Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mercury in Retrograde, by Paula Frohlich

Yet another NYC chick-lit name-dropping frothy book.
Not terrible, but it is what it is.
Not as good as Tatiana Boncampagni for the same flavor, quite like Lauren Weisberger, but infinitely better than the loathsome Candace Bushnell, whose whore-oines have been inexplicably misunderstood as some kind of warped symbols of female empowerment. It made a decent bath book, if you ignore some absolute howlers in the writing.

Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over, by Cathy Alter

Well, this was kind of annoying. Good idea- Alter decided to take one year, and follow the advice in magazines to see if her life would improve. It did- and maybe dumbing the jerky boyfriend and learning to cook etc helped with that. What was annoying about it was that she never said how she could afford to spend Beauty Month trying all sorts of new makeups and spas, she never talked about how Clothing Month would devastate a normal person's budget, she never talked about how she could afford all the new pots and pans that went into Cooking Month. Apparently, freelance writers make a lot more money than one could have guessed. I just kind of wanted to slap her silly, which isn't a great way to enjoy a book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Security, by Stephen Amidon

Disturbing, haunting book. Lives in a small, mostly wealthy college town intertwine in desperately sad ways, and people's attempts to keep their families, lives, and town safe lead to even more trouble. Security company owner Edward is distanced from his crusading politician wife Meg, and drives around all night. One night, he gets a report of an alarm going off at the home of a local business magnate Doyle (whose money, incidentally, is supporting Meg's campaign), and after speaking with Doyle and hearing that it was nothing, drives through the town and comes across Connor, his ex-girlfriend's troubled son. Taking drunken Connor home, he begins to rekindle his relationship with his ex, Katherine. Trouble really beings when Mary, a student at the local college, claims that she was assaulted that night at Doyle Cutler's house, and college classmates, townspeople, and even the newspapers turn against Mary and her father. As events tighten up, all in the space of a week, the awful inevitable looms, and while it is certainly sad, it wasn't shocking.
Good read. Still not what I've been looking for, but it was good, and a writer to read more from.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Terminal Freeze, by Lincoln Child

Slightly silly thriller- I had hoped for a better book. A team of researchers studying global warming's effect on glaciers discover a perfectly preserved large mammal, like a saber tooth tiger but bigger, frozen in the ice. The researchers received grant money from a nature documentary company, so are obligated to let the tv people do what they want with all of their findings, and of course, lots of people die in increasingly horrible ways, and wise native people have to step into the scene. Also, one character is an ice trucker who wants to make a movie about ice truckers. Oh, well.

Well Enough Alone, by Jennifer Traig

Very funny memoir of being a lifelong hypochondriac. It wasn't as funny as her other book, Devil in the Details, which made being an anorexic obsessive compulsive laugh-out-loud funny, but she is definitely an amusing writer.

The Enthusiast, by Charlie Haas

This was a strangely mournful, odd book. Henry Bay writes for specialized magazines- hobby magazines, Crochet Life, Zipline Monthly, things that have a tiny but dedicated fanbase, but he doesn't actually do or love any of the things he writes about, he just loves the enthusiasts. It got long and kind of wildly complicated at the end, but the nugget of such a good book was in this. I'll be psyched to read his next book.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child

Fantastic (and gory) fast paced thriller. Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is on a subway in NYC when he notices a passenger showing every sign of the checklist to suspect a suicide bomber. He tries to intervene, and gets caught up in an international terrorist plot. This was a lot of fun, but some of the ickier bits will haunt my head. Definitely want to read more of these though- now I understand the epic waitlists for this title!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Love You Hate You Miss You, by Elizabeth Scott

I bet this will be huge, with the YAs. Trauma-pornish dead friend and rehab book. Flavor quite like Sarah Dessen. After her last, Living Dead Girl, this was a relief, what with no abduction/molesting etc, but still was v. dark and will be, I'm sure, adored.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Pretty decent vampire horror/thriller- a plane lands at La Guardia, but never taxis in. When TSA and DHS et al get to it, every one on board is dead. What goes on next is a plot-hole disaster of a story, but it was pretty well done. Kind of Stephen Kingish/Michael Crichtonish/Richard Mathesonish but not as good. Still, was very refreshing after the Jane Austen. Gory and fast, and very cinematic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sanditon, by Jane Austen and Another Lady

Well, Jane Austen wrote 11 chapters before she died, but she did leave notes on how it was supposed to end, so supposedly an ambitious Australian writer stepped in to finish it in 1975.
That was pretty seamless, actually- if I hadn't known to be looking for the switch, I wouldn't have noticed. Sweet story, with a surprising (and not very Austen-ish!) twist at the end.

Pygmy, by Chuck Palahniuk

Well, I actually gave up on this, but it took long enough that I am going to mention it. I spent more time trying to read this overly clever and overly long nonsense than it takes to read something enjoyable, so I want to remind myself that Palahniuk is much too witty to be enjoyable, and more violent than even the bleakest Swedes.

The Food of a Younger Land

The subtitle says so much more : The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food--Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal .

Interesting collection of WPA essays about regional foods- I loved the chowder arguments and how even in 193x people here were moaning about how no one does a 'real' clambake anymore.

Plum Spooky, by Janet Evanovich

Fun between-the-numbers Stephanie Plum book. I am not personally crazy about urban fantasy, and this one took a definite turn toward the paranormal, but it was fun and quick and not bleak and violent in Sweden, so it had that going for it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Swimmer

Unspeakably depressing movie. Based on John Cheever's short story by the same name, Burt Lancaster plays Ned Morrell, who decides to swim, by way of neighbor's pools, to his home. As he gets closer, the reactions of his neighbors and people he meets at a public pool fill in more of the devastating details. oh, god, this was sad.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Passion for Sea Glass, by C.S. Lambert

BEAUTIFUL book- not many instructions, but so many ideas, and the photography was wonderful. Made me want to run to the beach.

Eco Craft: Recycle Recraft Restyle, by Susan Wasinger

Pretty great craft book- lovely ideas, well executed, with great instructions. Seed bombs! Oh well. Some really nice projects I'd quite like to make or adapt.

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell In Love, by Lauren Tarshis

Sequel to Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, and it was good, but I'm starting to think that the author is making Colleen seem extra-stupid. I don't know if this is intentional. It's all a little worrisome.

The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour, by Michael Bell

This was so much fun! A quick, entertaining YA (6th or 7th grade target, I guess) about girls who work together to solve a puzzle that leads to the ring, and all the clues are set out in the book so one could solve them along with the characters, if only one remembered Algebra 1! It kind of reminded me of The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler, it had a lovely feel to it. Looking forward to the next.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pineapple Express

Wicked funny movie- again, total dick flick humor, but funny as hell.

Columbine, by Dave Cullen

Absolutely stunning book about the Columbine school shooting. Unbelievable how many things were misreported, twisted, and misrepresented. This was devastating to read, but was so good.

A comment from the author:
Dave Cullen said...

Hey Lexacat. I don't know if I've posted before, but my google alert just brought me to your blog, with my book as your favorite nonfiction of 2009. I really appreciate that. Thanks.
For anyone close to a student or teacher, we’re trying to help them use the book in schools. I just created a (free) Columbine Student Guide and Columbine Teacher’s Guide.

Tropic Thunder

Very funny but wildly inappropriate dick flick. Excellent take-offs of all the classic Vietnam movies with great pokes at Hollywood pomposity.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Sign, by Raymond Khoury

Excellent, fast paced popcorn thriller. When a research ship carrying a documentary crew covering the collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet sees and broadcasts a mysterious spinning light, geologists and climatologists don't know what to think- but religious leaders worldwide feel that they do. As more of the lights pop up in crisis spots around the planet, and a tie is discovered to a holy man in a remote and isolated mountain hideaway, the international community becomes focused on the debate between science and faith. Add an ex-con with some great fighting skills, some corrupt politicials, and some particularly bad-ass monks, and you have a book that I read in one (long and much too late!) read.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Wow- finally read this, and it really was fantastic. The rave reviews, etc. that I had read hadn't somehow made me realize how dark this was, but it's kind of haunting. A Swedish noir mystery, it kind of transcended genre with its broad look at Swedish history, including Nazi sympathizers, women's rights, and most recently, economic speculation.

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, by Jenna Woginrich

Wish I could say I liked this, as a friend recommended it, but I found the author really irritating in her holier-than-thou hipster smuggery. And her cheese grater from the antique shop grossed me out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Killings on Jubilee Terrace, by Robert Barnard

This was a good mystery, set on the set of a Northern England soap. The relationships between the cast members don't equate with the relationships of the characters they've played for years, and when actors start dying, the police have to get involved. Bit of a mishmash at the end- veered into psychological suspense, almost, but still a fun quick well-written read.

Death and the Walking Stick, by Linda Berry

Once again, a murder mystery, cosy, southern, not gripping but not terrible.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fragment, by Warren Fahy

Pretty fantastic sciency thriller. A little Jurassic Park, a little Andromeda Strain, a whole lot of bloodshed, and some amazing imaginary beasties made this impossible to put down. Cricton-y science babble and vividly described scenes made it super easy to see this as a major summer movie- the beasties especially seemed like there must be CGI people just begging to design the spigers and disk-ants!

Scarlett, by Cathy Cassidy

Pretty lovely children's book. Scarlett has been expelled from school (again) and her mother packs her off to Ireland to live with her father, his new wife, and her daughter. From her dyed red hair to her pierced tongue and aggressive ways, she has a rough start at the new school there, and soon is being 'homeschooled', by learning about the history of Ireland and the plants and geology of her new home. I thought it was going to veer wierdly off into some kind of myth thing, but it took a nice surprise turn, and was actually very good.

Death and The Family Tree, by Linda Berry

Fun mystery, but it didn't knock me out. The blurbs suggested that fans of Joan Hess (Me! Me!) would enjoy it, so I'm giving a couple of these a go, but while I did like it, it lacked the characteriztion that makes Hess's Maggody series or Donna Andrew's bird books so compulsively readable. However, I am sailing into a second, so maybe they will grow on me.

1001 Old time Garden Tips, edited by Roger Yepsen

Some interesting and funky stuff in here, but not a lot of meat.