Sunday, April 24, 2011

#22 Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore

Of the Chris Moore bibliography, my enjoyment has been varied. I loved (as most people do), Lamb. I really liked A Dirty Job. I liked Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck. I flat out HATED The Stupidest Angel. This book was somewhere in the like category.

Samson Hunts Alone grew up in an Indian Reservation, however, an potentially prison-inducing incident had him leaving the reservation and making a new life for himself. He grows up neglecting his Indianess and cultivating and molding himself into the ultimate saleseman, able to transform himself into anything needed to cinch a sale. Things go awry when he meets a pretty, if a little flight, girl and an Indian guy seems to be following him everywhere. Things quickly go madcap, Chris Moore style and hijinks and adventure abound.

Like I said, it's typical Christopher, funny, but I occasionally find the humor too trying hard. Supernatural elements, the works. It was just ok. Aaaand I'm starting to sound like Randy Jackson.

#21 The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman brings back memories of a clique of girls in college who fancied themselves intellectual bookworms when actually, they read mostly Nicholas Sparks, Anita Shreve, Dean Koontz, and of course, Alice Hoffman. I've read my share of these books and even enjoyed some of them, but those girls seem to take these books soo seriously.

This one is typical Alice Hoffman, women, flowers blooming, magic, and of course, love. The women of the Sparrow family come to acquire powers on their 13th birthday. They have always lived in the the oldest house in Unity, apart form the rest of the people. Jenny got away from all that, but came back with her daughter and learns stuff and finds love, of course.

It's the usual magical realism and flowery descriptions. I find most Alice Hoffman books to be too girly and life affirming and perfect. This is one of those books. Everything ends up ok and all their spirits are uplifted and they would all have found themselves and their true love. Not my cup of tea. Nope.

Friday, April 15, 2011

# 20 - Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

This books brings about a lot of conflicting emotions for me. But one thing is for sure, book Alexander Supertramp is waaaay less annoying then movie Alexander. I don't know why, but I really really find Emile Hirsch super annoying. Whew. Now that I've got that out of my system, let me go ahead with my review.

Jon Krakauer, as usual, really knows how to tell a story. Mormons, Everest, idealistic kid, all become page turners. This story is about young Christopher McCandless. Smart, upper middle class family who seemed to love him, bright future. But there's something unusual about him. Finishing college was just something he did to complete his familial obligations. After college, he left home, disappeared of the face of the earth, gradually casting off all his worldly belongings to tramp all around Ameica. Hitchhiking and walking, all to meet his ultimate goal of staying in Alaska alone.

Krakauer makes a mostly positive portrayal of McCandless. The people who he meets with and has relationships along the way seem to like and admire, and even love him. He was a nice, friendly and personable boy. He has deep ideologies and philosophies about how he wanted to live a life out of the ordinary. But he was also naive, unprepared and selfish. This ultimately lead to his death by starvation in the Alaskan not so wilderness.

In that sense, that is why i feel so conflicted about him. I mean, I get it. Why he did it. I feel the urge all the time to just leave it all behind and just live how I want to. To experience life, the road and the wild. But also being a family woman, I know that I could never do what he did to my family. It really was very selfish. Not just to his family but to all the people he met along the road who came to love him. It's not just himself he's hurting but all these other people.

Whatever one's feeling of McCandless is, the book wa undoubtedly interesting and compelling and makes you think about what you want to do and to what extent you would do it.

# 19 - Escape Routes for Beginners by Kira Cochrane

actual review date: 12/27/2011

Rita Mae is a 13 year old living in a prison island with her Dad who is a prison guard. Her hair has been bleached blonde by her mother since she was a baby to disguise her Hispanic heritage. There is basically nothing for her on the island and she dreams daily of escaping to Hollywood.

The book basically the story of three generations of girls in Rita Mae's family. Her grandmother was the daughter of Hispanic immigrants who wanted to become a star, but instead was installed in a Hollywood brothel. Her daughter, Rita Mae's mother, was a desperate social climber who plotted and manipulated to marry the son of a rich man (Rita's dad). When the husband failed to live up to her expectations, she became bitter and hateful.

The story is darkly comic, and really sad. It seems like Rita Mae has no one who really loves her enough to fight for her, or take care of her properly. I had qualms about what she did at the end because her dad seemed like a sadsack character, but ultimately, she was the child and she deserved to be taken care of.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

# 18 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

This book sure is hella different from the first David Mitchell that I read, Black Swan Green. But I found it just as absorbing. Cloud Atlas, though, is definitely a more complex book, if only for the unusual structure of the book. There are six stories, each one except for the last, interrupted somewhere in the middle of the narrative. The story is picked up again later on in the book. Each chapter is mirrored in the second half of the book.

Another unusual thing about the book is that when a story is interrupted and another story started, the main character of the proceeding story is seen reading or watching the previous story. Each story is told in a different style or genre. There is apocalyptic sci fi, dystopian sci fi, the typical mainstream thriller, and others. While the stories are connected in some themes, the stories can actually be read separately as novellas. In fact, some stories I responded to much better than the others.

I think it's amazing that Mitchell writes so effectively across genres, and in different, but very believable voices. The book also invites analysis, in trying to find out what themes tie these stories together, and what this book is really about.

I would definitely recommend this book, I loved it, and it strengthens my desire to read even more David Mitchell.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

# 17 - A Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin

Blame the crappy internet connection at the office for my rereading of A Game of Thrones. With the usual procrastinating tool unavailable, I had to turn to other means of indulging myself while at the office. (Don't worry kids, I still finish my pleadings and go to hearings and stuff..) As it turns out, ASOIAF are the only ebooks that I have in my laptop, so I decided to read the series again during my downtimes at the office. Perfect timing for a reread really, considering the upcoming HBO adaptation. Which I am super excited about!!! 10 more days!!!!

Damn you GRR for having the the power to break my heart time and time again! Damn you for making me forget all my deadlines once I start reading your damn books. Damn you for making me fall in love with honorable characters who absolutely DO NOT deserve what they get. This is a reread, what else can I say? I loved it the first time, and I loved it again the second time.

For those who do not know, A Game of Thrones is an ongoing fantasy series. But its not really fantasy. The Kingdom of Westeros were once different kingdoms, but were brought together by the Targaryen who invaded from Old Valyria using their powerful dragons. But that was ancient history and Westeros is now ruled by King Robert Baratheon, who, along with Ned Stark, overthrew the mad King, last Targaryen to rule the Kingdom.

The main story follows Ned Stark and his family as his life changes from being Lord or Winterfell, the farflung and northernmost province of the Kingdom, to becoming the King's Hand. There are also other storylines as well of different characters.

The book is complex, and truly epic in scope. It is gritty, and as realistic as a fantasy novel can be. It is NOT black and white. It is shocking and heartbreaking. It's really great.