August 7th, 2013


Two more books

Recalculating by Jennifer Weiner

This creepy little short was good. I’d never read any of her stuff before, and honestly, I picked it up from Audible simply because Susan Bennett narrated it.

For a .99 cent book, it wasn’t a bad read. The plot is pretty straightforward. Maureen, a victim of domestic abuse throughout her long marriage, finally gets the courage to off her husband, Tommy, as he slowly wastes away from cancer.

Several months later, she discovers a gift he left her stashed away in their attic. It’s a GSP. But Maureen quickly discovers her GPS is haunted by the spirit of her dead husband, and he wants revenge.

I think Weiner wanted this to be a goofy-yet-slightly creepy Halloween short, and it sort of works. But there are times when Maureen is extremely slow on the uptake and that detracts from the overall story.

If you want to be a little entertained and just want something that’s a quick read, you’ll probably like this book.

Books completed: 41/50

Shirley Jones: A Memoir by Shirley Jones

I've been a fan of Shirley Jones since I was 11 and saw her in "The Music Man." I've also had the pleasure of meeting her in person twice - once at a lecture and another time at one her concerts.

Although it's easy for people to confuse the actor with the role, I've always had a solid understanding that Shirley Jones was unlike the roles that she played on TV and in the movies.

That being said, I was quite disappointed with her latest book. Aside from the fact that it was not copy-edited very well (several misspellings and missing words), I felt the content was poorly organized. Generally, memoirs and autobiographies are linear. It just makes sense to organize the narrative that way. But Jones' book jumped all over the place - one moment she was a young child, the next a married woman, and then back to being a teenager.

The content itself was disappointing. Rather than present a thoughtful account of her upbringing, career and marriage, she chose to resort to shock-jock tactics, spilling everything about her sexual activies (including how she masturbates and to what), her sons' physical endowments, etc.

I realize that you don't want to sugar coat things in a memoir, but there are ways to be tasteful while still being honest. It's almost as if she wanted to distance herself from any squeaky-clean image that still might linger. For me, that forced crassness was distracting and frustrating.

In the end, I did learn more about Shirley Jones. In some cases, I learned much more than I ever wanted to know. Reading this book makes me want to sit down and write Julie Andrews an earnest thank you card for providing a lovely memoir that was thoughtfully and tastefully written and laid out in an easy-to-understand chronological order.

Shirley Jones should take note.

Books completed: 42/50

One of the best zombie novels I've read so far!

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro

Before I get into the meat of the review, let me say that this was an excellent translation from its original Spanish form. There were one, maybe two, syntax errors in the 300+ page book. That's pretty remarkable.

Now, to the book itself...

First off, I loved the format of this novel. It was written in a journal-entry style, so the author was able to gloss over hours or days without it seeming odd. This worked well, because it's easy to believe that someone who was holed up in their home, hiding from zombies, wouldn't have a whole to talk to about for various chunks of time.

Second, when Mr. Lawyer finally did leave his home, the chronological progression really helped propel the book forward. You had specific times, so you knew how long he'd been on the road, how longed he was captive, etc.

Never once did this book feel stale or cliched. I loved seeing the zombie apolcalypse from a different world perspective. Since the book takes place in Spain, it was interesting seeing how those folks reacted to the news coming in from Europe and the US.

It was easy to develop an emotional bond with the main character, and I think that because he had a close relationship with his cat, who featured prominently in the story. That human trait kept you tethered to him throughout his struggles.

This is book one of a three-book series, and I've already pre-ordered the Kindle version of book two, which comes out October 2013.

If you like the zombie genre, pick up this book. It's one of the best books I've read.

Books completed: 43/50

  • cat63

Book 51 for 2013

Deathworld 2 by Harry Harrison. 115 pages.

Jason Din Alt is settling in to his new life on the fierce planet Pyrrus when he is kidnapped by a man determined to bring him to trial for robbing a casino, not because he cares about the casino, but because he wants to show up the corruption of his own government.

The book is an odd mix of action adventure and philosophical arguments between Jason and his captor as to whether ethics are a product of individual societies or have a freestanding existence of their own. The author's position is crystal clear - Jason's opponent, though sincere in his beliefs, is an utterly disagreeable strawman, existing only to be objectionably wrong - which I feel weakens the book rather. Sublety is not something I'd expect from pulp science fiction of that era of course, but this was so blatant it was painful.

And the ending struck both me and Rob as if the author has struck a predetermined word limit and had to wrap the whole thing up in another five pages. Not the author's best work by a long chalk.