Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest escapade of Stephanie Plum with only one exception: the words "She blew out a sigh" were repeated everywhere. I blame the editor on this one. That repetitiveness should have been caught. Otherwise, I was fully on-board for this ride with Stephanie, Lula, and zombies.

Zombies? Now that's a twist.

We're 24 books in to the Plum series and you know what you are getting. This time we added a third hot guy who wants to sleep with Stephanie and zombies. And Ethel. Don't forget Ethel. Stephanie just wants to be paid so she's trying to track down the skips for her cousin Vinnie's bail bonds business. She doesn't want to deal with giant, 50lb boa constrictors (Hi Ethel!), meth making idiots who blow up buildings (Yo, Zero Slick) and zombies.

I did figure out really early on how the zombies came to be but it was worth suspending belief to see Lula freaking the hell out every time she saw a zombie. I did lose track how many of Ranger's cars Stephanie destroyed in this book but no one seems to care. It's all suspended belief, junk food reading and pure fun.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thar She Blows!!!!!

I'm still listening to Moby Dick (from Librivox) and I'm not even halfway through! I'm still interested enough to keep going but have to admit that the whaling chapters are a bit tedious. I would like to think I'm learning new things but discovering that since Melville didn't have Google, he may have been wrong .... a lot.

I knit at lunch and listen to my iPod. Around chapter 50, the title character actually made his appearance! He ate a sailor but that's what he does so it's cool.

It took until about chapter 28, I think, before we met Captain Ahab. Crazy how you hear so much about classics but it takes forever to meet the characters!

Still moving along.......It WILL be completed!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was an interesting story. Since I have the habit of not reading synopsis beforehand, I wasn't really sure what to expect. This is a bit of a Dystopian worldview and damn, it was depressing.

Kathy is our 30-something narrator. She tells us she is a carer, which at the time means not much more than it's context, and she travels back in her memories to Hailsham, a private school in England. At first, I did start thinking it was going to be about uppity children growing up into obnoxious adults.

Boy, was I wrong.

Spoilers are ahead so beware!

Kathy's main friends at Hailsham are Ruth and Tommy. Throughout their time there, they are strongly encouraged to create art. So encouraged, they have events called Exchanges, where they pay for other students art via tokens they've earned. They also have Sales, where they can actually purchase items from outside the school. Both of these events allows the student to create their own collections. Around this point, I was finding it odd that parents were not mentioned. Oh, naive Amanda.

As they got older, Ruth and Tommy become a couple, even though it is Kathy that Tommy seems to gravitate towards.  Sex is a hot topic and taught, with props, by the Guardians. But, the students are reminded they cannot make babies and MUST keep themselves free of disease and stay healthy.

From Hailsham, they move into the Cottages. Ruth is essentially the type of girl I would not like. Kathy, as a narrator, seems to get off her point quite often and tends to take the long way to her initial thought. And Tommy, poor dear, he doesn't seem to fit very well anywhere. After a rift between Ruth and Kathy, where Tommy is in the middle, Kathy goes off to training to become a carer.

It made me ill around this time to learn that all of these kids-growing-to-adults are clones. Their sole purpose in life is to live until they are required to make donations of their organs for their "original'. Sometimes the donations kill them, sometimes they recover enough to come upon their fourth donation, where they are kept alive and harvested as needed.

What is most horrifying is that none of the students seem worried about their fate. No one rails against donating. They just do. We learn that Hailsham was an experiment, a way to prove that the clones had souls and were human. It didn't take and Hailsham was eventually shut down. It's described that other clones live in deplorable conditions until they are harvested. People are not willing to bring back diseases into their life just because clones can feel.

I sincerely hope we never get to this type of future. But dystopia seems closer and closer some days, doesn't it?

There is a movie out based on the novel, streaming on Netflix. I'm curious enough to watch it.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

That's some good junk food reading! I'm finding that I really love the Fox and O'Hare series. The Job is book #3 in the series (look ma, I'm finally reading a series in order!) and pretty damn entertaining.

Nicolas Fox is on the FBI's most wanted list at #7 but he's teamed up with FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare to work undercover to bring down some of the nastiest of nasty criminals, perhaps in a way that the FBI cannot do legally *ahem*.

In The Job, they go after Lester Menendez, a very scary and horrific dude who had his body and face all plastic surgeried in order to escape capture. One of the biggest warlords around, he killed his plastic surgeon and the staff. It turns out that the plastic surgeon was the brother of Serena Blake, former co-worker of Fox's. She wants him to find and destroy Menendez.

Fox and O'Hare pull in our favorites: Willie, Boyd, Tom and Jake (Kate's dad). They also hire Rodney Smoot, a CGI expert. All of this to pull of a ploy of sunken treasure designed to pull the warlord from hiding.

Surprisingly, it works!

This was a very fast and fun read. There are six books so far in the series so I need to get crackin'.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Big Damn Classic of 2018!

Your voices have been heard!!!

Click to embiggen

We all kinda guessed this, didn't we?

The winner is:

I already found it on my Kindle. I'm ready to start as soon as Moby Dick is that might be sometime in 2019.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect

2017 may not have been my personal best year ever, but reading-wise, it was pretty good. My reading game was upped a bit mostly because I chose not to take any vacations (except one day in Chicago to see Hamilton), instead I worked on my house. My vacations were stay-cations and I read a lot.

I subscribed to the New York Times and the local paper this year. I wanted to make sure I was pretty on top of the craziness that is the world now. I devoured those for a while, especially the books section of NYT, but soon dropped off. I have some stacks of papers I want to read, again the book sections and I'm back to working through those. I dropped off reading them because reading is my form of escapism and I ended up in a sad and sour mood after reading the papers. Where was my escape? Yes, I was informed of how things are, how horrible people can be, and how bad the world was. But it hurt my heart. I have a friend who doesn't like to watch movies or shows that hurt her soul. I feel her. Except in my case, movies and shows are escapism from the soul-crushing real world.  And books are my ultimate escape.

Goodreads is awesome in that it puts all of your stats for the year together. My goal was to read 50 books this year and I was sure I would not hit it. So I did what I do and I started reading my comics and graphic novels (they count!). I ended the year with 52 books read and reviewed.

Click to see my reading challenge results

I like looking back on what I've read. Was it out of my comfort zone? Why did I pick that book? I really tackled that monster of a tome??

I can easily say some of the best books I've read this year were courtesy of book clubs. Either my IRL book club or my postal book clubs. My current PBC is 4 years strong this coming year. Same group of ladies.  I tried a new PBC and found I didn't enjoy those books as much. A Before They Were Films club, the books I would have loved, I had already read. The others were ok. Cold Comfort Farm was the stand out to me.

I'm surprised how much I liked Call of the Wild. And I ended up missing that book club night. Boo. DisgraceKindred,  and Shadow Tag were other Book Club books that rocked my socks.

I think my all time favorite audio book was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. A friend didn't care for it, so I insisted he tell me why. The footnotes. I got used to them but I imagine others would dislike them, so in that case, read the book!

I learned I really can get into Sci-Fi with The Collapsing Empire. That sometime Hollywood CAN do right by a favorite book (American Gods). I learned that someone named Jack Reacher is someone I should follow. And I learned that the alphabet stops at Y and that it can hit hard when you lose a favorite character because you lose a favorite author. RIP Sue Grafton.

So....where are we going in 2018?

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Science fictions meets historical fiction? I was initially so confused about this book but it turned in to me reading WAY past my bedtime and getting a book hangover the next day. This is amazing and new and fresh and Oh My Goodness Where is Kevin???

Dana just turned 26. It's 1976 and she's married to Kevin. They have bought their first house together to solve a problem: neither of their apartments could hold all of their combined books. I love them already.

While unpacking, Dana gets dizzy, things become fuzzy and far away and she's suddenly on the bank of a river, hearing the screams of a boy who is drowning. She wastes no time wondering what happened, she'd out there grabbing the boy and performing CPR to save him. Despite his idiot mother's hysteria (she is an idiot, we get more to that later), Dana does save the boy only to find herself at the business end of a gun. Things go fuzzy and she's back home with Kevin, wet and muddy.

A few minutes away for her was 3 seconds for Kevin. What just happened??

Later, while eating dinner, it happens again. Same boy, this time setting curtains on fire and trying to burn down the house. Dana saves him again but this time questions him. Who is he? Rufus Weylen. He freely uses the N-word and says that Dana talks funny. Dana puts two and two together and realizes this (white) boy is part of her (black) family tree. And she's now in Antebellum South. As a black woman.

Well, shit.

Dana keeps getting called back to the past when Rufus' life is in danger. She saves him, if only because he's needed in her family tree so she can exist. But having to live life as a slave until she can return her to her time is more than she can handle. Back in her time, Dana and Kevin figure out that Rufus can bring her to him when his life is in danger and she can leave if her life is in danger. At one point, Kevin is holding Dana when she's called and he travels back with her. Life as a white man isn't terrible, but life back then is still miserable when you are used to modern convenience. Luckily, Kevin isn't whipped or beaten on a regular basis. How in the world Dana withstood this, I have no idea.

This was such a great story. I've never read anything by Butler before.....but I'm about to stock my library with her books.