Friday, September 25, 2009

Book review: Lonesome Dove and The Reader

There is no disappointment to voice with these two books! Both were excellent, and I'd recommend them to anyone.
First, "Lonesome Dove." I must say, I definitely would not have picked this book up if I had not read so many good things about it. I was admittedly skeptical about reading a western. This is also a loooong book, which didn't intimidate me, but it did take me a while to read. It didn't feel like it, though. At the end, I wanted more. I wanted to keep reading about these characters ... or at least the ones who survived. I don't want to spoil it too much, but there is a lot of death in this book. Maybe not as bad as "Hamlet," but close. "Lonesome Dove" is truly an epic novel. It follows Augustus McCrae and Captain Woodrow Call as they lead a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. It is at times heartbreaking and exhilarating as the men encounter dust storms, thunderstorms, Indians, horse thieves, and all manner of interesting characters. It is rough and a bit shocking at times, but those details made me feel like I understood what it was like to be there right along with them. It wasn't pretty, but it was life as they knew it. "Lonesome Dove" is beautifully written and, in my opinion, a masterpiece.
I didn't like "The Reader" quite as well as "Lonesome Dove," but it was still well worth reading. It tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who begins a relationship with an older woman. When they next meet, she is on trial as a former Nazi prison camp guard. This was a quick read, but even so I thought it dragged a bit during the trial. I still enjoyed it overall, though.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book review: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," and "Change of Heart"

What to say about these two books? Both were ultimately a disappointment, and I'm glad to be moving on.
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" was just as it sounds: Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" with zombies thrown in. I love Jane Austen and I love zombies, so I didn't think I could go wrong with this. I was sorely mistaken. I really did try to read this book with the fun spirit in which it was intended. However, it fell so flat that I found this difficult to do. The original "Pride and Prejudice" is quite a fun read. I felt that the fun of the original had been sucked out and replaced with poorly written details ("Coy" ponds? Really?) and arguments about whether the Chinese or Japanese training was better for fighting zombies. There was a lot of talk about zombies, but very few actually showed up, and I found the fight scenes lame. I would have liked to see some of the major characters get their comeuppance by being transformed into zombies. Also, there were a few scenes with people fighting one another that were incredibly stupid.

"Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult was also disappointing, though not quite as much so as "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." "Change of Heart" is the story of a death row inmate who wants desperately to give his heart to a young girl when he is executed. The girl is related to the people he has been convicted of killing. This wasn't badly written, per se. What annoyed me is that if you are at all familiar with "The Green Mile," it is quite obvious that Jodi Picoult gleaned many of Stephen King's plot deatils. Oh sure, she conveniently replaced the mouse with a robin. But so many of the details were the same that I actually felt embarrassed for the author. Also, I wasn't too fond of one of the main characters, Maggie. I think this was mostly the result of listening to this via audio book, and disliking the voice/inflection of the reader. I realize that Jodi Picoult isn't "high art" or anything. I've read a few of her books and have enjoyed them as light reading. I can honestly say, though, that after reading this, I will think twice before picking up another one of her books. The similarities to "The Green Mile" simply leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Goodbye, little friend

Our foster kitten has a new home. My husband delivered here there on Wednesday evening. She went to live with a family in the Twin Cities. The family includes two young daughters, and another kitten. My husband even got a hug from one of the little girls when he dropped off the kitten. I think this kitten, who we fondly called "Little Chick," is going to have a very happy life with them.
I admittedly got attached to the kitten during the two weeks she lived with us. How could I not? It was fun to have a kitten in the house again. During the time that she was with us, she fattened up quite a bit and looked much healthier and cuter when she went to live with her new family than she did when I picked her up. I'm happy that we were able to give her that, in addition to finding her a new home. I'm also happy that I saw her that day, sitting by the side of the road, and brought her home with me. She is such a sweet little kitten, and deserved better than to die on the highway.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book review: Water for Elephants

Over the weekend I finished the book "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. This is a book that had been on my to-read shelf on Goodreads for more than a year. For some reason I hadn't gotten around to reading it until now.
I found this to be a quick, easy, and enjoyable read. The story was fast-paced and kept me intrigued throughout. I really liked the main character, Jacob, as well as his friend, Walter. I felt some of the other characters, such as Marlena, were a little bit one-dimensional, however. I also found the ending to be a bit odd. I don't mind an unexpected twist, but this seemed a bit too far-fetched. All in all it was a good, well-written book, even though it did not make a huge impression.
I have now started reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. Yes, that's right ... zombies. I am a huge fan of both Jane Austen and zombies, so when I heard about this book I could not resist. It is entertaining, but I am finding it a bit slow going so far. I think I just read the classics (even those infused with zombies) a bit more slowly than modern literature. That's not a bad thing, it's just a bit of a shock after finishing "Water for Elephants" in a week. I admittedly wasn't expecting too much from this book, other than a little amusement. I am certainly getting that.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summer's end

It seems summer is coming to an end here in Southwest Minnesota. Though the flowers are still beautiful, there is a definite hint of fall in the air. I can't say I'm sorry for it. Although I love summer, the approaching fall is my favorite time of year. I long for the crispness in the air, the scent of burning leaves, and the sight of the trees and soybean fields as they turn to autumn hues. The only thing I dislike about fall is that it does not last long enough. This picture of a butterfly on a hollyhock was taken at our home last week.