January 7th, 2011

did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #4 -- Kelley Armstrong, Counterfeit Magic, 141 pages.

Took me a bit to figure out the chronology of this novella - it takes place right before the most recent novel. That slight confusion aside, it was yet another wonderful foray into Armstrong's compelling world. It was nice to see some realistic tension in Paige and Lucas' relationship - they've been a bit too perfect up until now. And Savannah is coming along nicely. Of course, I'm still waiting eagerly for the next full novel, especially considering the cliff-hanger at the end of the last one.

Progress toward goals: 7/365 = 1.9%

Books: 4/100 = 4.0%

Pages: 1319/30000 = 4.4%

2011 Books

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven
a book's worth

2011 Books 01 & 02: Falling Man and The Sacred Cut

Book 01: Falling Man: a Novel.
Author: Don DeLillo, 2007.
Genre: Contemporary. Post-modern.
Other Details: Hardback. 246 pages.

“It was not a street any more but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night.”

So opens Falling Man as Keith Neudecker, a 39-year old lawyer, stumbles away from the World Trade Center. In shock and slightly injured he ends up at the door of his estranged wife Lianne. He attempts to reconnect with her and their son though this is interspersed with periods of complete withdrawal. The only person he seems to be able to connect with is Florence, another survivor whose abandoned briefcase he had picked up during his descent and later returned.

Rather than write a saga featuring a huge cast of characters, DeLillo instead focuses upon this extended family and examines how in the days, months and years that follow they deal with the experiences of 9/11. Also, woven into the story are the imagined experiences of one of the hi-jackers as well as the occasional appearance of a fictional performance artist known as The Falling Man, who jumps from various sites dressed dressed in a business suit and hangs suspended in the air recreating the famous falling man picture from 9/11.

I had a mixed response to this book. Some of the scenes were quite stunning yet others seemed disconnected like random vignettes strung together jumping about in time rather than a story. It is a post-modern work and so this kind of thing pretty much expected. I felt it was a statement on how fragmented the lives of his main protagonists had become in the wake of the attack and by extension how this reflected the collective consciousness. I do admit to zoning out during the later scenes when Keith takes up playing poker professionally. Still overall a worthwhile, thought-provoking novel.

Book 02: The Sacred Cut: Nic Costa 03.
Author: David Hewson, 2005
Genre: Crime Thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Paperback 522 pages.

In this third outing for Italian detective Nic Costa and his associates are struggling with a snow blizzard, the first in decades to hit Rome. Seems the UK isn't the only place that grinds to a halt with snow. The mutilated body of a woman is found at the Pantheon and the position of the body suggests some kind of symbolic meaning. When it is discovered that she is an American, the US Embassy in Rome assigns a pair of FBI agents to the investigation. There is the usual tug-of-war about whose jurisdiction this falls into that results in an uneasy alliance between the parties. However, it soon is revealed that something else is taking place rather than a straight forward murder and one of those pesky decades old secrets involving security forces and undercover types comes to light.

The novel certainly started off well but seemed to lose direction part way through. This may have been because of the complexity of the spy vs spy antics. Still Hewson does write very readable thrillers with extremely likeable characters and I certainly enjoyed it. One to avoid reviews on Amazon as some bright spark revealed a huge spoiler for something that takes place later in the series. I am hoping my brain will forget it between now and when I reach that one.
El Corazon

3. Bye Bye Baby...

Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair With the Bay City Rollers
by Caroline Sullivan

Started: January 2, 2011
Finished: January 7, 2011

An entertaining memoir from a respected music journalist on her 1970s obsession with the Bay City Rollers that bordered on stalking. A funny, quick, well-written read. 274 pages. Grade: B+
Total # of books read in 2011: 3
Total # of pages read in 2011: 754
Currently reading: Prayers For Rain -- Dennis Lehane; Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock 'N' Roll -- Peter Guralnick; The First Part of King Henry the Sixth -- William Shakespeare

Book #1

1. Title: Ghost Story
Author: Peter Straub
Genre: Horror
Pages: 567
Opening: "What was the worst thing you've ever done?
I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me . . . the most dreadful thing . . .

Summary:"For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those you believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder." ~Jacket copy

Thoughts: Reading all of the reviews about this book online make it clear that it is frightening. Many people said that they couldn't sleep at night while they were reading this book. Even my brother told me not to read it at night. However, for me, it started out fairly slowly. I found myself wondering when it was going to finally pick up. The promise of something happening kept me reading the book. I will admit that the writing wasn't drab or daunting.

It feels as though the author is trying to give the reader an impression of the town, the people, and the relationship these four men have with their community. In that way, Straub sets the stage very well. The growing creep factor seems to start after Sears' first story of Fenny and Gregory. However, like King following in his footsteps, Straub uses the slight, uneasy changes occurring within the community to feed the story.

While the story was very engaging, it took nearly half of the book for the creep factor to set in for me. However, about 150 pages from the end of the novel, I was finding myself hearing weird sounds in the house, strange noises outside in the wind, etc., and that added to the feeling of the book. I felt as though I was in the story with the characters and experiencing the same things. All in all, this book was good and engaging. I found myself tearing through the book because I wanted to know what was going to happen next! I would suggest not reading this book alone or in the dark if you're prone to an overactive imagination!

Rating: 4/5
Horror/Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge: 1/24

The Watchers by Dean Koontz

1/50 books

Cross posted @ Sinnful Books

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taiwan girl

(no subject)

I didn't do the challenge in 2010, but I'm back for 2011! Starting with

The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

which I devoured. It's about 6 Latinas who graduated from the same school 10 years before the beginning of the novel. They call themselves sucias (trans: "dirty girls") and meet semi-annually to gossip and catch up.

I appreciated Valdes-Rodriguez's determination to show the diversity of Latina women, but overall the book felt like it was pasted together from the best bits of 6 different books. The women are painstakingly differentiated from each other, but by trying to juggle 6 POVs, none of them are as developed as they could be. I also disliked missing out on what might be considered important parts of people's lives: when one character falls in love with a new man, for instance, much of the relationship development takes place off stage while Valdes-Rodriguez switches to a different sucia. It also bugged me that for being friends and theoretically an ensemble, the 6 women had very minimal interaction with each other: each woman faced a conflict, but each conflict rarely asked a fellow sucia to play a pivotal role.

Still, the conflicts themselves were engaging enough (otherwise, I wouldn't have enjoyed reading it so much). Recommended reading for those who want light chick-lit and a glimpse into the lives of Latina-Americans.

Currently Reading: They Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
women, picasso, reading

1. It's Always Something by Gilda Radner