Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lucky Man by Michael J Fox

Reading this book was a little difficult. Fox has Parkinson's Disease and with each description of the disease or it's horrible symptoms I just ended up thinking of my dad. Dad passed away in October 2009 from PD and I would love to have my dad back, shaky and unsteady as he was.

Fox takes us through his life, from growing up an army brat in Canada to breaking into Hollywood and the lean years before Family Ties became a huge hit. He started getting famous for movies, including Back to the Future and was celebrating just a little to hard. He leads us through his drinking problems, his first time seeing his pinkie tremble (a tell tale sign of PD) and then through his diagnosis and how he tried, and pretty much succeeded, in hiding PD from the public for 7 years.

He's definitely led a lucky life, considering his starving years as an actor didn't seem that long compared to other actors. Even with some box office bombs, he was lucky with his family life, marrying actress Tracy Pollan and eventually having 4 kids. Fox was diagnosed with PD in 1991 and came out with it to the public in 1998. Since then he's become an advocate for PD reasearch, creating the Michael J Fox Foundation with the hope it will soon go out of business. The MJFF funds research and fast tracks the path to a cure.

Fox is very open and to the point in this book. The last person he softens the blow to is himself.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

There's a reason I quit buying Evanovich's books, instead relying on the library to help me see if I'm missing anything good. The answer, usually no, this time was kinda? Evanovich has recently switched publishers for a whopping $50M. For these books??? Surprising.

The Stephanie Plum series started off very good, with a pretty good plot and strong, funny characters to carry it off. Plum is a bail enforcement agent at her cousin Vinny's bail bonds office in New Jersey. She's a terrible agent, mostly relying on the Latin "hunk" Ranger to help bring in the deadbeats. All the while, keeping secrets from sometimes boyfriend, homicide detective and Italian "hunk" Joe Morelli. Keeping pace with her is Lula, an ex-hooker who is now the file clerk at the office, and Connie, the receptionist who can handle an Uzi.

In this book, Plum inherits a lucky bottle from her Uncle Pip, who had the misfortune to pee on a downed electrical line. Vinny is kidnapped by Bobby Sunflower and a ransom of $1.3 million is demanded. Hijinx ensue as the ladies of the bail bonds office scramble to get the money (after debating whether Vinny is worth it. He's not but you can't disappoint relatives). While there were several laugh out loud places, the spots that made you cringe appeared more often. After 16 books, can't Evanovich let Stephanie NOT be a complete moron? Can't she let Stephanie wisen up a little bit and actually become a tiny bit decent at her job? It's like the town and the characters are doing a Groundhog Day and repeating the same thing over and over but with different criminals.

I'm still glad I don't spend money on these.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

This is a little collection of short Sookie stories that was published just after Dead and Gone, which explains why I was a little lost. I've only read up to Living Dead in Dallas, but since short stories are so easy to get through, thought I'd give this a try.

There are 5 stories. We have fairies, Dracula (not a fan of this story - the hero worship thing diminished Eric a little too much, I think), lucky insurance agents and naked men showing up on her door step. That must be a rough life.

All stories were pretty quick and cute and entertaining when you listened to the audio book.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

My first introduction to Auster's work is a good one. He has a wonderful way of writing and created a "story of survival" that might even make a cynic think that things can get better.

Follies is set around the time of Bush stealing his election and 9/11. But thankfully, not a lot of time is spent on national events. The majority of time is spent getting to know Nathan Glass, a 60ish year old man who comes to Brooklyn to find a quiet place to die. Recently divorced and a survivor of lung cancer, he's all but given up on himself. Enter Tom Wood, his nephew who he had lost touch with for years. Tom lives in Brooklyn as well and is in the same boat as his uncle, unhappy, feeling without redemption and unable to move forward.

Family is key to this novel, not just blood relatives but the strangers-turned-friends kind of family. Everyone is trying to survive and banding together, the motley crue in Follies does just that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

This is a semi-autobiographical novel from Princess Leia. Suzanne Vale is an actress who is also a drug addict and begins the novel by ending up in the hospital having her stomach pumped from a drug overdose. She ends up in a drug rehab clinic and sends postcards to people that move along her story. The narrative changes or bounces around and listening to it in audio book form was really confusing. I got the gist of the book though: some people are horribly self absorbed and go on to try and destroy their lives to prove their point.

I don't gather that I'm supposed to come away with that but that's what I got. Vale irritated me to no end with the woe is me shtick. I understand that there are certain personalities that are like that but thankfully no one near me is like that. I'm not sure that relationship would last long.

If it is semi-autobiographical, as it's mentioned elsewhere, I feel for Fisher. That must be a hell of a life to lead, but at least now she has a sense of humor about it.

Stories: All New Tales

Edited by Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio.

Twenty-seven short stories by a wide variety of authors. Some well known such as Jodi Picoult, Chuck Palahniuk, & Lawrence Block. I read all the stories but one: Stories by Michael Moorcock was one I just couldn't get through, and also seemed to be one of the longest. Sorry Michael.

All in all, this is a great collection of fantasy type stories that meld really well. Some of the stories were too abrupt, seeming to end before we even got started. Others were extremely well done, leaving the reader wondering and enthralled (the reader being me).

A few favorites: The Devil on the Staircase by Jo Hill, Parallel Lines by Tim Powers, The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver, Unwell by Carolyn Parkhurst, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, The Stars are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale, Catch and Release by Lawrence Block & Let the Past Begin by Jonathan Carroll.

As Neil Gaiman says in the introduction, the best four words that show the power of stories is:

"...And then what happened?"

The stories in this collection leave you asking the same thing.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lamb by Christopher Moore

I tried a Moore book a while ago and didn't like it at all. I saw this one at the library and with the subtitle of "The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" I felt I needed to give him another try. So now I'm torn because I really liked this one and really didn't like the other. What to do?

This book is such a great idea. It takes the time that Christ (or Joshua) was a child up until his crucifixion through the eyes of his snarky, sarcastic (Biff invented sarcasm) best friend, Biff. Naturally this is all fiction but it has the stories most people know and were taught as young kids and Moore just kinda filled in the blanks.

Biff sees Josh for the first time when they are 6 with a lizard hanging out of his mouth. He gives the lizard to his little brother who then smashes it with a rock. Josh takes the lizard, puts it back into his mouth and voila! the lizard is alive again. Obviously, Josh has powers but also obviously he's a 6 year old boy. Biff and Josh become instant best friends.

The Gospel according to Biff takes us through Josh's journeys to find out how to be the Messiah. He finds the 3 wise men and spends years learning from from, along with Biff, who really isn't as devout as Josh and keeps falling under the lure of prostitutes and martial arts. Seriously.

As Moore says, "This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone's faith; however, if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do." Go read it.