Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

I picked this up through Bookmooch because it sounded interesting. Frankly, anything involving food is interesting to me. I read cookbooks for fun.

This is a memoir, an account of Nguyen's escape from Saigon to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her dad made the decision to flee, in order to allow his 2 daughters a future that didn't involve bombings and war. They ended up in Michigan with grandma Noi and eventually, a stepmother Rosa and step sister Crissy. This is Nguyen's story - told through the lens of the 80's and the food of 3 cultures: her Vietnamese heritage kept alive by her grandma, her desire to be fully American and eat at McDonalds, and her stepmothers Mexican heritage, complete with tamales and sopa.

The 80's were an embarrassing decade, I know, I grew up in it. And I got a little secondhand embarrassment from reading this book. If only because I pretty much did the same things and tried to wear the neon and poof my hair up to the sky as well.

Nguyen was shy and "not pretty" so she kept to books. I related well, my best books were the Little House books and the descriptions of food from Ingalls kept me entranced as much as it did Nguyen.

Nguyen reconciles her childhood, understanding now all of the things that she couldn't grasp back then, like most people do when they grow up. It's a fairly quick read but McDonalds.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

As an audiobook, this was extremely well read by Stephen Briggs. Kept me entertained while knitting. Good Omens is about the Anti-Christ, good vs evil and prophet witches.

Aziraphale and Crowley are 2 angels on earth who quite like humanity and all our screwed-upness. Aziraphale is the angel on God's side, while Crowley is the angel on Satan's side. In the thousands of years of working side by side, they've grown fond of each other. So when it is time for the end of the world, neither of them are happy and make a plan to help avert it.

The child who is thought to be the Anti-Christ isn't, thanks to a mix up at the hospital. The real AC is having a grand time growing up with a normal English family and normal friends.

Things kick into gear when the Four Horsemen (War, Famine, Pollution - Pestilence retired due to the invention of penicillin - and Death) start the end of times. Everyone is on the hunt for the AC, to either stop the Apocalypse or to help it along.

Entertaining fantasy by Gaiman and Pratchett.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

In the Afterword, King admits that these 4 short stories are harsh and hard to read. Telling us that up front probably would discourage readers from even trying this book. Short stories are where King shines. This book is no exception.

What's noticeable in this book is the lack of the supernatural. No ghosts, aliens, scary creatures that you can only imagine. What we have here is the pure evilness of the human person. And, frankly, that's even scarier than anything supernatural. King delves deep into the black hearts of people, showing how they live normally among us but do deeds we can't imagine.

We have 4 mostly longish shortish stories. We start off with 1922, a story about a farmer, his child and his wife. The wife inherits land from her father and wants to sell it off while the husband wants to try and farm it. What ends up happening is on par with Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart.

Next we have Big Driver which was just a horrifying read. An author goes to a book reading and signing at a non-descript library and ends up on a shortcut that was just... horrific. That's the only adjective I can come up with for this story.

Along comes Fair Extension which did have a little help from the devil, but really, the human in this story didn't need the help. He just needed a reason.

Lastly, A Good Marriage shows us that decades of living with, loving and being friends with someone doesn't mean you know the person or the gruesome hobbies they indulge in.

Eek. I think the vampires, werewolves and bogeymen are less scary than people now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Audiobooks make it so darn easy to do other things and still get to read books you have in your "to-read" pile.

Wicked Lovely is a fairy book, and while I normally avoid fairy books, I was curious about this series. This is the story of Aislinn, who is a teenager with the sight to see the fairies around us. It was passed from her Grams to her mother to her. Apparently, fairies are little bastards who get angry if mortals see them, so Aislinn has to keep her sight a secret, even when the fairies are harassing mortals for fun. She is in love with her best friend, Seth, but is being stalked ("courted") by Keenan, the Summer King. He is convinced she is the Summer Queen, and will not take No for an answer.

Supernatural folk are horribly pushy. That might be the main pet peeve of mine with fantasy books. In the real world, this would be harassment and a crime to browbeat a girl into dating you (especially when you threaten to kill her boyfriend). But I guess it all is fair in fantasy land.

I was happier with the outcome, because Aislinn and Seth are two mortals who don't get shoved around. Looking forward to the next book.