Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas Ok. I know I’m incredibly late to the party on this one. And I really liked it. Until the last chapter. I won’t give it away, but for those 8 million people who have already read it: Seriously? No he just did not!

Odd Thomas is a 20 year old with the ability to see dead people. He feels compelled to help these ghosts get justice, or finish their business, or just have the courage to let go of this world and move on. He gets the sense something really, really bad is about to happen in his little town. And he has to stop it.

The book is also peopled with really interesting characters that keeps it from being only creepy. Now it’s creepy and funny. Odd has a friend that is a 400 pound man with 6 fingers on one hand. His boss has a fascination with Elvis she picked up about 25 years after the King’s death. His dad only dates teenagers. His girlfriend has interesting theories about the hereafter.

Plus, the cover of the paperback is purple. I love purple.

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Savvy

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say this: this was written by my friend’s aunt’s friend. Did you get that? Does that make me a biased audience? I think it may be enough degrees of separation to make it okay to tell you how much fun this book is.

It’s labeled YA, I think. I would qualify that to say “Younger YA”. Like maybe 11-14. I just say that because some of the working was a little sing-song-y I thought for older readers.

A “savvy” is like a super power, kind of. And everyone in the Beaumont family (except dad) gets their savvy on their 13 birthday. And until they can control it, life can be pretty dangerous for those around them. Mississippi “Mibs” Beaumont’s savvy is the ability to hear ink on skin telling her what the wearer is thinking. Tattoos are especially helpful in this respect, but even ballpoint ink will work.

She has a really amazing adventure on her 13 birthday because she erroneously thought her savvy was the ability to wake things up. Her dad is lying in a hospital bed 90 miles away in a coma and she wants to get to him to wake him up. I won’t give it away, but the adventure includes a pink school bus and a greasy diner filled with bikers and truckers and all their attendant tattoos.

Meme

Stolen from Jordan

Do you remember how you developed a love of reading?
Not really. I learned to read really early and I always had books around. Then school happened and I was made to read things I didn’t love. After college was when my thirst for books really went into parched mode.

What are some books you loved as a child?
My favorite book from fourth grade to adulthood was Jane Eyre. I don’t really remember any other favorites.

What is your favorite genre?
I don’t really know. I know better what I don’t like: aliens, incompetent heroines, and bad sex.

Do you have a favorite novel?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Where do you usually read?
My special giant reading chair in the living room, or in bed. Or sometimes at the dinner table (I know, I know. Good thing Mom doesn’t read this.) And anytime I’m waiting for anything.

When do you usually read?
When I should be doing housework, or yardwork, or cooking. I read in the car while the kids are at dance/soccer practice. I read before bed. I read if I have a little extra time in the morning. I read anytime I can get a little quiet.

Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?
Not usually. My having more than one book at a time is a sign that I’m stressed out.

Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?
I read non-fiction in a different way, but not place. And it’s different only in that I have a different expectation from non-fiction. And I often cross-reference what I’m reading with some other source. Hence looking up Sargent pictures in another book.

Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out from the library?
It’s probably about half and half. I buy lots of books, but I also check a lot out of the library. Way more than I could afford to buy.

Do you keep most of the books you buy?
Nope. I have a couple hundred (blush) that I’m keeping because I love them and can’t part with them, but I have recently found the joy of donating my books to the library. And since I work there, I get to personally see the books I donated being sold to people who are really looking forward to reading them. It makes me really happy to see other enjoying books that were just sitting around my house collecting dust.

If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them?
My kids appear to be actively rebelling against anything I’ve shown them. They like their own things. I did get them Now We Are Six, but they were uninterested.

What are you reading now?
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I know, last one on the block. But I’m really enjoying it.

Do you keep a To Be Read List?
I do, but mostly because I felt guilty about all the unread books I had on my shelves. So I made a list of them all and I check them off when I’ve read them. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.

What’s next?
I don’t know. Whatever I feel like when I finish Odd Thomas.

What books would you like to re-read?
So many! I re-read Pride and Prejudice every year. I have lots on my shelf I want to re-read, but I have so many to read for the first time!

Who are your favorite authors?
Well, Jane Austen for the duh factor. Charles Dickens. Alexander Dumas. Charlotte Bronte. Thomas Hardy. And in more recent authors Elizabeth Noble. Michael Chabon. And Janet Evanovich is my guilty pleasure.

Strapless by Deborah Davis

Strapless When this book came out, there was another book about Madame X: a novel called I Am Madame X. That may be why I thought this was also a novel. Luckily for me, it turned out to be non-fiction just when that was exactly what I wanted.

It is the story of John Singer Sargent’s rise in the Paris art world and how he finagled to paint Amelie Gautreau, who was then the Paris fashion world’s It girl. He took a risk with the painting and it seriously damaged Madame Gautreau’s social standing and put his own career on hold.

I had to get a book of Sargent paintings from the library so I could see the paintings that were discussed, but not printed in the book. Mike thought it was hilarious that I would read 5 pages, then stop and lug out the giant art book and find a picture to look at, then go back to my book.

Meme that doesn’t make me look dumb!

According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list.

The instructions:
Look at the list and:
Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read
Underline the books you LOVE.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. 1984 – George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92.The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

The Other by David Guterson

The Other I really liked Snow Falling on Cedars. I couldn’t get into East of the Mountains. I really, really liked this book.

It’s written in the first person, and I kept forgetting that it wasn’t autobiographical. This wasn’t a bad thing. It seemed really real.

Neil Countryman met John William Barry in 1972 at a high school track meet. They became friends even though John William was increasingly strange. He drops out of college to become a hermit in the woods. Only Neil knows where and how he lives. There’s more to it, but I don’t want to give it away. It’s told in snippets that bounce around in time, but it’s never hard to figure out when a particular story takes place. It unfolds beautifully, and raises some interesting questions about when you should honor your friend’s wishes and when you should do what you think is right.

Rock Band FYI

In case you were curious…

In the game Rock Band, if you’re the lead singer, and you’re doing Don’t Fear The Reaper by The Blue Oyster Cult, you get to do the cow bell!

And if you don’t know why that’s funny, well, you need to watch more 90′s Saturday Night Live.

June recap.

Time to remember the stuff I read in June.

Books read: 11
Pages read: 3052 (What! I went on vacation.)
Library books: 6
Shelf-sitters read: 4
Borrowed books: 1
Non-fiction: 4
Classics: 3
Mysteries: 3
Female authors: 5
Male authors: 6 (7 if you count the 2 who wrote The Monster of Florence)

Books I didn’t blog about (mostly out of laziness):
Cat O’ Nine Tales by Jeffrey Archer
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Howard’s End by E. M. Forster
The Rough Guide to Classic Novels by Simon Mason
Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich.

Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

The Monsters of Templeton What is it with the Monster books all of a sudden?

Well, this one is quite a bit different from the last one. For one it’s fiction. And there’s an actual monster. Dead, but still…

Wilhelmina Upton is returning to her upstate New York home town of Templeton in disgrace. She’s 28, unmarried, pregnant by her PhD graduate school professor, and about to get kicked out of Stanford for trying to run over the professor’s wife with a plane. Her best friend, back in San Francisco, has recently been diagnosed with Lupus. And her mom drops the bomb that Willie isn’t the product of a hippie commune, she is the daughter of a Templeton man who doesn’t know he’s the father. She gives her a clue and tells her to figure it out for herself.

The day she gets back to Templeton, a man in a row boat finds the corpse of the Lake Glimmerglass monster floating on the lake. Many people have glimpsed the monster, but mostly it was thought to be a myth. The media and science frenzy over the monster parallels Willie’s research into her past and the drama in her life.

This book made it impossible for me to go to sleep at night. I had to switch to some other book to get any rest.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

The Monster of Florence I really couldn’t tell you why I decided to order this book from the library. I don’t usually go in for true crime, but I guess I had a bug up my butt that day. Or it could have been the cover. I could have been waving my coverslut flag that day, and was attracted to the picture of the statue on the front. Who knows. Anyway, I got the first copy that came into the library, so I felt compelled to read it. And guess what? It was pretty good.

Here’s the lowdown. In the 70′s and 80′s a serial killer took out 14 people having sex in cars in the hills around Florence. Over the years, several people have been accused and/or convicted of being the Monster of Florence, but Preston and Spezi don’t believe any of them were the actual perp. They have their own theory for which they have been persecuted by Italian police because they dared to disagree with the going theory.

The main difference between this book and other “true crime” books, is that they still don’t have the actual killer. Most books in the true crime genre are written after the killer has been caught and convicted. Not so much, in this case.

Motley Crue!!!

Saints of Los AngelesJordan said she missed Motley Crue updates while she’s been on hiatus, and I’m sure there are more of you who are waiting with baited breath for my review of the new disc. So without further ado…

The band has said repeatedly that this disc is based loosely on their book The Dirt which came out four or five years ago. My favorites are “Saints of Los Angeles” “Face Down in the Dirt” and “Going Out Swinging”. “Saints of Los Angeles” is reminiscent of Dr. Feelgood era MC. There are some really great guitar and base riffs in this one. And the lyrics are good old gritty Motley Crue. “Face Down In the Dirt” is more like earlier Motley Crue in that it has a lot of punk leanings. The lyrics, for one, are about challenging the 9-5 world. “I don’t wanna wear a three-piece suit.” The driving guitar chords and incredibly fast drumming appear to inherit a lot from The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. I like “Going Out Swinging” for it’s peppy, never-give-up lyrics. Or maybe I just like it, but haven’t really analyzed it yet.

I wonder how many of them had to say to their significant others”"Chicks = Trouble” isn’t about you honey, I swear.”