Monday, December 8, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Who is Glendower and why do I still care? I really don't know that I do. Gansey has become more boring and his impending doom is still on Blue's conscience. On the other hand, I've grown more accustomed to the verbal volleys between the characters and I'm finally starting to like some of them more than just in a passing matter. Although I still haven't connected much with the main characters like I wish I had.

But it's going slowly again and my eyes are glazing over when Orla, a cousin, subtly enters the boat and jumps in the man made lake which prompts Blue to yell an exasperation and jump in which prompts Ronan to laugh which I found very entertaining. But then it slowed down again. Sigh. But then another character was written into the book that delighted me named Jesse. He's huge and because he is huge, his voice IS ALWAYS YELLING. And he only eats spaghettios but makes a decent cup of tea. It's these subtle details that tickle me.

A few more questions are answered but many more introduced or befuddle me. For instance, why can Ronan tame one nightmare yet the others are still trying to kill him? Among other questions that don't make sense to me. But I'm still reading.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up InThe House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Writing is excellent. The story is just weird. It's the story of a family and skates right around the edges of incest without quite crossing over. I was weird. That's the best I can do.

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

The Story HourThe Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

The book is a surprising story of how two dissimilar women of unequal status and "caste," had they been in India, share commonalities, after all. The book is named for Maggie's profession, a therapist and the way she explains it to an immigrant woman who has recently attempted suicide. The Indian woman does not understand and figures it is a sort of friendship and steps over the boundaries time and again until the two are friends of a sort. Yet the divide is ever present in that one sees the other as a maternal figure, unshakable and wise. Turns out, all of the characters are fallible and human.

The stories told are from the perspective of the Indian woman's childhood but also somewhat allegorical. I'm still thinking about the stories. The bottom line is that both women carry the wounds of their childhood and attempt to compensate in sometimes destructive ways. I loved the author's voice and writing style. There was some wonderful wit with the cultural divide and nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout. Deeper than I had anticipated. I liked it quite a bit.

Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Hello From the GillespiesHello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful surprise! I'd put this author in the same category as Liane Moriarty. It has some similarities to What Alice Forgot but it is a much different book. A woman, married and living far from civilization, questions her choice to marry the Australian she met while traveling abroad. He's a good man but they don't communicate. Her children are absolutely delightful! The author writes the characters in such a way that they are not only very distinct but you may know people who resemble them. She has 29 year old twins whose decisions wreck their careers and they return home. A younger daughter has a hilarious case of learned helplessness. Then there is Ig. He's 10 and just like a 10 year old boy.

The book begins with the protagonist writing the Christmas letter but her first draft is an honest assessment of what is happening with each member of the family. It was never meant to be sent, she was just venting. Then she gets distracted and the story continues.

The book is one of my favorite this year. I loved it.

Blood Of My Blood by Barry Lyga

Blood Of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3)Blood Of My Blood by Barry Lyga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. How do I even...?

How about I start with a few basics. This is the third book of a trilogy. It does not stand alone. All three books are fascinating in the worst kind of way. It is a YA book but no way would I recommend it to my young adult children or students. I'm thinking older young adult. Maybe. My girlfriends? Absolutely. Especially the ones with the hidden darker side.

The basis of this trilogy is that Jasper Dent is the son of the infamous Billy Dent, serial killer. Jasper is always grappling with the notion of being genetically predisposed to violence and disturbing stuff. Part of this is that his subconscious is beginning to creep up and he is either remembering or vividly imagining some weird stuff. A given is that Billy Dent trained Jasper on the fine art of prospecting or choosing a victim. He also gives disturbing anatomy lessons for the murders.

Disturbing? Absolutely! Although the gruesome details are told in a matter of fact manner rather than dragging it out like many adult books. That said, still for an older audience.

Book 2 left a cliffhanger with every possible hero or heroine in mortal danger. Sorry. That's a slight spoiler. Yet what do you expect when the book is about a serial killer? Book 3 picks up immediately where 2 left off. If you have not read the first books, you may want to tune out for a minute.

************playing elevator music****************

Without giving too many spoilers here, Jasper and gang realize in Book 2, while Billy Dent is jail broken, he doesn't act alone. In Book 3, Billy plays some wild mind games with his closest partner on Jasper yet Jasper is virtually alone on this one. His sidekicks are close by and still integral to the story development, but this is Jasper facing his own demons and answering the question that has him stymied, is he a killer who hasn't yet killed?

Strangely fascinating and well written.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess BrideAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember seeing "the Princess Bride" at the dollar movie at the end of 1987. I loved it completely and wondered why I'd never heard of it. Of course, I was smitten by Westley. I bought the book at the campus bookstore before I graduated the following year. The movie has since become a classic and my children quote it better than I ever did.

The actor playing Westley grew up and wrote a memoir on the making of this epic movie. I do not use epic lightly. Cary Elwes a little known actor who was just getting some solid experience in the business when he was approached by Rob Reiner to play Westley. He was ecstatic. Turns out, this was a very special and exact movie, a screenplay written by the author of the novel, years earlier for his daughters. How do you make a perfect movie for the perfect book? The right director, the right cast, and best supporting staff, and some magic thrown in by Miracle Max.

The movie is an anomaly; the perfect balance of satire and fairy tale. Every character given perfect lines (some ad libbed), yet a perfectly clean, seamless adventure, love story, fairy tale emerges. So, it seems, the making of this movie was also. A few wonderful secrets are given away like how they climbed The Cliffs of Insanity and the story of the broken toe, the secrets of the swamps, the fire, and best of all, the sword fights. Big spoiler here, the sword fights were real and hard earned.

This is really the story of what can happen on the set of a movie when there is mutual love and respect for one another and a true passion about the art.

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Bleed Like MeBleed Like Me by Christa Desir
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1.5 stars

It's not that this is a poorly written book or lacked a feasible plot. It's simply a matter of wondering what the book was about. What was the point?

So Gannon is a 17 year old girl who was displaced by three adoptive brothers 5 years ago. The boys have major reactive attachment disorder issues and the mother is an enabler while the father avoids. Gannon hates her home life. Enter Brooks.

Brooks is an edgy kid, age 17, who will say no to nothing. He's been in foster care most of his life and is seriously messed up. Not necessarily from foster care because there are two threads not fully explored, hence Brooks is not fully explained. One thread is that Brooks has serious paranoia for flimsy reasons. Is he mentally ill? Well, yes, but not unlikeable. Also, will a teen know mental illness and RAD without it being expressly pointed out? Probably not. Second thread is Brooks is afraid if his father. No real reason and it was years ago.
I would have liked to see a greater tie between Gannon's brothers and Brooks but there is very little introspection. Instead, the book is about two broken teens who keep making bad decisions and nothing is learned. The ending left much to be desired.

Not my cup of tea.