Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Mind Without A Home by Kristina Morgan

It's a Monday and, to top it off, I was up at 5:30 this morning and on my way to the gym, so my brain is basically useless so far today.  I'm going to use the Goodreads description for this one:
In her brutally honest, highly original memoir, Kristina Morgan takes us inside her head to experience the chaos, fragmented thinking, and the startling creativity of the schizophrenic mind. With the intimacy of private journal-like entries and the language of a poet, she carries us from her childhood to her teen years when hallucinations began to hijack her mind and into adulthood where she began abusing alcohol to temper the punishing voices that only she could hear.
I've always enjoyed memoirs that deal with mental illness, but I've become particularly interested in them as I've started playing around with writing a bit myself about depression.  This is obviously a far different beast, but it jumped off the shelf at me as one that would appeal.

I'm torn on how to appropriately review the writing in this one.  On the one hand, it is a remarkable look into the mind of a person with schizophrenia.  It is complex and disjointed, but creative and lyrical as well.  The author does an amazing job of capturing her mental illness and presenting it to the reader as if we were seeing into her mind.  That picture, however, can be difficult to follow and reads, at times, like random strings of words.  While this gives the reader insight to the disease and how it causes the author's mind to work, it can also be tiresome to read pages of incoherent thought.  In the end, the author accomplishes precisely what she set out to do, but it wasn't always pleasurable to read.

Entertainment Value
Again, the lack of coherence got to me by the end of the book in terms of overall enjoyment.  I found myself skimming some portions where I just couldn't follow the author's train of thought.  That said, the author has a truly amazing story to tell and I'm glad I read it.  Not many people with schizophrenia are able to accomplish what Morgan has, and her story is inspiring and thought-provoking.

I think it's definitely worth reading, especially if the subject of mental illness or the idea of seeing life from the point of view of someone with a significant mental handicap is of interest.  I think it was well-done and gives a very accurate glimpse into the lives of people who struggle with schizophrenia.

Thank yo uto TLC for providing me with a copy to review!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What's Making Me Happy This Week (4)

It was something of a challenge to come up with non-book things making me happy this week - I've spent a good deal of my time this week reading and going to bed early, and I'm definitely not complaining.  But I have come up with a few things other than books making me happy, although some are book-related.

First up, the Book Riot podcast.  While Luke and I were driving home from Arkansas on Sunday I caught up on several episodes.  I'm a huge fan of their site as a whole, and I've really enjoyed catching up on their podcast this week.

Also making me happy: fall weather in the Smokies.  I have seriously the most beautiful commute through the mountains every day and the weather this week has been amazing.  More than once this week I've made it through the entire day without needing to use AC in the car, which is astonishing compared to how hot it usually is in September.  This year has been so mild, though, and I'm hoping it means we get good cold weather this year.

And that's what's making me happy this week!  What about you?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Banned Books Week (and bookmark giveaway)

I've done posts in the past during the ALA's Banned Books Week describing how I wish the terminology surrounding banned books would change, due to the fact that using incorrect language just gives those who wish to censor books a foothold for argument.  You can click here and click here to read why I think semantics matter.  However, this year was my first experience in a library that actually has challenged books to use in creating a display (I worked for a technical school library before that did not include fiction).  I had some supply and time constraints, but I wanted to share the display I came up with, so all of you can oooh and aah over me the meaningful contribution to discussion.

I started by making my own bookmarks.  My original idea was to use book cover images, but I had a hard time finding any in public domain, and, while I doubt the publishers would mind, I decided to stick with non-copyrighted images.  Each bookmark has the title of a challenged book along with the reasons the book was challenged.

Then I made a display sign that I hoped would be attention-grabbing.

And printed up a card for each book with the reasons it has been challenged.

Then set it all out for students to see.  

Ok, so it's not going to wind up on Pintrest or the cover of any library publications, but I think I did just fine for the time and budget constraints.  Not all of my bookmarks have been taken, so I'm going to offer one up to one of my readers.  If you're interested in winning a bookmark, just leave a comment with your email address and I'll choose at random and mail one to the winner!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

This was the inaugural read for my very first in-real-life book club, and it led to some wonderful discussion.  It's the story of Paul, whose wife Lexy has died in a tragic accident.  She fell out of the apple tree in her back yard, leaving her dog, Lorelei, as the only witness.  In his grief, Paul decides that he will teach Lorelei to speak, so she can tell him exactly what happened.  His interest in uncovering the exact events of Lexy's death leads him to reexamine their relationship and his long-held beliefs about who Lexy really was.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author's style.  The narrator is certainly unreliable, which is a favorite quality of mine, and large portions of the book are ambiguous, which I also like.  The literary-ness of the book is something that was debated during book club, but I lean more towards the side that favors it as fairly literary in quality.

Entertainment Value
Again, there were differing opinions, but I was one of the ones who really loved it and enjoyed reading it.  That's not to say that it's a particularly cheerful or uplifting book, but it deals with emotion and particularly depression in a way that is so real I couldn't help but love it.  It's not always a page-turner, but I was so drawn to Lexy as a character that I couldn't stop reading.

I think it's definitely worth reading.  I loved Paul and Lexy's relationship and the way he opens up over the course of the book and begins to look at their interactions from a more balanced point of view.  The part about teaching the dog to talk was less interesting to me than the history of their relationship and how they came to the place of Lexy's death.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

RIP VIII Audiobook Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

At the ripe old age of 26, Alexia Tarabotti has come to terms with her spinster status.  She knows her skin is far too dark and her nose far too big to and her appearance too Italian by far to catch the eye of any suitor.  And then there's the small matter of her having no soul.  Her status gives her the opportunity to speak her mind, and, when she's attacked by a strange vampire during a party, she jumps at the chance to get involved in the investigation.  Of course, that has nothing to do with the handsome werewolf at the center of the case.

Too cute for words.  It's like a snarky Jane Austen, starring a deliciously sarcastic Elizabeth Bennett.  But with werewolves and vampires.  It's very steampunk and so witty.  I feel like the author was really doing something different with this book, and in a good way.

Entertainment Value
I always listen to audiobooks during my commute, so one test of the entertainment value is how long I sit in my car once I've arrived at my destination to keep listening.  This one definitely aced that test.  I loved the characters, loved the story, and couldn't wait to find out what was going on.  I'll definitely continue with the series, no question.

At first I wasn't a huge fan of the narrator's voice or accents.  They seemed a bit forced.  But as time went on I got used to it and came to appreciate it, although I still wouldn't say the narrator is one of my favorites.  I would continue the series in audio, though, if my library had a copy of the next book.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster

I'm a huge fan of Jen Lancaster's snarky sense of humor and hilarious essays, so it was a given that I'd pick this one up when I saw it available at the library.  The unifying theme of this collection is adulthood - all of the tasks associated with being an adult (paying a mortgage, getting a mammogram, making investments) that Lancaster, along with my of her readers, I'd assume, has always put off.

I think Lancaster is a master of humorous essays, particularly for those who share her irreverent sense of humor.  And by irreverent, I don't mean that she's insulting to any particular group of people, but she's definitely not afraid to share her opinions on polarizing topics.

Jeneration X lives up to the standards she set in her earlier books (Bitter Is The New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; Pretty in Plaid; My Fair Lazy).  I recommend giving it a try, unless you're offended by occasional bad language and off color jokes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What's Making Me Happy This Week (3)

This week's post on what's making me happy is going to be short and sweet, because I'm vacation posting.  Luke and I decided to make a quick trip to Arkansas to visit his mom, allow him to participate in a martial arts seminar, and allow me to see friends I haven't seen in three years.  So my first thing making me happy is this little trip down memory lane.

This morning I drove through my old neighborhood and took this somewhat creeper-ish picture of my old house.  Luke told me I shouldn't go ring the doorbell and ask if I could see my old bedroom, even if that happens in a Miranda Lambert song and works out fine for her. So I just drove by and lurked outside and missed living there.  We moved in when I was nine and stayed until my family moved back to Tennessee/Georgia when I was 23.  Lots of memories there.

The second thing making me happy is also Arkansas-related.  It's my beautiful friend Jody's blog, which is all about her life, her kids, homemaking, and growing in Christ.  She is amazingly transparent and inspiring.  And I actually get to see her today!  Check out her blog by clicking here: New Mercies by Jody H

And finally, unrelated to my Little Rock trip, is a blog I stumbled upon this weekend by Rachel Mueller.  This series, about the impact of the I Kissed Dating Goodbye culture on male/female interaction among my generation blew me out of the water.  Mueller and I had a lot in common in terms of what we were taught growing up, and I identified so strongly with this series.  Check it out by clicking below:

And that's what's making me happy this week!  What about you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

RIP VIII Book Review: Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes

You guys.  I've been letting myself go wild with thrillers (domestic thrillers even) in the past few weeks and I'm loving it.  Evil children, spurned/obsessed lovers, and, in this one, evil/jealous nannies.  You guys know I was a nanny when I first graduated from college and had a measly little English degree that qualified me for absolutely nothing in the real world.  I was not, however, half as creepy as the nanny you'll meet in this story.

Her name is Zoe and she's so excited to have found this perfect position watching Claudia's two young step-sons while Claudia prepares for the birth of her first biological child.  According to Claudia, Zoe may even be a little bit TOO excited.  And it's not just the funny way Zoe touches Claudia's belly, or the fact that she found Zoe in her room - someone in their town is killing pregnant women and trying to steal their babies from the womb.

We're talking domestic suspense here, not literary thriller.  The writing isn't complicated and the characters aren't really explored in depth.  One nit-picky issue I had is that, in an attempt to throw out some red herrings, the way the characters act at the beginning of the novel aren't necessarily consistent with who we discover they are by the end.  Once the whole picture is revealed, certain actions just don't fall into place the way I'd expect them to.

Entertainment Value
This is the real reason to read the book, right?  You're not picking up an evil nanny book because you want something highbrow and literary.  On the entertainment front, this totally delivers.  I was intrigued from the first few pages.  I couldn't stop reading and when I wasn't reading I was thinking about what was happening and when I could read more.  It definitely delivers the suspense and creep-factor that I was looking for.  It's a great one to read as the nights are getting cooler and darker.

Yep, read it.  Especially if you're a fan of thrillers, domestic suspense, or Lifetime movies (this totally reminded me of one, and, should Lifetime decide to make a movie based on it, I'd be watching).

This is my second of four reads for RIP VIII.  Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy to review.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Audiobook Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson

I gave this book to Buddy for his birthday or Christmas or something several years ago and I've been meaning to read it myself ever since.  I like all kinds of apocalypses (apocalyspi?) and the idea of a robot apocalypse is no different.  This one is told in a similar format to World War Z - in military dispatches, transcripts of recordings, and eye witness accounts.  Unlike WWZ, we track the same characters over the course of the entire event, from the creation of Archos (the computer mastermind) to the last days of the war itself.

I liked the formatting of the book.  I'm drawn to books where authors use formats other than straight narrative - emails, transcripts, interviews, etc.  I didn't find any of the characters particularly deep or dynamic, but I don't think that's what the author was going for.  If you're reading a book about the robot apocalypse you probably know you're not going to be getting lots of interior monologue and character development.

Entertainment Value
It took a while for the book to really pull me in, but once it had my attention I was hooked.  I liked the way the author had us follow the same cast of characters in various world-wide locations as the attacks progressed and they were forced to fight to survive.  Obviously, we're talking lots of action and a fair amount of tech talk.  I don't consider myself a techie by any stretch of the imagination, but I was able to follow the story with no problems, although I did find my attention wandering during the more in-depth technological descriptions.

No issues, but also no raves.  I thought the narrator did a fine job and I appreciated that he kept his voices simple for the most part.

I think it will appeal to a certain audience: science fiction readers, dystopia fans, those who enjoy technology in their fiction, maybe some fantasy fans.  I don't think it's something that is going to jump out at the average reader, however.  I enjoyed it, though, and definitely recommend it to my fellow geeks.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What's Making Me Happy This Week (2)

Ready to hear what's making me happy this week?
Here we go:

Two MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) courses I'm taking online through Coursera.  I'm taking one called 9/11 And It's Aftermath and one called Think Again: How To Reason and Argue.  Coursera is a really cool site that links up a huge variety of MOOCs from various universities and offers them free of charge.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and I'm really enjoying both of these courses.  You can check it out by clicking here.

I've seen Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends documentaries before, but I've rediscovered them this weekend after reading The Call of the Weird last week.  Theroux is a British documentarian who traveled around the US making hour-length documentaries on various outsider cultures.  They aren't on Netflix or Hulu, but you can find them on YouTube.  This week I've watched Louis and the Nazis and A Place for Pedophiles (about a mental hospital where pedophiles are incarcerated indefinitely after serving prison sentences).

What's making you happy this week?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review: Flora by Gail Godwin

This is another book that came about through my obsession with Terri Gross and Fresh Air on NPR.  At the very beginning of the summer Flora was discussed and reviewed (click here to read/listen) and jumped out to me for several reasons.  It's narrated by an adult Helen, who is looking back with remorse over her tenth summer.  When her father gets a job at Oak Ridge working on developing nuclear weaponry, Helen is confined to her home with her cousin Flora as a babysitter.  Due to a polio scare, Flora and Helen are confined to their remote home on the outskirts of town, to be visited only by the grocery delivery man.  Helen, a child who has been forced to grow up too soon, resents Flora's intrusion and begins to act her out her resentment, culminating in disaster.

Phenomenal.  This book reminds me of why I love literary fiction.  Godwin's characters are so real, it's impossible not to care about them.  She has the perfect balance between sympathetic characters and realistic flaws.  I felt like Flora and Helen were real people and the story could be true.  I was also so impressed with the setting.  I live near Oak Ridge and loved reading about a setting I recognize and can relate to.  I was also impressed that, in addition to excellent writing, Godwin didn't lose track of her story.  She manages to create an excellent story with a plot that keeps moving without sacrificing writing in the least.

Entertainment Value
Again, Godwin has an ideal balance of beautiful writing and a plot line that actually goes somewhere.  I was into the story, cared about the characters, and anxious to know what would happen.  The writing only served to enhance my enjoyment of the story.  

I recommend this to fans of literary fiction who also like a plot that keeps moving.  I think if you are reading ONLY to be entertained, you might find the story slow.  But if you're looking for something that combines beautiful words with an intriguing story, this is a great choice.  It's not a thriller, but it's got a perfectly creepy undertone that is only made better by the amazing writing.  I highly recommend giving it a try.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This has been THE BOOK on my online book club lately.  The glowing recommendations, the affirmations that it was the book to read this year, prompted me to pick it up when I saw it on the shelf at the library.  And while I'm glad I read it, I think this was a case where the hype machine didn't do it any favors.

It's the story of Lou, who lives at home with her parents, grandfather, sister, and nephew and is happy in her job at a local bakery.  When that job is pulled out from under her, she finds work as a companion for Will Traynor, a local aristocrat who, after years of living life to the extreme, was injured and is now a quadriplegic.  Lou quickly learns that her job isn't just to socialize with Will, it's to, in effect, babysit him, as he has attempted suicide once already when the book begins.  Despite the fact that Will is surly and unwelcoming, he and Lou become friends and she begins a project to convince him that life is still worth living.

I have essentially no thoughts either way.  I hate it when I have to write that because it seems like such a cop-out, but it's just true with some books.  I wasn't blown away by the author's style, plot, character development, etc, but I also wasn't unhappy.  It's a fine job; no complaints, no raves.

Entertainment Value
This is where the appeal of the book lies.  It's a good story.  You care deeply about the characters and want to see a happy ending for them, despite the obstacles they have to overcome.  It's certainly an intriguing premise and it reads quickly and easily.  It also manages to be humorous and touching at times.  I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen.

Unfortunately, I have to say that despite my enjoyment of the book, I was conscious that my emotions were being manipulated.  That's never a good thing.  I had moments of thinking "I'm sad now because the author has written this with the sole purpose of making me sad."  I wasn't caught up in the moment, I realized that it was manipulative writing and that I didn't care as much about what was happening as I felt like I was SUPPOSED to care about what was happening.

I could go either way on this one.  It didn't blow me away, but it also certainly didn't turn me off.  If you're looking for a sentimental read, it's perfect.  And it has a good, light quality, while also exploring some deep and provocative issues.  But it won't be making my best of lists.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: The Heartache No One Sees by Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh is quite possibly my very favorite contemporary Christian author/theologian/speaker.  I've been privileged to hear her speak at a Women of Faith conference, but my first real introduction to her was on a Focus on the Family podcast where she discussed being a Christian and struggling with depression (click here to hear the podcast).  I think she's the only Christian speaker/author I've encountered who actually addresses the implications of medical interventions for depression (specifically anti-depressants) for Christians.  In this book, she largely focuses on her own studies in the Bible regarding depression, and where she thinks hope can be found.  Her own story of depression, including a stay in a mental hospital, is told alongside her study of Scripture.

As I mentioned above, I'm a huge fan of Walsh's.  I think her writing is clear and precise, but also emotional and inspiring.  She manages to blend her personal story with Biblical insights that she clearly backs up with Scripture.  I also applaud her for her honesty in sharing her own story with her audience, particularly when this type of story is not commonly told in conservative Christian circles.

Entertainment Value
This is intended for a pretty specific audience, which I think will have a large impact on whether or not you "enjoy" it.  Obviously, it's intended for a female, Christian audience, specifically one that is dealing with depression, anxiety, or hopelessness.  She addresses both clinical depression and depression that has come from a specific situation.  If you're struggling, I think she's a great author to turn to and this book contained a world of help for me.

I highly recommend it to those who are struggling in any aspect of life, particularly those who are looking to the Bible for help and to the Christian community for support.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: Bad Girls by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Despite the fact that I feel like my public library has this egregiously mis-cataloged, I cannot stop raving about this book.  It's a combination graphic novel, biographical profile of "Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, & Other Female Villains".  The authors are a mother/daughter team, and they spend five or so pages profiling each bad girl, followed by a graphic novel representation of their research.  My library has it cataloged and shelved as adult non-fiction, but it's really intended for a middle grate audience.  However, I have to say that in this case, I'm glad, because I don't usually browse the middle grade section and would have totally missed it had it not been shelved with adult non-fiction.

I have a confession to make here, Reader Friends.  I did not pay any attention to the author's use of citations or research background for this book.  Horrifying, I know.  Usually I am on top of issues relating to citation and showing your sources, but for some reason I just completely forgot to note the author's research documentation.  It may be because the book reads so intriguingly or because it is geared towards a younger audience.  I feel like both of those things have positive implications for the writing of the book itself - I was too distracted by the "story" feeling of the book to be looking for citations and the book is perfectly readable for a younger (and older) audience.

Entertainment Value
Such a fun read.  I think the shortness of the bios, paired with the larger font and the graphic inclusions at the end of each chapter will appeal to middle grade readers as well as adults.  It's such a fun way to get that age interested in history.  I really like the concept and thought it was carried out well.  I'm not sure that I'd recommend it for academic research, even for the younger set, but I think it would make a great addition to a classroom or library and makes an excellent title for getting kids (or adults) interested in history and biography.

I highly recommend it.  If I had a middle grader, I'd definitely buy a copy.  I think the idea is original and fun and the concept is pulled of nicely both visually and in terms of subject matter.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What's Making Me Happy This Week

I've been debating starting this little memlet for a while, and I think I'm just going to go for it and then see if I can keep it up.  I say memelet because I don't think it'll become like a "thing" anywhere but here, although you are certainly welcome to use the idea - especially given that I actually stole it from the first thing that's making me happy this week.  These will mostly be non-book things, since I tend to focus on books throughout the rest of the week.  And now, what's making me happy:

Pop Culture Happy Hour is a weekly podcast from NPR on, well, pop culture.  The hosts basically just discuss movies, books, comics, geek culture, music, and anything else going on in the pop culture world.  At the end of each podcast, they each list what's making them happy that week.  I love the idea, so I'm going to co-opt it for the blog and try to make it a weekly post.  I'm a huge podcast fan and this is one that I never miss.  If you're a pop culture junkie, you should definitely be listening,

Don't even laugh.  Luke and I have been watching this series at night (it's my first time ever) and I love it almost as much as I loved Voyager.  We laugh out loud during every episode and their total and complete earnestness combined with the 80's special effects and horrible writing are absolutely priceless.  And the whole thing is on Netflix, so there you go.

Might as well get all my geek out at once.  During our weekend getaway, I rediscovered my love for Catan with Jacki, Jennie, Crystal, and Andrea.  We played several games (one of which I won - happy dance) and I totally got back into it.  It's been a long time since I played and I can't let that happen again.

Ok last thing, just in case you're starting to think I'm a total nerd with no outside interests:

I'm also a girl and the girly part of me is obsessed with this lip balm.  It's got enough color that I feel like it's noticeable, but doesn't feel like lipstick on my mouth.  I'm super sensitive to textures and feelings, and I can't stand the way glosses feel (sticky) or lipsticks (gummy), but this is perfect.  It feels like chapstick on, but it has the pigment of a lipstick or gloss.

Those are the things that are making me happy this week.  What about you?

Friday, September 6, 2013

RIP VIII Book Review: Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives edited by Sarah Weinman

My first RIP VIII review and I could not be happier with it!  First of all, I love the subtitle - Stories From the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense.  I read it and couldn't understand how I had never before thought of "domestic suspense" as a genre name.  Until now I've broadly titled everything suspenseful "thriller" or "mystery", but "domestic suspense" perfectly sums up my favorite type of thriller.  I love stories about wicked children, murderous spouses, and obsessive spurned lovers.  These short stories all range from the 1940's to the 1970's and feature the originators of this genre.

The authors chosen for this anthology were perfect.  I've added so many books to my reading list because of the amazing writing in these stories.  As is the case with any anthology, some are better than others, but the overall quality was quite impressive.

Entertainment Value
I think stories like these are going to have a pretty broad appeal.  Obviously, they were right up my alley, but I think they'll appeal to anyone who enjoys the thriller genre, dark contemporaries, mysteries, short stories, or women's fiction.  I was engrossed throughout and no single story stood out to me as less appealing or entertaining - I loved each one.  It's also an ideal book for reading in short periods of time.  You can pick it up and put it down without losing your momentum because it's made up of short stories.

I highly recommend giving it a try, particularly if you like old suspense movies.  I think you'll find that these stories feel very similar to movies like The Nanny, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, and even some of Hitchcock's thrillers.

Thank you to Viking/Penguin books for providing me with a review copy!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Audiobook Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

I think pretty much everyone is, by now, familiar with the premise of the Dexter series, largely because of the TV show.  Just in case you aren't, Dexter is a serial killer.  Sure, he kills people for fun, but it's not that he's REALLY a bad guy - he only kills people who deserve to be killed.  When he's not killing, he's a pretty mild-mannered guy, witty, and devoted to his sister in spite of himself.  This book, the first in the series begins Dexter's story.

From the Goodreads description:
Dexter’s well-organized life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Dex is intrigued, even delighted, by the fact that the other killer appears to have a style reminiscent of his own. Yet he can’t help but feel that the mysterious new arrival is not merely invading his turf, but reaching out to him as well. This new killer seems to be doing more than copying Dexter—he seems to be saying, “Come out and play.” Dexter’s secret life makes for a lonely existence...even a lovable monster can be intrigued by the prospect of finding a friend. 
 I was actually much more impressed than I had even hoped to be by the author's wit.  Dexter is a totally charming and likable guy, you know, except for when he's killing people.  I thought the author's voice was so unique and made for such a fun thriller.  Dexter's narration is perfect.  There's not a thing I would change as far as writing is concerned.

Entertainment Value
Also quite appealing.  It was fast-paced and I didn't see any of the plot twists coming or guess the end of the story before it happened.  I think the author found a perfect and frequently hilarious voice for Dexter that really made the book.

No complaints here either.  The narrator does a fine job of reading the story and adds well to Dexter's character.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What I Read in August

For real, Reader Friend, August has happened.  Like, I looked away for two seconds and it was gone.   We are on to September!

August was a big month for me personally because I started a new job.  Transitions of any kind are rough for me, but I think I'm starting to get settled in and figuring out how things work at this new library.  Some major bonuses: I'm learning to use an automated system finally, I no longer have the for-profit blight on my current job description, I'm doing only library work - no more administrative junk, and, my personal favorite, I have my own bathroom that I don't share with students.

I also got to spend Labor Day with my favorite friends, relaxing at a cabin.  I'll post more about that little trip later next week when I'll have some pictures to go with it.  But it was basically the best.  I miss them tons already.

And books?  I got in a fair amount of reading, despite having the time limitations of going to work every day.  Here's what I read:

The Heartache No One Sees by Sheila Walsh
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Flora by Gail Godwin
Chimes From A Cracked Southern Belle by Susan Reinhardt
Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster
Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives by Sarah Weinman (editor)
Children of Fire by Drew Kapyshyn
Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

Books read in August: 11
Pages read in August: 3920
Pages read this year: 28,698

Favorites this month: Flora; Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives; Soulless; and The Dogs of Babel
Misses this month: Children of Fire

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

From the cover alone, you can probably deduce that this book is going to be dark.  It has lots of comparisons to Gillian Flynn's writing, as far as dark subject matter, unlikable characters, and a bleak view of humanity is concerned.  And I think my problem is that I've just read way too much of the bleak outlook lately, because despite the fact that the writer does a fine job, I just wasn't into it.

It's the story of Patrick, a young man who is known in his small town due to his father's drunk driving, which led to an accident that killed a young boy.  Patrick and his brother, Mike, are infamous in their small town because they failed to report their father's accident for almost two days.  Patrick is dealing not only with an ambiguous relationship with his brother's girlfriend that has gone too far, but with interest from Layla, the daughter of a local preacher, who has rejected her faith.  Finally, there is Layla's little sister, Verna, who is trying to come to grips with what she believes and the bullying she faces at school.

Absolutely nothing to complain about.  I think in terms of writing the comparisons to Gillian Flynn are deserved.  She has great style and a flair for making the reader care about people who are hard to like.  She has just enough balance between sympathy and revulsion, and I find that impressive.

Entertainment Value
Despite the great writing, I was just not into the story.  I wanted to care about the characters, but just couldn't.  I don't think it's the fault of the writer, I think I've just read too many of this kind of book recently.  The worldview that most of humanity has no redeeming character and is just made up of horrible people who act in horrible ways was overwhelming.

That said, this is a book that will suck you in.  You will not want to put it down.  It has a compelling storyline and the characters keep you interested, if discouraged in the human race.

If you are a fan of Gillian Flynn or dark suspense, I think you'll enjoy it.  Just try not to read too many like it in a row!

Thank to TLC for allowing me to be a part of the tour!