July 25, 2011

It was a busy week...

I finished up Notes from Underground and loved it.  It had just the right amount of snarkiness and introspection to do it for me.  I enjoyed the narrator's voice throughout and his observations about humanity were both insightful, delightful sinful, and hilarious.  While he talks about himself constantly you never really know the real man behind the words.  He contradicts himself at every turn and keeps the reader wondering what he'll say next.

To continue with my classical reading I next read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I have to say straight up that I went into this with high expectations and Stevenson did not disappoint.  I turned the pages of this book so quickly I swear I got page burn.  The characters felt so real and I had to know what was going to happen next.  This book is both a thriller and an insightful look into the duality of man.  I definitely recommend it.

The next read is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (Mel's son) which was lent to me by my good friend, Eric.  It's a chronicle of the zombie apocalypse.  I think that might say it all.  I'm going to try to start it up tonight but I'm not sure I'll be awake long enough.  It's been a looooong week! :o)

July 17, 2011

Trips Ahoy!

Fortuitously for all of you I took a plane ride today which included a lengthy layover...hence I finished Isaac's Storm.  As always, Larson is able to flesh out a story that keeps you wanting to turn the pages.  He brought Isaac Cline to life for me.  A man so consumed with weather and yet completely missed the signs that pointed to a huge hurricane headed toward his town, Galveston.  I liked the parts that focused on the people of the town very much.  Larson has a way of making the characters seem as if they were narrating their stories right to you, the reader.  However, I have to say that the technical jargon that was used to describe the storm made my eyes cross.  If you like reading about longitudes, wind velocity, and the height of waves (I still don't know what an ebb surge is) then have no fear!  It wasn't my favorite of the Larson books that I've read but I didn't hate it.

For a change of pace I picked up Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  I haven't gotten a significant way into it yet but from what I've read I'm going to like it.  The narrator, who remains anonymous, is snarky and full of spite (for himself and everyone else).  I like the way it's written and it makes me giggle when he talks about how everyone is really terrible on the inside (why try to fight it?) and he more so than others.  It's a pretty short read so I'll hopefully be able to update you all on what I think in a few days.

July 13, 2011

Ghosts, Curses, and Snobs oh my!

In the blink of an eye, I finished Ruined by Paula Morris.  I would just like to thank Mrs. B. for the great recommendation.  Not only were the descriptions of the neighborhoods of New Orleans vividly vibrant but the people that she created were astonishingly real.  The main character, Rebecca, is a girl from out of town (shout out New Yorkers!) who can't seem to fit in at her high school (ahhh scary flashback!) where Them (keep away, Fox Mulder) rule.  This is not your typical ghost story, people.  If you're looking for a story about family history, secrets, and a city that seems older than time itself then this is the book for you.

Now to continue my love-fest of Erik Larson I've checked out Isaac's Storm which is all about the famous hurricane during (you guessed it) the beginning of the 20th century in Galveston.  The story revolves around a man, Isaac Cline, who swore he could predict weather patterns and he claimed no hurricane was on its way to the fair city of Galveston.  I'm guessing based on the name of the book (and the book jacket) that he was wrong.  Without divulging any secrets from the book, I'll let you guys know my thoughts just as soon as I've gobbled it all up.

Keep those pages turning, readers!!

July 11, 2011

Can you dig it, man?

Well, I sure can!  Charles & Emma was absolutely wonderful!!  I practically inhaled it.  If you have any interest in what Charles Darwin the man was like (or more importantly his wife, Emma) then you need to read this.  It really gave me an insight into what a struggle he had writing such a monumental work (and still controversial to this day!).  No matter the differences in opinion on religion, his wife and he had a really strong marriage and through ups and downs this never changed.  I don't think I'm doing this touching book justice.  I guess all I can really say is that the love that these two people felt for each other is conveyed beautifully by the author and it fleshes out a character from history that has always seemed one-dimensional to me.  I got tears reading it (in a good way) and I highly recommend it!

What's next on the agenda?  My dear friend (and fellow librarian), Mrs. B. has recommended I read Ruined by Paula Morris.  This is another young adult novel but this one is a work of historical fiction (at least I hope it is or else I'm locking the windows tonight).  It's set in New Orleans and is about a girl who encounters a ghost.  I'm told the detail is incredible and that it will knock my socks off (I might have paraphrased this somewhat).  I will get started on it right away and report back here with my findings just as soon as I'm finished.

Keep reading!!

July 8, 2011

Case Solved!

First, I want to say that I might be in love with Erik Larson.  It might be too soon to tell but this is two books that I really enjoyed now.  Thunderstruck kept me riveted right until the very end.  Extremely well-written and interesting.  Also, I find the footnotes absolutely enthralling (and humorous).  Read it, people!!

Now for the disappointing news...I started up Faceless Killers and I'm going to have to pronounce it unpalatable.  Hear me out!!  Let me start off by saying that I had high expectations going into this and I think that might partly be why I'm so distraught right now.  I was expecting something dramatic and mindblowingly gut-wrenching.  Instead I get choppy sentences and confusing passages where I have no clue if the person is narrating their thoughts or speaking aloud.  This could all be due to poor translation, however.  Maybe if I was Swedish and reading the original my socks would be rocked right off of my feet.  But I'm not Swedish and my socks are decidedly stuck on (or they would be if it weren't so atrociously hot and humid up here).  I made it forty pages in and to the fourth chapter but I'm going to have to call it quits. 

This is the moment in the blog when I let you in on a secret: if you don't like a book you don't have to plod your way through to the very end.  That's right, folks!  If you've started up a book and you find yourself just wishing that the darn thing was over with already, you might want to just put it down and start something new.  Sooo I'm going to read Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman.  You can probably guess from the title that the book is centered on Mr. & Mrs. Darwin.  What you don't know from the title (or maybe you're familiar with this book and this is all redudant to you) is that this is a nonfiction book for young adults.  WHAT?  Yep, I do believe if you read my intro you will see that I bounce around to all different areas of literature.  I have heard great things about this book and it was on my wish list for forever.  From what I've heard, the story centers on Charles Darwin's wife and how her place in his life shaped him as a man and as a scientist.  I've always found Darwin interesting (I did after all major in Anthropology) but I know almost nothing about his life outside of academia.  I'm going to start this thing up tonight and I'll let you all know how it goes!!

Library, here I come!

So, I'm headed to the library after work today to pick up Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell.  This is the first in a series of stories about a Swedish detective (these have been translated into English obviously) named Kurt Wallander. 

There are two reasons why I'm going to check this out:
1. I love crime novels.
2. I've been watching the British miniseries called Wallander with Kenneth Branagh which is fantastic!

I have to finish up Thunderstruck but I think I can manage that tonight (I'm so close to the ending that I can taste it) and start up this new one.  I'll keep you guys posted on what I think!

July 7, 2011

Hello! Welcome!

I would like to start out by saying that I do not profess to be some know-it-all when it comes to book recommendations.  You will not always (or maybe never) agree with what I say but that's the wonder of the blog isn't it? ;o)  However, I have been asked recently to give recommendations and because of this I thought it might be a good idea to try out a blog.  So let's get started!

I'm currently reading a fantastic bit of nonfiction entitled Thunderstruck by Erik Larson.  The book focuses on the beginning of the 20th century and two men in particular.  One of these men is trying to do something that is deemed impossible: create a form of transatlantic communication, i.e. wireless.  The other is an unassuming doctor who may or may not have commited a heinous crime.  Larson is a master at writing really compelling nonfiction books.  He weaves the story in such a way that you forget that you're reading about something that actually happened.  I personally enjoy reading the bibliography in the back because the notes he writes about some of the sources used makes me giggle.  I'm almost done with this one and so far I would say that it's a definite must-read!

I just finished another piece of nonfiction which was recommended to me by a librarian chum of mine: The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century by Harold Schechter.  It just so happens that this book is written about the same time period as the book above.  This read centers on two murders (and a third attempted) commited in NY by poison delivered in the guise of mail ordered medicine.  One of the interesting facets of this story is that at the time of this crime a phenomena was launched that still pervades today: yellow journalism (gossip rags).  The crime and the subsequent trial were plastered on the front of the papers and the main suspect was proven guilty even before the start of proceedings (seems familiar huh?).  It was a definite page turner but the ending left me feeling somewhat disappointed.  I would recommend it, however, because it's informative and it blows your mind just how much times have changed yet remained the same.

Well, that's the first entry.  Please let me know if you need recommendations and/or what you thought of the start of my blog!!