Monday, December 29, 2008

Fables -- Volumes 1 and 2

I picked up Volume 1 after reading ABC is looking at turning this graphic series into a television series. The premise is very intriguing. All the characters you remember from childhood -- Snow White, Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk fame, the Big Bad Wolf -- are living in the United States having been driven from their homelands by The Adversary. I assume the story of the Adversary will remain an overarching one if the entire series. Meanwhile each volume deals with certain discreet incidents. There are 11 volumes so far, and I've read the first 2 and have 3 back at home. I'm looking forward to catching up with The Fables.

Chasing Vermeer

A kid's book. I read it to see if I thought it was appropriate for my 9-year-old son. I concluded he's not ready for it. I did not love the political correctness of the main characters. And maybe my mind just doesn't work like these kids. I still don't understand pentominos. I think I also might have enjoyed it more had I not read other Vermeer related fiction. Maybe it's a good book for a kid who doesn't feel he quite fits in, but in 3rd grade everyone is still friends, so I'll hold off on introducing it into our family reading.

The Survivors of the Chancellor

Maybe I should have tried to read it upside down like Regina. It took me months to read this short book. The chapters are only 2-4 pages, and I'd manage one a day or so. But in the end it picked up. Not much LOST content though. A good red herring to place on the Freighter, but little else.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Somehow the existence of this book got passed me. I guess because it's actually classified as a Young Adult book rather than an adult book, at least by my library. It wasn't until I saw it on a new paperbacks table that I knew it existed. I've always like Nick Hornby. I like most books that make me laugh out loud, and Slam is no exception. But it is a youth novel. It deals with issues of pregnancy and future plans from a youth perspective, and I admit it, I didn't know why Tony Hawk is. But ironically, KCRW delivered a podcast to my iTunes of a Tony Hawk driven playlist one day after I finished this book. Eerie isn't it.

World Without End

Or should I say book without end. I read Follet's book Pillars of the Earth back in 1990 and really enjoyed it. And I didn't dislike this one either. It was a good character driven novel. But dadgum this book is long. Not only is it over 1000 pages, but those pages are big and crammed with small print. It annoys me to read 100 pages and feel like you haven't really accomplished anything. So despite engaging characters in an interesting setting the length of this book is the thing I'm left with. Good luck and godspeed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I spent the weekend finishing Season 2 of Dexter, the story of the serial killer of serial killers. I really enjoy this show. Season 1 in particular had a wonderful over-arching plot. The strength of the show is the acting. All the actors, leads and supporting roles do a fantastic job of making you want to watch what is basically a bunch of very unappealing people -- a soulless killer, a neurotic, foul-mouthed cop still trying to win her dead father's approval, a power-hungry media-hungry boss, a woman who can't choose a good man just to name a few.

Now this show is not for everyone. It airs on Showtime and therefore has nudity, profanity, and a lot of scenes of the aftermath of violence. But I really like Dexter, and I look forward to Season 3 ending and being put on DVD so I can watch it.

The Plot Against America

The notion of this book which drew me in was the alternate history of Charles Lindburgh running for the Presidency against FDR in 1940, winning and keeping us out of World War II by making deals with Hitler. But in reality this book is a young Jewish boy's memoir, but a fictional memoir shaped by a more overt anti-Semitism than that which actually existed in the early 1940s. So what I was hoping was going to be a historical thriller was more of a revisionist character study. A worthwhile read, especially in these incredibly divisive political times, but not really the book I was hoping for.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Wishbones

The Wedding Singer set in the 90s instead of the 80s. Tom Perotta takes the reader to suburban New Jersey where a small-town boy who wishes he were the next Bruce Springsteen has to finally face the choice of whether to grow up or take the leap he should have taken 10 years earlier. Is there a genre like Chick Lit where the main character is male? If so, The Wishbones would be a defining member of that class. You want to root for Dave even when he's probably making a mistake. A fun character to follow through the defining summer of his life.

The Quality of Life Report

Meghan Daum's charming story of fleeing Manhattan for the real world of a midwest college town takes chick lit to a new level. Instead of focusing on what our heroine is wearing, eating, or not eating Daum focuses more on what it takes to adjust your expectations and your attitude when it comes to living where most of us live. Lots of LOL moments, but the most touching moments comes when Lucinda realizes the level of self-deception she'll sink to in order to survive. That depth is what sets this book apart from most "girl in the city/country" stories.

The Sister

Talk about an unreliable narrator! The Sister takes place in the Dorset countryside and alternates between the present day and remembrances of times past. Only problem, the sister doing the remembering is at best socially awkward and at worst an English Forrest Gump though her running is moths. So while the story moves on it's hard to say what did take place and whether or not it did indeed take place that way. The author does a good job of manipulating the reader's sympathies between family members as well. While overdoing the details of the lives of moths, all in all The Sister is a satisfying story of life in an eccentric English family complete with mysterious injuries and even deaths.

The Wordy Shipmates

Full disclosure time first. 6 months ago I read Nathan Philbrick's book Mayflower. So perhaps more than most people I'm somewhat familiar with this period of American History, 1630-1692 that Sarah Vowell is tackling in this new offering. And what's more, I'm a Calvinist; an active member of a conservative Presbyterian church where I've studied Calvinism and can name the 5 points (TULIP) and where we regularly use the Puritan Valley of Vision for our confessions. I've also read the entire Bible three times and engage in regular Bible study. So again more than most people I have a working knowledge of the modern successor of the religious views of the day. In sum, this wasn't a totally new topic for me.

I really wanted to like this book, and at times I did, but mostly I didn't because, boy this book was an organizational mess. I could never understand what Ms. Vowell was going for. I never understood what drew her to the topic of the Puritans in the first place, what exactly she wanted to impart to us, nor how she intended to get from point A to point B. Vowell's witty commentary on the Puritans was funny when it happened, but organizationally this book was like a hurricane. John Winthrop sat in the center and others swirled around him, but there was no overarching narrative in this book and I found that very, very distracting. Rather than read this book, I'd recommend you stream the story about Thanksgiving, Happy Days and The Brady Bunch from This American Life's website. That 10 minutes is pretty much the highlight of this subject.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Night Watch

This is a book that I read entirely because of the cover. The eerie, foggy cityscape sucked me in first. Then the fact that the book was up for The Booker Prize intrigued me. And finally the buzzword reviews like "captivating" and "masterful" convinced me to put the book on my list. And while I would not go as far as either of those reviewers, and who knows, they might not have gone that far either, the book was interesting.

The most interesting aspect of it was that it was told in reverse chronological order. Well sort of. The book starts in 1947 and moves forward for a week or two. Then it resets to 1944 and again goes forward a week or two. And finally it ends in 1941 and goes forward again. In the end we see are able to understand what turned out to be the evolution of the characters as we see after the fact the events that brought them to the point where we first meet them.

But I do have one big complaint. I object after the fact to the lack of explanation for Viv's relationship in 1947. There's a gap that is never filled in, and I'll leave it at that for fear of spoilage.

While these are not my favorite characters of all time, Waters does an excellent job of describing them and their lives. I wish that after the 1941 section she had actually moved forward back to 1947 so that we could learn what happened next. But then again, in this character driven novel, it's more who than what.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Slippery Slope

Book the 10th presents surprise characters, new and old, maturing Baudelaires and more VFDs than you can shake a stick at. Only 3 more books to go!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book of Lies

Meh. This type of book is not my go to genre, namely the allegedly fast-paced, lawyer or cop based thriller. But I do enjoy a good one like The Da Vinci Code. Even though I didn't buy the premise that was a page turner. Meltzer's book on the other hand did not make me want to keep turning. In fact the last 100 pages took me days to finish. Maybe I should have read it on a beach.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pushing Daisies

The new season won't start for 9 more days, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to post this adorable picture of The Piemaker.

Pushing Daisies was my favorite new show last year. Visually stunning. HD is an absolute must. But the best thing about it is it just makes me feel good when I watch this show. I love the banter between Chuck and Emerson. I love Chuck's outfits. I love how Olive takes care of Digby.

I hope the creators will find a way to continue this story because it seems like it would be easy to run out of steam on both of the main plot points, the weekly murders and the no-touching between Ned and Chuck. I trust them to find a way, and I can't wait for my weekly feel-good to return.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I was so excited when I'd heard that the author of Devil In The White City had written a new book. Unfortunately the execution of Thunderstruck that new book left me much less than excited.

This book trying to tie Marconi's invention of wireless communication, what would eventually become radio, to a murder committed by a Dr. Crippen was based on a connection as tenuous as Sarah Palin's grasp on foreign policy by virtue of Alaska's proximity to Russia. I would have much preferred to read only a book about Crippen. The Marconi parts were deadly dull to me, a reader who is not inclined to be excited about engineering and competing patent claims.

I would strongly recommend Devil in the White City, but not Thunderstruck. It was a great disappointment that I often considered putting down, but my Type A need for completion forbade it. Nevertheless I would not truly be the poorer for it had I put it down. More's the pity.

The Guild

A 10-part Webshow about a group of people who only know each other as their online role-playing selves who must band together to solve real life (well, sort of real life) problems. Features Dr. Horrible's love interest Felicia Day. If you're one of those WOW people it might hit a little close to home, but hopefully you're well enough adjusted you can enjoy the comedy.

A second season is in pre-production now. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fresh Air

Terry Gross is the one person in America I want to hear interview Sarah Palin.  Fresh Air is indeed that, a breath of fresh air on a wide variety of topics from politics to pop culture. Terry always asks such interesting questions (and she's a much stronger interviewer than her subs Dave Davies and David Biancouli). I feel like I'm a much more informed citizen because I listen to Fresh Air. And I'm so glad it's available in podcast form so I can listen to it on the move and on my schedule.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What I'm Going To Watch

Well per Fox and The CW the new television season is underway though for the rest of the networks we still haven't gotten to the main event.  Nevertheless I'm starting to program up the DVRs (yes, that's plural)  and here's my plans.


Amazing Race (which will be annoyingly delayed 1/2 the time because of football)
The Unit (for Hubby and with the same football problem)
Mad Men 


How I Met Your Mother (this is the conflict which led to 2 DVRs)
Worst Week




Pushing Daisies
Project Runway
Top Design


Ugly Betty
My Name Is Earl
Kath & Kim
The Office
30 Rock



What I'm Not Going To Watch

Dirty Sexy Money
Friday Night Lights
CSI:Miami (Hubby's finally given it up, though I may still watch the Horatio line)

Sunday, September 14, 2008


A 70-year-old hero and a 68-year-old heroine. Man that Stephen King will try anything. Another stop in Derry. Another step toward the Dark Tower. Yet this novel certainly stands alone. But for the Dark Tower connection I probably would not have read this, but all in all despite the dread I felt about halfway through when I knew there was nothing but gloom and doom ahead, it was a good book. And I don't regret the waking hours spent on it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Road

I don't know who or how they award the Pulitzer Prize, but I'm convinced it's mostly men who do it. This is the 16th Pulitzer Prize winner I've read since it became the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1948 and most of those I've read, and I'll lump The Road into that bunch I've wondered "why the heck did this win a prize?" There are notable exceptions, Empire Falls by Richard Russo, Independence Day by Richard Ford, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, The Shipping News by Annie Prolux, and best of all The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. And in that list of books, all but The Stone Diaries is much more a man's book rather than a woman's book.

And so is The Road. I have not read Cormac McCarthy before. In large part I haven't because I don't enjoy reading bleak, cruel portrayals of human nature. The Road is even sparser than that. The only name given in the book is a false one and it's not used for either main character. Ambiguity, thy name is The Road. What happened? How did they get here? Where are they going? You won't find out by reading The Road. It is the most present insistent novel I've ever read, brief remembrances which may or may not be true notwithstanding.

I don't regret reading The Road. It wasn't hard or long or anything. But it certainly didn't leave me feeling better about the state of the world, literary or real. It's just not my kind of book, and I don't feel any need to spend any more time with Mr. McCarthy and his works.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Senator's Wife

Wow I enjoyed this book. Sue Miller writes and writes women in particular so beautifully, so compellingly that even though very little happens in the book I'll put it up there as one of my favorite things I've read in a while.

This book is the story of two marriages -- one old, one new -- and in particular the women who inhabit them. Husbands and children are part of the story, but their role primarily is to spur reflection and choices in the lives of Meri and Delia. These are real women with real emotions. They are not idealized, well maybe Delia is, but that's by Meri, not by herself or by Miller. But then that projection of ideas on those around us is real too. A very good read.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched

Boo hoo hoo! I've finished all the existing Queen of Babble books. One of my favorite features of all of these books are the things that precede each actual chapter. They have to do with Lizzie, our fearless heroine's, interest in fashion and in particular wedding fashion. They are full of pithy tips and what may or may not be actual fashion history.

I'm not sure if Meg Cabot is planning on pressing on with the life of Lizzie, but I would not be too sad if she did not. While I would miss her, I'm not really sure I want to read what would be the next logical life milestone or even worse the mundanity of what is in fact day to day life. So for now I'll bid Lizzie "best wishes" and wait to see what comes next.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Curse of the Spellmans

Sequel to The Spellman Files this book picks up laughwise not timewise exactly where Lisa Lutz left off. I find this family enchanting. Once again the Spellman family delights and I cannot wait to hear more from them. A great book for beach-style reading. The only problem is it doesn't last long enough.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Invention of Everything Else

What a strange book. It switches poins of view between 3 characters and then there are 2 additional main characters and several key minor ones. What's more it's a chronological jumble and to confuse the matter more it mixes in the possibility of time travel. Overall it was a decent read, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it unless you like arty novels about historical characters (in this case Nikola Tesla) and shifting view points and time frames.

Nikola Tesla was in fact the hook for me. Ever since seeing The Prestige I've been interested in him, and I hoped he would give me some LOST ideas. But alas, for the most part he did not.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Assassination Vacation

Another contributor to This American Life, author Sarah Vowell (pronounced Vail) has now taught me more about James Garfield than I ever dreamt of knowing. This book follows in a bit haphazard and more hysterical than historical fashion the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. There are also brief nods to assassination attempts and Kennedy though they are not her focus.

I enjoyed the book, but like reading David Sedaris I think I might have preferred to listen on tape rather than actually read Vowell's words. You have to slow down and add the sarcasm when you read for yourself as oppose to listen to the author's intended voice, so I'm sure there are laughs I missed by moving my eyes moving too fast over the page.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Queen of Babble In The Big City

Sequel to Queen of Babble and to me an even better read. There's something about these plucky heroines being in New York City that I really love. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan is my favorite of the Shopaholic series too. Or I think it also may be the case that by the second novel I understand the character well enough to really enjoy her travails and successes. And this has a wonderful ending. In fact I hope the 3rd book Queen of Babble Gets Hitched is available at the library.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


A vampire book in the vein of Max Brooks' zombie books. Takes place post Voodoo Wars where humans and Others exist uneasily especially the Darkest Others, vampires. Good imagination about how you might interact with these Other types. But all in all not my favorite vampire book. I much preferred The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova which I read back in late December/early January.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How I Met Your Mother

Basic story -- In the year 2030 Ted Mosby is telling his teenage kids the story of how he met their mother. Flashback to 2005 where we meet our characters, Ted, his roommate Marshall, Marshall's fiancee Lily, ultimate Bro Barney and Ted's new crush Robin. This show will be heading into it's 4th season come the fall.

This show is actually one of the good things the Writers Strike did. Since nothing was on I started recording HIMYM and watching it after my son went to bed. I managed to catch all of Season 3 that way. I had seen the occasional show in Seasons 1 and 2, at least enough that I could follow what was going on in S3. But now I've watched all of Seasons 1 and 2 -- thanks Netflix -- and I really enjoyed it.

The highlight is always Neil Patrick Harris' Barney. I especially loved Episode 2.5 "World's Greatest Couple" and you can never go wrong with Episode 2.9 "Slap Bet." I can't decide how I feel about the ending of Season 3. I won't talk about it here, but I'm a bit ambivalent about the ending of the main storyline. One of the subplots on the other hand, I can't wait to see how that will play out. Though I hope it doesn't go the Monica/Chandler route.

If you are looking for a LOL comedy about characters that you will come to care about check out HIMYM.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I decided to read this book because of this glowing review by Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air. It also has 4 1/2 stars out of 5 from 60+ people on Amazon. But I just didn't get it, or at least, I'm not buying it.

This was a very strange novel. Corrigan relates it to The Great Gatsby and maybe that's my problem. I've never read The Great Gatsby. The jist of the book is a guy from the Netherlands raised by only a mother marries an English woman moves to New York and has a son. While in New York 9/11 occurs, the wife leaves and guy decides to start playing cricket again which leads to a strange attenuated relationship with a guy originally from Trinidad. And the novel meanders its way through the next 4 or so years.

But this isn't an immigrant's tale, a New York tale, even a relationship tale. It's mostly a guy's life in crisis and this guy is an emotionally stunted Dutchman. Now maybe if I were an emotionally stunted male immigrant, I'd like this too. But I'm not, and I don't. Corrigan raved about the flowery prose, but that didn't make up for what was essentially an utter lack of plot for me. Nor the giant missing detail that characters are at the tip of India at Christmas 2004 and they never mention the tsunami. You make this giant disaster of 9/11 key to your book, but you ignore the tsunami?

This was definitely a book I finished out of duty rather than desire. I would not recommend it. But there was one little part I loved.

Like an old door, every man past a certain age comes with historical warps and creaks of one kind or another, and a woman who wishes to put him to serious further use must expect to do a certain amount of sanding and planing. But of course not every woman is interested in this sort of refurbishment project . . . . p. 109

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This American Life

This is one of my favorite podcasts though I suppose that would be hard to tell from the fact that I have 4 weeks backed up on my iPhone. But I love the in depth radio storytelling, especially when there's a David Sedaris essay. If you're interested be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Each week's show is only downloadable for free for 1 week. You can stream them from their site anytime, but that means you have to be near your streaming source for an hour. And don't forget, if you like the show, and especially the free podcast, consider making a donation to keep the service going.

The Carnivorous Carnival

I've now conquered Book the 9th of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. I started reading this series in order to make sure it was appropriate for my then 2nd grader. He's pretty sensitive to scary things in his media and I was afraid the unfortunate events might be too much. But he and I are both enjoying the books. I probably like them even more than he does. But I'm making myself read them at his pace, so it will probably be sometime in the coming year before I read The End.

One of my favorite things about these books is how the author uses vocabulary and phrases that might not be familiar to a kid but then defines them right in the book. For example, in this book there's a discussion of the phrase "in the belly of the beast" which means "inside some terrible place with little chance of escaping safely." I would highly recommend this series for grade school aged children. They would also be excellent to read out loud.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I found this from David Bianculli, TV critic for Fresh Air and his own website TV Worth Watching. He had been watching various DVD sets to while away the hours left void by the writers strike, and this was one thing he highly recommended.

I can't say I agree 100%. I have never watched an episode of House, but I am aware of Hugh Laurie and his portrayal of a neurotic pill-popping diagnostician. I was looking forward to seeing him in what I thought would be a clearly comedic role. But Fortysomething is this strange hybrid of a show. Part comedy, part this is your life, deal with it drama, and part fantasy/sci fi almost. I really had to force myself through the first couple of episodes. But by the end of the 6 episode run (I love how the British can commit to so little TV) I found myself wondering what would happen next to the Slippery family.

Can I recommend this? Only if you like quirky BBC type things and aren't squeamish about the idea of living in a household where your 20-something sons are having lots and lots of sex within your hearing. I think I'm glad I tried it out, but I'm a bit wary of the Bianculli thumbs up now.

Burn Notice

I started watching this summer popcorn TV show last year. It took a few episodes for it to really kick in and to get where I could put up with Fiona. The end of Season 1 was especially entertaining. Very fast paced and by that time I really cared what happened to the characters. Well, except Fiona.

Season 2 kicked off 2 weeks ago and it picked up right where it left off as good, not terribly realistic, but that's okay fun. Michael is yummy to look at. I enjoy Fiona and Sam's bickering. And my favorite part is the MacGyver like instruction in spy craft. You can check out some of that below.

Burn Notice airs Thursday nights at 10 pm Eastern/9 pm Central on USA (which I get in HD.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles

My son has read the first 2 books and wanted to see this movie after all the marketing that led up to the DVD launch.  We watched last night, and I really enjoyed it.  

It's pretty dark for a kids movie.  There's a lot of talk about death and a lot of killing of goblins.  The first 20-30 minutes of the movie drags a bit, but once we get to Joan Plowright, yes, that Joan Plowright!, the movie sucked all of us in and kept us going until the end.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What I'm Watching . . .

If you have not yet, check out this funny from Joss Wheedon (Buffy, Firefly), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Nathan Fillion (aka Kate/Monica's abandoned husband Kevin).

Other internet things I'm watching right now:

Webisodes from The Office and Heroes Webisodes. But Dr. Horrible is better than both of them.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone

Yep, I'm the last person in the world to read it. Actually, I'm the first and only person in my small immediate family to read it. When it came out in 1997 having no kids I missed all the hullaballo. Then as the series progressed I had a small child who was too young for Harry Potter, and so I continued to miss it. But this week, the kid turns 9, and so the time came for me to read Harry Potter and decide if it was an appropriate book for him to read.

This first volume would be fine for him to read (and was a fine read for me). It's got all the fairy tale classics -- orphan with evil caretakers; witches; wizards; castles; owls; a bully; etc. I did enjoy it, but frankly it didn't leave me gasping for the next book. I'm much more interested in finding out what happens to the Baudelaire Orphans (we're only through Book 8 of A Series of Unfortunate Events).

And so far the kid isn't dying to read Harry's saga either. So maybe we'll save it to start another day, a day when the darker books are more appropriate and he can read it all in one fell swoop. Or maybe, just maybe, we'll miss the boy wizard craze.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Blue Latitudes

I picked this up because I've read two previous Tony Horwitz books, Baghdad Without A Map and Confederates in the Attic and enjoyed both very much. Horwitz has a new book out and has been making the talk show circuit. But my library doesn't have it yet. It did have this book I had not read about tracing the voyages of Captain Cook, the discoverer of the Hawaiian Islands. (He named them the Sandwich Islands.)

Most of the action takes place in the South Pacific which is a region of our globe I have very little knowledge of and not a lot of interest in (except for a certain fictional Island.) But Horwitz again made me turn page after page and while I'm not planning a trip to Tonga anytime soon, I did enjoy my armchair traveling with Horwitz and his drinking companion Roger.


This is the second of the domestic fiction recommendations from NPR. (The third was Mrs. Miniver. I have not read that -- yet.)

It was hard to read this book without picturing Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson even though I've never seen the movie. But Meryl and Jack seem pretty far removed to me from the characters as written who are extremely Jewish in cuture if not at all in religious practice.

This book was okay. It's a bit dated I guess. That surprised me and didn't really drive me to want to cook any of them. I'd rate this a pass.

We Are All Fine Here

I found this from an NPR Books feature that has people recommend three books on a given theme. This theme was female domestic fiction or some such thing.

This is really more of a novella than a novel. I read the whole thing in under 3 hours, but it's a moving story of a woman in the middle of her life contemplating her life, her choices, her men and her marriage. I'd highly recommend it, if not the choices the heroine makes.

Killing Floor

I read this because my husband has read all of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. He said I might like them too. He was wrong.

For what it was, a crime genre novel, it was fine. The book won a ton of awards. But I don't really like crime fiction. I'd figured out who the 10th man was 150 or more pages before it was revealed. I found the relationship between Reacher and the female cop unrealistic and too convenient. And I couldn't get past small details like the fact that the book was set in Georgia in September (not far from where I grew up) and he never mentions football and thinks that it actually feels fall-like in Georgia in September. Get real.

I checked the second Reacher novel out of the library at the same time, but I'll be returning it unread.

The Spellman Files

Fantastic humorous book about the Spellman family, a family of private investigators in San Francisco. Tons of LOL moments. I can't wait to read the sequel.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Queen of Babble

From Meg Cabot, the author of The Princess Diary series, this chick lit is an easy mindless read with a plucky heroine and a perfect man with obstacles to overcome. The hook of this one is our heroine is into vintage fashion and there's a trip to London and the Dordogne countryside. And a wedding.

While not my favorite chick lit -- that goes to Sophie Kinsella's "Can You Keep a Secret" followed closely by her Shopaholic series and Johanna Edwards' "The Next Big Thing," the novel does end on both a sweet and hilarious high note. So I'll probably chase down the sequels at my local library.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The World To Come

I found this book while wandering through the stacks of the library. One thing about it that appealed to me was the reference to the artist Marc Chagall. I've been to the Chagall museum in Nice, France and have seen his beautiful stained glass window at the Art Institute in Chicago.

But despite the Chagall tie, I almost put the book down when I discovered it is essentially the story of Jews, specifically displaced Yiddish speaking Russian Jews and their offspring. I don't have anything against that community, but it's pretty far removed from my own. But I'm glad I didn't put the book down.

The author, Dara Horn, weaves generational stories with essentially a MacGuffin mystery plot all in the service of talking about life and death and what separates them and what life, the arts and ultimately we mean. It was at times incredibly moving and beautiful. And while I don't agree philosophically or theologically with the author's conclusions and was frustrated by the ending, it was a worthwhile read.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Saturday by Ian McEwan is the fourth McEwan novel I've read in the past year and definitely my favorite. The action takes place in a single Saturday. The protagonist, Henry Perowne, a late 40s London neurosurgeon lives out a both commonplace and momentous (planned and unplanned) day as he ponders his life and post-9/11 Western society and politics.

I particularly enjoyed the novel because it was set in the part of London, Fitzrovia, where I lived one summer as a student.