Posts Tagged ‘books read’

or how I may actually beat Kelly this month.
I have been doing a lot of reading.  Here's the roundup.

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
Gregor And The Marks Of Secret (Underland Chronicles)
The Sign of the Book: A Cliff Janeway "Bookman"  Novel (Cliff Janeway Novels)

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments)
The Diamond of Darkhold: The Fourth Book of Ember (Books of Ember)
Change of Heart: A Novel
Gregor And The Curse Of The Warmbloods (Underland Chronicles)
A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages

I read the first two in the City of…series recommended by Kelly.  I enjoyed them.  Great mix of 'slayer' lore and fantasy and real life.  I enjoyed the characters but am a little nonplussed by the brother/sister attraction current that runs through the series. I think that it will probably work itself out in the third book, but I hope that comes soon.  I like that the heroine is a red-head.  All heroines should be.  I give this series a B+. Enjoyable but not earth shattering or full of things to discuss.  My next book, The Diamond of Darkhold on the other hand, does. It's the fifth in the "Ember" series by Jeanne DuPrau.  VERY GOOD.  These books are so full of things to talk about, forgiveness, selfishness, responsibility, prejudice etc.  Also how to care for the world and it's people. ALL OF THEM.  I listened to this book in my car and often had to stop and talk to myself about things it brought up.  Satisfactory conclusion to the series.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Well it lives up to it's name.  It was funny and somewhat gross, but I got a kick out of this quirky rewrite of one of my fave books of all time.  Change of Heart was sad and deep and very good.  I read it in conjunction with Reading for Life and we had much to discuss about faith and Justice and belief.  Jodi Picoult always makes you think.  So does Eoin Colfer when he writes his stand alone books. Airman was no exception. It reminds me of what Steven King wrote in the Shawshank Redemption: "Either get busy living, or get busy dying". Airman tells the story of a young boy whose life gets totally upended in one event.  Goes from being loved and cherrished and becoming a flier, to being a prisoner whos father hates him, who bears on his concience the inability to save the king and his mentor from murder.  It was a lovely book, lyrical and sad. You almost feel the loss of hope, but then discover life again, bit by bit with Conner.  I highly recommend this book for boys about 12-15. It's something you can read with them and talk about too. 
I also read two more in the Underland series by Suzanne Collins.  Gregor and his family have a lot to learn in the Underland when they discover that the people there aren't too different in thier motives than the people on the surface.  Gregor again has to choose the best option time and again, and has to learn about life , loyalty and how to be a person of integrity towards all species.  Suzanne Collins is a gifted writer and the books are enjoyable and fly by easily.  I'm looking forward to finishing this series.
I also read John Dunnings book The Sign of the Book. This book is a solid C. It wasn't horrible, but certainly not a nail biter or really inventive.  Typical with red herrings and twists and turns, and typical with things left unresolved.  Meh.
Last but certainly not least was A Little Bit Wicked a memoir by Kristin Chenoweth.  Chenoweth is on one of my fave shows of the moment (damn you ABC for cancelling it) Pushing Daisies.  She also played Galinda (the good witch) in the Broadway show Wicked, when I saw it in Chicago.  (she was really great in that.  The woman who played it the second time I saw it was not near as good with the nuance of the character)  I loved this book.  It was fun seing her life, and some of the things she faced.  Kristin is perky (but not annoyingly so) and witty, and also a woman of faith.  She also talks about the mistakes she's made, the love she's lost, and the journey of her life.  I enjoyed this romp in her Tony awarded life.  Plus she got to kibbutz with Jon Stewart back stage at the Oscars.  Not fair.  I want to hang out with Jon Stewart.
Currently reading:  Bonk (still), A year of living biblically (STILL), Envy, Briget Jones:Edge of Reason (again), The Hound of the Baskervilles (my first Conan-Doyle), The Language of Bee's (latest in the Holmes/Russel series), and Men at Arns (My requisit Terry Pratchett.

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I was going to try and beat Kelly for the number of books read on vacation but I think I fell a little short.  Dang it.  Anyway, here are the latest I've managed to peruse.

The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6)
Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 3)
My Sister's Keeper: A Novel

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Rumors: A Luxe Novel (The Luxe)

From the Mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E Frankenwieler was a book I came by in an interesting way.  Some of you may have read my blog on running away, and in it a friend commented that my planning sounded remarkably like this book.  I read it and it was so funny and amusing, and surprisingly like me.  I think I'm going to get it and give it to my mother to read.  She'll get a kick out of it.  It is basically about kids who run away and live in the Met for a week or so.  It was delightful and fun.
I also read Watchmen.  Scandalous that I hadn't so far.  Anyway I wanted to read it before seeing the movie.  I didn't manage to finish it as the Library didn't get it to me faster.  I was very impressed that the movie was exactly like the first half of the Graphic Novel.  I thought the book was inventive and dark and well written and the variety of perspectives was very refreshing.
I read Rumors the second in the Luxe Trilogy.  Again.  Enjoyable fluff. Gossip Girl last century. That said.  I really am pissed that Henry married Penelope.  What a conniving {insert expletive}.
I  also read Club Dead , the third in the Sookie Stackhouse books (who here is excited about the imminent return of True Blood? I AM!). It is fun but with some surprising twists. 1) Sookie has less self control then I expected  2) some fun new friends.  I enjoyed it, and will keep reading the series.
I reread Sister's Keeper for my Reading for Life group. I've enjoyed seeing the kids read this classic for the first time, and work their way through the relationships.  SUCH A GOOD BOOK.  We're almost done and will be heading to another one of her books next.  I also found out that there is going to be a feature film of this movie coming out in June, with Cameron Diaz, Jason Patrick, and Abigail Breslin (the fabulous Little Miss Sunshine dancer). It looks good so far.  
Next on the list was the latest in the Artemis Fowl series Aretmis Fowl and the Time Paradox. Yet again the boy genius is working with the fairy folk. Only this time the boy is reaping the benefits of his past misdeeds and he must  go back in time to save an extinct lemur that he had a hand in making extinct. Eoin Colfer does it again, an enjoyable book with interesting brain function.

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So I just read three new books.  One annoyed me, one fascinated me in a horrific kind of way, and one was really REALLY good.

So to start with, the graphic novel Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft.

Locke and Key #1
Joe Hill

This was kind of a creepy story about a family who's father was murdered by a deranged student, at the family home, and the family tries to pick itself up from  the midst of this wreckage and head back to the father's boyhood home.  The kids become caricatures of their former selves, each in their own way trying to cope with the pain and trauma and guilt they have.  The oldest faces a) that he had wished his dad dead in front of the guy who ended up killing him and b) the fact that he had to kill one of the assailants when his family was attacked.  The middle daughter put's aside her self expression and uniqueness and tries to blend so that no one asks about her past.  The youngest son begins exploring the house and grounds and makes friends with a demon disguised as a person who needs help, because he can't get anyone else to see him due to their own trauma.  This book was tough, and surprisingly deep, while disturbing at the same time.  I enjoyed it but may not pursue the rest of the books in the series.

The second book I read was another of E.Lockhart's books Fly on the Wall. 

Yeah increasingly not impressed with this author.  I really REALLY enjoyed and want to purchase her Frankie Landau-Banks books but the rest of what I've read of hers has been engaging drivel.  This book started with the premise that Gretchen Yee is a student at a special charter school for artists in New York City.  She feels like she doesn't fit in anywhere, and certainly does not understand boys.  She also is in the midst of her parents getting a divorce, and her world is turning upside down.  Gretchen reads Kafka's book Metamorphosis for class and wakes up the next day as a fly in the Boy's locker room at her high school.  For the next week you hear her observations about the boys she likes, what makes a grade A booty, what 'Gherkin's' are like (gag.  Oh and boobs are 'biscuits' . Whatever!)  Again I'm faced with my extreme annoyance at a book for teens (Gretchen being a jr in High School) being so Sexual.   I'm not one who is a proponent of keeping ones mouth shut and not addressing an issue, but I am for responsibility.  A book where at least a forth of it is all about oogling boy's naked bodies while they're changing for gym class is not necessary.  It's just not.  It makes me even more sad because I loved the first book by Lockhart SO VERY MUCH.  She can do better. I've seen proof.  So why doesn't she?

The third book I read was very excellent.  It was entitled Jesus Wants to Save Christians.  It is exactly how it sounds,

a well rounded look at what we are and what we should be. 
I like Rob Bell, and have wanted to read this for a while, but the phrase that caught me, and made me want to read it right away, was on the back cover of the book:

"There is a church not too far from us that recently added a $25 million addition to their building.

Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago about a study revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty.
This is a book about those two numbers.

This book basically lays it out that we are doing a good job, as North American Christians, of trying to protect our way of life without caring for anyone else.  It takes a look at what it is that God was trying to build throughout the Old Teastament and the New, and what it is that Jesus has called us to be.
I found it interesting and provocative and spot on as books exhorting the church go.  My favorite part was in the discussion of the 4th ( I believe) commandment.

In the King James translation we read "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain". The NIV gives us "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God". Bell and his co/author assert that this is a poor translation.  That the root of the word translated "take" or "misuse" should be "miscarry"  as in Don't Miscarry the name of the Lord, lending to it the idea that we're not meant to attach the name of the Lord to something that is not his.  This makes infinite amounts of sense to me.  I mean think about it.  We should not miscarry the name of the Lord by attaching it to things like hatred of other groups of people just because of the color of their skin, we should not have miscarried the name of the Lord by attaching it to patriarchal church structure that abused women, even killing them, in the name of God.  We should not miscarry the name of God by attaching it as the reason we discriminate against homosexuals or people of other faiths.  Worst still it should not be attached to our opinions.  For example, we should not tell someone that we feel God is telling them something that is entirely our doing.  Like "I feel like God is calling you to do this ministry" or "I think God wants you to know that you need to change that", when it really is Just Our Opinion.
We should be about Carrying the name of the Lord in the right way.
I had this discussion with some friends that are, like me, trying to find a new way of doing church, as the current way isn't really exactly changing the world in a positive way, and I said that a perfect example of this was Christian Bumper Stickers.  (NO offense if you have one.  This is just the reason I can never have one.  You're responsible for what you and God have going on, this is just what me and God have going on).  Anyway I told the guys I will never put a christian bumper sticker on my car.  They thought this was very strange as I do have a "Voldemort Votes Republican" sticker on it and a "Obama 08" sticker on it.  I said this.  " I can never have one because I make mistakes when I drive.  See if I'm in a relationship with someone and I do something stupid and it causes them to be all GRR'D about it I have the opportunity to get face to face with them and make it right.  The problem with a Bumper sticker that advertizes Jesus is that if I do something stupid or selfish or reckless (which, lets face it, I'm bound to do sooner or later or sooner) people don't have a relationship with me that allows me to make amends.  All they see is that someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus cut them off, or is talking on her cell phone and not paying attention.  It can put a wedge between them and God  because of me.This to me is miscarrying the name of the Lord."
This book, and many little places like this in the middle of it has made me do a lot of thinking about how I live, and why.  It's a good book, and easy read, but philosophically and spiritually will hit deep.

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Three more books to add to the list (currently only about half as ferocious a reader as Kelly) but can't have everything.
Anyway, had a birthday this weekend, and the aforementioned Kelly had sent a lovely box of books. I looked through and picked one up that looked interesting that I could read while my dinner cooked.

3 and 1/2 hrs later…..

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

This book had been read.  I have to tell you how insanely good it was.  My parents called to wish me a happy birthday and I hung up after 10 min pleading with them to let me call them back once I was done, because the book was that good. My mom laughed, saying that nothing has changed in the 36 years she has known me.  Books always trump other things. Always.  I did tell her that in my defense the book is VERY GOOD.
  It's about a post-apocalyptic world where America is now Panem, a land of 12 districts.  Every year two teens (between the ages of 12 and 18) are chosen, by lottery or volunteering, to compete in the Hunger games: a lethal televised game where the children compete to the death.  The winner, or sole survivor, gets to live in wealth the rest of his or her life, and their district gets extra provisions that year.  This book follows Katiss who volunteers to save her sister Primrose from having to go, and it is INTENSE to say the least.  While I do say RUN OUT AND READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW, I will also include the conversation that I had with Kelly following my completion of the book.

Kelly: Hello?
GS: Tell me the sequel has already been published.
Kelly: What?
GS: Tell me the sequel to Hunger Games has already been published!
Kelly: So you liked it?
GS: Read it in one sitting.  The Sequel?
Kelly: It comes out September 8th.
GS: (head quietly imploding) I can't wait that long.

I also finished the last of my Christmas presents from Kelly: Blacklist, by Sara Paretsky.

It is in the V.I. Warshawski novels that are, might I add, significantly better than the movie of the same name.  V.I. is a human, with pain, fatigue, intelligence, issues, heartbreak and that is often not found in detective literature.  What also set this book apart was the philosophical discussion that it had with the readers, interwoven through the story.  It combined the investigation of death of a journalist who had been researching McCarthy era witchhunts in the arts and publishing communities, and the story of a young Egyptian immigrant who was being accused of suspected terrorism under our (cue sarcastic font) esteemed (end sarcasm) Patriot Act.  I loved the parallels drawn not only of the legislation but the culture of fear that both existed in. A very good read. I'll probably read more from her in the future.

The final read from this Kelly inspired post is the book best summed up as

What if Buffy had grown up to be a suburban mom? This book was a lot of fun, but not quite the fluff I was expecting.  I mean it ended up being deeper than expected.  I felt that this woman really was trying to be a good mother, and also was dealing with the death of the first husband, a teenager and a todler, and her current husband is running for public office, all while she is fighting demons on the sly.
I enjoyed the book, and it's empathy with life as we know it, and how much we really try to do what is best for the people we care about. Even when that means we're keeping secrets so big they threaten the things we love the most.  I will definately go 'hunt' down the first one in the series, and probably enjoy that too.
I have a number of books I am currently reading. The shaping of things to come by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett, Nickled and Dimed in America, Midnights Children by Salmond Rushdie for book club, and I have a stack of Steven Kings from Kelly that I'm supposted to embark on. Be warned though…I'm waking her up if I get freaky dreams from them 🙂

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