Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'All The Cool Kids Were Reading it' Category

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Friday, February 22nd, 2008 by Miss Laura

perdidostreetstation.jpgFebruary is my month for Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. Of course, I started this book MONTHS ago and just finished slogging my way through it. It wasn’t that it was bad – because I kind of enjoyed it. It made me appreciate his childrens book (UnLunDun) more since at least that story didn’t involve any brain eating moth monsters. However, it was just a very slow read for me. All that chaos theory and weird species and it was too much. I’ve already bought his other two so I’m going to try them as well – especially since I’ve heard the next one (Scar) is the best. But, to be honest, I’m not really excited about it. And books that don’t excite me – make me sad.

Eragon & Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Friday, February 22nd, 2008 by Miss Laura


Well, if I’m going to be hauling my aging lazy bum to the bookstore to host a midnight party for a book I SUPPOSE I should have read the two prior ones in the series. So, I did. And now I’m wishing I would have waited to do so because now I have until September before Brisingr is released. Oh snap!

I confess that I really thought reading these were going to be a chore. I mean it was written by a 15 year old homeschooled boy. I don’t like talking to teenage boys – why would I want to read anything written by one? Plus, I saw the movie. That horrible terrible no good wretched movie – ugh. To my surprise, I quite liked the books. I might have liked them more than I would have otherwise because I was expecting them to be SO bad. But Eragon especially was quite fun to read.  With Eldest, Paolini seemed to lost momentum but hopefully the series may still be redeemed.

I still wish I hadn’t had to break my self imposed rule about not starting a series unless all the books in it are already out, but sometimes work is work.

The Film Club by David Gilmour

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 by Miss Laura

film-club.jpg I read an advance reader’s copy of this book after hearing it lauded at the Winter Institute in Kentucky last week. There were quotes! Quotes from famous authors, like Richard Russo! Quotes that said things like, “I loved David Gilmour’s sleek, potent little memoir, The Film Club. It’s so, so wise in the ways of fathers and sons, of movies and movie-goers, of love and loss.”

You can’t just not pick up a (free) book when such things are said by such people. It’s impossible! Or at least it is unwise. So I picked it up, couldn’t put it down, and a few hours later crawled out the book’s warm, yet turbulent, embrace. When the author’s 16 year old son is struggling in school and every resource has been drained, it’s decided that he can drop out. The only requirement is that he watch movies with his dad. They range from high brow to , well, Basic Instinct. But it’s not always about the movies or even what those stories can teach us about life. But it’s more about what you learn from that time with a parent that you otherwise (most likely) wouldn’t have. David Gilmour isn’t the perfect father. He isn’t even a father you wished you had (at least not for me) but his Film Club is the perfect idea — and one I wish I had participated in.

And, now, I have to go watch True Romance because evidently it’s the *perfect* movie. Or something like that.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Thursday, January 17th, 2008 by Miss Laura

atonement1.jpg Finally, I was able to read what I had wanted to all along instead of the very poor substitute of “On Chesil Beach.” This book is amazing and I absolutely adored it. I could kick myself for not having read it sooner, and yet at the same time I still wish I had the delight of reading it for the first time to look forward to. Oh well.

Now on to getting the rest of McEwan’s works in my grubby little hands.

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

Saturday, January 5th, 2008 by Miss Laura

I’m always a complete sucker for Chabon’s dry wit and this one even features a man who is constantly smitten with a new hat. Oh, a man after my own heart. It took me a little while to get into. Since it’s such a short novel that meant that by the time I was into it, I was about out of it.

Alas, perhaps if Chabon had gone with his original title of “Jews with Swords” I would have picked it up sooner.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by Queen of Books Rowling

Friday, July 27th, 2007 by Miss Laura

I read this one less than a day after it had been released. Oh yes, I had to wait for a week while I stood inches away from boxes of the book before I could get my grubby hands on it to read it. The stress of having to be patient might have caused both ulcers and hives.

Scholastic and Rowling: expect to receive my angry missives in your mailbox soon!

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

Sunday, June 24th, 2007 by Miss Laura

sociopathnextdoor.jpgI read this non-fiction work on sociopaths to help me better understand the villains in the fantasy series I have been reading. That and because Ben made me. He wanted me to read this book and a graphic novel series wherein one man anally rapes another with a jackhammer. I chose to delve into this one first. Go figure.

Martha Stout, who is a clinical psychologist, specializes in helping people who have suffered from “psychological trauma” which sometimes happens in the form of being manipulated by a sociopath or a person who has absolutely no conscience, no capability to love, and no ability to form real bonds with others. In addition to the infamous sociopaths Ted Bundy and Charles Manson whose sociopath ways cause them to murder and maim, there are many sociopaths who simply go undetected even though they are also manipulating and controlling others, just generally on a smaller scale.

The book is filled with many case studies, and tips on how to detect and how to handle the “next door” sociopath. I’ll spoil the tip on how to handle them – you don’t. You simply cut your losses and run – without associating any more or trying to best the other.

Also, a lot of the suggestions in the Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life are common sense or at least things I naturally do any way. Rule #5 is “Suspect Flattery.” I almost always distrust compliments, especially if egregious. Rule #9 is “Question your tendency to pity too easily.” Sociopaths work through getting others to pity them. If they find themselves trapped or their game coming to an end, they will try to extort you with pity:

“If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath. Related to this – I recommend that you severely challenge your need to be polite in absolutely all situations. … Sociopaths take huge advantage of this automatic courtesy in exploitive situations. Do not be afraid to be unsmiling and calmly to the point.”

I’ve always found that while I always try to be a good person, which I know it’s sometimes safer and wiser to not always be a nice person. Although, I am never overt about this. I’m not a bitch. I’ve been told many times that I’m “too nice” but I’m never really too nice. Not in situations where other people might naturally think I’m cruel. It might be common sense to me because I grew up in circumstances where I learned some things a bit earlier than others.

The book isn’t as paranoia inducing as it sounds, although it does point out that 1 in 25 Americans are sociopaths. It’s just a very easy and interesting to read primer on Sociopaths and how to deal with them, which is handy when statistics say you will most likely know at least one in your life.

I Consign You And Your Golf Shoes To Lower Wacker Drive

Saturday, June 16th, 2007 by Miss Laura

“I listened to Karen Woo give an explanation of photosynthesis once,’ he said. ‘God only knows why they were discussing photosynthesis. They hung on her every word, like she was a PBS Special. Her explanation didn’t even involve sunlight.– from Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris

Before I was a hundred pages in, I had already taken to reading passages out loud to Ben. It’s like a book version of “The Office” and just as hilarious. However, it’s not a cohesive enough story you could really fall into and fall in love with for the plot’s sake. I’m still making Ben read it though, even if it’s just for the fact he will – ever so sadly – be able to relate to it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 by Miss Laura

A book so sad it was hard not to rip the pages out just to have some freaking tissue.

Who knew there could be a book even more depressing and heart wrenching than the Kite Runner? At least this time I knew better than to read it while in a public place so I wouldn’t be sobbing in front of the masses.

Stolen Child by Keith Donahue

Thursday, June 14th, 2007 by Miss Laura

Good story with a horrible dissatisfying ending that was just… weird.

Actually, let me change that to “Good-ish” story because it was rather slow to get into but I really liked the concept. Parts of the story were just lovely, but not enough to carry the entire tale through.

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