Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Add some Color to your life!

Color –by Gary Alexander

23 pages / 3513 KB
5 Stars

Having thoroughly enjoyed a couple of Mr. Alexander's novels I decided to take a chance on his poetry. I was not disappointed!

Each poem is titled with a color, and if necessary, a number.

If you've ever been frightened away from poetry because it's "too academic" and hard to understand, give Color a try! The poems are great fun, and totally non-academic. As he says, there is no iambic pentameter to be found within the covers (real or virtual) of this charming little book.

There is, however, humor. And food for thought served on a very accessible plate.

Buy and read Color. It will brighten your day, and your new year. Honest. Trust me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Still With Me -- after a few days!

Still With Me –by Thierry Cohen (Translated by Summer Robinson)

286 Page / 313 KB
5 Stars

Not an easy read, and after finishing the book, and reading a bit about why it was written, I can understand it probably was not an easy book to write, either. I finished it a few days ago, and wasn't sure how to write the review, or even if I wanted to; however, the book is still with me, and I'm giving it 5 stars because of the ending, and because I'm still thinking about it.

It starts off with our hero committing suicide. Or attempting to commit suicide, over a love lost. (It's his 20th birthday, he's in for several loves lost, should he survive, no? Yes?)

On his 22d birthday, he "wakes" to discover his suicide failed, he's lost two years, and he did, in fact, marry the love of his life. That night, before bed, he has a seizure (for lack of a better word) and is paralyzed with fear as an old man appears next to him and says the kaddish for him.

Every so many years, he 'wakens' – always on his birthday – to discover in the intervening years he has become a mean, ornery sonofagun. He loses his friends, his wife, his children, and no one, including the doctors, either believes him, or can help him.

The last time he wakes, he knows beyond a reasonable doubt that on that day he will finally die. He discovers his youngest son believes him, and takes him to his grandson's wedding, where he sees his older son, his ex wife, a rabbi who tried to help, his one-time best friend. He is finally able to face his life – and his death – and make peace with his god.

This is, perhaps, an old morality tale revamped as some reviewers have stated. I read it as a novel. Period. While I feel a great deal of sympathy for those who feel the only way out of their situations is suicide, I also feel for their loved ones. However, I do not believe that suicide is of itself inherently evil or wrong. That belief seems to be inherent in the Judeo-Christian religions, to which I am not aligned.

I don't normally like 'writing as therapy' and yet, Mr. Cohen wrote this book to help him deal with the suicide of one of his friends, and I think it works. At least, I'm still thinking about the book – and the end. It is my thought that when you read the book, you and I will have different perceptions about the ending, so I don't want to say any more.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Got Honey on Your Mind?

Honey on Your Mind –by Maria Murnane

308 Pages / 664 KB
4 Stars

Honey on Your Mind was my introduction to Waverly Bryson. I now know this is the third in a series about our intrepid heroine. I think it stands alone, however, had I read the other two books first, it might have made a difference in my understanding and enjoyment of some of the characters and situations. As it was, it took me a while to get into the story. Part of that may be attributed to the fact I'm just not familiar with this genre (Single Woman/Chick Lit).

There were some laugh-out-loud moments (always good!), and a couple places that might have drawn a tear or three. It did hold my interest enough to finish, and I might pick up the other two books.

Waverly gets an opportunity to leave her beloved San Francisco, and her close friends, and start a new life in New York where she knows one person – her new boss. She jumps at the opportunity, finds her new job challenging (she has a video segment on a daily talk show), is getting her business off the ground, and is finally in the same time zone as her boy friend, if not the same city or state. She has an online store, Honey on Your Mind, she is trying to get up and going.

There are some interesting twists, but I believe it's fair to say, the ending is true to the genre, and how everything works out and becomes resolved is well done.

There were many aspects of Waverly I could relate to. I, too, have been known to pack up and move across the country, or, when in the military, across the world. Our jobs were different, but many of the situations were similar enough I could find something to recognize and appreciate.

My biggest problem with Waverly was her lack of self-confidence, and I felt at times that she dropped into the whiny mode. This is what makes me consider, rather than buy, the first two books. Does she whine in them? Or is that just my prception?

As one reviewer said, it's a good beach read. I agree. Or a good read curled in front of the fireplace with a favorite libation, a soft blanket, and a favorite fur-person to keep one company. I'd call it delightful brain candy meringue. No calories, not hard to read. And we all need brain candy at times.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Walk Me Home - but get some decent shoes first!

Walk Me Home –by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Fiction, Coming of Age
374 pages / 479 KB
5 Stars

Walk Me Home is a well-written and captivating story of two young girls – Carly, 16 and Jen, 11 – who find themselves orphaned in New Mexico and fear the authorities will separate them, so they take off on their own.

Carly wants to go back to Tulare, CA where her mother's ex-boyfriend, Teddy, is thought of as a step-father, and she knows he will want them, take them in, and keep them safe. What she doesn't know, or rather chooses to not believe, is that Teddy tried to molest Jen the night her mother kicked him out and took the girls to live with her new boyfriend, who died with her mother.

The girls manage to walk into Arizona, and end up at the dead end of a road in the middle of nowhere on the Wakapi Indian Reservation. Tired, thirsty, and afraid of everyone, they lay in wait to break into the hen house of an old Indian woman who lives alone out in the middle of this nowhere. She catches them, and makes them stay for a week to work off the damage they caused.

Carly with the Chip on her Shoulder finally decides to leave Jen, who doesn't want to go any farther, and sets out to find Teddy on her own. By the time she does, she's done a remarkable amount of growing up, and recognizing some things about her – and Teddy, and her sister, Jen, who is now living someplace in Arizona on an Indian Reservation.

I could not put this book down until I finished it. I had to know how it would end. It was truly worth the late 'light out' to get there, too.

I think most adults would enjoy this story, even though it is intended for Young Adults. Then, again, maybe I don't fit in the category of 'most adults'?

Thank you, Ms. Hyde, for a great read, and a remarkable story. Not to mention an ending that brought smiles to my face.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Bloodletter's Daughter

The Bloodletter's Daughter (A Novel of Old Bohemia) –by Linda Lafferty

Fiction, Historical
513 pages / 682 KB
5 Stars

This is quite possibly the best novel I've read this year! It truly was a page burner and the only reason I didn't read it in one sitting is it was my bedtime read, and I read until my eyes burned and blurred and the words swam away.

Based on history, and actual people whom I had little to no knowledge of only made this read that much more fun. The characters were real, they came alive on the page, and yes, I'm certain there was a bit of license taken with the story, but it was very well done.

Taking place in the early 1600s, it is the story of Marketa, daughter to the Barber-Surgeon of Cesky Krumlov who has ambitions to become a doctor, like her father. Of course, she is a girl, and that could never be. When Don Julius, the illegitimate and insane son of Rudolf II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, is interred in the local castle, she goes with her father to help in the treatment (blood letting) of the handsome prince in the hopes they can cure him.

Insane, sadistic, cruel, Don Julius is also wealthy, a Hapsburg, and handsome. And a good talker. She, the poor daughter of the barber-bloodletter and matron who runs the local bathhouse, is entranced and against all advice and her own intelligence, is drawn to Don Julius.

Ms. Lafferty did her homework, and spun a marvelous tale firmly based in history. This is a book I will read more than once. Now that I know how the story ends, I can read it again and just enjoy the beauty of the words as Ms. Lafferty wove them into a shimmery, silken scarf, called Historical Novel.