Friday, January 30, 2015

The Tiny Wife; Andrew Kaufman

The Tiny Wife; Andrew Kaufman
2011 - The Friday Project

I can't recall which blogger mentioned how much they loved this book, but I did purchase it (and it wasn't easy to find) when they mentioned it. Of course this is one of those books that I bought and then it sat on my shelf a few years unread.  Well all that changed on recent snow day, and I'm so happy I finally read it. It's a charming, imaginative fable-like novella, complete with illustrations.

One day a flamboyantly dressed bank robber walks into a Canadian bank. He's not looking to rob the bank or hurt the (13) victims, instead he asks each person to surrender the one item in their possession that has the greatest sentimental value for them.  One person gives him a picture of their small children, another a cheap watch, one give a book, another a calculator and so on.  The robber then says, "Listen, I'm in a bit of a rush, so let me conclude. When I leave here, I will be taking 51 percent of your souls with me.  This will have strange and bizarre consequences in your lives.  But more importantly, and I mean this quite literally, learn how to grow them back, or you will die."

Almost immediately the victims lives begin to fall apart. The woman who surrendered her calculator literally begins to shrink :the tiny wife". A man turns into a snowman, a baby begins to poop paper bills, and more.

The Tiny Wife is a short, touching and thought provoking tale that engages and entertains, and it's also a story that makes the reader think about what they consider most precious to them. Less than 100 page, it's one of those rare books that made me wish the story was longer when I turned the final page.  Try this one -- I think you'll be glad you did.

4.5/5 stars
(personal copy)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You; The Room; Jonas Karlsson

Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think?

The Room; Jonas Karlsson
Hogarth - February - 2015

Funny, clever, surreal, and thought-provoking, this Kafkaesque masterpiece introduces the unforgettable Bjorn, an exceptionally meticulous office worker striving to live life on his own terms.
Bjorn is a compulsive, meticulous bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works--a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his co-workers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy. Bjorn's bizarre behavior eventually leads his co-workers to try and have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room.

Debut author Jonas Karlsson doesn't leave a word out of place in this brilliant, bizarre, delightful take on how far we will go--in a world ruled by conformity--to live an individual and examined life.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Girl on the Train; Paula Hawkins

Riverhead - 2014

I read The Girl on the Train during lunch each day over the course of a week or so. It was one of those stories which was somewhat of a "train wreck" itself, yet when lunch was over, I just wished I could have read a few more pages.

Rachel rides the same commuter train to and from work in London each day.  She's somewhat of a mess since her divorce from Tom, and she is still obsessed with him, his new life with wife Anna, and their daughter Evie. Rachel also has a drinking problem which she tries to hide from her roommate, but she manages to drink on the train to and from work and pretty much any other time she has the urge. Even after she is fired from her job after a drunken outburst, she continues drink and to ride the train to keep up her routine.

One day Rachel notices a couple who lives in a house which abuts one of the commuter stops. Each day she looks for them, and wonders what their life is like. She sees them having coffee on their patio, another day embracing, and one day they appear to be arguing. Each day the highlight of the train ride is looking for the couple who she has even named -- Jason and Jess.  At the same time she looks for the couple, she tries to avoid looking a few houses down where here ex-husband Tom lives with his new family.  When Rachel reads that the girl shes seen many times, whose real name is Megan, is missing, she thinks she may recall something she's seen that might be significant.  Unfortunately, Rachel is not a credible witness, especially since she was heavily intoxicated when she "might" have seen something.  Just how far will Rachel take things playing amateur detective to find out what happened to Megan, before she places herself at risk?

The story is told in alternating chapters by three women whose lives become entwined: Rachel, Megan and Anna.  The characters are all unlikeable, yet well drawn and interesting to read about, and for me this psych thriller was less about solving the mystery and more about the characters.  It's one of those stories that reinforces how little we really know about others based on outward appearance.  Overall a very good debut novel.

4/5 stars

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy; Rachel Joyce

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

Rachel Joyce - Random House - March 2015

First Letter

St. Bernadine's Hospice
Monday, 11 April

Dear Harold,

This may come as a surprise.  I know it is a long time since we last met, but recently I have been thinking about the past.  Last year I had an operation on a tumor, but the cancer has spread and there is nothing left to be done.  I am at peace, and comfortable, but I would like to thank you for the friendship you showed me all those years ago.  Please send my regards to your wife.  I still think of David with fondness.

With my best wishes,

Q h


What do you think, would you keep reading?  Care to join us? If so, post your link below.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Blatherings

Morning Readers. Sitting here with my second cup of coffee and watching the weather channel -- possible blizzard here Monday evening through Tuesday, and we just got 4" of snow yesterday.  I was just bragging about what a mild winter we've had:)  I actually LOVE snow, when I just can sit home and watch it from the comfort of my home.

It's been a fast week -- work-wise as we had Monday off.  I finished a few books (some were started a few weeks ago) -- The Girl on the Train; Paula Hawkins (very good debut) -- Calling Me Home; Julie Kilber (very good) and The Tiny Wife; Andrew Kaufman (a quirky short book which I really liked). Now, I just need to motivate myself to write about them -- ughhhhh

New Books

 (Loved the Book and the Movie)
Little Ones

Left to Right - Potty Trained Princess; 6-toothed cutie and adorable snow baby 

Have a Great Week Everyone

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Harder They Come; T.C. Boyle

Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think?

The Harder They Come; TC Boyle
Ecco - March 2015

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author T.C. Boyle makes his Ecco debut with a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and anti-authoritarianism inherent in the American character.

Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people—an aging ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son's paranoid, much older lover—as they careen towards an explosive confrontation.

On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, seventy-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal—only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.

Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and non-applicable. Adam’s senior by some fifteen years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam's mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic—a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.

As he explores a father’s legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, T. C. Boyle offers unparalleled psychological insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Station Eleven; Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven; Emily St. John Mandel
 Random House Audio

I tend to shy away from dystopian / post apocalyptic stories, it's just not my thing, but this book has been receiving such favorable reviews that I wanted to give it a try. The audio book, read by Kirsten Potter is so well done and easy to follow.

The story opens with a well know actor performing King Lear on stage.  The actor, Arthur Leander is stricken with a heart attack on stage. An EMT in the audience, Jeevan Chaudhary jumps to his aid to perform CPR, but is unable to save him.  Although the curtains close while this is happening, a young eight year old actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror.

In another part of the town at the exact same time people are dying of an unusual flu outbreak. Before too long, 99% of the population had died off. Meanwhile, Jeevan and his brother are holed up an apartment, hoping to steer clear of the virus.

Fast forward fifteen years and the child actress Kirsten, now a young woman is performing with a Traveling Symphony. The group travels to various locals to perform for some individuals have managed to survive the pandemic. In one particular village they cross paths with a violent prophet who believes the pandemic was a sort of cleansing, and that he and his followers are the light of what is left of the old world.

The story moves back and forth in time, describing life before and after the outbreak. The author shines in her descriptiveness of the characters and the events which have occurred, and the overall feeling is mostly optimistic. It's a story about the relationships that keep us going when all seems lost. Station Eleven gives readers plenty to think about.  I'm happy I gave this one a try.

4/5 stars
(audio book)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros - Bones & All; Camille DeAngelis

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. (This one sounds quirky and fun and has been receiving positive reviews as well.)

Bones & All; Camille DeAngelis
St. Martin's Press - March 2015

"Penny Wilson wanted a baby of her own in the worst way.  That's what I figure, because she was only supposed to watch me for an hour and a half, and obviously she loved me a little too much.  She must have hummed a lullaby, fondled each tiny finger and toe, kissed my cheeks and stroked the down on my head, blowing on my hair like she was making a wish on a dandelion gone to seed.  I had my teeth but I was too small to swallow the bones, so when my mother came home she found them in a pile on the living room carpet."

What do you think, would you keep reading?  Care to join us? If so, post your link below.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Snow; Peter McCarty and One Snowy Night; M. Christina Butler and Tina McNaughton

First Snow; Peter McCarty
Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins - 2015


First Snow is all about "first" experiences for little ones, which most of us know can be a scary thing for some children.  In this story little Pedro comes from a place where he has never seen snow, but is visiting his cousins who live in snow country.  Pedro views the snow as new and strange, but the other little ones, bunnies, chickens, and other animals, keep encouraging him to try new things like sledding and making snow angels.

I thought this book's appeal was more about the adorable illustrations than the story itself.  The animals, the way they are dressed, and their facial expressions are terrific. The gorgeous illustrations are done in ink and water colors.  The author/illustrator is a Caldecott award winner, and his artistic talent shows through in this book once again.

4/5 stars

One Snowy Night; M. Christina Butler and Tina McNaughton
Good Books - 2004

In One Snowy Night, Little Hedgehog wakes up on Christmas morning to find that Father Christmas has left him a warm, red, wooly hat which makes him very happy because he is very very cold.  Unfortunately, the prickles on his head make it difficult for this hat to fit just right.

Hedgehog give the hat to his friend rabbit, but the hat is too big. Rabbit gives it to badger, and it fits great but he can't hear, so he gives it to fox who puts two holes in it for his ears.  In his travels Fox finds a baby hedgehog shivering in the snow, and puts the baby inside of the red hat, using it as a blanket to keep it warm and it soon falls fast asleep.

One Snowy Night is a "touch and feel book" that I fell in love with.  Vivid colors and the fuzzy feel of the red hat, in addition, to the wonderful story of sharing and caring, make this book a winner all around.

5/5 stars

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Same Sky; Amanda Eyre Ward

Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think?

The Same Sky; Amanda Eyre Ward
Ballantine - Jan 2015

From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost and Close Your Eyes comes a beautiful and heartrending novel about motherhood, resilience, and faith—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of two families on both sides of the American border.

Alice and her husband, Jake, own a barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas. Hardworking and popular in their community, they have a loving marriage and thriving business, but Alice still feels that something is missing, lying just beyond reach.

Carla is a strong-willed young girl who’s had to grow up fast, acting as caretaker to her six-year-old brother Junior. Years ago, her mother left the family behind in Honduras to make the arduous, illegal journey to Texas. But when Carla’s grandmother dies and violence in the city escalates, Carla takes fate into her own hands—and with Junior, she joins the thousands of children making their way across Mexico to America, facing great peril for the chance at a better life.

In this elegant novel, the lives of Alice and Carla will intersect in a profound and surprising way. Poignant and arresting, The Same Sky is about finding courage through struggle, hope amid heartache, and summoning the strength—no matter what dangers await—to find the place where you belong.