Thursday, January 24, 2008

Smashed: The Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

Although I could relate quite easily to this memoir, it still became difficult to trudge through by the end. The authors stories of drunkeness became repetitive, and her point had been already made. I do feel for the author as she relates painful, embarrassing experiences, but I can't help but think that I drank far more than she did for a longer period of time and never felt quite so dramatic about it.

Challenges: TBR, States (NY)

The Afterlife by Gary Soto

Normally I really like Gary Soto, but this book left me cold. The premise was good--the main character is stabbed to death within the first few pages, and then becomes a ghost drifting around his former life--but the rest of the story seems unconnected. I'm not sure what point Soto was trying to make with this book. On the other hand, the love story was sweet, and it is a book that my students will probably enjoy. It was worth reading, I suppose, though I wouldn't read it again.

Challenges: Young Adult, States (CA)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Top 10 Reads of 2007...

1. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The most unique love story ever written. Poignantly told and incredibly real.

2. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
This book was like poetry. Gorgeous, gorgeous prose.

3. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Delightful. Much better than the movie--except for the whole Johnny Depp thing.

4. The Dark Tower by Stephen King
I am a huge fan of the seven book series. I wasn't disappointed by the ending--only that it had to end. This wasn't the best of the seven books, but it was damn good.

5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I can't help thinking of this as a cautionary tale. Well written and chilling.

6. 1984 by George Orwell
Everyone should read this book. Everyone.

7. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornsby
Picked this up on a whim at the bookstore and couldn't put it down. Finished it in about a day. Great book, great characters, great story.

8. The Red Tent by Anita Diamante
Interesting, feminist historical fiction. She took a virtually unknown character from the Bible and gave her a voice. Definately worth reading.

9. Man's Search For Meaning by Victor Frankly
This book was so inspiring. It illustrates the goodness and strength of mankind even while dealing with the evils.

10. The Door to December by Dean Koontz
A nice, solid mystery/horror thriller. Well written and interesting.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I am Legend by Richard Matteson (5/5)

The book was so much better than the movie.

Don't get me wrong; I liked the movie. But I'm glad I saw it first, because I'm not sure I would have liked it so much after the book. They are so very different--only the premise remains the same. The character, plot, setting, and even the very feel of it are starkly different.

For those of you who don't already know the premise, Robert Neville is quite possibly the last living man on earth, after a plague has wiped out the population, leaving only vampires. During the day he works on the upkeep of his house and slays sleeping vampires. At night he drinks whisky, tries not to remember his dead wife and daughter, and listens to the vampires outside howl for his blood. He also begins researching to isolate the cause of the sudden onset of vampires, and to figure out what makes them what they are. That in itself is fascinating, but the story gets even better. I will say no more so as not to give anything away, but I will tell you that it became almost impossible for me to tear myself away from the book.

This book meets the criteria for the Decades Challenge. It is supposed to take place in the 1970s, although it was written in 1954.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

All the Pretty Horses review (4/5)

This was the first book I read this year! It meets several challenges--Decades (1940s), Book Around the States (Texas), and a TBR alternate, which maybe doesn't count since I read it before a REAL TBR.

I had never read Cormac McCarthy before, and I didn't think I would like him. At first, his endless sentences, while poetic, seemed to swim in my head like madness. And dialogue without quotations????? But I started reading, and before I knew it I realized that I no longer noticed the lack of quotes, and that I had fallen into the ever-flowing descriptive prose. This is a book that is somehow dry and reserved yet passionate and rich at the same time. At first the characters seemed remote and hard to know, but as I read on they became more and more alive. And the story pulled me in deeper and deeper until, by the last 100 pages or so, I could no longer put it down. I look forward to reading more of McCarthy.