February 28th, 2012

Dead Dog Cat


Reading ebooks continues to roll on, with me finishing Osprey Campaign #153: Toulon 1793: Napoleon's First Great Victory, in which the Royalist forces and the British were driven from the south of France at the early point of the Napoleonic Wars. There's some pretty good material here. Yes, I know, it's Napoleonic again...what can I say...

Book #26: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Ruby:  Reflections On All I've Lost and Gained - Ruby Gettinger

This was entertaining, because Ruby is a piece of work.  But anyone who's followed her show on Style won't learn anything new by reading this book.  I thought it would be insightful, but it's not.  Glad I checked it out of the library instead of buying it!

Book #27: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Heart of Evil - Heather Graham

I wanted to hate this book.  I really, really did.  I figured it would be another Silhouette eye-roller.  But it wasn't bad.  Reminded me of Sweet Home Alabama meets Poltergeist:  The Legacy (the movie and the TV show, respectively).  Civil War reenactments, a southern romance with a man named Jake, ghosts, and a group of paranormal investigators who tries to discover the secrets of an old plantation while tracking a serial killer.

And while I did roll my eyes a few times, the romance was not too gaudy and overwritten, and there was enough intigue in the plot to keep me going.

Book #28: 50 Book Challenge 2012

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon

This was about an autistic boy who tries to solve a mystery in his neighborhood, but I think the real theme was how a couple raises a child with autism.  This couple was pretty bad, but I had the feeling at the end that things might get better for the boy.

I really liked this book and I like how the author explored cognitive skills and problem solving through the eyes of an autistic person.

Book #29: 50 Book Challenge 2012

The Funhouse - Dean Koontz

This was a strange story, but I liked it.  It was like a darker "Something Wicked This Way Comes" ... what I didn't like was the something missing:  The good guys won in the end - but they didn't know why.  They didn't solve the puzzle.  The reader knew why the characters were fighting the good fight - but the protagonists were just trying to stay alive and didn't know why there was an evil thing coming after them.  It would've been a more satisfying read if they could've put the pieces together as the reader does throughout.

Book #30: 50 Book Challenge 2012

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

The book synopsis from Amazon.com: 

"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed."

Wow.  What a story!  Eerily believable.  I couldn't put it down.  And as soon as I was finished, I read it again.  I hardly ever do that!

I loved the passages where she hunts and forages, her adventures with Gale and even in the arena.  Katniss rocks.  Her cunning and survival instincts are keen and I can't wait to read the other books in the trilogy.

Funny, I didn't even know there was a movie coming out soon until I had finished the book and googled it!

Book #31: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Misty of Chincoteague - Marguerite Henry

My grandmother gave me this book when I was five years old, but going through my books recently, I realized I had never read it!  I was never into horse stories.  But what a shame that I grew up so close to Chincoteague and Assateague and the ponies, and had never read this.

It was a cute story.  But it seemed to be more about Misty's mother, Phantom, than her foal.  MIsty wasn't even mentioned all that much.

Also, I was surprised with all the hillbillyspeak.  I think it was a little overdone to the point where Grandpa and Grandma began to sound stupid instead of familiar and endearing.  Still, I liked it and I'm glad it's still on my bookshelf.

Book #32: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Chasting Fire (Book Two of The Hunger Games) - Suzanne Collins

Picked up right where the last one left off.  Totally hooked on this story, and now my husband is reading it.  That's saying something, he picks up a book maybe once a year and he can't put The Hunger Games down.  He's plowed through the first and is now reading this one.

In this one, the plot deepens, and this sequel is no less captivating than the first book.  But be prepared, the ending is like the ending of a chapter, so if you're engrossed, you'll want to have the final book ready and waiting at your fingertips.

I am totally engrossed in The Hunger Games series.  Collins has created such a terrible, believable world with characters I couldn't wait to cheer on.  Truly page-turning entertainment.

Book #33: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Mockingjay (Book Three and Final of The Hunger Games) - Suzanne Collins

Another page-turner, read all three books in less than two weeks.  It was hard to put down.  Satisfying read from beginning to end.  I would like to own these, would probably enjoy reading them all over again.

Book #34: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

I bought this book a long time ago, and could never get past the first chapter.  Austen is so verbose and it really takes her forever to get to the point, at least in this story.  But I labored through it, and the story was okay.  It wasn't awful, but I certainly can't say I enjoyed it much.

It was about two sisters and their troubles with men.  One sister, Marianne, is overdramatic, and takes ill when her lover coldly ditches her and announces a surprise engagement to someone else.  She falls into a depression, and claims she'll never again be happy.  She takes on fever, and everyone fears she might die  (I was actually sort of hoping she would by that point).

The other sister, Elinor, who's actually hurting just as much if not more than Ms. Drama Queen, keeps her feelings mostly to herself and has trouble letting people into her inner world.

Both are extreme characters - one too sensible, the other too sensitive.  The ending proves favorable to both sisters, thank goodness.  But I can't help thinking this would be more entertaining if was a tragedy.  This said, of course, after reading The Hunger Games trilogy.  ;)

Book #35: 50 Book Challenge 2012

Disobedience - Jane Hamilton

This is about a college-bound boy who logs into his mother's email one day during his senior year, and finds out she's having an affair with a musician.  His discovery becomes an obsession, and he tracks the entire affair through their emails, printing out their emails, pouring over them, piecing it all together.  He obsesses over this affair for a long time, long after it has ended, even, and yes, it's creepy how often he imagines how his mother acts with his lover, and what they do together.

His sister is also obsessed with an idea - she's a 13-yr. old Civil War reenactor.  Their father nurtures her obsession, and it's interesting following the parallels between brother and sister as the story unfolds.

I did laugh out loud at some points, and I found a certain comfort with his obsession.  When you're that age, and you have an idea or a feeling that just tugs at you for months on end and you can't let it go.  You nurture it, you feed it.  You overanalyze, you study, you turn it around and around too much, and that's part of growing up, figuring out the puzzle or learning to let it go.

I thought it was sort of skeevy, not always believable, especially from the voice of a teenage boy, but interesting.

Book #11: The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter

I read this book because the author is Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files. The tone of this book is a lot closer to his second show, Millennium, as it is all about a serial killer. The only difference is that, without the constraints of the Fox Network censors, Chris Carter’s book delves into seriously dark and gritty territory, with some truly graphic moments. From what I’ve read in interviews with Chris Carter though, this feels like something he must have wanted to do for a long time.

The book is a fairly straightforward serial killer story, but it has a few decent plot twists and red herrings. It also, unconventionally, starts off with a flash-forward, which – although sounding like something out of one of the Saw movies – really helps to get the reader excited about the book. The characters are engaging, and the only humour in the book comes from the banter between the two main detective characters are working on the investigation, which comes as a welcome relief between all the gruesome crime scenes and psychological stuff, with comments about how this sort of case can cause detectives to fall apart, strangely reminiscent of one of Fox Mulder’s X-Files speeches.

If you’ve been a fan of shows like Millennium, this should be essential reading, but I would recommend it to anyone who is into serial killer stories, and can handle all the gory details. I’m hoping that the characters in this book will have made a reappearance in some of Chris Carter’s other books.

Next book: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
book and cup

#23 The Heat of the Day - Elizabeth Bowen (1948)

This is the first Elizabeth Bowen I have read for many many years. I have a memory of having read ‘The Death of the Heart’ and recently decided I may have read A House in Paris – as I realised after seeing another review that the novel sounded very familiar to me. However I have no actual memory of actually reading either book.

I wasn’t sure how I would get along with this book as I know some people consider Elizabeth Bowen to be hard work. I certainly don’t think she is easy – and this book was no quick read – but it was certainly worth the effort.

Set in 1942 The Heat of the day primarily concerns Stella, her lover Robert and the shadowy Harrison. Harrison informs Stella that Robert is a spy – a traitor to his country.  Harrison will keep Robert’s betrayal to himself if Stella becomes his lover and rids herself of Robert.  However there is much more to the story than that.  At the start of the novel we see Harrison attending an outdoor concert in a park on a Sunday afternoon – he is forced into conversation by Louie a woman who is instantly interested in Harrison – despite being a married woman – Harrison contemplating a meeting with Stella is not interested in her. Later we meet Louie again, and Connie her friend and neighbour.  Robert Kelway a few years younger than Stella has an eccentric family in the country, living in a house that has been on the market for years - Robert and his sister call their mother Muttikins. Meanwhile Roderick, Stella’s 22 year old son has inherited a house in Ireland where Stella when newly married had spent some time but where neither has been since.  As the war heats up, Stella’s world begins to slowly crumble around her – she has no idea whether to believe Harrison, she is in love with Robert – but Harrison says he could hurt the people who she loves.

I thought the writing of this novel is simply superb – the sentence construction is often complex but the resulting prose is brilliant and was often a complete joy to read. This isn’t a heavily plot driven novel, Harrison is a creepy kind of character – subtly drawn and horribly compelling, yet for me he wasn’t a completely malevolent character, showing maybe that people are not necessarily all bad or all good – but much more complex than that. His threats too, are quite subtle –much is implied.  Each character is well drawn – their motivations are understood instantly.  

I will be looking to read more Elizabeth Bowen, maybe acquire and re-read the book(s) I think I read before but can’t remember.