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Book 40 - Prague Winter by Madeline Albright

I'm embarrassed to say that I never knew that the former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, spent many of her formative years in London during the second World War (and survived the blitz!). But this book introduced that information to me along with many other things that I didn't know...I had read Madam Secretary, and even have a signed copy, and I was, quite frankly, anticipating that this would be a similar book. I expected it to be heavy on the memory and less so on the historical context. I expected it to be a little sappy too - I mean, it's really hard to look back upon your time in your homeland without rose-colored glasses even though it was a particularly bad time. However, this book was none of those things. In fact, the memoir part is the secondary narrative here. There was memoir in it - Albright describes her family's experiences in the Czech Republic and England during World War II. However, she also provides an intriguing historical narrative of …

Book 39 - The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

I heard about this book on one of my favorite podcasts: Books On the Nightstand and I generally like what Ann and Michael have to recommend so I got it out of the library. What drew me to the book was, ironically, its cover and its blood red pages. But that is where it seems that my interest ended - one really can't judge a book by its cover because it just didn't work for me.The protagonist is Jacob Marlowe - a male werewolf that has been alive for about 200 years or thereabouts. Jake is living in Modern London when he learns that he is the last werewolf left - a group has been systematically hunting and killing them and people just aren't turning into werewolves like they used to. I didn't mind that the main character is pessimistic, cynical and negative. I generally think that characters that are drawn like this are some of the most interesting characters out there. They are creative and original, so I truly don't mind a character like this. What I did mind …

Book 38 - Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss

So, I'm a huge fan of the podcasts on Slate and recently (well, recently for me anyways because I'm still catching up on my podcasts), they spoke about this biography of President Obama. Now, I've read Dreams From My Father and I've also read a Singular Woman, which is a biography of President Obama's mother. I wanted to get more of a third party story of Barack Obama, so I picked this up.I found that Maraniss strove to rise above the myth making/myth-bashing that both sides have attempted to create in surrounding Mr. Obama. Mr. Maraniss starts with early Kansas and early Kenya. A good portion of the book is dedicated to the familial heritage that led up to Mr. Obama's birth, including the death of great-grandparents and the fight for independence in Colonial Kenya. We don't meet an infant Obama until page 165 or so. I was particularly impressed by how detailed Mr. Maraniss' descriptions of Obama's alcoholic and self destructive father were. I wa…

First episode in a Long Time!

Email: mominsanitypodcast@gmail[dot]comFacebook PageMusic"That's where I Come In" byCodie Prevost"Faded Taillights" byBill Hudson."Quiet Room" by theTokyo Pop StarsNewsFarmvillegets woman new kidney.6 year olddelivers her sister.Prosecutorarrested for hitting EMT.Momnames her twins Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.Governmentis tracking smoking in movies watched by your kids.Livingat high altitudes will impact the babies' development.Good bacteriaduring pregnancy will ward off eczema.
Check out this episode!

IQ84 by Haruki Marukami

I have been wanting to read this book for ages; however, whenever I would go to the library to get it out, there would be no copies. Until this month. IQ84 is a play on words. "Q", pronounced "cue" in Japanese is the word for 9, so the word actually ends up being 1984. It was published in Japan in three volumes but in one volume in the United States. At over 800 pages, give yourselves a lot of time in reading this book because not only is it long, it is well worth the time and very engrossing.The bulk of the narrative takes place in Tokyo, Japan during a fictional 1984. In the very first pages, we are introduced to Aomame, a young woman whose name literally means "peas" ("edamame" means soybeans so I figured that this was some type of bean). Aomame is a young woman that is riding in a taxi on the freeway in heavy traffic and, while in the cab, on her way to her assignments, hears a particularly uncommon symphony on the radio. When the taxi get…

Book 36 - Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This book is the only authorized biography of Steve Jobs, meaning that Steve Jobs himself was the one that initiated the process and actively participated it. Walter Isaacson is a master biographer and was, it seems, hand chosen by Jobs to write the book (which, once you've read the book or if you know anything about Steve Jobs, isn't a shocker!). The book was, surprisingly, based on at least 40 interviews (although I suspect that there were more) and other research that took place over the span of two years (including an insane amount of time with Jobs himself). We all know who Jobs is, for the most part. It is because of him that I'm sitting here blogging about him on a IMac and that I make all my calls on an IPhone. Essentially, he is the person that revolutionized the personal computer by making it accessible to all, perhaps more so than Bill Gates did. He changed the music and phone industries as well. There were some things that I didn't know about Steve Jobs. …

Banned Books Week

So, last week was Banned Books Week. It is essentially one week out of the year where the American Library Association celebrates books that have been banned in various schools and public libraries around the State. The goal is also to raise awareness about censorship.I often find myself really and utterly confused about how, in this society, it is acceptable to censor or ban books. Granted, there is often speech that is hateful (I'm thinking of the awful anti-Islam movie that is creating a wave of protests around the world currently). While I think that the movie is abhorrent in more ways than one, I'm not sure that banning it is appropriate either. I think that banning books especially is a travesty because it narrows a person's knowledge, deprives them of the ability to evaluate and think critically about the material they read and ensures that a parent doesn't have to parent - they don't have to worry about what their child is reading and they don't have …

Book 35 - A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

<I have been on an Outlander kick, what with the NH Highland Games coming up this weekend. I rounded out the series with book 6, leaving I think one left in the series until I'm all caught up. I don't want to talk too much about the book otherwise I will give away things that are better left for you, the reader, to discover. That being said, while I love these books, I can only take so much of them at a time and need to portion them out because I find myself getting bored easily.

Book 34 - The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

This is book five in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. This book picks up exactly where the end of the previous book left off - Brianna and Roger were getting ready to get married as were her aunt and her fiancee. The clans were gathered at the great Gathering. The big focus is on Jamie Fraser and his desire to not only protect his family and the people living on his land, but guide them through the war of Regulation and then begin to prepare for the American Revolution. I don't want to get too much into this book because I would give too much away but needless to say, I enjoyed it!

Book 33 - The Healing by Jonathan Odell

When Amanda Satterfield, the plantation mistress, loses her daughter, she goes insane with grief. She literally loses her mind and while in the middle of her psychotic break, she steals an infant from one of her slaves, names the baby girl Granada, and clothes her in her daughter's clothes at public events, much to the chagrin, embarrassment and ever increasing wrath of her husband. In the hopes of curing his wife of her psychosis, the plantation owner purchases a slave by the name of Polly Shine. Polly is a healer woman - a midwife - whose reputation has preceded her and who quickly becomes revered on the plantation. Polly quickly recognizes that Granada has the "gift" - the same one that Polly has and which makes her a powerful healer. Polly demands that Grenada be sent to her to train and is granted that demand. Odell is a tremendously good writer. He is subtle and his character development is phenomenal. I felt that I was immersed in the life of this plantation bec…

Book 32 - Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

I didn't know this, but this book came out in 1961/1962 and was a finalist for a book award, along with Catch-22. The novel is set in 1955 and features April and Frank Wheeler as the protagonists. The book starts with an awfully produced and acted amateur play starring April and viewed by Frank ad their other suburban neighbors. Frank and April's relationship quickly deteriorates (although there is a question as to whether it was any good to begin with), with extramarital affairs a la Mad Men making appearances and April convincing Frank that they need to uproot the family (they have two youngish children) in order to move to Paris. Many unexpected twists throw wrenches into the plans...I don't want to give too much more away. I felt that this book was at heart a tragedy with the American Dream dying a death at the center of it all - Frank and April seem to have it all with a family, stability and a beautiful home in the suburbs and yet, they hate each other and their li…

Book 31 Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames

I didn't know what to expect from this book. A book about Buffalo, NY (a depressed town) wasn't very promising. But I tried to keep an open mind. This novel is about a young man in his late twenties named James whose mother is in the grips of ever worsening dementia. James finds himself struggling with both the physical and mental decline that accompanies the disease - his mother is in a nursing home where she receives 24 hour medical care and hygiene care. He is keenly aware of the irony of the situation - his mother was a nurse who not only dealt with and cared for people with dementia and Alzheimer's Disease but also advocated for the right of the patient to make all of end of life cares including when to kill themselves. He also worries about his father, who now lives alone in a big house in Buffalo, visiting his wife everyday and getting older everyday without he (because James lives in NYC) or his sites (who is in the Pacific Northwest) around to help. I didn'…

Book 30 -Once Upon a Secret by Mimi Alford

There isn't a whole lot to this book - I mean, really, I think that people nowadays aren't all that worked up about extramarital affairs and Presidents post-Bill Clinton and we all knew that JFK had his mistresses so what was one more? And quite frankly, Mimi Alford's naiveté made her look more the fool than the President (although he did look cruel too - but again, we all knew that didn't we?). I found myself having to suspend my disbelief for some of it - really, Mimi, you (a virgin) let him have sex with you after four days of working in the White House? And then, when you went back to school, he called you on the communal pay phone all the time without fail and no one had any clue as to what is going on? Sure. Initially, I think it's quite clear, that I didn't feel badly for Ms. Alford - I found her to be a willing participant in the affair that continued for 18 months and included weekend trips during the school year and being whisked around the country a…

Book 28 - Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

I have followed Jenny Lawson's blogforever it seems like so when I saw that she, like a few other bloggers recently, had written a book, I got it from the library to read at my leisure. I think that this book is kind of true in some ways but it's hard to tell because some of the stories that she tells are so odd that I can't imagine them truly happening to anyone (although some of the stories that I have are "quirky" and hard to believe but are true - like getting lost at the age of 5 at Macy's Turkey Day parade in Time Square in Manhattan and living to tell about it - but are most assuredly true, so who am I to judge right?). Anyways, Ms. Lawson aka her highness, the Bloggess, grew up in West Texas and most of the stories that she tells are about her time there and about her attempts to deal with some significant social anxiety. About one third of the way through the book, I began to get bored bt that's when I met Victor, Jenny's husband, who entere…

Book 27 - Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

I have been a fan of Chris Bohjalian's since I read Midwives back in the late 90's and I became even more of a fan when I learned that he, like me at certain points in my life, was living in a very rural community in Vermont. Skeletons at the Feast is his first foray into historical fiction, I think.Bohjalian writes about the period right before the end of the Second World War. The Emmerich family are leaving their manor house as the Russians approach. The family is comprised of Anna, her mother, nicknamed Mutti, her father, Rolf, her twin brother Helmut, her younger brother Theo and the Scottish POW, Callum Finella, who has been working on the farm. Anna also has an older brother named Werner, that is referred to a lot, but whom we don't see because he is off at the front, fighting for the Third Reich. Rolf and Helmut eventually leave the family and the rest move on in an effort to escape the Russians. They eventually cross paths with a Jewish man named Uri Singer, who po…

Book 26 - Enlightened Sexism by Susan Douglas

I was trolling through the books that some of my Wellesley profs were reading because a lot of times, I find really interesting and well researched books and this was no exception. This book takes a look at how popular American culture puts forth, what I call, subtle sexism in the guise of female empowerment. In essence, Susan Douglas argues that society tells us that women have achieved equality, at least in the Western world and with regards to things like equal pay for equal work. She deftly takes apart pop culture and in doing so, demonstrates adeptly that sexism is alive and well, albeit in a more subtle form. There were many persuasive arguments put forth and many interesting topics covered including The Spice Girls phenomenon and the rise of kick-butt female heroes, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved how accessible Douglas made this book - it's a book that everyone can read and is completely understandable based mostly on the fact that the examples that she used are …

Book 25 - Population: 485 by Michael Perry

This is a memoir, so don't be fooled. It's definitely not a novel. It's Michael Perry's collection of memories about his time as a volunteer firefighter/EMT in a small country town in Wisconsin. And it's mostly about firefighting and EMT work and NOT about small town life necessarily. As background, Michael Perry left his small community to attend college, where he got a degree in nrsing. When he returned, he elected to become a volunteer firefighter/EMT in the community where he was born and raised. It gave him a way to re-connect with the community that he had left and also, gave him a way to learn about and reintroduce himself to his former neighbors. I think that he was under the impression that people believed that he wouldn't return after leaving for college and so, he thought that this disproved them.What I particularly loved was how Mr. Perry introduced his readers to the colorful characters that all small towns inevitably have. For instance, we mee…

Book 24 - Chastened by Hephzibah Anderson

I was in the library, naturally, and saw this book. It looked intriguing so I picked it up and read the book flap. Essentially, Ms. Anderson (a Cambridge educated 30 something journalist) decided to write a memoir of her year abstaining from sex and trying to withstand the temptation to have sex. She has the oh so difficult task of withstanding the numerous lovers that seem to flock to her in trendy London and this, my friends, is the premise of this book. The premise of the book was promising, I'll grant you that. But Anderson was a horrible writer. She wasn't funny and her prose was wandering. I didn't feel like the book was organized, although the chapters seem to suggest that it was, probably because the prose was so scattered and things didn't really seem to be connected all that well. She talks about a million things in the process of trying to tell you one and it takes her like 10 pages to do the simplest things, like buy clothing. For someone that practices wr…

Book 23 - Anatomy of Injustice by Richard Bonner

In early 1982, an elderly widow had been found brutally beaten to death in a small town in South Carolina. The woman was white. Nearly immediately, a man named Edward Lee Elmore - a black man that was illiterate and mildly mentally retarded - was arrested. Within 90 days of his arrest, he had been tried and sentenced to seat (CRAZY!!!). Within 11 years, however, Elmore had netted a young attorney named Diana Holt, a spitfire who was convinced that Elmore was innocent and was dead set on getting him a new trial. I am not shocked at how difficult it was to unring the bell in a capital case - but that's because of what I do. I know that the courts are very cautious in their review of lower court cases and jury trials. So that aspect of the story didn't really surprise me at all. I thought that Richard Bonner had a way with words and a really nice way of telling the story, which made the entire thing fascinating. It was obvious that he had done his homework and his research and …

Book 22 - Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru

This book is set in the Mojave desert of Southeastern California and spans a few decades with a focus on the 60's and 70's. We are introduced to the area, most notably the three pinnacles, in 1947 when an aircraft engineer believes that the three large rocks are ideal for channelling messages to and from extraterrestrial beings. In the subsequent chapter, we are in present day (2008), and learn that a rock star has fled from LA to the same place (but is staying in a motel) and that a family has a severely autistic child, which is deemed to be a failure by the father of the family. The chapters move along in alternating fashion, with the past interspersed with chapters in 2008. It alternates about the awful story about what happens to Lisa and Jaz (the family with the autistic children) and the development of the cult created by the aerospace engineer in 1947. The common thread are the Pinnacles. Common themes also include missing children, loneliness, technology and chaos.Thi…

Book 21 - Diary of a Public Radio Slave by Kerri Wood Thomson

When I was on vacation recently, I didn't want to bring a whole lot of paper books with me because they get heavy and are sometimes really just inconvenient to drag around. So I wanted to put some interesting looking but light books on the Kindle to read and I saw this one when I was browsing around. I love NPR and my localNPRaffiliates (OK, I'm a total dork and I love listening to them all the time because I actually learn something while I'm getting my news; and those links take you to different affiliates). This one seemed to fit the bill and looked light and interesting so I borrowed it on my Kindle. When we first meet Sloan, the protagonist of this book, she has just been fired from her job. She thinks that she can manage this because her fiancee, with whom she has just bought a home and with whom she will be marrying within a short period after receiving her pink slip, has gotten cold feet. In fact, he tells her that he's going out and will be right back and …

Book 20 History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason

I read this book while I was on vacation and, because my computer was hopelessly broken (and required three days at the Apple Store to fix, but hey, it was free so no worries), I haven't been able to get around to it until now. This book is mostly about Piet Barol, a young, 20-something man living in Amsterdam in 1907. He's attractive - at least most women believe that he is - and he knows that he's attractive to most women, so he's going to capitalize on it to any extent possible. In essence, Piet wants to use this to make some money so that he can move up in the world and make a name for himself, in another country if possible. So, he takes a job as a tutor with the wealthy Vermeulen-Sickerts family; he will be tutoring their son, who suffers from such severe obsessive-compulsive disorder that he cannot leave his house without having a debilitating panic attack. Piet's role is to cure him of the OCD and the agoraphobia. As it turns out, however, the other me…

Book 19 - Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

<This is Tupelo Hassman's first work, and boy is it powerful. The story focuses on Rory Dawn (also affectionately known as R.D. - a nickname bestowed upon her by her maternal grandmother). It is told in bits and pieces, a novel that has some plot line but is mostly comprised of short stories that deal with the same characters. Rory lives in the Nevada desert (somewhere outside of Reno) with her mother, Jo, in a trailer. You learn shortly that R.D. has 4 older half brothers but doesn't know their father or her own father (at least she knows their father's name). Jo works as a bartender at the local truck stop and combats a nasty alcohol habit as well as a habit of picking up the wrong men. Her grandmother also has an addictive personality and cannot, for the life of her, stop gambling or smoking. R.D. desperately wants to be a Girl Scout and takes out the Girl Scout Handbook from the library so often, that her name is the only name on the checkout slip. There are no t…

Book 18 - Girl Land by Caitlin Flanagan

Caitlin Flanagan is, perhaps, best known for her book To Hell With All That and this is her latest in her series of dithering, except that instead of targeting mothers (both stay at home moms AND moms that have jobs outside the home as well as being a mom), she targets our tween and teenage daughters. I think that more specifically, she's looking at girls that are on the cusp of getting their first periods and maybe a little bit older (because she does look at people like Patty Hearst in addition to teenagers). The tone of the book (and it's broadly sweeping generalists) were pretty apparent right from the get go when Ms. Flanagan claimed that all of her female friends stated that the tween period was the most intense period of their life (excluding childbirth, first sexual encounters and other, potentially life changing events, such as marriage and first jobs of course - please note the sarcasm). Flanagan then goes on to talk about things like moral mania (essentially a who…

Book 17 - Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

This novel is, essentially, a sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice but you didn't need to have read Pride and Prejudice in order to understand and get this book. This is a murder mystery that takes place at Pemberley (the Darcys' estate) approximately 6 years after Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have married. James adequately describes the history of the families and the characters and then also, lovingly and painstakingly describes what appears to be a beautiful life (at least in the beginning). On a dark and blustery evening, Elizabeth, her sister Jane, Darcy and a few guests are eating dinner, relaxing by the fire and preparing for the annual ball that is taking place the next day. As they are getting ready to pack it in for the night, the characters see a chaise lurching and speeding unsteadily towards the house, nearly falling over in the process. When the carriage finally gets to the house, Lydia (the sister of Jane and Elizabeth, who, as you may or may not remem…

Book 16 - Mad Women by Jane Maas

OK, so I'm one of the people that really (and I mean really) enjoys watching the AMC series "Mad Men." I am obsessed with that time period for quite a few reasons but mostly because I find any era that immediately precedes and/or involves or causes as drastic a change as the 60'sdid is fascinating to me. Specifically, I really enjoy the historical changes in women's roles that occurred during this time period and so, when I saw that there was a book written by a woman that had actually done what Peggy Olson (who happens to be my favorite character in the series, followed closely by Joanie) did, I really wanted to read it. I also think that the book was written because of the series - was the series accurate? Did people really drink, smoke, have that much sex at the time in the Madison Avenue advertising agencies? During the first part of the book, Jane Maas works for Ogilvy and Mather as a copywriter. Ogilvy was one of the first people to do market research an…

Book 15 - Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

This is the new novel by Eleanor Henderson and takes place in Lintonburg, Vermont. Lintonburg is obviously Burlington, VT, and is rife with references to Vermont State (UVM) and Lake Champlain (which is still Lake Champlain). At the beginning of the novel, we meet Jude and Teddy - two teenage boys that are seniors at the local high school and who are into the local drug scene. Jude's father is a marijuana dealer in New York who is dating Di, a prima ballerina (literally). Teddy is Jude's best friend and his mother also is heavily involved in the drug trade. Eliza is Di's daughter from a previous relationship and is a few years younger than the two boys. At the opening of the novel, it is New Year's Eve and it is the Mid-80s. Eliza decides to stop in Burlington on her way home to New York after a ski trip to Stowe and parties with Jude and Teddy. The three attend a bash at a local, wealthy classmate's home where there is alcohol, pot and cocaine (the cocaine bei…

Book 14 - The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Let's get one thing clear right from the get go - Adam Johnson is a white American dude who teaches literature at Stanford University and who has had very little opportunity to live or work in North Korea, the country of which is one of the subjects of this novel. In fact, he's only been to North Korea once in his lifetime. But somehow, he manages to capture our imagination and what he believes the life that exists in North Korea must be like.
The novel follows Jun Do's (John Doe?) life and Jun Do is supposed to be a stand in for the average North Korean man - the anonymous, like our John Doe or Jane Doe would be here in the States. Jun Do is raised in an orphanage, even though he's not really an orphan. In fact, the man that runs the orphanage is Jun Do's biological father; but Jun Do has never met his mother (who is supposedly a beautiful opera singer that lives in Pyongyang) and he has never been to a museum (even the "North Korean kind"). The orphanag…

Book 13 - Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

This is a parenting memoir (a la Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) but, instead of intense, hand on parenting that borders on abuse, this is more of a laissez-faire style that the author would have her readers believe is actually pretty deceptive. In this memoir, Druckerman, who has moved to France, gotten married to a British sports journalist and has had children, documents her attempts to become a perfectly French mother. Her theory, which may actually contain some sentiment of truth, is that French parents are not actually obsessed with their children the way most British and American parents are. They don't spend weekends acting as the mom taxi and they definitely don't negotiate tantrums - instead, they have firm boundaries that allow for their children to be creative so long as they don't go outside of those boundaries. The French seem to base their parenting theories on a few, dare I say, common sense ideas: 1. That children and babies are really rational and minia…

Book 12 - The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

This novel is the 2011 Booker Prize winner, written by Julian Barnes. It's 176 pages, but just because it's so short, doesn't mean you should undersell it. In fact, you shouldn't at all because it wholeheartedly deserves the recognition that it has received. When we meet the narrator, Tony, he is in prep school in the 50's or 60's in England. His group includes him and two other boys, but makes space to include a 4th - a brainy young man named Adrian, whom the boys quickly begin to admire and emulate. Tony is also discovering romance in the form of Veronica, and actually develops a really warm relationship with her mother (that is odd in retrospect, but I guess hindsight is 20/20). When Tony and Veronica inevitably (and quickly) break up, Veronica begins to date Adrian. Years later, after the friends have moved away and apart, and have grown up and had families and careers of their own, Veronica and Adrian become a part of Tony's life again, but not in t…

Book 11 - Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes

Author Adam Mansbach wrote this children's book for adults and it is so, so, so food and so, so, so funny. It is based upon his experiences with his daughter, Vivian, who, apparently, would take up to two hours to fall asleep at night when she was younger. It is written in the style of a children's book but also adds, at the end of each verse, the parent's profane thoughts about the inability of their child to go to sleep at night. I really, really liked this because it's so funny and so true - the child's excuses and the responses that I think that we all seem to have as parents. What I also really liked is that it opens up dialogue about those frustrations that we have as parents but are sometimes difficult to talk about because of the stigma sometimes attached to them and the fear about being perceived as bad parents.

Would I read this to my kids? No. It does con taint profanity and that's all I need - both my four year old and my 18 month old running a…

Book 10 - Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck by Eric G. Wilson

Can elephants really tell us anything about the macabre or morbid? What about our toddlers: will they ever stop wanting to blow things up? Why are we so drawn to things like the Holocaust Museum, Auschwitz, Ground Zero and Gettysburg? Why is there such fascination with autopsy photos of famous people? These are the questions that Wake Forrest Prof. Eric Wilson attempts to answer in this book, his newest. To answer these questions, Wilson not only draws upon his own experience but he uses philosophers like Kant, Aristotle and Freud as well as Shakespeare, among others (although there weren't any females that he relied upon interestingly enough but more on that later on). He also draws upon the cases of serial killers and the people that collect items that relate to them (because yes, apparently there are people that collect memorabilia that relate to Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Aileen Wournos among others). We learn about his interviews with some of these collectors and about h…

Book 9 - The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott

So, I picked up this book by Stephen Elliott expecting it to be the run of the mill memoir about a guy from the streets who has a drug addiction that he kicks and then makes good by becoming what he always dreamed of becoming - in his case a writer - and then writing this particular memoir in order to make sure that other people don't follow those early footsteps (or if they had, to prove to them that they too can achieve their goals). But this memoir isn't like this. It's actually way more complicated (and, by extension, much better). It's not just about Elliott's journey to self-discovery, although he manages to discover himself in the process. He's actually searching for a story that will help him to overcome his writer's block. His "official" story is about a murder that has occurred and the two people that are suspects in it - a soon to be ex-husband and his ex's new boyfriend. This search leads him through the wasteland of his childhood…

Book 8 - A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of Swords is the third in the Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin. It first came out in 2000 in the United Kingdom and then in the United States. It picks up the story lines slightly before the ending of the previous book, Clash of Kings, and features the remaining kings all fighting in the effort to secure their own thrones and secure domination of the entirety of the continent of Westeros. I don't want to provide too much more information because doing so would ruin the surprises (and let's face it, the surprises are the best parts of this series because they truly are gems that you don't see coming at all) but I can say that there are amazing plot twists and fantastic character development that draws you and almost forces you to become attached to the characters without you even realizing what's happening.

What I also really liked about George RR Martin in general, and with this book in particular, is that he is a master at both dialogue and p…

Book 7 - From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry

This is Gilvarry's first novel and is told in the first person voice of Boyet Hernandez, a young man from the Philippines, who has arrived in New York City 2002 with the hopes of pursuing a career in fashion and design (he went to school for it in the Philippines). His dreams, we learn fairly quickly, have been dashed because he is writing his memoir from a prison cell in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is sitting awaiting his military tribunal (and a visit from his lawyer that seemingly never arrives) for consorting with and aiding known terrorists. We are given insight into the world that is Gitmo - a place where there are barely tolerable conditions, no lawyer visits and only one two minute shower per week, which must be taken alongside another detainee. We also learned about and are swept up in the hustle-bustle that is the fashion world in New York City.

Gilvary takes a really nice, witty and yet, sharp, look at the American world, post 9/11 and the paranoia that has seeped i…

Book 6 - the Upright Piano Player by David Abbott

This is a pretty short novel that follows the story of Henry Cage, an aging British businessman that has been pushed out of the company that bears his name, that has an ex-wife that is dying, whose children are alienated from him and who has seemingly acquired a stalker, an ex-con that seems out to destroy his life. But what sets the tone for the novel is the chapter in which we first meet henry - he is attending the funeral of his grandson, who died in a horrific accident. The narrative then jumps back five years, to the time when Henry is kicked out of the company and we must then bear witness to his complete and utter destruction - a destruction that actually culminates in the chapter that initially introduces us to Henry.

Surprisingly, to me at least, this is Abbott's first novel. It was surprising because Abbott writes with a maturity and a knowledge and a voice that is so wise beyond his seeming lack of experience. He writes with the voice of a man that has written many no…

Book 5 - Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

I've always been a fan of the Wicked books, ever since I read Wicked way back when it first came out. And then I got to see the musical version of it, which was wonderful, so when I saw and heard that the newest and final version of this series was out, I set out to the library to get it and I didn't even have to put it on hold. So I give you my review of the following book, with the most minimal amount of spoiler age as possible:



When we first open the book, we meet again with Dorothy Gale, who is 16 years old and visiting San Francisco with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. For her, six years have gone by since she visited Oz and rocketed to fame with her killing of the Wicked Witch of the West, but she can't forget about it and her aunt and uncle hope that the trip will cause her to forget about it, make her less loony and therefore, make her more marriageable. While in SF, an earthquake hits and before we know what happens to Dorothy, we are transported to Oz and the socia…