Llew's Reviews

Archive for May, 2006

Book #28 PostSecret by Frank Warren

Monday, May 29th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Since I discovered the website, I’ve been addicted to PostSecret. Thus, I got the book when it first came out but just got around to reading through the entire thing (opposed to just flipping through it). I’m quite excited that there’s another book coming out this autumn – huzzah.

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 #26 The Coma By Alex Garland

Saturday, May 27th, 2006 by Miss Laura

As if I could pass up a book which Kristen said this about:

“Reminded me of Dostoevsky ‘Notes from the Underground.’ The basis of the story is that there is a man who is in a coma and he’s trying to come out of it. Very surreal, existential kind of book.”

Having been underwhelmed by Garland’s “The Beach”, I would have never given him a second chance if it had not been for Kristen’s review. However, Notes From The Underground is one of my favorites so there’s no way I couldn’t take the bait.

There’s not too much for me to add except for that each chapter of the book begins with a black and white illustration (done by Nicholas Garland) which is so dark that a faint version of it can be seen through the page which has it ending each chapter as well. It added to the strangeness of the story, and was excellently executed. The story was quite unsettling, yet once I started it I couldn’t put it down even though I had picked it up with only the intention of skimming it for a second.

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 #24 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Monday, May 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

I’m sure you will be completely shocked to discover that the Manchester, New Hampshire airport does not have a wealth of reading material in their bookshop. However after finding myself stuck for five hours because of flight delays, I was a little desperate myself. It was between The Kite Runner and a Lavryle Spencer slice. I took The Kite Runner and scampered before anyone could rip it from my grubby hands and I was forced into a conversation with the middle-aged man wearing the “I’m Huge In Japan” t-shirt who was sitting beside me.

It focuses on, Amir, a young awkward bookish wealthy(ish) boy in Afghanistan who yearns for the affection of his athletic socially celebrated single father and who mistreats his loyal heartbreakingly sincere best friend who Amir can never consider a friend due to social classes and standing. Eventually, he drives the best friend away through an act of childhood cowardness and moves to America with his father before the Russians descend upon his country. When he returns, after Russia has been replaced with the evil Taliban, he finds not only his childhood home but all of the main characters from his childhood destroyed.

Basically, it’s a middle eastern male soap opera that tugs at your heart strings like nothing else. All it’s missing is Susan Lucci in a burka shaking her fist at a closed door saying, “You will be mine, Amir! You will be mine!”

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 #22 Why Men Have Nipples by Mark Leyner

Monday, May 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

When I ended up having my car at the mechanics for eight hours, I was quite devastated to discover that the only book I had in my car and on me was a damaged copy of “Why Men Have Nipples” which I was taking to someone else. I never had any intention of reading this one, but it was that or learning about pistons through an auto mechanic magazine. I have standards, kind-of.

Thus, I read this book. It was pretty interesting, although it was completely over the top when it came to the authors trying to be funny. I had a friend who had read it (or at least flipped through it) and had reported it was disappointingly un-sexy in the topics it covered. Although there was not loads of risque questions and answers it did serve up to it’s subtitle (which I love) of “Hundreds of Questions You’d Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini.” There were a lot of random things ones wonder, but more the kind of thing you don’t care enough to ask rather than being too embarassed to. It was fun though. Well, at least when compared to pistons.

Book #21 Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Although I have all of Mitchell’s other books on my night side table waiting to topple over and smother me in my sleep, this is the first one of his I’ve actually read. Black Swan Green is a coming of age story of a boy in England at the tail end of the Cold War. It was good, but didn’t blow me away.

Are his others better? I’ll get to them soon – I have to. No telling when they’ll attack, and I have found that I’m quite attached to my ribs.

Book #20 An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Several of weeks ago, John Green requested to be my friend on My Space. I was quite excited because I loved his, “Looking For Alaska.” I was even more excited when I looked at his profile and discovered that:

1. He is my age. There’s nothing worse than someone being successful and much younger than me. It just makes me hate those talented bastards.

2. He isn’t an uggo. I can’t have an author-crush who makes me want to gouge out my eyes now can I?

3. He has a new book coming out in October!

The next day at work I called to get an Advance Reader’s Copy which I had finished reading the same day I received it in the mail. At first, I was really worried that it wouldn’t compare to his first. It starts with a recent high school graduate who has just been dumped by his girlfriend of about a year. She was also the nineteenth girl named Katherine who he had dated, all who had ended things with him. To distract him from his nauseating pining his best friend, the standard hilarious overweight foreign kid, decides they should go on a roadtrip which eventually leads them to Gutshot, Tennessee.

Overall, it’s a highly amusing teen book and had me in stitches. It’s no great work of literature, nor is it as emotionally strong as “Looking For Alaska.” But it’s no disappointment as far as being a good light hearted young adult read either.

Book #19 Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs

Sunday, May 7th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Burroughs’ last two books have read more like a blog than actual novels or even humorous essays. However, it’s an incredibly hilarious blog which I would have at the top of my bookmarks and would check more than once a day so they’re still so great that I spend the next several days relating the stories to friends as if Burroughs is a dear one himself.

And, really, anyone who has ever shown poster sized images of disturbing hardcore porn to fellow motorists because the other drivers were breaking common courtsey traffic laws can consider themselves my friend.

Dear Soccer Mom in The Dodge Minivan, You saw my blinker bitch! Love, Laura

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