Born Under a Million Shadows – Andrea Busfield

20 08 2010

First, this book is beautiful, funny, moving and insightful.  I can’t believe that this was written by a western woman writing in the voice of a young Afghani boy.  Born under a Million Shadows is one of the best books I have read in years and Andrea Busfield is a talented and empathic writer.  This book is up there with The Kite Runner for depicting a war torn country and the effects on its people.  I could not put this book down.  Every time I had to stop reading it to go do anything else I could feel it pulling me back.  I had to read it but I didn’t want it to end and I was sad to finish it and close the cover for the final time.  I loved the ending and it certainly came as a surprise.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  I will be searching out her other work.  I await Busfield’s next project and I can’t wait to read it.


My Current Reading Kick – Horror

10 08 2010

If you have taken the time to look at my reading lists from 2009 and 2010 then you will see a pattern in the number of books I am reading that would fall in to the genre of Horror.  I am not sure why this is really, maybe because they are just for entertainment, maybe it is due to the current frenzy for vampires and lycanthropes on television at the moment.  Some of these books have been great, some just good, others complete rubbish.  Here are the books by category:

Great:  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer – Seth Grahame-Smith.  A great combination of historical facts woven into the fantasy that Abraham Lincoln was a Vampire Slayer and that the American Civil War was really fought to destroy vampires and remove them from the fabric of our society rather than to free the slaves which was just a fortunate by-product of the war.  This book is very gory and some of the scenes the author describes are quite gruesome, no romantic, sexy vampires here.  Just true demons.

Good:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth & The Dead-Tossed Waves – Carrie Ryan.   Books about the Zombie apocalypse.  These are Young Adult and are very easy reading.  I did enjoy them both but definitely preferred The Forest of Hands and Teeth, it seemed more genuine.  I felt like the author was trying to hard with the main character of The Dead-Tossed Waves.  Also, I didn’t think the story line made sense at the end. 

Rubbish: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – Seth Grahame-Smith.  I decided to read this after I finishedthe Abraham Lincoln book.  I have to say I am sorry that I bothered.  It was a tongue-in-cheek poke at the writing of Jane Austen.  I have no problem with that, I like her novels but don’t mind seeing them satirized for entertainment.  This book was just boring.  I kept thinking I should just put it down but then I kept hoping it would get better.  Unfortunately, I got all the way to the end and it never did.  I would read this author’s next book but would not recommend this one.

Rubbish:  The Vampire Diaries – L J Smith.  Let me start here by saying I am a great fan of the television show adapted from these novels.  Having said that other than a title and the character names the books and television show do not resemble each other at all.  I didn’t like the books one bit.  I am sorry to say I have nothing good to say about them.  The characters were annoying, I could not empathize with them at all, the plots were disjointed and had no cohesion.  For the first time I would have to say that I like the television show/movie better than the book.  When does that ever happen?

Rubbish:  Faces of Fear – John Saul.  I had always avoided reading anything by this author and this book just confirmed why.  I finished it but I will never read another of his books.

All these books were borrowed from the library.

New York – Edward Rutherford

10 08 2010

Reading New York was the first time I had decided to brave one of Edward Rutherford’s epic novels. I had to read it as it was about my home town and I have a hard time resisting anything about New York City, the place that lives in me no matter how much I travel or how many wonderful cities I have had the luck and honor to live in.

I really could not put it down. It is nearly 900 pages long and yet I finished it in a just 3 days. This book was not only great entertainment but also a great course in the history of NYC from the first Dutch settlers through to the present day. The family that Rutherford wove in to the story and followed from their roots in the colonies to their rise and fall in the ranks of the old families of New York was easy to envision. Not all of the characters were lovable or easy to empathize with but all of them were people I could imagine coming into contact with in my home town.

He did such a great job of explaining New York’s importance to trade, finance and industry and how it became the such a big player in international scene.

It did make me home sick, but most importantly, it made me want to take on his other novels.  I have London and Sarum on my personal bookshelves, I will have to pick one of them up soon.

Book borrowed from the library.

The Prodigal Returns

10 08 2010

It has been quite a while since my last post. I think the main reason for this is that despite the fact that I have read 24 books since my last post in May, most of them did not inspire me to write about them and even the ones that did merit the effort of being written about got lost in the fact that I moved on so quickly to reading the next book.

I will follow this post with a number of mini-posts to catch up.

Waiter Rant

27 05 2010

Despite the fact that I have a huge personal library filled with books that are begging to be read, I have been frequenting the new, state-of-the-art library in downtown West Palm Beach. It is gorgeous and has a lot of great books that I have not been able to find in other libraries.

Anyway, as I was perusing the stacks I came across a book called Waiter Rant. Since I waited on tables for many years I thought it sounded interesting and so I picked it up.

The anonymous author of this book is very interesting, an ex seminary student, pyschologist, marketeer who found himself out of work and in need of a job starts working in the restaurant biz for quick cash and a flexible schedule. Of course he fully expected to go back out in to the “real” world and get a “real” job. But as many waiters will tell you, the restaurant industry sucks you in and seems to keep you in thrall. The lifestyle is great, especially if you are young and you meet loads of interesting people, your customers included.

I liked this book but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.  I wish it had had more stories of the goings on in the restaurant and a little less analysis of why people sometimes act the way they do when it comes to power and food. 

Anyway, Waiter Rant is funny and will be especially appreciated by anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business.  The sequel has just been released, I guess I will have to read that one too.

Borrowed from the library.

A Long Break

27 05 2010

Well, it has been quite a while since my last post.  I have done quite a bit of reading but not much that has inspired me to write about it.  In fact, I did waste quite a lot of time reading a book that I eventually had to put down and admit that I could not read it at all.  This book happens to be on the NYT Bestseller list, probably has been for quite a while but it is definitely not for me.  It reminded of why I tend to be a bit of a book snob and usually stick to Contemporary Literature rather than what the marketing execs of the big publishing firms tell me to read.

Anyway, I do have a book I am going to post about and that post will be coming up soon.  I also have a cookbook I am going to write about soon.  So, come back to catch up with me soon.

The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood

22 04 2010

The Year of the Flood is another triumph for Margaret Atwood.  Atwood is a great writer, she understands language, suspense, mystery and how to weave a story that will lead on down the path to its conclusion and leave you wanting more.

It has been many years since I read one of her books even though The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite novels of all time.  This novel like The Year of the Flood was a serious social commentary written as science fiction.

I was so taken with the characters and the story that I am going to have to go and read Oryx and Crake an earlier book that mentions some of these characters and see how their stories were developed.

This book certainly brought me back to being a reader of Atwood’s books, I would recommend it to anyone that wants entertainment with a good dose of conscience and sense.

This book was borrowed from the library.