels in love with George Bush after watching him on television.
After receiving a form letter from the president, she launches a personal
campaign to get his attention for real. What happens next is not exactly
what she was hoping for. Political satire at its kookiest. Loved it!
- (2/24)Gap Creek by Robert Morgan.
- A self-described "story of a marriage," this novel follows a
young couple through the first year of their life together, living in a
falling-down house on the edge of Gap Creek in Appalachia (around the end
of the 1800's, I'd say). Just about every bad thing that can happen,
does. Which is fine with me. But the characters are poorly drawn and the
storyline seemed kind of pointless to me. Now, that doesn't make a lot of
sense, I know. It's just a novel that is supposed to be a year pulled out
of these people's lifetime. There doesn't HAVE to be a point. Yet other
novels that do the same thing haven't left me feeling like I missed
something. I enjoyed this book, but it isn't anything special. If you
want to read a book about the hardships, triumphs, and strengths of people
living under harsh conditions, read the "Little House on the Prairie" books
again. This was a lot like them, except it lacked everything that made
those books great. Like depth. I'm not sure why Oprah selected this
one -- there ain't much to talk about.
- (2/21)Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence.
- Historical thriller about a woman raped for three straight
days and then murdered in her own home in a small country town in Maine,
1786. Her body is discovered by the town's midwife, Hannah Trevor, who
also happens to be the ex-mistress of the number one suspect. Very
engaging. Interesting construction, too -- it's not really set up like a
typical novel. Some chapters are interviews with suspects, some chapters
are coroner's reports, etc.
- (2/19)The Julius House by Charlaine Harris.
- Another Aurora Teagarden mystery. In this one, Roe and her
new husband-to-be buy a house together, a house that has a pretty spooky
history. It had once belonged to the Juliuses but one day, about 6 years
before, the entire Julius family had vanished. Roe sets out to find out
what happened and meanwhile begins to learn things about her new spouse
she may not have really wanted to know. Excellent, as usual.
- (2/18)Cracks by Shiela Kohler.
- Short novel about a group of women who return to their
childhood school in South Africa in order to try to rescue it from
financial ruin. Once there, they begin to think back about a horrible
event that occurred while they were young. Very gripping. Actually
made me think of "The Lord of the Flies" a bit -- put a bunch of
youths together with minimal or no supervision, and some pretty
terrible things can happen.
- (2/17)Serpentine by Thomas Thompson.
- Scary true-crime book about a killer named Charles Sobhraj,
who left a trail of bodies that led back and forth over half the globe.
After killing somewhere between 12 and 24 people, he was finally caught in
Delhi, where he only served a 7 year sentence. Besides being a pretty
thrilling chase story, the book takes you to some pretty exotic locations
as well as offering a riveting narrative of the lives of both the
intelligent and inhuman Sobhraj and his victims. Scary stuff. Well
written and thoroughly enjoyable.
- (2/15)King Rat by James Clavell.
- A pretty gripping story about life in a World War II POW camp
that is run by the Japanese. Actually, that's not even true -- the
Japanese have left the camp and put a set of Allied officers in charge of
carrying out their rules. Don't enforce the camp rules, get no supplies.
Of course, this is a pretty horrible thing to do to everyone involved;
think of the emotional effects on the enlisted men who once trusted their
officers to look out for them. The story actually centers on two men --
King Rat (a man who seems to have the world in his hands, despite his
circumstances) and his quiet friend Peter Marlowe. The description of the
camp life is harrowing and these two men are truly great. I really
enjoyed this book a lot.
- (2/14) The Love of
a Good Woman by Alice Munro.
- Collection of short stories and the first Munro I've ever
read. The first story was definitely the best one -- it was kind of about
the drowning of a small-town optometrist and kind of about some kids and
kind of about a spiteful old lady who confesses something horrible on her
deathbed. In a story by anyone less talented, the fact that I couldn't
figure out just whose tale it was would've driven me nuts (the
optometrist? the kids? the old lady? her nurse?), but something about
Munro's style made it work. I'm not sure I'm ready to call myself a Munro
fan, in fact, I didn't really care much for the other stories in the book,
but my interest is definitely piqued and I will look for more.
- (2/10) Watership Down by Richard Adams.
- When I was about 8, I saw the cartoon film based on this
novel. I forgot almost everything about it except for one horrible,
bloody, nightmarish scene that has haunted me ever since. I couldn't
remember what the plot was, though, so I finally decided it was time to
read the novel and put a face to the demons. What a great book! It
follows the story of a group of rabbits who flee their home after a bunch
of men come in and try to kill them all off (this was the scene I
remembered). The way they struggle to survive and rebuild their warren is
really inspirational, oddly enough. Plus, bunnies are cute. Adams really
constructed an entire new civilization in these rabbits -- they have their
own language and folklore, even. It's actually pretty fascinating. Good
for people of all ages. I would've loved this when I was 13 and I loved
it now, too!
- (2/9) Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King.
- Interesting and VERY different book, comprised of short
stories that are connected by a set of recurring characters (taking them
from childhood to adulthood). In the background of some (and foreground
of others) is the Vietnam War -- its impact on the youths growing up
around it and then fighting in it. I was actually surprised at how
well-written this book was; I sort of forget that Stephen King can
actually WRITE as well as spin a good yarn. Even if you're not a fan of
King's fiction, you might consider reading this one. It's not a horror
novel, though parts of it are horrifying (no monsters, though). And it's
got an interesting structure. I'm actually impressed!
- (2/4) The Archivist by Martha Cooley.
- Lyrical novel about an archivist, Matthias Lane, who is the
proud gatekeeper to a set of letters T.S. Eliot wrote to his
sort-of-but-not-exactly girlfriend, Emily Hale. The letters were donated
Lane's university by Hale, but under the condition that they not be read
until 2020 (the book is set in the 50's). Yet when a young poet comes to
him seeking access (in a haughty, self-assured way that reminds him of his
wife, Judith, who had also been a poet but had committed suicide 25 years
earlier), Matt is intrigued. By the end of the novel, he has come to care
for the young poet (Roberta) and finds himself having to choose between
two betrayals -- the way he solves one of the conflicts is horrifying to
me as a librarian myself, but pretty understandable. The author weaves a
lot of Eliot's poetry throughout, to link together feelings between the
characters and Eliot himself (Eliot's wife was crazy just like Matthias'
and they both had to deal with a lot of guilt after committing them). The
characters are also very focused on the effects of religion (specifically
the Jewish religion) on them -- both Roberta and Judith had parents who
hid the Holocaust from them, in one way or another, and this left them
both feeling betrayed and confused about which god they were actually
supposed to believe in. (Lots of betrayal-related issues in this book).
I enjoyed this book because it was unlike anything else I've ever read. I
loved the snippets of poetry from Eliot, I loved learning more about his
actual life, and I thought the religious issues brought up were very
interesting (especially Roberta's thoughts on religious conversion).
However, I didn't really care about any of the characters --
they were all so solipsistic that their problems struck me as
self-perpetuating. It was worth my time, but not a book I'm likely to
return to again.