Nov 16, 2014

Book 52: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This is one of those books that popped up as a suggestion after reading some YA.  I was interested, but cautious, not really sure how a book about teenage suicide that blames fellow students would read.  But I finally got around to reading it.

I tore through this book.  It was very compelling and I wanted to get to the end.  At first I was concerned that the book may embolden someone on the verge of suicide themselves, but quickly you see how misguided she is in her assumptions.

In a quick nutshell. Thirteen Reasons Why starts out with a box of cassette tapes letting the recipient know that if they received this box they were part of the reason why she took her life.

The 13 events the tapes cover make life very difficult for Hannah, the events on their own would not seem too big, but it is the accumulation of the events and their after effects that add up.  This part of the book I am sure many High-schoolers will identify with.  I certainly did and HS has been many years ago (funny how this happens).  People make assumptions that are misguided or fabricated and no one ever seems to want to know the truth. 

And then there is the flip side, the side Hannah can not see.  That there are people who see through the crap and care.  That is the real tragedy of the story. 

Simply I would recommend this book, it is compelling and thought provoking. 

Nov 9, 2014

Abandoned Book 4: History of the Rain by Niall Williams

I reluctantly gave up on this book.  I got about a quarter of the way through and realized I just needed to give it up.  Up to that point I found I was either falling asleep or catching myself with wandering thoughts.  Both not helpful when trying to get into a book.  But it seemed like it was a book that I would definitely like....A girl who is bed-bound by an illness, looks to find her poet father in the books he left behind.  Should have been a slam dunk, but sadly no.  And what makes me even sadder is seeing how many people love this book.

I can't even say I will give it another try later.

Book 51: We are All Completly Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

It is exactly this type of book that gives me nightmares on explaining.  How am I to recommend a book with out spoiling it when it is the that very item that makes it interesting?  Do you get me?  If you are willing to go on blind faith read this story of a girl who loses both her sister and brother, and just let the story reveal itself with out further knowledge.  It is how I would have liked to have read it, but alas I was hooked into the story by knowing what it was about first.

I enjoyed reading this tale, and know there is much to be gained by reading it a second time.  It had me thinking of who I was and what makes me tick.  However, this may not be true for everyone, for me Rosemary has a certain predilection that I share with her and struggle with. But beyond that, the real focus of the story and what it wants you to think about is on point, but I did not find it in a "in your face" manner. 

Give it a try.

Book 50: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

The story of a man whose online identity is hijacked.  By interacting with his online hijacker he id forced to confront himself.

I was interested in this story from the get go.  I was never sure where the story was going or what I was to believe, but I think that is what I liked.  It is also what might make it a hard sell as a recommendation.  That and the discussions around atheism, Judaism and a long lost tribe.  For me it was only until I got to the end did I realize I was to question everything and ask myself who is trustworthy.  Some may find the ending unsatisfying, but for me it was just the beginning of the conversation.

Book 49: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I forget where I heard of this book.  I know it was in reference to a follow up coming out. 

The gist of this book... A man with Aspergers decides it is time to find a wife.  He goes about it in the only way he knows how.  He creates a questionnaire to weed out women who would not be compatible him.  Or at least women he thinks he would not be compatible.  In the course of his search he comes in contact with Rosie, a woman who is looking for her father.  In the end the woman he thinks is completely wrong is the woman he falls in love with.

I was interested in this because of the voice of the lead character, Don, who has Aspergers.  I did find it interesting.  I won't say this is an amazing book, but it was good and I am interested in reading the follow up book.

Book 48: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I have to admit that originally I had no interest in this book for the sole purpose that everyone was reading it.  I didn't even know what it was about.  Sorry, that is a ugly fact about myself.

And when the movie was being released I had even less interest.  That was until I heard someone talking about what the story was.  And specifically that the book was narrated by 2 unreliable narrators.  That is what hooked me.

I then had the choice of reading the book first or watching the movie first.  I knew there was going to be a big reveal and I knew once I knew what it was I would loose the reveal in one or the other mediums.  I did decide to read the book first, and I then saw the movie with in days of completing the novel.  I am glad I made that choice.

I am finding I am not a plot driven reader, but this plot had me hooked and I just went along.  I was blown away by the story and how duplicitous Amy was and the ending.  Whoa.

Comparing the movie and the book.  The movie was done great, and was close enough to the book.  The changes made were smart changes.  But with reading the book there was more detail and I was able to get into the minds of the characters.  So in the end this book did give me the character development that I like and showed me that plot is not always a bad thing.

Good book
Good movie

Book 47: The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg

Not that this blog is being written for anyone besides myself and my records, but sometimes I get back logged on getting my entries in.  The Disenchanted is one of those books causing a lull.  I knew that for me it was going to be a difficult review to write, so I thought I would just push ahead to the next book, but now 5 1/2 books later I figured I need to just write what I can and realize that it may not make any sense or be complete, and that is OK.

I was interested in this book because of the author, Budd Schulberg and the subject matter, a  young screen-writer who works along side his literary hero and is witness to his demise.

In real life, a young Budd Schulberg was hired by the studios to work out a script with F Scott Fitzgerald.  Schulberg had been a fan of FSF in college, but thought the author had died, but was thrilled to have the opportunity to work so closely with such a great writer.  They are asked to work on a script that takes place at a winter carnival on an East Coast campus, and are sent there to "capture the flavor".    During this point in his life Fitzgerald was with Sheila Graham and working on his sobriety, trying to put his life back together and move forward. This trip to Dartmouth would prove to be a disaster.

Knowing that the book was rooted in reality, I was fascinated as I read, and always looking for Fitzgerald in the character Halliday.  It was not to hard to find him, and the events of that infamous weekend.  I found much of it familiar and kept thinking there was a short storywritten on the event, but I was unable to find it.  I think most of the info I gathered  were from Bruccoli and Graham herself.

I do wonder if I would have found the book as good if the Fitzgerald connection was not there?  I found the pacing a tad slow.  But that could be because I knew where it was going.  If I did not, I think the pacing could have been OK and actually works for the story as it is a slow decline of a man and by taking such a methodical approach would make sense.  This story of the dissapation of a hero is a Fitzgerald theme and is another reason it interest me.

Would I recommend it as a read?  Yes, but it would not be a book I recommend to everyone, only people who have an interest in Fitzgerald or the Old Hollywood movie scene.  It is a shame, because it really is a moving story, but I am afraid many people are not satisfied with such a depressing ending to a book.