It's a good book, but it's not my Typee...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar

If you're looking for a play that may offend EVERYONE, this is it. Brutally honest about the way people view themselves and other races and religions, Disgraced is a roller coaster of cringe-worthy moments. Did he really just say that?! Oh he's not going to--yes, yes he is, ok.

There is something very satisfying about watching someone open up about their secret thoughts to the extent that they implode and destroy their entire lives. The ancient Greeks knew where it was at #catharsis

And we all have those thoughts, to some extent. Whether the thoughts are fleeting or they form the background for our entire lives, at some point we all judge others on appearance, religion, nationality, or race. For some of us, as with Amir, we judge our own kind harshly too. For most educated people, there is a strong element of self-hatred that comes from feeling pride in something we know we should not be proud of.

I have not seen this staged and can only imagine the impact of seeing live human beings enact these sentiments. Definitely a work that will make you think long and hard about a lot of issues.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Might as Well Be Dead-Nero Wolfe

Might as Well Be Dead, by Rex Stout, is a Nero Wolfe novel. What you need to know: Nero is an obese, genius detective who only leaves his comfortable home under the direst circumstances and sends his right hand man, Archie, out to do all the dirty work. Archie is quick witted and great with the ladies, also with the punching people.

This is not the cover of my edition, but I couldn't find it online and uploading it myself is not high on my list of priorities. Let's just say this one is equally compelling and those little criss crossy lines are not merely the artistic expression of the cover designer. No no, ladies and gents. They are the wire mesh between Archie Goodwin (swoon) and the man he's questioning. A man already convicted of murder. But did he do it?! And is the man even who he claims to be?! So many questions?!

I enjoyed every page and the writing is highly entertaining. This book, originally published in 1956, is #27 in the series and I had no trouble following who everyone was and what was going on. It's a quick read and the characters are fantastic, so if you're looking for something enjoyable and satisfying it might be just what you need. I absolutely plan to read more of these myself.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Well isn't that The Story of My Life

Helen Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life is a selection later this year for one of my book clubs, so I'm digging in now. I haven't gotten very far, in fact her teacher and friend Anne Sullivan has just arrived on the scene.

Her tone is surprisingly casual about everything. Like, "Yeah, so I went blind and deaf, but anyway..."

The image I always have of her is the epic food fight she and Anne Sullivan have in the movie The Miracle Worker. Keller, in my mind, was a child who was the absolute picture of brattiness. Understandably so, considering she could not properly communicate with those around her. But her own account makes it sound as if her tantrums were not much worse than those of normal children, or at least normal children with really bad tempers. I should know, I was one.

Having only encountered Keller through the parts I've seen of the movie and the basic knowledge that most people have of her story, I was pleasantly surprised by her autobiography. She has an engaging voice and the book has made her more real to me than anything else I've ever heard or seen about her.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What's That Book? It worked, do it again!

Thank you, The book I was looking for yesterday is Captives of Time by Malcolm Bosse. It took less than 24 hours to get the correct response.

And thank you, Squish, for answering my question. I've posted another query now and have high hopes for this one as well. The question I answered was confirmed as correct as well, which pleases me. I don't understand how that process works and wasn't able to find it on the FAQs. I'm guessing the site admins approve the answers since I don't see any way for me to tell Squish that they identified the book I was looking for.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What's That Book? Well, what is it?!

I have a few books I've been trying to identify for years now. These are books I read in middle school and I cannot remember the titles for the life of me.

A plea on this blog did once get me a response through Facebook and my trusty high school English teacher, but there's another book that's been bugging me lately.

Casting around online, I found and decided to join and post on there.  
Here's what I said:

I probably read this in the late 1990s and I'm guessing it was published within ten years before that. Young adult fiction, but rather mature subjects. A teenage girl is orphaned and has to take care of her younger brother. They are traveling on foot and she meets a young man who wants to be a knight and seduces her. He's later murdered.
She is raped by two men and I think her brother might die later in the book. I'm pretty sure she has sex for money at least once. (This is definitely not a book I should have been allowed to get my hands on at that age, but it was in the YA section of the library...) The plague is coming through and I think she is living in a town and working as a servant when this happens.
The edition I read was hardback and the cover was rusty red and had sort of a creepy medieval woodcut feel and there may have been a picture of a clock somewhere on the front.

But before I posted my question, I answered one for someone else or at least gave it my best stab. The search functions aren't great, but a lot of people seem to have gotten answers to their book quandaries. Here's hoping I'll be one of them.

That being said, if you have any idea what book I'm talking about, please let me know!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...the Movie

I was lucky enough to see a preview screening of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies last night. Based on the smash hit book by Seth Grahame-Smith, it comes to theaters February 5, 2016.

What you need to know: Doctor Who works for Cersei Lannister. Meanwhile, Tywin Lannister has five daughters who are definitely dangerous enough to be on Game of Thrones. More than one actor from Bridget Jones's Diary shows up. Heads explode.  Got it?

I read the book ages ago, so I really can't say how closely the movie follows the original plot. And I don't know how much that really matters in a case like this. In a packed theater of men and women of all ages, everyone seemed to have a good time. There's intrigue and entrails, romance and violence, and so many misunderstandings between characters, you'll think you're watching Shakespeare.

Seriously, this is an exciting movie whether you read the book or not and whether you like zombies or not (as I've mentioned before, I'm sick and tired of them). As long as you can handle people's faces falling off, you'll be fine.

If you like reading this type of thing, Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Unholy Night are good choices as well. And I think I heard something about some lady named Jane Austen writing a similar book.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Boys in the Boat: Five star review!

Daniel James Brown has written an engaging, fascinating, touching book. The Boys in the Boat is the best book I've read in a long time. We're reading it for one of my book clubs and I remember voting for it when we selected our books for the year (I like boys, I like boats, what's not to like?) but I had no idea what a wonderful experience I was getting myself into. Well done, me.

The subtitle says it all: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. What more do you need to know? A few more things, actually. Yes, there were nine of them in the boat as it raced toward the finish line, but then there were the amazing coaches who pushed them beyond any imaginable limits, the rowing genius who built their lightning fast shell, their families and their girlfriends who struggled and hoped along with them as the country was clawing its way out of the Depression. There were also the countless fans who followed their races and cheered them on in an era when rowing was one of the biggest sports around.

Brown's writing is so rich in detail and relevant facts that it feels like reading Eric Larson, which is high praise indeed. I have no interest in sports in general, but rowing has such a aura about it. It's a sport of the monied and well-bred. But as Brown shows us, sometimes it pays off to be an outsider. The boys in this particular boat were from humble origins, some of them working every free minute to earn their way through school at the University of Washington. By the end of it, you'll want to shake hands with every last one of them or maybe hug them and bake them pie.

Check out the book trailer on Goodreads.

Rating: 5 stars
Genre: nonfiction
Recommended for fans of: nonfiction, history, WWII, sports, the Olympics, the Pacific Northwest, manliness, America