Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (book & audiobook)



I liked—but did not love—the book. I do feel like the entire story was a maddeningly elaborate set up for the final chapter, kind of like that joke, “The Aristocrats.” But the pay off was good. The audio book was only okay, though. I really hated the narrator and his unwarranted belief in his own ability to pull of realistic accents.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, by Vincent Lam


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There were a  few peculiarities in this book, such as the fact that everyone only has one name and you're often not sure if it's a first name or a last name, and the fact that the nurses are all somewhat incompetent (written from a doctor's perspective--is this how they see nurses?). But overall I LOVED this book. I wonder how many of these stories are gleaned from real life. I'm guessing many, if not most. I also love that the stories are a true collection, interconnected and meant to be read in sequence--more like a disjointed novel than an anthology of short stories.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave


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It was good. Good enough to get attention as an interesting and compelling story. But was it great? I don't know. I wasn't as moved by it as I'm sure the author meant me to be because I just didn't find his characters believable. It's not the fantastic elements of the story--the horrors of oil wars, the inhumanity of detention centres, the desperation of refugees--that I found unbelievable. It was the little things, the mundane details, what the characters thought and felt when nothing else was going on, that made me think the author didnt' really know what he was talking about.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman



This book was...I can't really find words for it. It's mislabelled as a "mystery" but it's no more a mystery than The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-time was. It's about a young boy's misguided attempt to solve a very real crime. The boy's intentions are noble and honest but he misses so much of what's really happening around him. The book is masterfully written, a perfect capture of an eleven-year-old who is trying to figure out what it means to be grown while still very much a child himself. He doesn't seem to be able tot tell what its real and what is a game, particularly when it comes to the violence in other young people. I fell in love completely with this child and his story and the end broke my heart in two and made my cry.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wordwatching, by Alex Horne


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It was a fun book with a  fun concept (lover of words with a sense of humour wants to get his own made-up words into the dictionary, thus obtaining the ultimate nerdy immortality) and I would recommend it to a friend.

********SPOILER ALERT**********************SPOILER ALERT**************

It's strange that there would be "spoilers" in a humourous memoir like this, but you may not want to read any further if you like to be surprised. Otherwise, hit the jump for more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

[The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson]


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I tried. I really tried. I started it multiple times and finally decided to just plough through. But 250 pages in (250!) it seemed to be a badly written, badly translated book about paperwork. It has everything. Accounting! Geneology! Maps! Yes, it's a pretty dreary book. And then all of a sudden, torture porn! What the what?

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Brothers of Baker Street: A Mystery, by Michael Robertson


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Thank goodness for audiobooks or else I might never have finished this book (I listened to it while doing other things).
I have so little to say about it because it made so little impression I guess I'd give it a C+. Or a D-. I really don't remember.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot


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Rarely do I come across a non-fiction book that I can't put down like this. What a page turner! I think I lost a lot of sleep because I had to stay up to finish "one more chapter." I learned A LOT.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mini Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella


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So I started reading this series ages ago, when I was in my mid-twenties with the first one, Confessions of a Shopaholic. It was cute. It was funny. It was highly readable.

Then after a few more books I realized that the series wasn't going anywhere, or at least the character wasn't. With each new book her life had changed dramatically (she'd gotten a new job, moved to a new country, planned her wedding, met her long lost sister, gotten pregnant or quit her job to be a stay at home mom) but through all of it the character remained the same. Exactly the same. Exactly as cute, as mature, as flawed, as befuddled as she was in the first book. Except that for a single woman in her early twenties to be flighty  irresponsible, naive, and more than a little scheming is a very different thing than for the same woman in her early thirties, married and with a child, to be the same way without ever having shown any signs of growth. Even her marriage is written exactly the same way as her early courtship--they are nervous around each other, keep secrets, play coy games and don't seem to know or trust each other very much.