Llew's Reviews

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Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 by Miss Laura

secrethistoryofmoscow.jpg This was recommended to me as the Russian version of Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”. In fact, it even has a quote by Gaiman on the cover of the book saying the same thing. The quote makes Neil seem a little cocky.

“A lovely, disconcerting book that does for Moscow what I hope my own Neverwhere may have done to London.”

While I was a little meh about Neverwhere, I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I’ve been thinking that it’s only fantasy on a young adult level that I like, but I think it’s really this sub-genre known as Urban Fantasy that tickles my fantasy. I can relate and get into that kind of story more so than a full out unbelievable fantasy land. Although with all of the Russian fairy and folktale characters which I was completely unfamiliar with, it might as well been an unbelievable fantasy land for me.

I quite liked the characters, the writing, and the storyline in this one. The ending WAS disconcerting and unhappy which sealed the deal for me.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Thursday, February 7th, 2008 by Miss Laura

elsewhere.jpg After enjoying “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac” so much I decided to look into Zevin’s first book, “Elsewhere” which is also a young adult title. The twist to this one is the main character is dead and has gone onto the afterlife which is known as Elsewhere. In Elsewhere, people age backwards from the age they died at until they become babies again. At that point, they’re reborn on Earth.

Although the storyline was a lot more unusual than Memoirs, it was just engaging. I really liked this one as well – maybe even moreso than Elsewhere. It’s light reading but at the same time not complete fluff.

One Foot In Eden by Ron Rash

Thursday, February 7th, 2008 by Miss Laura

onefootineden.jpg Although this was Rash’s first novel, it’s the last of his novels that I’ve gotten around to reading which was stupid of me considering it is by far his best work. It’s like a vintage crime novel taking place in Jocasse (which is now a man made lake). In fact, it ends with the valley being flooded to make the lake, covering up the good and the bad. Beautiful story and I adored it.

It made me even more excited for his novel, Serena, coming out in September. Oh! And if you can ever make it out to one of his readings I highly suggest it. He’s quite entertaining and lyrical just in conversation.

Zoro’s Field by Thomas Rain Crowe

Saturday, January 19th, 2008 by Miss Laura

zorosfield.jpg On a recent hike along the trails of Carl Sandburg’s old house in western North Carolina, I brought along a guide book. Under “suggested readings” “Zoro’s Fields” was listed along with a biography on Sandburg. Since I wasn’t familiar with this title, I decided to check it out.

It’s the story of how author decided to move back to WNC when he was 30 and live in a cabin (that didn’t have electricity or plumbing) to eek out a living from the land. He befriends a couple of older gentleman who impart their wisdom when it comes to working the land in exchange for help with some of the more laborious chores. Less than a page is dedicated to Crowe’s relationship with the Carl Sandburg homestead – which is ten miles from his cabin and where on days the farm is closed to the public he clears out the goat barn to use the manure for his fields. It’s an Appalachian Walden’s Pond only not nearly as well written.

Each chapter ends with one of his poems. Evidently, his poetry has been published in various magazine but I don’t know why. Most of it is wretched wretched stuff. And while the book is thought provoking in it’s themes of being self sufficient and discovering yourself through nature, it’s not well written enough to be inspiring or a book for the ages. Plus on the “About The Author” page at the end of the book it describes Crowe as a “baby beat” of the 1970s San Francisco renaissance. Baby Beat? That makes me throw up a little in my mouth. I mean, seriously.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Saturday, January 12th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Talk about the wrong book to give a couple of Newlyweds. Ouch!

This was the first book I’ve read by McEwan and in reality was just something to do until I could get my hands on “Atonement” which I had left at work. It’s a quite short story that I couldn’t really relate too. Well told, sad – but just a little off. Didn’t do much for me one way or another. I can see liking some of his other work though.

Book #63 The Girls by Lori Lansens

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006 by Miss Laura

A Warning: This is probably not the best book to read if you’re 29 or have just turned 30. Seriously.

Book # 59 Shopgirl by Steve Martin

Sunday, October 1st, 2006 by Miss Laura

Book 1 of 2 in a series entitled: “A customer at the store lent me this book without me asking for it, and I’m trying to read it and return it as soon as possible so that I do not do any damage to it and ruin my reputation with them forever.”

Book #55 The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006 by Miss Laura

A picture of Hunter S. Thompson as a young chiseled man graces the front cover of this paperback, and all I have to say is, “Nice shorts.” Seriously, can we say ‘Richard Simmons’?

In the course of the several hours it took me to wait for my doctor’s appointment, I was able to read this from start to finish. I had borrowed this one from Ben, and it was a nice light distraction. It kind of petered out near the end, but the beginning scene where the narrator pens an old grumpy man to a window with a typewriter because he’s .. well old and grumpy. That right there was enough to make the book for me. If I could have used tactics like that on my last family vacation to Florida, I might have actually enjoyed the trip!

Book #47 The Butterfly Hunter by Chris Ballard

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

After seeing this one featured in the Southern Independent Booksellers Association spring catalog, I decided to pick it up. The book focuses on ten ten various people in unusual careers which they’re not only highly passionate about but are their own personal “dream jobs.”

Let’s look at what qualifies as these ten people’s dream jobs:
* A fellow who changed his name to “Spiderman” who climbs buildings (to inspect for structural damage and insurance estimates.)
* A Hollywood voiceover artist who does the voice work for movies and commercials
* A female lumberjack. (The term lumberjill seems a bit too cutesy for this woman who, I believe if I met her while she was sporting an axe, might cause me to wet myself.)
* A butterfly hunter who likes to sweat it up in the rain forests of Costa Rica.
* A coach who suffers from Palsy and has never played football, yet is an amazing NFL coach for Kickers.
* A mushroom hunter.
* An artist whose subject matter happens to be prosthetic eyeballs. (Or maybe everyone doesn’t need the term, “Ocularist” explained to them.)
* A handwriting expert.
* A man whose life work is building a life size model railroad based on the route between Troy New York north to the Canadian border exactly as it appeared on September 25, 1950.
* An assistant professor of management and organizations at the school of Business at NYU who studies people and their careers.

Now, let’s look at MY list of personal dream jobs:
* Heiress
* A Countessa with a legion of ready Cabana Boys at her service
* Bookshop Girl
* Independently wealthy literary author

Book #45 Hope was Here by Joan Bauer

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006 by Miss Laura

This is another book on the local school’s reading list, but this time for a middle school. Being quite the sucker for young adult books, I thought this was well done all the way through.
Plus, it had lines like, (said to a girl who is moving from New York to Wisconsin) “There’s a lot of cheese where you’re going, Hope. I’m not sure how this affects people long-term…”

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