Friday, July 24, 2009

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Another Librivox recording and seriously, what a great recording. This one was well worth downloading.

I think everyone knows the premise of Dorian Gray. Some have even accused Johnny Depp of having his own Dorian Gray type painting stashed away somewhere. The basic plot is that Dorian Gray is painted by an artist named Basil Hallward. When Gray meets Lord Henry, Basil's friend, he becomes convinced that his youth and beauty are the only things that matter in this world and feverently wishes that the painting take his age and sins while he remains young and beautiful.

As Dorian goes about his life, falling in love with an actress Sybil Vane and later cruelly and horribly dumping her, he discovers that the painting is taking on all of his sins and the sin of aging. He's not worried enough to live a good life but is worried enough to hide the painting away in his attic so no one else can see it.

In the end, albeit too late, Dorian realizes that the painting must go and he must become good. Although I suspected what would happen when the painting was "destroyed" it was still a good ending because Dorian himself was a truly despicable character. I found both Dorian and Lord Henry to be so utterly self-absorbed and shallow that it was almost impossible to finish the book.

The moral plotline, of course, is the warning against such vanity. Unfortunately, I've seen many people in this day and age who are just as vain and shallow as those two.

I checked out a few tidbits on this book after I read it and really enjoyed the following:

In a letter, Wilde said the main characters are reflections of himself: "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps"


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

My 100th review on here! yay!

I've been wanting to read this book every time I saw it in the store but then I always forgot about it. I finally got it at the library. I wonder why I was so ambivalent in reading this? I'm far from religious. If a label needs to be slapped on me, it would be agnostic.

Turns out Jacobs is also agnostic. He got the idea to live the bible literally for a year from his ex-uncle Guru Gil (more on him in the book). He starts out gathering all the information he can from the Old Testament to do for the first 8 months or so of his quest. The rest of the time will be devoted to the New Testament.

It's an interesting journey he takes that is neither pro-religion or anti-religion. While this book does show that in a lot of instances you just can't live the bible literally, it also shows that you can. Living the Commandments (from the Old Testament) is pretty literal, loving thy neighbor is pretty literal, etc. However, wearing only white, eating bugs and sacrificing animals...not so much.

It's a given that not many people really truly follow the bible literally, no matter what they say. Jacobs manages to find people who are doing the best they can to do exactly what the bible says, including visiting the Amish and snake handlers.

This is a very well put together book that is nicely neutral on the religious topic. It just leads you through one man's attempt to follow the bible as literally as possible.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Skin Trade by Laurell Hamilton

Finally! An Anita Blake book with more plot and less badly written "erotica". Maybe it's because Anita was taken from her precious St. Louis folks and placed in Las Vegas with other US Marshals who just aren't as appealing to her. Or maybe Hamilton realized that her porn writing sucks. No pun intended.

Anita is mailed a severed head from Las Vegas. She contacts Undersheriff Shaw and works out that someone pretty powerful has killed their vampire hunter (owner of the head) and has put several other cops into a deep sleep. Against everyone's wishes, Anita packs up and heads to Las Vegas.

The plot is worth reading the book for however, for whatever reason, we get a lot, I mean A LOT, of Anita bringing up the fact that she's a chick. More in the "someone has to protect the girl" sort of way that is just very weak. Is Hamilton trying to show that Anita is weakening or is Hamilton running out of things to say? Can't really tell.

It was entertaining that Shaw was constantly accusing Blake of f*cking everything that walks and Blake trying to defend herself when YEAH, that's exactly what she's been doing for the past god knows how many books. Although the Shaw thing was pretty repetitive and needed to be done with quicker than it was.

There is still orgiful porn for the folks who like that but it's enough of a book...a real help other people enjoy it too. Now that I've read the Twilight series, I can see a lot of commonalities between these too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Relentless by Dean Koontz

I doubt I will never not read a Koontz book, but I have quit buying them simply because the last few have disappointed me. With the exception of the Odd Thomas series.

I picked up Relentless from the library because the book cover revealed a plot that seemed just as bad as the previous books. Color me pleasantly surprised! And completely creeped out.

Relentless follows author Cubby and his wife Penny and brilliant son Milo as they try to avoid a homicidal, psychopathic killer who happens to be a book critic. As in the Koontz fashion, the book starts out with enough realism that the reader does get a little creeped out. Even the receptionist in the doctors office noticed me shudder and decided to get the book (free advertising for you, Koontz!). Koontz always seems to inject enough reality into his stories that you believe some part of them could really happen. Evil is out there and that's undeniable. Why can't evil be a book critic?

As always with Koontz, a little bit of supernatural makes it way into the novel which brings the plausibility down some but still makes it a true Koontz novel.

The ending was something that I expected and I was a little disappointed but not shocked. A good read though and score one for Koontz again!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

I've long quit buying the Stephanie Plum series since they all seemed to be the same. Sure, they were funny, even had some laugh out loud moments, but it was always deja vu. I finally got number 15 from the library and I'm very pleasantly surprised! Fifteen was actually good. Yeah it was very similar to the others but there were some nice new plot lines.

Stephanie and Morelli had a fight and broke up. Ranger requests Stephanie's help in finding out who is breaking into his security accounts and making his company look bad. I'm confused why he chose Stephanie since she still sucks as a bounty hunter but it does get Stephanie back into Ranger's bed.

Lula witnesses a murder by decapitation and ends up being shot at and almost blown up by the killers. Turns out famous chef Stanley Chipotle is the headless victim. He was in town for the big BBQ cookoff and got on someone's bad side. Lula, Grandma, Stephanie and Connie end up entering the contest to try and find the killers.

The same basic formula but this one had something extra, with a lot more laughs.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The New Adventures of Jesus by Frank Stack

I'll probably go to hell for reading this book (ha ha) but for the most part it was entertaining. There were sections that were just hilarious like when Jesus' followers jump into a stream to cool off and when Jesus jumps in, he bounces off the water. Get it? That made me laugh.

I bypassed several sections, like the college faculty meeting, because it wasn't funny and just wasn't entertaining at all.

Jesus comes back to Earth to learn about present day. He gets beat up by cops for being a damn hippie, forced into the draft, and deals with being a middle class person who can't afford to pay the bills.

Cute book if you don't mind seeing Jesus naked.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

This was my first introduction to Harris' work. I was pleasantly surprised since this was still supernatural in a sense but a different version of a supernatural ability that I've read before.

Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver Lang travel the country as contractors, so to speak. Harper has the unique ability to find dead people. Having been hit by lightening when she was younger, Harper has since been able to track corpses and actually relive their final few moments, although she never sees WHO is behind murders. She is hired to determine real causes of death and to find lost people who are presumed dead.

Her and her brother end up in Sarne, AK. A friendly on the outside sort of place. She does the job she was paid for and ends up a suspect in the murder for her trouble. They are forced to stay in town while the grumpy sheriff works through the case but many residents don't want them there at all. Harper is hounded, harassed and nearly killed but also finds a nice companionship with one of the townspeople who isn't trying to kill her.

Family ties run deep in this book with people killing to protect their secrets