Monday, November 14, 2005

Book Reviews

Nope, still no new pics to post. New pics, just none ready to post.
So here are a few book reviews of some books I have read in the past month or so:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
This is a beautifully written story of a party in South America that was raided by a group of terrorists. The story follows the goup of people who are left as hostages in the house, along with the lives of the terrorists who invaded, and chronicles their lives both before and during the incident. And maybe after, but you have to read to find that part out.
I am a huge fan of Ann Patchett's writing style. She has the ability to make the plainest things poignant. She always develops amazing characters and does an excellent job of showing character transformation throughout the story.
I picked this book up several times in bookstores this summer to buy, but was turned off by the quick review because it didn't seem like my kind of book.
I would highly recommend this book.
Oh, and last summer when my husband and I were on a train from Prague to Munich, we sat across the isle from Joey Pants and he was reading this book.
(and in case you were wondering, no he can't sing, so you don't need to waste your time watching that crappy VH1 show. Why don't they just give it to that hot guy
from One Tree Hill and call it good?)

Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
So when I find an author I really like, I tend to read everything they have written that I can get my hands on.
I was not dissapointed with this book.
This is the story of a woman who marries young and realizes when she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant that she has misinterpreted several signs in her life and winds up at a home for unwed mothers. The story is broken into three narratives, each broken up into a different section, and each picking up where the other left off. I don't normally like the effect this gives, but it really works in this story.
This is another well-written story with a divine sense of grace and healing. It has the same powerfully plain feel that Bel Canto had, but the story couldn't be much more different. I would highly recommend this.

Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is another book I have picked up several times at book stores and put back thinking it might not hold my interest. I am not a huge sci-fi fan and I couldn't tell if this was really about time travel or if was one of those books that makes painful attempts to seem like it is about something like time travel, when really it is a bad case of some horrid mental health condition.
The plot seems questionable: the main character can only remember the future and the story chronicles his love for a woman that doesn't share the same affliction. But Niffenegger artfully weaves this tell of a bizarre but strong relationship between two people that on some levels connect from the beginning, and on other levels have extreme difficulty connecting.
I feel that the characters were very well developed and melded together in a way that didn't seem a bit artificial.
It is a love story but it is also much more. My husband read it and liked it and he normally shoves aside anything of this sort. I would highly recommend this book.
(Another side note, this is the book that Joey Pants's wife was reading on that same train ride. Apparently the Pants have great taste in books.)

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy
I picked this up because I wanted a short, mindless read for a long flight. It met my expectations. I am not a huge fan of Maeve Binchy, I just have little interest in what she normally writes about.
This story is set in a Greek island and starts with several people who happen to be in a local restraunt when a small boat catches on fire and several people are killed. The story follows the people as their lives weave in and out and their stories slowly unfold. The story is pretty campy, but the characters were somewhat loveable, and yes, there is a little romance action.
I would recommend this if you have a long afternoon and absolutely nothing else to do. Otherwise, not so much.

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
This book is along the lines of DaVinci Code, but not nearly as well written. It is fast-paced, but goes way too smoothly to be even a bit realistic.
The story is about a man who is searching for meaning in his life and several events cause him to leave his job and search for this mysterious manuscript that describes nine insights which are key to the world evolving into a new age, more spiritual, environment.
I do believe that the crux of the book, the nine insights, do ring true and I think if everyone shared similar views the world would be a much more peaceful place.
I gained from this a sense that every being in the world puts off energy and our interactions always involve either the sharing of or the sucking of the energy of others and we alone determine which way it will go.
That said, I could have gotten that message out of a one page blurb describing each of the insights.

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
This book is the memoir of a disturbed childhood from the perspective of an adult who lives through it and has the ability to laugh about it. The book is raw and presented in a child-like way, just stating the facts around this crazy family he grew up with and not interjecting much psychobabble or passing judgment. It is a warped coming of age story.
I was simultaneously laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes and disgusted by everything the author went through as a child. Overall, I would call this a story of perserverance.
I found this book hard to read at times (because of the content, not the writing style), but I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who isn't bothered by this sort of story. I definitely want to read his next book, Dry.

The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
This book had so much potential: a recent college graduate in a stale relationship when her boyfriend dives off a pier and becomes paralized. It all goes downhill from there. Carrie, the main character, whimsically picks up and leaves town for a prolonged period, just doing nothing but not really depressed or anything, then floats through a few more decisions that make no sense (and not in a good way). The characters are all one deminsional and not too interesting.
I'd skip this and just watch the Lifetime movie if you really want to find out the ending.

Currently reading:
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About

Plan to read:
Salt: A World History (c'mon, it sounds really good, read the description)
The Divide by Nicholas Evans, one of my favorite authors
Black Elk Speaks
The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck

I had a lovely weekend- I was in Atlanta for a conference in the woods in a room with no TV. It was kinda peaceful, kinda creepy, but the conference speakers were good and I got a lot of crocheting done.

I recently started the 63 Squares Afghan from Leisure Arts. I thought this would be a good way to learn some new stitches. Couldn't decide on color so I picked black, tan, and cream in Caron Simply Soft. That stuff is so soft, when I was winding it on Thurs. before I left it just kept launching off the yarn winder. Took a good three tries to get it to stay put. I finished squares 1-8 and 10 for that. Hope to get more done tonight.

Got my Knit Picks yarn in last week, so I have lots of Wool of the Andes and some sock yarn.
I've started the Button Top Socks, my first attempt at socks, from Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet and started a felted tote last night.

Hope to get some pics up soon! As soon as my husband shows his technically challenged wife how to get pics from the digi to the computer (yup, it's that bad).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book reviews. I've read some of them already and have to agree with you on them. :)
Good luck with 63 squares! It is a mighty afghan indeed!

7:02 PM  
Blogger Donna's Crochet Designs said...

All that time reading, when do you have time to crochet?
I just wanted to let you know that I now have an ebay store instead of the amazon shop. You were so kind to visit me there, thank you. Keep your fingers crossed this one will work out for me!

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, Thanks for stopping by my blog. Love the book reviews. I have read some of them. I especially liked Running with Scissors.

6:45 PM  

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