Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

I've fallen in love with Lahiri's writing. She's one of the few authors I elect not to speed read simply because her writing demands your complete attention.

Unaccustomed Earth is her new book of short stories. It starts out with the title story of an Indian woman being visited by her elderly father. Larhiri wrote this story from both the woman and the father's perspective. Not an easy feat, I would imagine. This story left me with a little "Aw."

Hell-Heaven arrives to introduce us to an Indian family who befriends an Indian man alone in the US.

Choice of Accommodations was next. A story about a couple trying to make an old friend's wedding into a romantic getaway without the kids. Another little "Aw."

Only Goodness was the story that made me put the book down and just sigh. This one hit a little to close to home, with a sibling dealing with another siblings alcoholism. I'm fiercely against giving up on people and cutting them out of my life and this story ... well, it just made me cry.

The last 3 stories contain the same 2 characters and, by the last story, just completely broke my heart.

Thanks Jhumpa, for making me sad and teary. And for writing so damn well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Golden Age - Kenneth Grahame

This was a LibriVox recording.

That phrase is now drilled into my head. But that's ok, because The Golden Age was one of the better read stories I've heard on LibriVox. This book is also available at Project Gutenberg.

The Golden Age was published in 1895 and is a novel that is divided up into short stories. The stories as a whole tell about the childhood of 3 boys and 2 girls. The children refer to the adults as Olympians and believe that the adults no longer know how to have fun. The chapters are each short stories detailing adventures the children take and/or imagine taking.

This was an excellent book that didn't "feel" like it was written so long ago.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dry - Augusten Burroughs

I read Running With Scissors awhile ago and loved it, but felt bad about loving it. Burroughs is a very comedic man, his timing and writing are very spot-on. However, the subjects that he writes about, his life, are just so depressing that you laugh... but then feel bad.

Dry is his memoir about being an alcoholic, getting sober and struggling with whether to jump back off the wagon or not. It also intertwines his friends into his story and shows their struggles with various vices as well. This sounds serious and, for the most part, it is. But Burroughs injects quite a bit of humor into the writing, as per normal.

One of the things I've read about Burroughs, and he mentions briefly in this book, is that he has kept detailed journals over his life. So what you are reading is pulled from those journals and you really don't need to worry about another James Frey. (Although the Running With Scissors family apparently disputes this)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Small Favor - Jim Butcher

"No one's tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.

An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she's calling in her marker. It's a small favor he can't that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills-and loyalties-to their very limits.

It figures. Everything was going too well to last.."

Thankfully I was first in line at the library when this came out. I sped through it in about 3 days (darn homework - kept me from reading!). Small Favor is one of the best Dresden books I've read, I think. Very fast paced, full of action and suspense.

It's hard to review without giving away some pivotal twists so I'll just say that Mab calls in a favor. Gentlemen Johnny Marcone has been kidnapped and she wants him back. The Fallen are back in the game, as well as The Archive and Kincaid. The new characters are The Gruffs (as in Billy Goat....yeah, Harry is attacked by a fairytale) as sent by Summer to kill Harry.

The one good twist? Harry *might* be getting some :) Poor guy, it's about time.

My main concern towards the end is the safety of some of the main characters. I'm actually worried that one won't make it back to the next novel. The last fight against the Fallen to save The Archive and Marcone was a brutal one, possibly one of the most brutal fights that Harry and co. has been in.

Excellent book in the series!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kill the Messenger - Tami Hoag

I haven't read any Tami Hoag in a while so I jumped back in with this one. I made a good choice! Kill the Messenger is about some shady dealings, a little blackmail, a little murder, and a bike messenger who happened to be delivering a package at the wrong time and place.

The characters were really fleshed out well and ended up being characters that you cared about - at least ones that you wanted to see what happened to.

It's near impossible to not give away anything but I can say that the twist towards the end was a big surprise. Maybe I missed all the subtle clues but I don't think so. The actual end (the aftermath) was pretty hokey, I thought, and we could have lived without it.

Very good mystery!