Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Box 21, by Roslund-Hellstrom

Disturbing but well done Swedish noir. Corrupt police? check. Illegal immigrants and human trafficking? check. A dark and awful twist at the end? check. Fantastic, I'm sold.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, by Jeff Kinney

More of the same, but Greg is definitely growing up. Very funny.

And Another Thing, by Eoin Colfer

This was lovely, funny, and fit right into the series. I'm never sure about a new writer finishing a dead writer's work, but supposedly Douglas Adams was sad about where he'd left Arthur, Trillian, Ford, Random, etc, and Colfer definitely tried to follow the magic formula.

I Never Fancied Him Anyway, by Claudia Carrol

Standard psychic Irish chick lit. fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


A really lovely movie version of Emma (Jane Austen). This was lovely, I liked it a lot more than the Gwyneth Paltrow version.

George Bush Dark Prince of Love, by Lydia Millet

One of the strangest books I have ever read. Ex-con Rosemary fallis in love with George Bush during his inaugural speech, worships him from afar, builds altars and effigies, writes to him and gets secret service visits, and in the end, transfers her insane affections to Bill Clinton. Kind of fabulous, very depressing, wonderful writing.

If I Stay, by Gail Forman

Trauma-porny YA. After a horrific car crash that kills her parents and her little brother, Mia floats around the hospital in some kind of out-of-body coma and decides whether to 'stay' or go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One D.O.A., One on the Way, by Mary Robison

Beautifully written book about life in post-Katrina New Orleans. I have only read one of Mary Robison's books, Oh, and that was years and years ago and it barely made an impression on me, but this was something else. Achingly perfect use of language, and the interspersed lists and holster-wearing guidelines didn't distract from the kind of melancholy Southern Gothic love triangle that was the heart of the story. Lit fic, done well.

Misconception, by Ryan Boudinot

Wonderful, twisted little book. From two of the most unreliable narrators I've seen in fiction, this tiny masterpiece was such a blurry little nightmare. Even to the last line, nothing was clear. Kat and Cedar haven't seen each other since they were teens, at the end of a first-love summer that went incredibly awry. 20 years later, Kat needs Cedar to sign off some documents her publishers require, saying that he won't sue over what she has written in her memoir- parts of which she has written from his point of view. The power of the novel lies in the space inbetween her memories and his, and between truth and fiction, and the loopy meta-ness of having Cedar read an Amazon review of Kat's first collection of short stories by a Ryan Boudinot- sneaky!

Hummingbirds, by Joshua Gaylord

Beautifully written book about teachers and students at an all-girls school in Manhattan. The language was finely used. If the 2 male teachers at the heart of the story weren't original, there were some lovely phrases used in their spiraling to what was told as inevitable disaster.

Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby

Well, this was pretty standard Nick Hornby. Depressed, go-nowhere pop-culture obsessed man-children, women who for the most part should run rings about these guys but who love them nonetheless, bittersweet romance, and all.

The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi

Fantastic, disturbing near-future sci-fi. Gene mutations and spread of genetically modified food that bears diseases that taint 'natural' crops has left the world in a famine, while rising sea levels have destroyed most coastal cities. Bangkok, however, due to massive engineering and successful wars between Thailand and it's neighbors, survives in a surreal animal power driven nightmarish state, and the machinations and plottings of some expatriate corporate types with a need to get their hands on the imperial seed bank drive the plot for the most part. The windup girl of the title, Emiko, is a Japanese creation abandoned after her owner left her in the city, and her 'life' has become a nightmare. Questions of civil rights for artificial life are hard to look at in a novel where humans suffer this much, but miraculously, Emiko's struggles are as agonizing, if not more so, as the humans she was created to obey.

After, by Amy Efaw

Trauma-pornish YA issue novel, this time about the dumpster-baby phenomenon. Pretty well written, but...

Down At The Docks, by Rory Nugent

Interesting and sad look at the disintegration of New Bedford's economy and of the city's fishing community.

Well Read and Dead, by Catherine O'Connell

Another fluffy mystery, set among Chicago 'society', and in Bangkok. Suprisingly good plot.

Purses and Poison, by Dorothy Howell

Another fun, fluffy mystery, a little more Stephanie Plum than September Fair.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

September Fair, by Jess Loury

Fun, fast and breezy month-by-month mystery. Set at the Minnesota State Fair, Mira James, recovering alcoholic and journalist is there to cover the prizes residents of her tiny town Battle Lake win, but ends up having to investigate the death of Milkfed Mary, the beauty queen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The War After Armageddon, by Ralph Peters

Thoroughly engrossing apocalyptic novel.
I can't summarize it as neatly as booklist, so I shall use their (no doubt copyrighted) words.
"Peters unveils the possibility of a terrifying future in his latest thriller. Following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rest of the world becomes embroiled in battle. Los Angeles doesn't exist anymore after a nuclear blast, and most of Europe and Israel are also wiped off the map. How will the remains of the U.S. react to this new and horrible landscape? The scenario that unfolds demonstrates both a paranoid and all-too-plausible possibility. Peters doesn't take the time to explain how all the cataclysmic events transpired. Instead, he drops the reader directly into the battle for the remains of the planet, with weapons firing and limbs flying. The result is an extremely brutal and bloody novel. The introduction, set after the war, takes away some of the narrative's suspense, though the reader is never quite sure at what point the story will end. Military-fiction fans who don't mind Armageddon-style bleakness and massive carnage will find plenty to sink their teeth into here.--Ayers, Jeff Copyright 2009 Booklist "

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, by Ridley Pearson

Haunted house story, gothic horror set in turn of the century Seattle. Was ok.

Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan

Haunting and strange short story collection/graphic novel. This was a surreal and beautiful book, but I don't see who it's aimed at- maybe the point of art isn't to aim it but to make it because you have to, and it was so very gorgeous and wierd.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Accidental Bestseller, by Wendy Wax

Fun, loopy kind of meta women's fiction. Writer Kendall Aims is on the verge of losing everything- her husband, her agent, her career, and 3 of her writing friends, pastor's wife Fay, waitress and romance writer Tanya, and successful Mallory help her complete a manuscript by its due date to fulfill contractual obligations. The title gives an idea what happens to this group effort, but it was very clever in ways. Fluffy, but a neat skewering of the publishing industry, with a lot of real names etc popping up, and great defenses of inspirational fiction, harlequin type books, women's fiction, etc. Also funny- how mean she was about paranormal romance. Tee hee.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Spoiled, by Caitlin Macy

Pretty amazing collection of short stories. Mostly focused on class tension among privileged New Yorkers and each other or with the help (nannies, cleaning help) that they employ. It wasn't that this whole thing hasn't been done before, but it was the knifelike precision of the writing that really knocked me out. The Red Coat, about Trish and her cleaning lady, Evgenia, was wonderful, the title story Spoiled, about teenage Leigh and her riding instructor was great, but I think my favorite might have been the first story, Christie.

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin

Beautifully told immigration and coming of age story. Eilys leaves her mother and sister in rural Ireland in the 1950s to emmigrate to Brooklyn. While this was really good, I am surprised it was on the Booker long list- as I was surprised with The Little Stranger being nominated too. Good, but...

Holly's Inbox, by Holly Denham

Funny breezy London chick-lit, told through emails in Holly's inbox. Bit of a sudden end, but was frothy and had some laugh-out-loud bits, mostly from Holly's friend Aisha.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Sequel to The Hunger Games. I actually enjoyed this book more than the first, thought it had a lot more going on and liked the character development. Looking forward to the third.