Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'Raves and Faves' Category

Book #46 Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

Saturday, November 5th, 2005 by Miss Laura

You got a love a thriller that is so paranoid that the author won’t even let you know who he is.

Book #44 A Year In The Merde by Stephen Clarke

Saturday, October 29th, 2005 by Miss Laura

Carrie bought this book while visiting me, and hearing her laughter while she read it convinced me to do the same. Any book where the names are changed in order to “avoid embarrassment, possible legal action-and to prevent the author’s legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint Laurent suit” is right up my alley. Heaven knows that if I ever right a book that there are certain women who favor turquoise and purple velour jumpsuits who will have my head.

But at least now I know how to order a normal sized beer in Paris. Surely, that’s going to come in handy at some point.

Book #40 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Sunday, October 9th, 2005 by Miss Laura

The author of this book is a regular poster on a message board which I frequent. Several months ago we had a discussion about “The Historian” which she was not a fan of. After reading her book, I now see why. Who wants a cryptic unhygenic vampire when you can have a chiseled dashing vamp of your dreams?

Not that Ben has to worry about me or anything. Heaven knows I look awful in a turtleneck.

Book #39 Looking For Alaska by John Green

Thursday, October 6th, 2005 by Miss Laura

“You can say a lot of bad things about Alabama, but you can’t say that Alabamans as a people are unduly afraid of deep fryers.”

This is almost a male version of the Basic Eight. Not plot wise (so I’m not giving anything away), but in the witty pretentious-but-we-know-so-it’s-not-as-damning clever high school tone. Although it did have plot elements that I kept hoping for in “Prep”. There were your usual sterotypes, but presented in a more humorous way than most. For example on portraying the feminist: “But Takumi doesn’t know how to iron, either. And when I asked Alaska, she started yelling, “You’re not going to impose the patriarchal paradigm on me!”

And, embarassingly enough, there was one scene which caused me to literally fall out of my chair onto the floor laughing. And that scene is the exact reason that even though I think it’s one of the best teen novels ever – that I won’t be recommending it to a lot of customers.

Book #38 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005 by Miss Laura

“This is also the tale of another remarkable vision–not a corporeal vision of God but the vision of life as a wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged in Ames’s soul during his solitary life, and how history lives through generations, pervasively present even when betrayed and forgotten.
“Gilead is the long-hoped-for second novel by one of our finest writers, a hymn of praise and lamentation to the God-haunted existence that Reverend Ames loves passionately, and from which he will soon part.”

The above is the reason why I will never be a book reviewer. Because the only thing I can think of to say about this book is, “It was pretty good. I think I’ll give it to some people for Christmas.”

Book #37 Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Friday, September 30th, 2005 by Miss Laura

This is the last time that I pick up a thousand page book to read without thinking of the consequences. Three fourths of the way through I started to feel as if I were in a bad relationship that I just couldn’t end. We had already been through so much I just couldn’t quit! And the endearing memories of our first days together. How I trembled when I read the lines of:

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.”

I didn’t even have the intention of reading the book when I picked it up. I was merely just flipping through, but it grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. Even with that shakiness that I felt when the pacing change near the end, I still think this book is incredible. Really, it is. It went from a hilarious charming view of Indian culture from the view of an outsider who was slowly being made a part of it to a war in Afghanistan against the Russians which threw me for a loop. But it was an informative thrilling loop that caused the story to run a gamut of plot points that many people don’t see in their own lives throughout their lifetime. Or at lease, ones that this particular person hopes she doesn’t have to see in her lifetime. Case in point:

“In my case, it’s a long story, and a crowded one. I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosspher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum-security prison. When I escaped from that prison, over the front wall, between two gun-towers, I became my country’s most wanted man. Luck ran with me and flew with me across the world to India, where I joined the Bombay mafia. I worked as a gunrunner, a smuggler, and a counterfeiter. I was chained on three continents, beaten, stabbed, and starved. I went to war. I ran into enemy guns. And I survived, while other men around me died. They were better men than I am, most of them: better men whose lives were crunched up in mistakes, and thrown away by the wrong second of someone else’s hate, or love, or indifference. And I buried them, too many of those men, and grieved their stories and their lives into my own.”

Book #34 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Thursday, August 11th, 2005 by Miss Laura

“It was at these times that he began to understand, after all those years of study and performance, of feats and wonders and surprises, the nature of magic. The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits might be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew that it was only an illusion. The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place.”

Magical, indeed.

Book #32 Snow Flower And The Secret Fan by Lisa See

Thursday, July 21st, 2005 by Miss Laura

Snow Flower and The Secret Fan made me physically ill, and I loved every incredible moment of it.

There were several topics covered in this novel which I wasn’t very aware of. The first was footbinding which I, naturally, had heard of but wasn’t well versed in the details. My stomach is too weak for it so I have no idea how those women’s feet handle it. Although, the maxim of the women during this time period in China was that pain tempers people into who they should become, and into beauty itself.

Nu Shu, the secret written language of the women in China, is another subject which I am woefully ignorant in. The story centered on the lives of two girls who seal into a contract to be lifelong best friends in rural China. It touches on the universal trials which trouble most close relationships between women, as the characters suffer through plagues, rebellions, children, and marriage. (Although I suppose the first two are the same as the last two, heh).

In the end, it was one of the most enchanting recent novels I have read in a very long time. It is not a happy story, and consequently, there is not a happy ending. But the substance of it by far exceeds any need for it.

"Girls become boys who do girls like eunuchs only with better hair!"

Friday, March 11th, 2005 by Miss Laura

“There was a time when I liked a good riot. Put on some heavy old street clothes that could stand a bit of sidewalk-scraping, infect myself with something good and contagious, then go out and stamp on some cops. … It was GREAT being nine years old.” — Transmetropolitan: Back On The Street by Warren Ellis

Do graphic novels count? I haven’t made up my mind yet so I think I will say that these three I read count as one book. This was a good read so close after the death of Hunter S. Thompson since the main character, Spider Jerusalem, is so reminescent of him.

Breaking for a funny Thompson story: Hunter was running for the sheriff of where he lived, and his opponent had a crew cut. Thus, Thompson cute his hair even shorter than that and started referring to the other guy as his “long-haired opponent.” Tehehe. Man, I loved Hunter S. Thompson.

I also really like Spider Jerusalem who has gone out of his five years of hiding from other people up in the wilderness because he has a book deal that he hasn’t completed. In order to write, he must live in the city. In order to live in the city, he must find a job to support him there. Thus, he finds an old contact and starts writing a column entitled “I Hate It Here” for The Word. In the process of writing the news, he starts to create and affect it. It’s very graphic and violent, but also very good.

Shouts out to Jayward who lent them to me YEARS ago, and I promise I’ll return all the books you loaned me. Really.

Book #11 The Decay Of The Angel By Yukio Mishima

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005 by Miss Laura

The Decay Of The Angel has left me speechless. Or rather spluttering. I can’t even think of how to describe how brilliant it was, but it was a more perfect capstone to the series than I could ever imagine. Up until this book (and even through the first half of it), I thought the series was good but nothing as remarkable as others had said. However this book has to be one of the best I’ve ever read, but it wouldn’t stand as such without the rest of the books as a background. Absolutely enthralling.

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