Tag Archives: book review

A Finished Book

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Look at me, all done reading a book!  And not knowing how to explain why it’s been so long since the last time I did that.

I remember reading Kate Morton’s other books…

  • The House at Riverton
  • The Secret Keeper
  • The Forgotten Garden
  • The Distant Hours

…so I didn’t think it would be a stretch to like The Lake House.  And I did like it.  I just didn’t love it.  There was way too much messing about getting to the point.  And far too many coincidences and characters and back stories and sub plots and descriptions and hopping around in time.  Just too many words.  I guess that’s why I could never write an entire novel, lacking the patience to expand everything to death without giving the ending away in the first chapter.

A child disappears and it takes seventy years to solve the mystery of what happened to him.  People with secrets!  You just want to give them a shake.  How’s that for a book review?

If the reading of this book hadn’t started well before Christmas and proceeded in fits and starts up until this afternoon I suppose I might have found it shorter.  Mostly I read in bed when I was already tired and rarely came across anything riveting enough to keep me awake.  Not even half way through I found myself no longer caring what really happened or why, but FINALLY the end arrived and it all came together in the neatest little package ever, tied with a bow.  I don’t know why that felt trite and disappointing, but it did.  Just too darned neat and tidy and resolved.

Anyway, it’s a story and it’s been told.  If you like Kate Morton you will enjoy this.  But I don’t think you will be blown away.

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The Sisters Brothers Book

sisters brothers

A couple of days ago I broke my kindle.  It didn’t have its protective cover on it, and it fell from my hand on to the wooden floor with a mighty crash hard enough to jar the back loose.  I picked it up and got it snapped back together, but no amount of button pushing or shaking or cursing could coax it back to life.  Mark Twain was the screen saver at the fatal moment, and he has been slowly fading from view ever since.

Well, crap. What a bummer of a sad moment.  I was in the middle of some weird story but I decided it wasn’t good enough to warrant risking getting permanently crossed eyes trying to continue reading it on my tiny phone screen.  So that left me with no alternative but to go looking for a real book instead.  It was a quick search, because I have a whole room full of real books for just such dire emergencies.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt caught my eye.  It’s bright and red and kind of gruesome looking.  I don’t know why I’ve been neglecting it for such a long time, because it looks GOOD, doesn’t it?   That’s some amazing book cover art.  I don’t think I even bothered to read the back cover or the inside flap when I bought it and may have been influenced solely by the big gold sticker on the front which reads…..

WINNER

Governor General’s Literary Award

Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

…because it turns out it’s a book about two psycho cowboys in the Gold Rush of the Wild West in the 1850’s.  It’s a Western, and I never read Westerns.  These guys are hired guns and they travel around on horseback drinking whiskey and shooting people.  At least that was my first impression.  But the more I read, the more I loved it.  From the cover flap, which I finally read in its entirety –

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living — and whom he does it for. With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters — losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life — and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humour, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.

That’s an excellent synopsis.  Maybe I was just desperate to read anything at all rather than go into panic mode over my busted kindle, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Despite all the gun-slinging and lawlessness, there are some very funny and touching moments.

It took me all of twenty minutes of mourning the loss of my faithful old kindle to go on-line and order a new and improved version.  Yes, I am a spoiled brat with a broken toy, demanding a new one.  But my kindle was one of the originals, and the one I’ve ordered is the new paper white model with a built-in light and a touch screen, so no more tiny keyboard for my fat fingers.  It has been shipped already and will be arriving soon. I probably have time for one more 3-D paperback from the emergency library while I’m impatiently waiting.

I am such a book-aholic.  I don’t think there is any cure for this.  I mean, seriously, I just read a Western.

The Fault Dear Brutus Is Not In Our Stars

How long has it been since you read a book that brought you to tears?  It was yesterday for me.  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is one of those books that’s hard to put down until you’ve made it all the way to the bitter-sweet end.  It is about sickness and death, and yet it’s also a life affirming love story, both funny and sad.  It is touching, and it is beautiful.

I read a rather awful review written by someone who said John Green could not possibly understand “the terminally dark” since he hadn’t experienced it himself first hand and therefore it was not his story to tell.  I think this person was especially upset by the humorous bits, as if the real thing is something you couldn’t possibly joke  about.  But we all have lost loved ones to cancer and have witnessed the battles and the suffering and the pain and have tried to make our own peace with it.  There seem to be as many cancers out there as there are reactions to it, and I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to deal with it and to cope. Everyone struggles to do the best they can with whatever strengths they have.  This story may not mirror your own personal experience, but I don’t think that makes it any less valid.

fault in our stars

“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.

“Augustus,” I said.

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”              

“When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I’d been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn’t get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. The nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn’t even speak, so I held up nine fingers.

Later, after they’d given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, “You know how I know you’re a fighter? You called a ten a nine.”

But that wasn’t quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating face up on the water, undrowned.”       

There is so much to love about how this book is written.  All the incredibly wise and perceptive passages made it hard for me to choose just a couple of quotes, but I hope these spark your interest enough to read the rest.