Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'Raves and Faves' Category

Book #40 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Yeah, I read it two years after everyone else but as this novel teaches: Time is completely irrelevant. Unless you’re popping into a place where hunters like to go.

Then … Well, you’re in some trouble boy.

Book #34 The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Friday, June 23rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life… To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”

I’ve been meaning to read this novel for around seven years when it was first recommended to me as being quite excellent. However, you can’t just rush into a book with a main character by the name of Binx Bolling, you know.

I’m quite thankful I waited as well because I connect much more to a 29 year old Binxy boy much more now than I could have when I was 22. Although I suppose the wayward ennui and the dalliances with secretaries are things I could ALWAYS relate to. Such is the southern life.

Do I even need to say that I adored this book? I loved the descriptions of the long drives in fear that malaise would somehow seep out of the car into the atmosphere and narrator. Of course, the uncaring desperation and detached shiftlessness of Binx is exactly the kind of thing I would have smitten with seven years ago. Good thing I waited – otherwise I would have had to develop one of those terminally unrequited crushes on it that I was so fond of at the time.

Book #27 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Monday, May 29th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas for this year?

I’ve always been a little wary of short stories until I discovered Lorrie Moore who I adore with a passion. There’s something about the emotional blows she can deliver within the span of one paragraph that jar me so completely that I have to love her. After discovering Moore, I was excited to read other short stories thinking maybe I had just been missing it all these years. However, after searching I just couldn’t find another contemporary author who held a candle to her. That is until I came across this find. I ordered it a year ago (after I finished reading Lahiri’s novel, “Namesake”), but since I’m not in charge of book orders I wasn’t able to get my grubby hands on it until this weekend.

As much as I liked “Namesake,” it wasn’t anything but a mildly interesting tale compared to her skill at the short stories in this collection. Some of them were absolutely breathtaking in their execution. I’m trying to think of my favorite, but am having trouble deciding on one. Just read them all.

Book #25 Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Saturday, May 27th, 2006 by Miss Laura

After hearing other booksellers rave about this book and request so many advanced readers copies, that the publisher ran a reprint of the ARC (which I didn’t even know publishers did) and seeing it voted as the top pick in the most recent Book Sense 76 listing, bookshop girl duty forced me to read this novel.

This novel masters the point of the prologue. From it, the reader believes they know the story arc and the pivotal plot point. Then, when the story finally reaches the place already descriped in the prologue it turns what you think happened on its head. It’s incredible. And although I would never consider it a great classic of literature for that point alone it’s a worthwhile read. Plus, it involves a circus! I’m a sucker for books where a distraught teen joins a circus to escape their troubles. (See: Amanda Davis’s “Will You Miss Me”)

I have no idea why there aren’t enough books with that storyline to make it its own genre. Circus fiction. Tell me you wouldn’t gravitate toward THAT section in a bookstore?!

Also, this book helped me answer one of my life’s biggest questions: What do I want to be when I grow up?

The answer:

Book #23 To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciascia

Monday, May 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

For the first time in years, I decided to take a gander at the literary list I compiled three years ago. At the time, I was more or less bed-ridden and was completely bored. So, I asked people to recommend me their favorite life changing book. Then, I compiled them to a list with every intention of reading as many as I could. And I did, but somewhere along the way I got sidetracked and stopped before reaching my goal.

Lately, I’ve been wishing I had a friend with similar taste who would suggest some books for me. I used to have an over abundance of them, but they’re no longer around. This list seems to be a very handy replacement for such. Thus, “To Each His Own” marks my return to The List.

And, I LOVED it. It was this unconventional (at least to me – perhaps it’s old hat to Sicilians) detective novel which subtly dissected how the Mafia works without glamming it up Hollywood style. There was no Sharon Stone. There was no, “Meet My Little Friend.” There probably were characters who talked as if their jaws had been wired shut, but I couldn’t hear it so it was okay. And I thoroughly loved it.

Oh, and with all of the New York Review Of Books editions, save that introduction for after you read the actual novel. As usual, they RUIN the plot for you.

Book #17 New York Underground: The Anatomy Of A City by Julia Solis

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

As I stated on The Librarian’s Revenge site – who knew having three jobs, one involving working at a CPA firm during tax season, would be such an impediment to my To Do list? And just forget about reading. However, I’m just back to two now and am hopeful that I will be able to return to my beloved books now.

I’ve had this one for a while, and have been quite excited about it. However, I only just now got around to it. I absolutely loved it. It’s one of the most fascinating books, and I completely want to have urban adventures of my own now. Well, the tunnel exploring kind anyway .. I don’t think I’m up to the ones involving a Tijuana donkey and naming a part of my body “The Liberty Bell”.

Book #13 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006 by Miss Laura

I stayed home sick yesterday, and when I realized I was having a moment of not being nauseated I moved into action. I stockpiled everything I thought I might need on the coffee table in front of the couch, popped a movie in the dvd player and had it all set up so I’d just have to push a button on the remote control. Then, I got my ipod close, settled my laptop in, and then very quickly selected a handful of books in case I could read.

The funny thing about my book collection (and it is a rather healthy collection) is that I have more books that I haven’t read than I have. Not because I don’t read much that I want to, but because after I finish a book it is rare that I want to keep it. Don’t get me wrong. I will read a book, and then hunt it down in hardback to purchase while giving away the paperback. However, that’s only when I really love a title so most of the books I read get sent on. This unbalance might also have to do with the facts that I rarely reread books, and that my father always taught me that you should have books which you’ve never read around, and I took him very seriously.

“Never Let Me Go” happened to be at the top of the stack of my stockpile. I had tried to start it during Christmas, but to be honest I’m so busy and distracted during that time of the year that I usually can’t even finish the jokes on the inside a gum wrapper much less a novel. Thus, I didn’t give much weight to the fact I had already tried and failed. Plus, I figured this would be only a half-hearted try since the night before, when I started to get ill, I couldn’t stand to read anything because of feeling so poorly.

However, I picked it up again, and was immediately sucked in. That might have to do with the fact that it starts off taking place in a boarding school. I’m such a sucker for books with school as the setting, and I’m not sure why. I do know, however, that it is the reason for my slight obsession for teen books that weren’t meant to be read by teens. This one definitely has a much different angle than most school books, and is no where close to being a YA title. There’s this whole dsytopian situation abound. (Although, I won’t go into the plot. I rarely do on this site, and I’m not sure why. It could be likely because I think that would sound like a book report. However, it’s most likely because I don’t like knowing too much about the plot myself before reading a book. It always seems to ruin it for me. Even the incredibly short Booksense blurb I read about this novel before reading it, altered how I felt about it while taking it in.)

Suffice it to say, it’s the best book I’ve read so far this year, but that didn’t keep it from making me unbelievably sad at the end. Of course, that could have just been the fact that I had to go to work the next day. Either way, it’s definitely a thoughtful, well written, not entirely happy but worthwhile still experience. Plus, I’m always excited to discover a current author who I really like – even if everyone has read something by him except for me.

Book #1 The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006 by Miss Laura

I was just a few pages away from finishing “A Year Of Magical Thinking” when I decided that I would read another book instead so I wouldn’t start the year on such a sad literary note. Thus, I picked up “The Burn Journals” because nothing is more happy and more of a great foot to start a year out on than the detailing of a young man who tried to commit suicide by setting himself on fire.

The disconcerting thing about this book is that I related so much to the author. We were born in the same year, and so many of the events and people that seemed to bookmark his childhood were familiar. Also, I had the same unsettling way of solving my problems. No, I never decided to make myself a one woman bonfire, but I did set rather harsh consequences on typical juvenile actions. The only difference is that he kept escalating his personal punishments to his actions as they became more serious and likely to get him into even more trouble. Whereas I just realized that I had to make no more mistakes to stay alive so I didn’t really allow myself to screw up, be disobedient, or really even live normally until I managed a better way of coping with making mistakes.

Another note, I rather like the cover of the book that I have featured with this entry, but it was not the one of the edition I read. The one I read has cover art which looks as if it was drawn by someone who had received burns on their hands. *shudders*

Book #53 The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar

Thursday, December 29th, 2005 by Miss Laura

Finally, I read a raving review about a book which actually deserves it! I loved this book – it was the perfect mix of humor, insightfulness, and reality even though it involves a talking cat.

Also, can I just say that this is book #53 so this makes the first New Year’s Resolution which I’ve ever kept. Go me! Although, I think I usually read more than this but it’s been one of those years. All in all though, this will be one that I’m going to try and keep doing. Of course, if things keep going the way they are I might have to start reviewing cereal boxes.

Book #50 If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by Heather Lende

Friday, December 2nd, 2005 by Miss Laura

What I learned most from this book was: don’t live in Alaska, just visit.

I don’t know if it’s because the author’s job is writing obituaries, but this book just seemed to be story after story of someone dying in her small Alaskan town. There were some good parts as well, but they seemed so few and far between. It was a little akin to “Marley and Me” but with more of a homage to where she lives than is ever hinted to in Marley.

Of course, they both end with a dog dying which might be why Miss Flannery always seems to be giving me discouraging looks whenever I am writing something.

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