April 24th, 2010

Dead Dog Cat

#26

In the last few days, I finished another non-fiction book by Simon Winchester called Krakatoa: "The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883. Odd that I was reading this treatise on Indonesia and VOLCANOES with what's been going on in the world, lately. Anyway, this is a very engrossing read, and it points out that Krakatoa was the first time in history that hinted to the world as a whole that the world was a whole entity and that things that happen on the opposite side of the planet can have implications locally. Very recommended!
reading a book

Book 39-40: Rupture and Fear the Worst

Book 39: Rupture (USA title: A Thousand Cuts)
Author: Simon Lelic, 2010
Genre: Contemporary. Crime Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback. 256 pages

History teacher Samuel Szajkowski walks into a crowded assembly in a North London school and opens fire, killing three students and a fellow teacher before turning the gun on himself. D. I Lucia May is given the case and is expected to wrap it up quickly and quietly as the perpetrator is clearly identified and was obviously a psychopath to do such a thing. However, as Lucia begins to piece together testimonies of the staff and students, a more complex and much uglier picture of the school environment and the period leading up to the shooting emerges. Was Szajkowski really a psychopath or was there something else going on that could explain his actions? She begins to come under considerable pressure from her colleagues in the police force but refuses to abandon her quest for the truth.

This is a stunning début, one of those novels whose subject matter could be plucked from the news headlines. Lelic switches between a third-person narrative of Lucia's investigation and a variety of first hand accounts of the events given to her. It's a technique that is highly effective, giving the narrative a very immediate feel. He writes with an economical style that still manages to convey great depth in terms of the central story and characterisations. I found it totally engrossing.

Book 40: Fear the Worst
Author: Linwood Barclay, 2009.
Genre: Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback, 368 pages.

His daughter's gone missing. And that's just the beginning. - cover blurb.

When Tim Blake's 17-year old daughter Sydney fails to arrive home at her usual time, at first he isn't too concerned thinking that she may have gone to the mall after her shift ended at her summer job. However, he becomes increasingly worried as hours pass and she fails to answer her phone. He goes to the motel where Syndey has supposedly been working and is told by the staff and manager that she has never worked there. As days pass with no word from Sydney, Tim comes to realise that his daughter is a stranger to him. He begins to retrace her steps, searching for clues about her secret life and uncovers a darker side to the town he always though of as ordinary.

Linwood Barclay appears to be producing one of these highly readable action-packed thrillers per year. I've found them all easy, escapist reads that are very hard to put down until the central mystery is solved. I did feel that he was somewhat more restrained in terms of coincidences in this outing.
studying_mungo

Books 11-15 2010

All caught up on writing my reviews now (another three are waiting for me to finish two more books in a document on my hard drive), and realized I'm for once not behind on my reading at all. Some real gems in this batch, and nothing truly bad, really.


11. Junk by Melvin Burgess (young adult) - 17 Mar 2010
A very crass chronicle of two prety good kids' journey from simple runaways to crack addicts, and how addiction keeps sucking them back in while they delude themselves they can quit whenever they want. An okay book, but I did find myself wishing Burgess would stop going on and on about things and get to the point, at some points. It does have one important feature of anything that tries to show the danger inherent in drugs: it doesn't make light of the fact that their effects can feel very, very good, but I didn't really like it.

12. Frost Moon by Anthony Francis (supernatural, ebook) - 18 Mar 2010
I absolutely loved this book. It had the feel of one of those mass-produced pieces of teenage literature, but for adults, in all the good ways and none of the bad ones. Just something about the way it welcomed the reader into Dakota Frost's rather unusual (to say the least!) life like an old friend. The plot of the book is intricate, driven forward by the characters instead of them being pushed along by the plot, and all the characters have full, deep backgrounds, not the least with each other. Highly reccommended; I will be purchasing the print version because this is definitely a book I want on my shelves.

13. The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann (young adult) - 20 Mar 2010
The subject of my Bachelor's essay, The Animals of Farthing Wood is essentially a chronicle of man's destructive thoughtlessness or selfishness, and a celebration of good old Britain and her wonderful nature; the image of a Golden Age novel, come many years too late. The book may be listed as young adult in its native English, but it has both dark and complex elements which explain why it was shelved as having and older target audience when I first encountered its translation. A recently enjoyable, if in parts somewhat formulaic and too-straightforward story.

14. The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine (young adult) - 20 Mar 2010
The story of a girl who gets sucked into a poisonous friendship and how she gets out of it. Also, I think, a story of how hypocritical adults can be, and how broken the system for protecting children is, when poor disturbed Tulip's home life isn't "bad enough" to get child protective services to intervene. It's a book that's worth thinking a lot about, maybe especially for the questions it raises about the nature of evil and nature vs nurture, and it sparked some interesting classroom discussion. I think I'll probably reread it down the road to see how it reads with that discussion providing more perspective. Recommended, if you can handle the fact that it's pretty disturbing.

15. Narrative Form by Suzanne Keen (textbook) - 24 Mar 2010
A good introduction to narrative theory. Some of my classmates felt it suffered for not taking a single position and sticking with it, while I think it's stronger for presenting and discussing several theories and methods for approaching the same thing. Some chapters were stronger than others, and some concepts more difficult to grasp, but for the most part, I thought it was pretty solid, and definitely worked well to support the seminars that were also part of our Literature course.
smirk by geekilicious

books 38-39

Over the Easter holiday I managed to get to Columbus and hit some book stores. I had coupons and darn it I was going to use them. However, my usual manga series didn’t have out anything new so I took a risk on two new series. One sounded intriguing and one sounded like it would be like a bad horror flick, the kind you know you shouldn’t watch but can’t turn your eyes from. (Did I mention I had coupons and the sort of nature that says Must. Use. Coupons?) I was wrong about both of them…

Blank Slate #1 by Aya Kanno.
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Raiders #1 by JinJun Park
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Book 18

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Themes: Gothic, Horror, Vampires

Before Edward, before Angelus, there was Dracula. I had never read Dracula before and was intrigued to check it out. I am a big van of vampires, to be clear, I'm a fan of Joss vampires and NOT Stephanie Meyer. Ick.

Anyway, I knew a little about Dracula from the film Bram Stoker's Dracula. I found the novel to be interesting and compelling. The stories jumps around to journals and letters from many of the characters so you never really have enough information to now what is going on. Although this was interesting, as a device it did wear a little thing. I also think the novel was too long for my liking.

I found this book difficult to read because of all the different versions of vampires that I am familiar with. I was constantly comparing them all in my head and in comparison to more modern vampires, Dracula isn't all that scary. Had I read Dracula in the time it was written I would have found it to be very scary but I guess I'm just too jaded at this point.
Caleb- snug as a bug!

Book 25: Shutter Island

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Shutter Island
Dennis Lehane
Fiction; mystery; thriller
369 pages
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Summer, 1954.
U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels comes to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them.
But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems.
Is he there to find a missing patient? Or has he been sent to look into rumors of Ashecliffe's radical approach to psychiatry; an approach that may include drug experimentation, hideous surgical trials, and lethal countermoves in the shadow war against Soviet brainwashing ...
Or is there another, more personal reason why he has come there?
As the investigation deepens, the questions only mount. The closer Teddy and Chuck get to the truth, the more elusive it becomes, and the more they begin to believe that they my never leave Shutter Island.
Because someone is trying to drive them insane ...

WHOA. This book is AMAZING! It is one of the best thriller books I have ever read. I thought I knew what was going to happen, and several times, I tried to guess the ending, but I didn't predict what happened. I cannot say much, because I do not want to spoil this book for anyone who wishes to read it or see the movie. (Speaking of...is the ending of the book and the movie the same...I am curious!) Anyways, I HIGHLY recommend that everyone read the book. I cannot wait to see the movie!

***Next read: I am reading Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich and am about to start reading Red River by Lalita Tademy.