Tag Archives: books

Vacation… and Lots of Reading

I’ve just returned from Mexico and managed to read a couple of books while I was away. None of them were the ones I was supposed to read, but vacation is for fun, and there were some books I was anxious to read so…..

Expect updates about Jonathan Kellerman’s Victims and Carol O’Connell’s Chalk Girl soon. I’m 65% (thank you, Kindle) through Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children at the moment, and enjoying it very much….

As soon as I scale the laundry mountain and get my work schedule sorted out, I’ll give  you some thoughts about my current reading list….

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Fifty Shades of Poorly Written Erotica… and One Kickass Parody

Yes, I did it. I read Fifty Shades of Grey and it’s sequels. I thought it wise to read it before joining in on the conversation. Now, before you get your panties in a twist over the fact that I called it poorly written, that is my opinion and I am simply expressing it. It’s crap. I mean no disrespect to fanfiction writers who are decent writers, but this novel, adapted from fanfic, is just awful.

Without “spoiling” it for you, this is mild BDSM and lots of abnormal psychology. Both main characters appear to be schizophrenic because they fall in love in seconds, cure a fetish, and the woman alternately wants/doesn’t want to be with the messed up guy. If that isn’t enough for you, NOBODY wants to have that much sex. Ever. Nobody. I’m telling you now, I don’t even want to READ about that much sex. One more “thrust” and that book was going in the bonfire. So, if you want to know what all the fuss is about, go ahead and read it. But don’t come here and ask me to explain what a butt plug is.

After I suffered through Fifty Shades of WTF, I read Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Andrew Shaffer writing as Fanny Merkin.  It was worth reading the over the top erotica just so I could enjoy this parody. It was hilarious and played off of the books perfectly. It is the only real reason to read Fifty Shades in the first place. Trust me. It won’t hurt a bit.

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Hellenic Immortal Blog Tour Interview with Gene Doucette

Have you heard of Adam? He’s immortal… but that isn’t the only interesting thing about him. He is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 years old, but looks 32. He charms the ladies and is often drunk, but what better ways to pass the time? Of course, you cannot discount his encounters with supernatural beings and his entanglements with ancient Greek mythology… Well, let’s hear a little from Adam and his creator, Gene Doucette, about the sequel to Immortal: Hellenic Immortal.

Adam: We’re talking today with Gene Doucette, the author of Immortal and the upcoming Hellenic Immortal, due out on May third. Tell me what these books are about, Gene.

Gene: Um.

Adam: What?

Gene: They’re about you, dude. Why are you doing that?

Adam: I’m supposed to be interviewing you. That’s what you told me.

Gene: Could you do it without the cardboard toilet paper tube?

Adam: I don’t have a microphone.

Gene: It’s a print interview.

Adam: Fine. Talk about Hellenic Immortal. Or what you had for breakfast or something. Whatever.

Gene: When I wrote Immortal I more or less avoided entirely a significant portion of history: the classical Greek period. Now obviously you spent time there, but so much more happened during that era it didn’t make sense to talk about it as Just Another Time like it would have had I stuck it into Immortal. It almost deserved its own book.

Adam: Plus there was that whole thing about it not being relevant to the events in Immortal.

Gene: Right. Although I hope we don’t have to wait for something from the distant past to resurface and threaten your life before we can talk about it again, because I was kind of interested in Byzantium and the silk road and all of that, but none of that’s likely to come back to life and try and kill you.

Adam: That’s what we thought about the Eleusinians.

Gene: True enough.

Adam: Do you think people who liked the first book will like the second?

Gene: Well yeah, of course.

Adam: I know it’s a stupid question, just go with it.

Gene: Okay, okay. I think the second book has a different kind of pace to it. It’s slightly more mature, because as a writer I was slightly more mature when I wrote it. We also spend more time discussing philosophy and religion, which is not inherently pulse-pounding.

Adam: So it’s boring.

Gene: Oh my god do you not want people to read it??

Adam: It’s not boring.

Gene: No it’s not boring. It’s intellectually more challenging. Especially the Silenus passages. Plus there are plenty of folks who are trying to kill you, which is diverting.

Adam: Diverting, you say.

Gene: More interesting than you talking about drinking for two hundred pages.

Adam: Hey, I thought that was a pretty good first draft.

Gene: I think we’re done, yes?

Adam: Close enough.

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Stephen King and… JFK?

Well, I finally finished Stephen King’s 11/22/63.  All 849 pages of it. I’m pretty sure my biceps are buffer than when I started. That is one bigass book.

Size aside, this is not typical King fare, so if you are looking to be scared to go to the bathroom during the night or not let any of your limbs dangle over the side of the bed, this book won’t do it. Sure, there’s some hinky stuff in there, but this isn’t horror. This is about time travel, the butterfly effect, fate, and what really could happen if someone could go back to the past and right a wrong. Will it make things better? Well, Mr. King has a way with words and he kept me asking that question for 849 pages. And I have to say that every page was worth it because the man is one hell of a writer.

Don’t read this if you are looking for the next “IT”. But read it if you enjoy reading.

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DBT – Books I Never Thought Would Help Me

Within the next few days I will be posting information about some books I have read recently about Dialectical Behavior Therapy and its use in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression. I have a read several books and if you suffer from any of these problems, this may just be a post you don’t want to miss.

 

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Time Out for Some Classics and Self Help

Did I mention that I was reading with my kids? They’re teens, so it’s less and less often that our reading lists cross paths, but I decided to read what they were reading in school with them last month.

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None was brilliant. Imagine having the ability to have ten people on an island and ALL of them end up murdered. Who is the murderer? You’ll have to read it yourself. This is mystery writing at its best.

My other son read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. His summary? It’s about a guy with a really crappy life. Very good assessment. But also incredibly written. The writing simply pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. This is how it’s done, folks. It’s a classic, and there’s a reason. Just start it and try to tell me that you can put it down and not find out how Ethan became the man he is…

I also took the time to check out a nonfiction book: Just One Thing by Rick Hanson, PhD. Based on the principles of simplicity derived from ancient wisdom (Buddha, anyone?), Dr. Hanson offers small way to enrich your life. Rather than being either a dry, research journal or a pep rally of inane advise, Just One Thing combines meditative techniques and neuro research to rewire your brain towards positive thinking. Anybody can handle these small changes, and everyone will benefit from them.

I’m currently trying to find time to read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. This is a long one, but it reminds me of Harry Potter a bit, so I’m thinking I’ll stick with it.

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How Cool Would This Be?

I’ve signed up to hopefully obtain a review copy of Christopher Moore’s latest book. I love his sense of humor. I’ve read all of his books and even bought some of the merchandise that has his logos and benefits MS research. I’ll include some of his Facebook gems and some links…. cross your fingers for me.

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Next Book to Read: House of Leaves…. Because I Have To

I’m a little tired of reading what other people want/need me to read, but If I don’t read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski soon, my son is going to kill me in my sleep. He’s been dying for me to read it for about a year and I keep coming up with excuses.  This is from Publisher’s Weekly:

Danielewski’s eccentric and sometimes brilliant debut novel is really two novels, hooked together by the Nabokovian trick of running one narrative in footnotes to the other. One-the horror story-is a tour-de-force. Zampano, a blind Angelino recluse, dies, leaving behind the notes to a manuscript that’s an account of a film called The Navidson Report. In the Report, Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Will Navidson and his girlfriend move with their two children to a house in an unnamed Virginia town in an attempt to save their relationship. One day, Will discovers that the interior of the house measures more than its exterior. More ominously, a closet appears, then a hallway. Out of this intellectual paradox, Danielewski constructs a viscerally frightening experience. Will contacts a number of people, including explorer Holloway Roberts, who mounts an expedition with his two-man crew. They discover a vast stairway and countless halls. The whole structure occasionally groans, and the space reconfigures, driving Holloway into a murderous frenzy. The story of the house is stitched together from disparate accounts, until the experience becomes somewhat like stumbling into Borges’s Library of Babel. This potentially cumbersome device actually enhances the horror of the tale, rather than distracting from it. Less successful, however, is the second story unfolding in footnotes, that of the manuscript’s editor, (and the novel’s narrator), Johnny Truant. Johnny, who discovered Zampano’s body and took his papers, works in a tattoo parlor. He tracks down and beds most of the women who assisted Zampano in preparing his manuscript. But soon Johnny is crippled by panic attacks, bringing him close to psychosis. In the Truant sections, Danielewski attempts an Infinite Jest-like feat of ventriloquism, but where Wallace is a master of voices, Danielewski is not. His strength is parodying a certain academic tone and harnessing that to pop culture tropes. Nevertheless, the novel is a surreal palimpsest of terror and erudition, surely destined for cult status. 

Sounds heavy… confusing maybe, but good, and heavy. And the book IS heavy. And not available on Kindle. So, if you don’t hear from me, it means I’ve abandoned it and my son has, indeed killed me… or I’m still trying to figure it out.

 

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South of Broad by Pat Conroy – review from the Verge

Those of you who know me, know this is not the kind of book I would normally choose. Look at the cover: 

Not exactly what you expect of me, I know, but my book discussion group, The Pageturners, are reading it. I finished it yesterday and while I was reading it, I enjoyed it… sort of. So, here’s my mini-spoiler-free review from the verge:

Some characters were too stereotypical for the 60s. I’m hard pressed to believe that having an oddball group of friends brings out the best in everyone. But the story was good. About a hundred pages too long and while I’m sure Charleston is lovely, I could do with less love of land and just move the story along.

If you like Richard Russo, you’ll probably like South of Broad. To sum up my review in one word: meh.

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Some of you may know that I had some surgery on my cervical spine a few weeks ago. I figured that I would read this book for my book club during my recovery. Well…. between the sedating effect of the first half of the book and the meds I was taking I didn’t finish it.

The setting seemed incongruous – the old fashioned behaviors and dialogue and then someone whips out a cell phone. The entire first half of the book moves entirely too slowly. Especially if you are taking prescription drugs for muscle relaxation and pain. I’m told that others felt this way as well, so apparently it wasn’t just the drugs.

It wasn’t a BAD book. The language was lovely in some parts. It’s just not a book to read if you want something to happen. Or at least, happen in the first half of the book.

As for me? I returned it to the library unfinished.

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