Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon

I have never read a graphic novel before...and am not sure if I will again. I didn't know what was going on through half the book, and most of the characters' names I didn't have a clue about. Ummm...not much else to say, except the end part where the creation of the graphic novel is discussed is pretty Gabaldon selected an artist and what scene changes they made, things like that. :)

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

I had a lot more hope for this book when I started it. It is essentially plotless, but is told in an interesting, winding way that draws you in and makes you really understand and relate to the characters...or know relatives who resemble them almost TOO closely. So the story goes that Alice, the matriarch, owns a house in Maine, a house that her husband won on a $50 bet. The husband, Daniel, died ten years prior to the telling of this story. Alice and Daniel had three children, two of who are mentioned significantly: Kathleen and Pat. Kathleen lives in California on her "farm" (a worm farm) with her boyfriend of ten years, Arlo. She has a daughter, Maggie, who lives in New York and is recently impregnated by her on-again, off-again loser boyfriend. Summer comes, and Maggie goes to the house in Maine to figure out life, and tells both Kathleen and Loser Boyfriend in an email she is preggo. In the meantime, Kathleen flies out to "talk some sense into her" aka have an abortion (which she doesn't have), and Loser Boyfriend decides to not be involved. While Kathleen is plotting to go to Maine, Ann Marie (Pat's wife) shows up with dollhouse-making supplies in tow. She has a crush on Steve Brewer, and eventually accidentally makes a drunken move on him in Maine on the Fourth of July. There is a whole lot of other things that happen, like finding out about Alice's sister's the end, all four of the women have secrets, except maybe Kathleen, since it is plain she was not a great mother. I wouldn't really recommend...unless you have nothing better to read, I suppose. But it is definitely intricately written, and well-done, at that.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This book was TERRIBLE! I do not recommend at ALL!!! It's told in a series of vignettes, none that are really cohesive except they all contain the main character, Esperanza. I had no way of relating to this book, since the community I live in is 90% white and I have never lived in an urban area (the past two places I have lived have had horses as neighbors). I have had no experience with Catholicism, or with hating the house I live in (a big part of the book). Two thumbs down!

Sighs Matter by Marianne Stillings

This book was, amazingly, not as terrible and hoky as one might expect. The beginning of each chapter has a fake definition (like Denile: a river in Egypt) that is puntatic. It's about Claire, a doctor, and Taylor, a police officer. Each fight against their desire for the other, but of course, life-threatening situations occur and thrust them together. After reading this, I am not quite sure where sighs/size matter at all, since that isn't mentioned, although there are two "special" scenes in the book, but nothing over-the-top that goes on for 50 pages each.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Shack by William P. Young

I felt this book was very heavy-handed in the explaination of religion.

This book is about Mackenzie Allen Philips (who goes by “Mack”) and his quest for improving his relationship with God—even though he initially does not know it. The story begins with the Philips family on a camping trip, sans Mack’s wife Nan. His two teenagers, Josh and Kate, decide to go canoeing and almost immediately it capsizes, trapping one of the teens underneath it. Mack jumps to the rescue, his previous lifeguarding skills kicking in, helping him to save Josh. When all is well, he goes looking for Missy, his six year old daughter who he left coloring in books at the campsite, but she is nowhere to be found. A search is started and a ladybug pin with five dots on its back is found in the coloring book, a similar item that has been found at the scenes of other child abductions (this one being the fifth one, hence the five dots). A deputy states that this is a serial kidnapper and the bodies of the other children, all girls, have never been found. Still, the search continues, taking the party to some desolate places on a reserve, where they stumble upon a run-down hunter’s shack. Inside, they find a blood-stained dress, the exact one that Missy was wearing when she disappeared. Search dogs sniff around the cabin and eventually the search is closed and an empty casket buried. Three years later, Mack goes to check his mail and finds an unstamped letter in his mailbox indicating for him to return to the shack and signed “Papa,” a name that Nan uses to call God (indicating the depth of her relationship with him as Father). On a whim, he goes to the shack and finds everything the same as it was three years previous. After throwing a temper tantrum, he leaves the shack, but is amazed that while he is walking away he feels a strong, warm breeze, as it is the dead of winter with snow everywhere. He turns around and sees that the shack has transformed into a beautiful cabin and the land around it, including the lake, has thawed. It is like it is springtime all around. He goes back to the shack and finds Papa, a rotund black woman; Sarayu, a small, shimmering Asian woman; and Jesus, a man in plaid. Each of these represents one part of the Trinity: Papa as God, Sarayu as the Holy Spirit, and Jesus as himself. During his time at the cabin, he has individual experiences with each of them, allowing him to understand more fully what Christianity really is: a relationship, not rules. This allows him to come to terms with Missy’s death and also his father’s death (of which he orchestrated since his dad beat him when he was young, causing him to poison all of the liquor so his father essentially drank himself to death), along with forgive Missy’s murderer. At the end, Mack is given the choice of staying at the cabin with Papa, Sarayu, and Jesus, or return to the real world and be back with his family and friends. He chooses to go back to his family. The three vacate the cabin, but leave a cup of coffee for Mack to drink, which immediately puts him to sleep. When he awakes, it is the same day as when he arrived in the cabin (although during the time he’s with Papa, Sarayu, and Jesus, two days pass). He drives away, only to be hit by a drunk driver in the nearby town of Joseph. He is life-flighted to Portland where he recovers and tells his story.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker

This is a terrible book! I am not sure (and hoping not!) if all of Robert B. Parker's books are written like this one, but if they are...I don't know what people are thinking! It was pretty tough going from The Girl who Played with Fire to this flat, undeveloped charactered, and not detailed book. The storyline was plain (the only unique quality was that Allie, Virgil's woman, was a "bad woman," which is not typical in Westerns) and sorely lacking of...a lot of things! This was definitely a snooze-fest and not even worth writing a synopsis about.

The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

I actually finished this book about three weeks ago. I think it was a great follow-up to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I super look forward to reading The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest next month.

This book is about Lisbeth and how she was framed for a triple murder. Mikael is positive of her innocence, but with her fingerprints on the weapon that was used, the police almost immediately find her guilty of the murders. Lisbeth leaves Mikael hints on why she is innocent or how to find the reason behind the murders, leaving him somewhat frustrated with her and the situation as a whole. Nevertheless, he pulls through and along the way, some jaw-dropping information of Lisbeth's past is revealed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Borrower: A Novel by Rebecca Makkai

As a future librarian, this book was cute cute cute! I gobbled it up in three days (including one plane ride to Minnesota). It is about a Missouri librarian named Lucy and her kidnapping/being kidnapped by a ten-year-old boy named Ian. His overbearing mother limits what books he can check out to the point that he acts out in frustration. This leads Lucy to help him smuggle some contraband books home (while checking them out to him on her account). One Sunday, she goes to work and finds that Ian had spent the night there and hopes to run away. Their adventure begins with Ian directing Lucy to drive him home, but as his directions progress, Lucy realizes that they are not going to his house. Instead, they keep driving and run into many situations along the way, including Lucy finding out the truth about her father's past and Ian panhandling for money. The book turned into a great way to pass the time and a way to live out a librarian "fantasy"...although not all librarians have it. :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Mercy Room by Gilles Rozier

The Mercy Room is about an unnamed and ungendered character during World War II in France. The main character's name is never said or revealed in any way, nor is their gender (but there are enough clues to make the character a woman, as they marry a man named Jude). What is the "mercy room" is initially a small room in a cellar meant for the character's storing of books. They go there to read and enjoy the quiet. While at work, the character meets and ends up smuggling in a Jew named Herman. The reader knows of the character's infatuation with Herman and is a main motivating reason why the character protects him. Herman stays in the mercy room, and the two together make him a mattress from repurposed materials. During this time of the character protecting, feeding, and educating (and learning from) Herman, he falls in love with her. After two years of hiding in the cellar, Herman becomes quite restless (also because of the body they must bury in the mercy room) so the character must help him escape out of the mercy room without being suspected of being a Jew. I'm not a big fan of history, particularly anything militaryish, but it was an interesting read to find out where the love story would end.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Oh. My. Gosh. This book was initially so slow...I almost quit after the first chapter because I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on! And then I read the second chapter and absolutely loved the character of Lisbeth. The book is a little rough going (speaking as an American) because the author is Swedish and it's set in Sweden, so is full of Swedish names and places. Characters are not referred to by the same name through the whole book--one character even had three different names! That slowed me down a little bit, but the book definitely sucked me in. It's very carefully crafted.

It's about Mikael, a journalist who works for Millennium magazine (thus why it's called the Millennium trilogy), and his story on Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. It ends up that all of the information he had gotten for the story was fake and he ends up being framed and sentenced to a three month term in jail. In the meantime, Henrik Varner has Lisbeth Salander research Mikael because he is wanting the forty year old mystery of Harriet Varner's (his niece) death solved. He ends up hiring Mikael and he stumbles into old family secrets while trying to discover Harriet's murderer. Eventually, he and Lisbeth team up together and solve it, and it is an incredible read.

Right now I am waiting for The Girl Who Played with Fire to be returned at the library so I can continue the series!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This book reminds me an awful lot of Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson. The Alchemist is about a shepherd, Santiago, and his mission to fulfill his Personal Legend. He first learns of his Personal Legend through dreams about the Pyramids. He meets a gypsy woman, an old king, a crystal shop owner, his love, and the alchemist. Each help him on his journey to fulfill his Personal Legend. Bear in mind, though, Santiago is not sure what his Personal Legend is; all he knows is that he must achieve it. Coelho interweaves Biblical references and speaks about God and also New Age/Wiccan beliefs of sand, wind, sun, etc. Nevertheless, the one thing that the author wants the reader to take away at the end of this book is that it should not just be the treasure found (fulfilling your Personal Legend), but the journey to accomplish it is where you learn about yourself and the people that help you on your way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman

Gary Chapman has done it again. The author of The Five Love Languages provides insight on how to start a marriage a little less rocky than his. He refers to his previous work, and even gives synoposes of them. Each chapter ends with questions to discussion with your significant other, and they would certainly open the door to great dialogue and hopefully a meeting of the minds. His Bible/God/Christianity references are minimal (aside from a chapter on church and spirituality), in case anyone is concerned about that. Also included is an appendix for the serious dating couple and a list of questions devoted strictly to them. It is obvious that this book can be utilized at any stage of a marriage, but is especially meant to enable pre-marital chats about things that are too often glossed over or just "assumed," like who cleans the toilet and other chores. The money management chapter is extensive, and rightfully so, since a majority of couples' arguments are over money. This book goes over many aspects in a very straightforward manner, and has questions I will certainly discuss with my S.O.