Wednesday, October 01, 2014

30 Second Book Reviews: A Dangerous Tower of Nightstand Books

Even though adoption stuff and work and travel and friends and family have consumed most of my time this year, I'm still reading up a storm. Less that previous years granted, but I'm sure next year, once we have a kiddo, my time for reading will shrink up even more. I'm ok with that. I think I'll just be reading different things too. And the Roald Dahl and the Harry Potter and the Box Car Children and the Captain Underpants books will all deserve equal review time here. But for now, let's stick with the adult stuff. Mostly adult stuff. 

I've been reading a mix of fiction and nonfiction, a lot of Stephen King again for some reason, and plenty of audiobooks on my commute and various road trips. I have slightly different standards for audiobooks than I do for books I read traditionally. I like more plot and less character development, fewer characters, more action in my audio and the beauty of the language isn't quite as important to me in audio. I don't know why that is. It just is. If I really want to savor a book, I want to pick it up, hold it in my hands and read it with my own eyes. So let's dive into the reviews for everything I've read since June. I've noted books that I've listened to rather than read, just so you know my bias. Totally biased.

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman- Audiobook - Let's just jump in with the audiobook bias, I love a good mystery audiobook. This was that book. It was good. Not amazing. Good. A little long, a few too many characters, but enjoyable.

Live from New York:An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Allen Miller- This book was funny and strange and fascinating created from interviews with all of the key SNL people on stage and behind the scenes from the 1970's to today. If you love SNL like I do, through its ups and downs, this is a must read. Plus you'll feel like you're trying cocaine without actually having to do so.

Parenting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck - I'm reading this one again right now. It's going to be really helpful. This parenting thing seems like it might be hard. 

The Tommyknockers by Stephen King - Turns out, I don't really like sci-fi. It's one of the few genres I just can't seem to get into. This was a lot of weird aliens and strange goings on set in Maine naturally, not my favorite King novel but not the worst thing I've ever read. Much like sex or pizza, King is always pretty good even when he's not amazing.

All Three Gillian Flynn Books for the second time Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, Dark Place - Audiobooks - I made Joe listen to these with me on various road trips. I love them all.

The Ivory Grin by Ross McDonald- Noir noir noir. Dark, sinister, perfectly set in the 1950's. I wanted to sip a scotch, hire a PI to investigate my husband and wear a pencil skirt while reading this sucker.

Wine to Water by Doc Hendley- A passionate and lively memoir about a bartender who finds his mission in life by bringing clean water to some of the most dangerous places in the world. Pretty inspiring while still pointing out all of the mistakes people make when running nonprofits. Good intentions don't negate the need for some planning, structure, and business acumen.

The Drowing Room by Elizabeth Black -Audiobook- This one was odd. I stopped about half way through because I realized I didn't care about any of the characters. That's my valid excuse. I use it often. Life is too short to bother with books you don't want to really dive into.

Adopting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck - Again, I've read this one twice.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison -Audiobook - Like buying a "PRADA" bag on the streets of New York, this book wants you to think it's Gone Girl, but the stitching and quality of the fabric give it away immediately as a cheap imitator. I still listened to the whole thing though. I wanted to find out what happened!

The Eternal Nazi by Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet - I've had an ongoing, strong interest in WWII and the Holocaust since I was in high school. This was another example of bringing that time period to life, with the story of Nazi hunters on a quest to find Nazis even in the 2000's. 

Snowblind by Christopher Golden - Fine. It was fine. It was chilly and weird and fine. Parts of it were legitimately creepy but descriptions of little ice monsters dancing on snow just made me giggle and drink some hot cocoa.

We Were Liars by E Lockhard- Audiobook - Nope. Not a fan. I guessed the twist early on because I'm not 12. And I don't have the stomach for poor little rich kid youth fiction anymore. If I was 12 I would love this one though.

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter - What a gut punch of a book. As we get ready to adopt an older child through the foster care system, this book tore me up, inspired and educated me about what this process is like from the perspective of a child about to be adopted, to go through years of foster placements, to be ripped away from your biological parents, and to finally get your forever home. It's going to be so challenging for all of us, but isn't that the truth for anything deeply valuable in our lives? Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your story.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King -A solid Stephen King novel. Strong characters that I found myself rooting for throughout, a macabre and disturbed villain I couldn't turn away from, and a story line that kept propelling me forward into certain chaos and potential doom. And while it lacked a true mystery or any typical King horror, it was a well paced, sometimes funny, always engaging book.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman - Audiobook - Again, a perfect audiobook mystery. A woman is kidnapped as a teenager and must face the kidnapper years later. I wasn't sure where this book was going to end up but I liked that.

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore - As usual, a ridiculous, funny, strange hybrid of a novel, mixing Shakespeare and fantasy and satire into one romp of a book. I love Christoper Moore and want to meet him someday.

The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis -A mystery series wrapped up in the intrigue, history and rich setting of Ancient Rome. I'm hooked and with 20 books so far in the series, let's see how many I can read. Falco is funny, dastardly and such a rounded full character, I don't know if I want to slap him or kiss him.

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda - No wonder Dennis Lehane loved this novel. It's from the same school, the gritty dark streets, storyline and the magic of the words just flows together into this cast of characters and themes you can't turn away from, I loved it too. My motto, always take Dennis Lehane's book recommendations.

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. - Audiobook- This is the totally true story of a multi-millionairess recluse who locked herself away with her dolls and her cartoons in her mansions in New York and then in a private hospital room for decades. It's bizarre and almost too strange to believe. I loved it. She was incredibly generous and incredibly unique.

So that's it! Right now I'm listening to American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a book I read a few years ago, but I heard such great reviews of the multi-cast audiobook, that I thought I'd read/listen to it again. It really is a modern classic. The gods of the book are currently meeting up at The House on the Rock, one of the most bizarre places I've ever been in real life, and it's been delightful to read Gaiman's descriptions of the place. That place completely deserves a prime spot in a bizarre epic fantasy novel like American Gods. I'm also reading a real paper copy of Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose, about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. When we visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis in July, I loved visiting the exhibits about Lewis and Clark, so I thought I'd learn more, since I only have a high school American History understanding of the whole exploration. Ambrose has an elegant narrative style that makes the dry history seem less so. I'm liking it so far. 

So what are you reading as summer disappears into fall, my friends?


Craige Moore said...

I'm currently reading Kafka on the Beach by Murakami and it immediately drew me in, although there is one really disturbing scene that pissed me off for being so gruesome. I have absolutely no idea where the story is going, but I am enjoying getting to know the characters.

Kassie said...

Craige, that sounds great. I haven't read anything surreal in awhile, so it's going on the to ready list!