24 August 2011

2 Books Worth Reading that I Didn't Quite Finish Reading

I really hate not finishing books once I start them. My hubby hates not finishing movies. Me? I couldn't care less about stopping a movie half-way through if it doesn't interested me...but there's just something about not finishing a book that gets under my skin. However, I've had so many books on my list to read lately that I haven't had time to patiently trudge through the pages of books that took longer than needed. Also, I had checked these books out from the library and was under a 2-week deadline to get them read and with other things going on I just couldn't quite meet that particular deadline. So while I might not have finished these books, they are solid books that deserve reading and mentioning.

A Visit From the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

Summary: Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whos paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit From the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption. (taken from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/)

First Line of the Book: "It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel."

My Thoughts: So I might not have finished this book but I did read about 3/4 of it. The characters are well written and developed and are not the usual shallow, on the surface characters gracing the pages of modern novels. It's the writing style I had a problem with--not the writing itself as it was very engaging, but the time warps...think Inception. There are skips between past and present and often times you're halfway through a chapter before you even realize (a) who the chapter is referring to and (b) when it's happening in the time frame of things. I don't do well with that sort of time jumping as it boggles my simple mind. However, it is a very interesting literary concept and makes for a though-provoking read.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Summary: Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case. It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic. (taken from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/)

First Line of the Book: "He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning sliver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine - he could see out, but you couldn't see in."

My Thoughts: So I had never actually watched this movie from beginning to end despite my love of all things John Cusack. So one day, thanks to Netflix, I did just that. And it was so good! Loved it so much I wanted to read the book. However, I should've read the book first...or waited. I just found it really hard to get fully involved in this book having so recently watched the movie. If the plot weren't so fresh in my mind I would've been more apt to continue reading and finish. The book is beautifully written and very much captures the attention of the reader. The most astonishing thing to me was to discover that the book is actually a work of non-fiction even though it reads like a fiction novel. It's not dry and boring. I will most likely be reading this book before next March as we are taking a vacation to Hilton Head, SC and will be spending some time in Savannah...I'd like to have the places and themes fresh in my mind while in Savannah. You should definitely read this book!

17 August 2011

Book Review No. 49

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Summary: When you read a novel expecting to be entertained with a lighthearted tale of adolescent love, you may come to the last page to realize you've read something quite different. Will you be left still thinking about the inexplicable disappearance of a perfectly innocent little brother? Will you be picturing what it would be like to finally get the girl of your dreams? Will you be shocked by how the reappearance of an extinct woodpecker can change an entire town and the lives of the people in it? Or will you just obsess over those zombies and talking birds? Maybe when you read this story, you'll find that even in a small Arkansas town where everything familiar can disappear, there is wonder in the ordinary and the hope for a second chance. (taken from book jacket)

First Line of the Book: "I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body."

My Critique: I seriously can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book. First a little about the author--John Corey Whaley is a local guy, born and raised in Springhill, LA and currently a teacher in Shreveport. He's buddies with some buddies of mine and that's how I first heard about this book--and is why I bought it in the first place. Because let's be honest, there is a lot going against this book in terms of drawing me in. (A) The cover is kind of plain and uninteresting in a sort of way that won't automatically draw your eyes, (2) When you read the book jacket it just doesn't seem like something very interesting, and (C) It's a Young Adult book which I don't generally read. I'll admit, I tend to judge Young Adult books as being less intellectual. However, I was incredibly surprised by this book. The writing style drew me in right away, as did the main character, Cullen. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking about how much the writing style and Cullen reminded me of a saner, better written version of Holden in The Catcher in the Rye...which I abhore. Find out why I don't like it by clicking http://quickwitandcharm.blogspot.com/2010/09/book-review-no-39.html. This book is surprisingly scholarly and prompts you to think. Whaley masterfully weaves together two separate plots seamlessly bringing them both together in a way that will thrill you. I will not say more lest I give something away, just know that this book is well worth the read...even for you academic types out there who usually shy away from young adult books. For his first novel, John Corey Whaley has knocked this one out of the park!

Just a little FYI: Shreve Memorial Library is hosting an event featuring the author, John Corey Whaley, on Saturday, August 27th, @ 11:00am. For more info, visit: http://www.shreve-lib.org/.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Where Things Come Back, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind...

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