Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Great Gatsby

Considered by some to be the great American novel. "A classic", at least in terms of age, and while most people pushing 50 have read this book, usually in school, I somehow managed to never read it - until now.

Sadly, I regret taking the time to read it because quite frankly, it's not a very good book! I love the period in time in which it was written and in which the story takes place. However, those moments of imagery don't stand up to the bore fest of this poorly written and poorly conceived of story.

I'm not going to spend much more time talking about this because it just isn't worth the time. I will say, the single most notable take away is how obvious it is to me after reading this just how much the English language has changed in the last century; and for the worse in my opinion.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Don't Tell Anyone

Reading this book happened by accident, or perhaps fate. Regardless, sometimes something falls into your lap for a reason and having read it, I am quite glad that I did.

I read the first few pages out of curiosity, and quite frankly, I wasn't quite sure this was going to be something for me. Then I read the synopsis on Amazon, again, I was still unsure, though a bit less.

I had just finished a book and didn't have my next one waiting, and the library was closed; so I thought, my sister-in-law likes this author, can't hurt to give it a shot.

So I read, and I read until my eyes fell out of my face, that got me about 75% of the way through, that was yesterday. I finished the rest of the book today and I have to say out loud how much I enjoyed it.

So what's it all about you ask? I can't imagine there are any of you reading this that have never had to deal with cancer. Cancer affects the people afflicted and their families and friends in so many ways. In "Don't Tell Anyone", Laurie Boris introduces us to Estelle Trager, a strong-willed, old-school, Yiddish slinging (and most of all stubborn) mama who was able to hide (of all things) ever enlarging tumors until a bout with pneumonia lands her in the hospital and her family gets involved. We meet her son Adan, his wife Liza and her favorite son Charlie and the unusual dynamic of these three main characters, along with years old secrets interwoven in their attempt to care for Estelle. There are a number of complexities to the story line that offer surprise, suspense, a few other characters to spice things up a bit more and when it was all over I couldn't help but wonder how many readers might find some significant similarities to real world situations they've lived through.

I must applaud the character development as well as the story arc. This ended up being a page turner, a true gem for the adult reader and a book I can easily recommend.'

If you click on the book cover graphic, it will transport you to Amazon where you can read the synopsis yourself and the many terrific reviews but don't waste your time with that, click on the buy now option and support this indie author and get yourself a great read. Oh, and please, tell everyone about it!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Maximum Ride: The Final Warning

This fourth installment of the young adult oriented Maximum Ride series does not disappoint fans of Max, Fang, Gasman, Iggy, Total or any of the characters we've grown to love in this series.

Patterson uses the story line of this novel to raise awareness of global warming as the gang finds themselves on a government mission in Antarctica to assist in research. Of course, they find themselves being hunted by an devious group of mechanical mercenaries. Patterson also digs deeper into the idea of a romantic bond between Max and Fang.

I really love this series so far, mostly because I really care about these characters and I have to say, this is arguably the best written of the books in this series up to this point.

Another very quick read that I believe you will enjoy if you've ventured into this series.

Monday, March 17, 2014

David and Goliath

I first learned of Malcolm Gladwell when he was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended in San Diego, I believe in 2006, around the time his second book, "Blink" came out.

I recall being captivated listening to him as he challenged my thoughts and offered such provocative ideas. I picked up both "The Tipping Point" (his first book) and "Blink" shortly after seeing him and loving both of them.

To date, I've read all of his books and every time a new copy of The New Yorker shows u at the library, I look at the table of contents to see if there is anything there by him (or David Sedaris).

In this book, Gladwell challenges our ideals and perceptions of advantages and disadvantages, starting with one of the most famous "underdog" stories of all, David and Goliath.

In addition to getting me to think and re-think, Gladwell always manages to teach me something or steer me in the direction of wanting to learn more about something and this is something I almost crave when reading non-fiction that isn't biography or autobiography.

You may not always agree with Gladwell's train of thought or ideas, Gladwell provides a platform where your thought and ideas can be challenged and revisited and that for me, is what keeps the mind vital.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blood Memory

If you love to read and are looking for a great book, forget the rest of this review and just go get this book and have at it! WOW! What a fabulous piece of writing. I have not read a book so well written in quite some time. A colleague mentioned this author stating that "his work is hard to stop reading" and having claimed to call in sick one day just so she can finish one of his books. I thought that was insane when I heard it but at several points I had to think twice about going to work in favor of just staying at home and reading; it's just that good.

This book revolves around the life of one Catherine "Cat" Ferry who works as a "forensic odontologist" (she knows a lot about teeth and bite marks) and has about as much drama in her life as one can as her work takes her "into the minds of rapists and murderers", reminders of her past haunt her and along with her love of Vodka and her controversial personal life, push her to the brink when she suffers a dramatic panic attack at a crime scene. This turn of events leads to a trip to her childhood home where she stumbles upon a decades old clue into her father's death when she was just a young girl. From there, one can come up with such a story and tell it with such amazing clarity - this book is truly a work of art.

I will say that it is not for the faint of heart, there are some serious issues dealt with in this book, especially those related to child abuse. However, Isles approaches the subject matter in a careful, sensitive, and extremely well researched manner. So looking forward to the next time I read one of his books. WOW!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Good Guy

It's been a few years since I read a Koontz book. While at the library on Sunday, I came across the Koontz selections and decided it was time, I looked for one that was not part of any "series" and something struck me about this cover - so I grabbed it.

For those of you who may hold Koontz in a "horror/fiction" box, this book (many others as well) does not fit in that category or box. This is a thriller and thrill it did.

Tim Carrier, a seemingly simple mason stops by his favorite watering hole for a beer after a long day's work and in no time, his life become a circumstance of being in that place he was so many times before but at that particular moment in time.

What happens next takes you through 95% of the story and it's a wild combination of running for your life as Carrier attempts to preserve the life of a stranger and when the story ends, we learn more about Tim and the unusual circumstances that triggered the whole thing.

Earlier this morning, I was at the point where I had 30 pages left and was literally on the edge of my seat. I had to pause because I wanted to preserve the feeling I had. You know, the feeling when you are reading a great book that you just want to last. But of course, I also wanted to finish it, to see how it all comes to an end and feel what I am left with. I decided to pack it up, head off to work early and finish it at the office, This way, I was able to savor the anticipation. In the end, it did not disappoint!

I really loved this book, there was something about the characters that I was able to relate it was just written so well. I highly recommend this.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Double Cross

As I read my way through this year and play catch up, I am also working my way through the James Patterson books, a difficult thing to keep up with considering how many he releases each year.

Double Cross is part of the "Alex Cross" series, Cross is a detective who has been in and out of the game on local and federal levels. Previously retired and in a private practice as a psychologist. Of course, Cross can't leave well enough alone and seems to have no regard for the impact his career has had on his family. Sucked back in, Cross encounters a familiar killer and another nut (actually band of nuts).

The book got off to a slow start but did begin to pick up around half way through but aside from not ending so great (in my opinion), I felt there were so many loose ends here that I can only attribute to what seems to be lazy writing and lack of attention to basic detail.

I've read a few of the books that came after this, and there are many - around 60 or so, which keeps me hopeful that Patterson has not run out of steam. However, this was the 10th and final release from 2007 and I question if perhaps he was less focused on quality control then quantity of output during this period.

I think there are too many other good books out there, including many by Patterson himself, for me to tell you this is worth the short investment in time it takes to read but whatever time it takes is time that could be spent in something really worth reading.