Thursday, February 11, 2016

Career Of Evil

Career Of Evil by Robert Galbraith, 497 pages

Ed W reviewed this recently so you can see his review for plot.  I'm going to say that I agreed with his assessment also, almost exactly.  I thought it was good and I really enjoy these characters and their development and I thought this was a great story.  I'm really looking forward to the next books in this series.

Juba

Juba by Walter Dean Myers, 201 pages

This is a fictionalized story about a real person.  Juba was a freeborn African American in the 1800s.  He grew up in New York and all he wanted to do was dance.  He was lucky enough to get a few breaks and actually was able to make a living doing what he loved, and became fairly well known in his time, especially in England.  Charles Dickens had seen him dance and written about him so many people were interested in Juba.  I really liked this story. I would probably call it a slice of life type of story, but kids who like historical fiction will probably enjoy it.

Imposter

Imposter by Antony John, 307 pages

Seth is thrilled when he is offered a job as the star of a new movie.  He likes his new costar, Annaleigh, and he even gets to meet high-profile established movie stars, especially Sabrina Layton, who dropped out of the picture but is back in with a smaller role.  Seth is excited about the exposure and the money but something seems off about the picture.  Scandalous stories about Sabrina and her former co-star and ex-boyfriend, Kris Ellis, begin surfacing.  Someone appears to be stalking either Sabrina or Seth.  Seth has been receiving odd, vaguely threatening texts on a phone the studio gave him, a phone that only a select few have the number.  Seth can't shake the feeling that there is something wrong with the whole set-up.  I really liked this story.  This might be my new favorite novel by John.  I didn't find it quite as scary as I expect a thriller to be but the story was so good I didn't care about that part.  I would definitely recommend this to teens who like realistic fiction.

Dead Ice

Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton, 566 pages

This is another typical Hamilton book: vampires, shapeshifters, witches and sex, with Anita Blake at the center.  The main story is about Anita trying to help the FBI with a case that seems to involve a necromancer that is capable of raising a zombie that appears to be human.  These zombies are being used in sex films and Anita and the FBI are determined to stop him.   Of course, nothing in Anita's world is ever simple, so this case becomes even more awful than she could have dreamed.  In between, she is trying to plan weddings and commitment ceremonies and work out politics in her world with the vampires and shapeshifters.  I liked the book.  I think that people who are fans of her books will probably enjoy it.  However, the people who were fans before all of the sex, who liked them because of the fantasy aspect and fell away because of the sex, definitely will not want to come back to this one.

Truth Or Die

Truth Or Die by James Patterson & Howard Roughan, 383 pages

Disbarred attorney Trevor Mann thinks his life might be finally falling into place until his girlfriend, Claire Parker, is murdered.  Claire was a reporter and, although the murder appeared to be random, Trevor suspects that it has to do with one of her protected sources.  Trevor sets out on a dangerous mission to locate Claire’s source and uncover the truth about her murder.  The only problem is, he may end up dead himself.  I felt like some parts of this story felt a little rushed or disjointed or unclear.  It was a little more difficult to red than some of Patterson’s books.  Overall though, it was a good, compelling story, and most of it became clear by the end.  Most of Patterson’s fans will probably be pretty satisfied.  I’m not sure it would be my first choice to hand to someone who just liked the genre but wasn’t already reading Patterson’s books.

Variable Star

Variable Star by Robert Heinlein & Spider Robinson, 318 pages

Joel thought he was planning to get married and go to school to study music.  Instead he ends up on a ship headed out to colonize a new planet.  Joe’s story is captivating and keeps getting more interesting when a disaster hits that could change everyone and everything.  I absolutely loved this book.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction or fantasy.  I have no idea how realistic the science is but the story is so good, I wouldn’t have cared had I known.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Heretics

Heretics by GK Chesterton, 305 pages

It might seem odd that Chesterton wrote Heretics before he wrote Orthodoxy, but it has been the case throughout history that right belief is usually discovered through an examination of wrong belief.  In this book Chesterton takes on all the fashionable thinkers of his own time with his customary blend of good humor, biting wit, and common sense.  Many of those thinkers are now forgotten - although there are exceptions such as Rudyard Kipling, HG Wells, and George Bernard Shaw - but their errors are more enduring than their memories.  Indeed, Chesterton even refutes errors that would not become popular until long after he was dead.

Chesterton's primary theme, threaded throughout the book, is that there is no such thing, in reality, as a materialist or a cynic - all men are ruled by ideas, and some of those ideas are wrong, and no idea is more wrong than the idea that ideas have no consequences.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout    191 pages

This book begins with Lucy Barton, who is in the hospital, slowly recovering from what should have been a simple operation.   Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken to in years, comes to see her, and winds up staying with her, in the hospital, for several days.   As the two of them talk, Lucy remembers her childhood, and feels a re-connection to her mother.   As the two of them talk, Lucy reflects on her troubled family, as well as her marriage and how she became a writer.

I found this to be an interesting, thoughtful book.   The language is sometimes pretty spare, but still evocative.   Lucy's relationship with her mother is pretty tenuous, so at first, it seems a little odd that her mother would come to visit her in the hospital, and then wind up staying for a few days.  But, as the two of them talk, and you get Lucy's perspective on her childhood, it seems to make sense (at least, as far as her relationship with her mother and her family is concerned).   Lucy's observations about her life were what struck me most.  At times, I found I'd pause and reflect on what I had just read, not just in perspective to the story I was reading, but generally, in relation to my own experiences.

Lucy's an interesting character.  We only get her perspectives; this is her story, so we don't know what her mother's feelings are, or whether Lucy's perceptions of her family, or her husband, are accurate.  But, this is an introspective story, where you are immersed in what Lucy is thinking about. I got a clear picture of her just from some of her observations, or reflections.    Example:  "And he looked at me then, and with real kindness on his face, and I see now that he recognized what I did not: that in spite of my plenitude, I was lonely.  Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me."  (p. 41-2).

Reading this book was a little like reading some kinds of poetry.  I would read through some passages, and then reflect, and then keep going, but then go back over some of it in my mind, later.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Music and Ceremonies

Music and Ceremonies by Edith Sitwell, 44 pages

Music and Ceremonies was one of Dame Sitwell's last volumes of poetry published before her death in 1964 at age 77.  Unsurprisingly, the poems dwell on matters of aging and memory and death, but also spring and resurrection, and hope for a final harmony.

Sitwell's poems are interesting in part because, while they are formally excellent, they seem somehow artificial and uninspired, which may be why she is better known as a judge of poetry than as a poet in her own right.