Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich

Another Stephanie Plum book. Same premise as the 21 books before, same characters, same plot devices. Same laughs and entertainment factor, so I'm not complaining.

Plum and Lula are out to grab a college kid who skipped his court date. Somehow, this ends them up in the middle of an insane professor's plan to release fleas infected with the bubonic plague on the campus. There's also a quick encounter with a serial killer that chops up women and feeds the pieces to feral cats. And Morelli gets a colonoscopy.

Just read it. If you are a fan, you'll like it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I listened to this through the CraftLit podcast. This is another of those classic books where everyone knows the story (but please stop calling the monster Frankenstein) but very few people have actually read the story.

This was not the Frankenstein story I thought it would be.

(although I still really like Young Frankenstein)

Victor Frankenstein is a regular guy who has a deep interest in the natural sciences. He works feverishly to create a being, a life. There is very little fanfare when the monster awakens in the novel. What is evident is Victor's horror at what he has done. Victor abandons the monster to it's own devices while he goes into a "frenzy" or hysterical illness and is out of commission for quite a while. Quite literally, he lays eyes on his creation for moments before not seeing it again for YEARS.

Victor is a putz. He abandoned his creation because he didn't like how it looked. He created human life and turned his back on it. How differently this story would have been if he had taken the time to teach the monster how to be a decent human. But you can't really teach what you don't know, can you?

A member of Victor's family is found murdered with another member of the family arrested for it. Victor knows it's the monster getting his revenge. Yet each and every time he encounters the monster, he does nothing but flail at the injustice to HIM, Victor.

We get the monster's side of the story and end up very sympathetic to him while thinking more and more that Victor is a putz.

A showdown between the two is inevitable yet, Victor fails again to do anything. In the end, Victor dies without having stopped the monster and the monster moves on.

Excellent novel with a lot of "Really? Isn't that a coincidence?" which only sidebarred me a little. We needed the coincidences to keep the plot moving. This is very much a Romantic style novel (not Hallmark romantic....era Romantic) and Victor's flailing and monologues were a tad much for me sometimes. Overall, I'm so glad I now have the original Frankenstein under my belt. The movies misinformed me! :)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

I'm truly going to try and keep up with the local book club this year. This is our first book and I really struggled reading it. The prose felt strangled and I kept getting dropped out of the actual story by the language. I read quite a bit and have a pretty good vocabulary but I had to keep asking me Kindle to define words because there was little to no context. Boom...dropped again.

I found that I didn't really want to finish this book but now I have an accountability partner for book club so I picked it up again and got myself through Part One.

Tony Webster and his friends bring new kid Adrian into their clique. The kids all sounded pretentious enough that I wanted to slap them but we sort through them "dealing" with a fellow students suicide. Dealing as in, it really doesn't seem like they cared. They move on through college with Tony getting a girlfriend, Veronica. There's nothing about her that seems remotely redeemable and, by the end of the novel, I really think she's only in this book to drop clues. Eventually, Tony and Veronica break up and Veronica and Adrian get together.

Then Adrian commits suicide.

Part Two actually got me more interested. Tony marries, has a kid, divorces. He moves through his mundane and adequate life. A perfectly acceptable, simple life. When he gets a letter from a lawyer letting him know that he came into money and documents from Veronica's mother when she passed. Oh, intrigue! Tony goes on a retiree's quest to get the documents from Veronica, which turn out to be Adrian's diary. Here is where Veronica is particularly 2D and useless. I will admit that the story picked up a bit, once you ignore the writing, and led to an interesting twist. A twist that I was completely unsure of when I got to it and had to go and re-read several sections and then check the interwebz to see if I was right. I was and that was weird.

So, Amanda, you say....was there anything you liked?

Yes, thanks for asking!  The gist of this book is about memory. How what you think you remember isn't really the reality you should remember. Tony reframed his memories to feel better about himself so when he sees his letter to Adrian and Veronica, he got a rude awakening of how horrible he actually was. We all do this, don't we? We smooth away the rough edges of memories so we can live with them and go on with our mundane lives.

I wrote down a section because it did hit home. My mundane life was stifling me so last year I made an effort to get out of my comfort zone and travel. This year, I have no desire to see another airport again for a long time, but I'm very happy I finally did the "immature" thing and packed my bags and winged around the country.

We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe.
We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly.
What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them.

I've always prided myself on being a mature, responsible realist.....maybe not anymore.