Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Another standard book club pick, this non fiction expose describes life of a fairly well off book seller and his family in post 9/11 Afghanistan. Sultan has struggled all his life (and even gone to jail) to maintain the written word in his country despite the Taliban and/or government pressures to eradicate all forms of modern culture and ancient literature. Norweigan journalist Seierstad spent several months shadowing him and his family and paints a really depressing picture for modern Afghani women. Sultan's youngest sister Leila has a particularly suffocating and bleak life.

Honestly, the book was written well and has a lot of information about the political history of the country, but MAN is it a downer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Quicksand By Iris Johansen

In keeping with my interest in murder (reading about it, not committing it) I always enjoy reading Johansen's books. The main character in this series is Eve Duncan a forensic sculptor who's continuously looking to find her missing daughter. In this book she's being taunted by a scumbag claiming to have killed her daughter and luring her to him in order to hurt her. By Eve's side is her steady guy Joe Quinn an Atlanta detective ( but he never seems to work much) helping along the way is Luis Montalvo who, if your a fan of this series knows, wants to jump Eve's bones. Along for the grim but exciting ride is Megan Blair a psychic, kind of.
I loved the book, was a little slow near the beginning, but stick with it . It picks up quite a bit and by the end you'll be staying up all night reading.
I won't give the ending away , but even I was a little surprised. My only regret was that the book was done. Now I'll have to wait for another Eve Duncan book.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Long Walk Home by Will North

Just look at the cover on this alone makes you want to crack it open and settle in. It's a quick, pleasant read, a romance for us middle aged people. Will North is an accomplished writer and with his first novel has scored a hit. The main characters are essentially good people, who fall in love and end up doing the "right thing" even though it's not easy. I suspect that this could be one of the "great beach reads" for this year.

--Reviewed by Pauline Brady

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tomorrow by Graham Swift

Swift won the Booker Prize for Last Orders back in 2004(?)...but I don't think he'll go 2 for 2 with Tomorrow, a quick read about a family with a dark secret. Paula Hook lies awake on the eve before her and her husband Mike divulge a long kept secret to their twin teenagers. The story centers around the history behind this secret and the rationale behind it.

Truthfully, I was kind of annoyed for most of the book. The build up goes on and on for many pages with, like, no pay off whatsoever. The ideas in my mind were juicier than the real "truth" that was going to be told to her children. Though the prose is extremely well-written, I still kept saying to myself, "jesus, get to the point already"

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

Loved this book. It was a page turner, terrific characters, people you care about and lots of twists and turns. It follows another Donnelly book, The Tea Rose, equally compelling. If you're fond of family sagas either of these books will fit the bill.

India Selwyn Jones is the main character in Winter Rose, a woman born into some privilege but bent on making her way in the world as a physician. In London in the early 1900's that was a daunting task. What happens to her, people around her, including some characters from Donnelly's earlier book, makes for engrossing reading.

If you like Barbara Taylor Bradford, Penny Vincenzi you're going to love Jennifer Donnelly.

--Reviewed by Pauline Brady

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hold Tight By Harlan Coben

I'm a fan of Coben but, I did not like this book. Not even a little bit. There were way too many plots and characters to keep track of. The story was all over the place jumping back and forth from one to the other.
OK maybe it's just me, I like a book with defined characters and plot. I might just be so simple that my mind won't wrap around the chaos of this book,,,,,,,,NOT.
I find it hard to even give a description of the book. It starts out with a muder, jumps to a family with a troubled teen who they spy on via spyware, jumps to yet again a troubled family( I'd move from this neighborhood) who's son killed himself. Yadda Yadda Yadda...........
I'm taking a deep breath to calm down,,,,,, In the end you'll just have to read the book and try to stay focused and awake.........

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear Irene By Jan Burke

I will admit as much as I love reading, I have never been able to sit and read books that are considered classics or "real" literature. In my opinion those books are for required reading in school.
I started reading this book because, honestly I had nothing else to read. This is the time I wait for the summer books from my favorite authors. But I was pleasantly surprised when I read this book. " Dear Irene" is the third installment of a series about Irene Kelly, an investigating reporter on a newspaper.
When Ms. Kelly starts receiving threatening letters and phone calls from someone calling themselves " Thanatos" she's only a little concerned, after all reporters are always getting this from weirdos. The name means " death" in ancient Greek. As the murders start happening she sees this is no ordinary nut and the letters and calls are connected to them.
Irene is now determined to find this killer before she or anyone else is hurt. Helping her is her fiance homicide detective Frank Harriman. Which is a problem because, cops and reporters don't usually get along.
Irene Kelly is the kind of person I'd like in real life brave, stubborn, honest and smart.
I liked the book but, I admit usually I like a more blood and guts book, but still a good read.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Though I'm not a fan of short stories, I enjoyed Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake as well. There was a blurb on the back of this book saying that Lahiri has a gift of using simple language to create heartbreaking characters and quite honestly, that's the reason why I've really liked all of her works. Unaccustomed Earth is no different - a series of short stories/novellas about Indians living in America and their problems/experiences combining their Americanized culture with that of their ancestry.

The second part of the book has a series of related stories linking two characters (Hema and Kaushik) and their lives together and apart. The only problem I had with this book was that I could predict the manipulative ending about 10 pages away. Usually I'm not good at that.

This book is fabulous and awesome and amazing and depressing (but in a good way). Everyone should read everything by Lahiri. Case Closed.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Erased By Marilee Strong

Because I have an unnatural fascination with the psychology of murderers and nutcases, when I saw this book I had to read it.
It's about narcissistic, psychopathic men who believe they can ( and all too often do ) murder their wife or girlfriend then make them literally disappear.
Ms. Strong uses as her reference the Scott Peterson case, but includes many other cases to show how the minds of these men work. These murders show the increase in this type of crime, so much so that it is becoming known as " eraser killings " and their culprits as " eraser murderers".
This is a good read if you are curious about how these minds work .

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Ruins by Scott Smith

I'll be honest and say that the only reasons why I decided to read this were because: a) the movie just came out and if there's one thing I love, it's a good horror movie and b) Stephen King recommended it (not to me personally, but you knew that). However, even I was pleasantly surprised at how tense this book made me. Like, really tense.

The novel centers on 4 American tourists (2 couples) plus their German friend as they make their way to visit a Mayan archeological ruin. What starts out as a fun day trip while on vacation in Cancun eventually turns into a psychological (and botannical) nightmare. I'm not one to give away plot or endings, so lets just say that the group is left stranded at the ruins with a surprising villian that is eager to destroy them.

And because I'm a sucker for blood and gore, I went to see the movie. And as always, the book was far better.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This book falls into the category where you just WISH they'd make a movie out of it even though it probably would be lousy because the scenes wouldn't match up exactly with what's in your head.

At any rate, Secret History is a lengthy thriller about a group of friends who attend a small college in Vermont and wind up murdering someone within their circle (I promise I'm not ruining anything, you find out who dies on the very first page). All of them are incredibly intelligent and highly interested in Classics. One night, they partake in a crazy Dionysian ritual and things just go downhill from there...Let's just say that people with big mouths are silenced in more ways than one.

Though there was an awful lot of "academic" talk spread throughout the novel (think classics and ancient Greek philosophy), Tartt still manages to create a taut and suspenseful read. Some readers might object to the rampant drug and alcohol use, but it actually helps to capture the paranoid and chaotic mood.