Oh god shoot me.
So I picked up a thriller at Costco (Costco being a place to pick up reasonably priced books if you know what to look for). Cover says: "The Internationally Bestselling Novel" - which is often a good sign - Canadian bestsellers, forget it; National bestsellers - naah; International and New York Times bestsellers -there's potential.
And then there's the review: "Frightening, ruthless, and relentlessley entertaining". Oh yeah - frightening and ruthless - an antidote to the cancer book!
So - the beginning - "A flash of light filled his skull as it struck the rock floor"...oh god....bit cliched....not looking good.... "Then darkness."..... uh oh..... "He was dimly aware of the heavy oak door banging shut behind him and...." .....blah blah... "the pounding of his pulse" (oh please) and the "mournful wiind" ....oh no ....getting worse ....and then we get the "agonizing cold" and the "still and ancient cold" - cliche cliche cliche - & of course he has self inflicted wounds - and a "terrible secret" that's a "culmination of a lifetime of searching". Here are some more from page 1: "unimaginable sorrow", "divine understanding", and "awful scenes".
Is it a story or an attempt to set a new record for the number of cliches in one book?
So I sort of waded through it all for a bit and then we go somewhere else - to Central Park - and meet a "slim blonde woman with fine Nordic features". Who else? It's Barbie. (Of course!) What's Barbie doing? She's crying ("The clenched emotions of the past years flexed and burst" - almost laughed out loud at that one - clenched emotions flexed and burst - yeah) - because her dude (self-flagellation man with the looks of Ken) has been gone for so long he's been declared dead. Oh Barbie - you need a cosmopolitan & a razor blade.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail was actually good, I couldn't get halway through the DaVinci Code (cliches and those horrendous blatant foreshadow things at the end of each chapter), and this book thing is even worse. Blech.
(Sanctus by if you're wondering).
The "ruthless" comment from the cover was made by Brad Meltzer. Who's Brad Meltzer? (I should have known.... an unknown reviewer.... New York Times Book Reveiw is reliable, as is the Sunday Times - but Brad Meltzer .....?????)
(Just googled Brad's name - he writes books I haven't read or heard of. Hmmm....)
October 9, 2011
I'm sick of reading about cancer. Cancer sucks. We're getting better at treating it but there's so much we don't know and doctors are happy to treat treat treat away and - well - it may or may not work but it's going to be miserable for the poor patient.
So the cancer book is going to go sit next to Crime & Punishment for a bit.
I've been working on The Emperor of All Maladies. Front cover: "2010 Pulitzer Prize Winner". This is a "Biography of Cancer" written by .
Well, given that so many people get cancer, & that if you're lucky enough not to get it yourself you will know many people who do suffer from this disease, this is well worth reading. It's a history of cancer - bits from Egyptian times through to efforts to deal with cancer (including horrific surgeries) two hundred years ago through to what's happening today.
I guess what I've learned so far is that people put a huge amount of effort into finding a cure/ figuring out how to prevent cancer, but there have been so many mistakes made.
What I am also finding interesting is how the facts on something such as mammograms are presented. I remember when it was recommended for every woman to have an annual mammogram once she reached forty. When this was presented to the public, it was made to be self-evident - this is a conclusion that the medical community had reached so of course woman had to go and get regular mammograms. When this book discusses the subject, it discusses the annual mammogram procedure as though that was a somewhat misguided, potentially barbaric practice from ancient times (sort of in the way that we now talk about using leeches to perform bloodletting). Which, well, after more studies was done it was proven to be (mammograms are no longer recommended until you reach the age of fifty).
Worth reading. Still working on it.....
Where to start? This is the kind of book that just depresses me because of what it says about the views of the author.
It's about a man told from the point of view of his three wives. He's an absolutely dreadful husband, seducing women much younger than him, marrying them, and then living with them without showing any affection for years. He, in turn, eventually leaves all three of them (and his children) and never displays any concern about what happens to them.
All three of the wives just quietly put up with him. Not one of them shows any grit or anger - they don't yell, they don't quietly take revenge, they don't do anything - hello - Ms. Haigh!!!! - is this what you really think about married women? That we're all such a bunch of pushovers?? That we are so lacking in grit? Oh so sad.
And then I was reading the author's view on the story. She says that the heinous Mr. Kimble is just an "ordinary man". Again - so depressing - that someone with the intelligence of Ms. Haigh would think that a man who lives with a woman for years, has a child with her, but is devoid of any emotional attachment is "ordinary".
Ordinary men become attached. They care. Women get angry. If you wrong them they will react.
But - the book is very well written. I couldn't put it down & just kept going until I was done.
Death on the Nile-
4:50 from Paddington-
Two more Agatha Christies. Ms. (Mrs?- for whatever reason I can't just say "Christie" as I would with another author.....just googled her....think I'll stick with "Dame"). Dame Christie has two series of books each with its own investigator. With Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, it was Hercule Poirot (a little dark haired Belgium man with large mustaches (yup, that's plural - multiple mustaches....)) doing the investigating. 4:50 from Paddington is my introduction to Jane Marple - an elderly lady who investigates mysteries.
Death on the Nile is - well - fun. It's full of rich, glamourous characters, interesting dialogue, and plot twists all over the place.
However, I preferred 4:50 from Paddington. The story moves a little more slowly (it's set in a country estate in England - eccentric gentlemen, a housewife) - generally more low key characters than Death. The story still takes twists and turns - not quite as dramatic - but I really didn't expect the end (with Death the guilty party had been on my suspect list for a while). And I really like the Jane Marple character, too - a little old lady who solves mysteries.
September 13th, 2011
Well, I enjoyed The Help. I'm still trying to figure out if it's because I legitimately enjoyed this book or if I had such a low expectation & it's the contrast of the actual reading experience with the expectation that's leading me to think this is a good book.
The characters were great - right away I found myself liking Aibileen, the main protagonist. It did end a bit happily ever after, but there was some tension - the issues didn't get wrapped up too quickly. I dunno. Go see the movie?
September 9th, 2011
Just purchased The Help. I'm terrified. I have this weird relationship with super-popular fiction - some I love, much is disappointing (just too cliched - ok - need examples - that Potatoe Pie Guernsey book. It started out very clever & interesting but then devolved into this smarmy everyone lives happily ever after & unrealistically overcomes in just a few days issues that have plagued them their entire lives. This is not the only book that suffers from this issue - it's just the one that came to mind now).
September 3rd, 2011
Okay - I haven't seen the movie. An interesting bit of historical perspective that's well worth reading. A bit of oddness: in pictures in the book, Lionel Logue looks quite attractive - & these looks are part of the story. So: Geoffrey Rush????? (great actor, though).
September 2nd, 2011
"The classic apocalyptic novel that stunned the world" says the front cover. This one was published in 1959, at the height of the Cold War but before the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's about an American family that survives a nuclear holocaust.
"A man who has been shaken by a two-ton blockbuster has a frame of reference....To someone who has never felt a bomb, bomb is only a word.....So the H-bomb is beyond the imagination of all but a few Americans..." - from the preface.
I very much enjoyed this book. It's the first of a bunch of post-apocalypse novels (think the Road - which I could only get 1/2 way through it was so dismal and depressing) and it's very well thought out - going from the ordinariness of everyday life to having to deal with having nothing - & interesting. Ultimately it's positive - & I enjoyed the characters & their struggles.s
Fun! Oh my gosh - why have I never picked up an Agatha Christie? I have no idea....she's great - and this is an enjoyable, puzzly book that keeps moving. There are all these people on a train (the Orient Express) & the train gets stuck in a snowbank & it's discovered that one of the people has been murdered. Conveniently, our hero the detective is on the train to solve the mystery.
Gotta go get me a few novels by Dame Agatha.....
September 1st, 2011
"Deft and funny." - according to the New York Times Book Review per the front cover.
This girl is turned into a vampire and is helped out by a geeky guy. I'm not really into the 'let's just be like Twilight & write about vampires' thing, but the back cover made me think that perhaps Moore was going to be tongue in cheek about the whole thing. And he was. A bit witty, a bit silly, kinda nice light-hearted reading. My favorite character was the Emperor: "Sundown painted purple across the great Pyramid while the Emperor enjoyed a steaming whiz against a dumpster in the alley below" (that's how the book begins).
August 31, 2011
Going on holiday for a few days. The Cascade Scenic Loop in NW Washington. Here's what I'm bringing along:
Murder on the Orient Express -
Alas, Babylon -
Bloodsucking Fiends -
The King's Speech - and
August 27, 2011
Needed a break from Crime and Punishment. Go figure. Picked up the following:
This is about two people - one male, one female - it briefly touches on the childhood of each one & then the bulk of the story is about their teen/early adult lives. They're a bit odd (but I guess that's the point).
I really enjoyed this. Like a sad, bittersweet song that you have to keep playing.
August 20, 2011
After all the fun of The Gambler I thought I'd find The Idiot. But the book store didn't have it so I've settled for Crime and Punishment (I was hoping for The Idiot because Crime and Punishment just sounded as though it was going to be much too heavy for August).
It's heavy. I haven't finished it yet (currently 40% in) but D. takes this far more seriously than he did The Gambler.
August 13, 2011
This book is hilarious. It's also my first Dostoevsky novel. I'd tried to read Crime and Punishment in my early 20's and just couldn't do it. I was reading a collection of David Foster Wallace essays recently, and he mentions how funny Dostoevsky is. Which I found strange - I'd never have thought that some so-called moody 19th century Russian (famous for Crime and Punishment - two non-funny subjects) could be termed funny.
And this book is highly amusing. It also moves along like a soap opera - strange things keep happening. It's a short book, too. Apparently Dostoevsky wrote it in about a month to help pay some of his debts. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek - as though he were writing just to get the money and pay off the debt and not taking the whole thing too seriously.
The book is about a tutor to a Russian family. The tutor is very outspoken & takes up gambling (apparently, as did Dostoevsky at some point, too (also to deal with debts). Lots of fun and very easy to read.
August 10, 2011
Promo on cover: "Winner of the Swedish Crime Academy Award for Best Crime Novel" (yeah, I know - the Dragon Tattoo books did so well that we're getting all the Scandanavian authors published here in North America.....which is probably a good thing....)
This is a crime thriller that takes place in present day Sweden, also over the period of just a few days.
I much preferred this book to the Pintoff novel. I think it was the characters. Eriksson really took the time to explore each person. The difference between Pintoff's character studies & Eriksson's was like the difference between when you just sit in a place for a while and just observe everything, & when you quickly walk through & make note of what you've seen. Eriksson's the sit for a while person. I liked getting to know the people in his book. It was a good story, too; not quite as well-plotted as Pintoff's but nontheless a great read.
I'd read another Eriksson novel.
In the Shadow of Gotham - . Promo on cover: "The Edgar Award-Winning Novel"
This takes place over ten days in the vicinity of New York City in 1905. It's a nice book. Clean, well-developed plot, good pace, interesting. I kind of felt as though the author knew she could write well though - everything just seemed a little too self-consciously perfect, too well thought out - each sentence was too much a display of writing skill. Characters could have been better developed - not as nuanced as I'd have liked. So, while I enjoyed it, the whole thing left me feeling a bit hollow.
August 7, 2011
I have three fiction books to read while on holiday. Two are detective novels & one's a classic. I also brought along a couple of books on Dreamweaver & HTML & also Photoshop LAB colour.'
August 1, 2011
Oh gosh. What is with Science Fantasy writers who think that the best thing to do is to write multi-book epic story things? Seven, eight, nine or more books is not necessary to tell a story. Blech. Please edit. Three volumes is good. Like Tolkien. Three.
So - the first one was good. Really, really good. I've got a weakness for Science Fantasy but I don't often find ones I like so it was a pleasure to pick this up & have such a great time reading it. But then when I started book two...I found myself skipping to the parts that were about the character I liked most (Arya, for those familiar with the series). And then I stopped and I have no interest in reading any of the other books.