Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Guard

The Guard (2011)

An Irish copper, sargent Gerry Boyle  has to team up with a FBI agent, sent in to find international drug smugglers.  It was ok, with a few sniggers throughout, although I must admit to nodding off in the middle for ten minutes or so (I did only get 3 hours sleep due to being on call the night before).  3/5

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Chicago Way - Michael Harvey

The Chicago Way - Michael Harvey (2007)

I saw the authors latest book get a good review in bookblogland and thought that I had better start at the beginning.  Chicago private investigator Michael Kelly is hired to look into an eight year old rape and battery case, by an old colleague.  Who then turns out dead, and others associated with the case keep turning up dead too.

Somehow Mr Kelly keeps turning up and finding murdered bodies, and gets invited along to crime scenes which seemed a bit implausible, but it helped with the flow of the story and it was on the whole a good tight detective novel, better than most I have read lately.  3/5

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Gravediggers Daughter - Joyce Carol Oates

The Gravedigger's Daughter - Joyce Carol Oates (2007)

Well a couple of weeks ago I read The Widows Story, the authors memoir about the sudden loss of her husband and how she then became transformed into a widow.  It mentioned this book, and I thought I would be brave and search it out, as it was a story based on one of her grandmothers lives.

So bravery was what I needed to start this monster of a book, as my recent encounters with large books (500 pages +) haven't been too promising.  So in this book, we follow the story of Rebecca Swartz, who in the first third is growing up grim, with a depressing home environment, with violent brothers and a disturbed set of immigrant parents. who have escaped from early Nazi Germany.  In her teenage years, she finds herself alone, and Rebecca then finds herself with a boyfriend who then becomes obsessive and violent in the second third of the book, and she looks for ways to escape with their young son.  The final part of the book is then her new life, and the time she spends making a new future.

In all I found it 400 pages of grim and  adepressing life, with the final fifty pages actually being the best part of the book.  For me, if it had been half the size and therefore twice as good, but what do I know?  2.5/5

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Transition - Chaz Bono

Transition - Chaz Bono (2011)

I saw Chaz Bono on the Oprah show where he was talking about his journey from being a woman to a transgender male.  The book was interesting, as he had had a confusing time growing up, trying to make it with a career in music, writing several books and trying to avoid being labeled as just Chers daughter.  He is very open about his early relationships and his growing knowledge of being in the wrong body.

Oprah has taught us all so much, and made people discuss transgender, intersexual and homosexual issues more openly, than may have happened otherwise.   I worked at a hospital where they did M-F gender reassignment surgery, and it was interesting meeting the patients, who were mostly lovely, although they did have a tendancy to want to show you their newly enhanced breasts.

A quick read - I think I started at 9am and was finished by lunch time, it was  a 3/5 for me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Dear I Wanted To Tell You - Louisa Young

My Dear I Wanted To Tell You - Louisa Young (2011)

Riley Purefoy as a boy befriends a rich family, their daughter and an artist.  Leaving home to assist the artist, he finds himself in a more privileged life, one where he is not entirely welcomed.  So he signs up, and goes to Belgium and France to fight.  On a brief break he spends some time with Nadine, his childhood love, who has now trained to be a nurse and rejected her rich and overbearing family.

In battle, Riley is injured and is returned to Britain, to have pioneering plastic surgery, a relatively new field at the time.  When Nadine tries to visit, she is turned away and is rejected by Riley who can see no reason for him to continue the relationship.

So it seems a familiar story, one that I found a little stilted at the beginning, and I enjoyed it more as the story advanced.  3.5/5

Friday, August 19, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses (2011)

So after a sucky couple of days at work, a Friday night out seemed  to be more than I needed, and I was severly tempted to wimp out and crash the couch and watch the idiot 17 year olds on New Zealands next top D grade model.  Instead though, I went up with a friend I haven't seen in a few weeks.  We hit Sweet Mommas kitchen, where the have the best but pricey curly fries and the chicken burrito was the best I had had there for a while.

We had decided to see a movie, but the choices were limited - it was Horrible Bosses, Harry Potter 3D or Glee 3D.  When we bought the tickets the ticketman only charged us $10, it must have been five dollar Friday.

The movie itself, was crude but actually a bit funny, and we laughed most of the way through.  Three guys who all work with idiot bosses try to make a plan to get rid of them, and hilarity of an adult kind ensues, in the style of Date Night.  As well, we both love the Jason Bateman.   We thought it was the best $5 movie we had seen in some time.

4/5 - not for the kids though.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Widow's Story - Joyce Carol Oates

A Widow's Story - Joyce Carol Oates (2011)

This is somewhat a brick of a memoir, but with hail lashing at our windows it was the perfect accompaniment to a few early nights.   I don't remember reading anything by the author before, but had glanced at a review that had talked about this book, and thought I would give it a chance.

At 77 Ray Smith, Joyce Carol Oates husband becomes ill with pneumonia and is admitted to a local hospital.  After several days care, he seems to be on the mend, until Joyce gets an early morning phone call asking her to rush in to see him.  After 47 years of marriage, I was a little surprised that the death of her partner had seemed to never been considered and the author seems a little blind sided by the grief that swamps her, the lack of sleep, the sense of loss.

When my mother died, it was hard to know how you should feel and what you should do to help yourself with the grief.  Maybe the Victorians had the right idea when they had a year of wearing black and  set rules about what could be done during grieving.  For us, after the funeral home did their bit, we bought mum to lie in at my brothers house for the four days before the funeral, which is a common thing to do in New Zealand.  It helped to have an opportunity to talk to mum, to touch her hair and kiss her goodbye, and to realise that her body was no longer her, that she had gone.

We had talked a lot about her funeral before she died, and planned all the things she wanted, but we were lucky that we had the time and opportunity to do that.  Again, I was surprised at the gift baskets that were sent in Canada, which Joyce through into the trash anyway, not using the cookies and soaps they contained.  Our friends bought us baking and meals, and we had a house full of flowers.

I admired the eloquence of the thank you notes that she received from her many friends, and the poetic  replies she sent back.  This girl sure can write.  A lot of the book is about her own thoughts about suicide, as she considers it difficult to carry on alone.  I am sure for many partners of so many years, that this is foremost in their minds, to join their husband or wife and leave the loneliness behind.

A 4/5 for this beautifully written memoir of grief.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Up From the Blue - Susan Henderson

Up From the Blue - Susan Henderson (2010)

We first meet Tillie Harris as a grown up woman, heavily pregnant who has just moved house, and with her husband  away nees some help.  She calls on her father, the only person who is able to come and help.

We quickly then are returned to Tillies childhood.  A father who is high up in the military, doesn't know how to help out his wife who seems to be dealing with a severe deperession.  When they move, Tillie finds her life changes dramatically, as her father leaves her for a couple of weeks with his secretary. When Tillie returns to her new home, she only finds her brother and father living there, with her beloved mother missing.

I think this genre of novel is one of my favorite.  I enjoy stories of families and growing up, it seems to resonate with me more than the average thrillers or war stories that abound.  I can't quite put my finger on this one though, as something was a bit missing or unbelievable for me.  I couldn't quite understand why Tillie did not talk to her father and brother more about her mother, seeking out another sympathetic adult to confide in.

Then there was the adult Tillie, who wasn't very likeable or sensible.  Of course if you are so heavily pregnant there is a chance of an early labour.

Anyways a 3/5 for this read.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bossypants - Tina Fey

Bossypants - Tina Fey (2011)

I really really almost couldn't wait for this book to come out.  I caressed it at the bookstore ($32), considered buying it on Amazon UK ($18).  So I patiently waited for my library reseve to come through, seven long months later, when I still had a pile of about fifteen waiting I rushed along to the library to grab my copy.  I read it last night and this morning, and am glad I didn't spend all that money.

Don't get me wrong, I like Tina Fey and I did enjoy the first half of the book, when she talks about her childhood and growing up  with the acting bug.  Somehow though I felt she was trying a bit too hard to be funny, when it didn't need the jokes thrown in.  It felt distracting to the story and in the end I skimmed through the second half, with the replays of SNL skits and stories from 30 Rock.   I just would have liked to hear more about the Greek girl finding her way.  What about more dating and stories from College?  It felt like it just skipped from being at school and then being married.

So sadly, I can only manage to scrimp a measly 3/5, for the book I so wanted to love.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Brave Girl Eating - Harriet Brown

Brave Girl Eating - Harriet Brown (2010)

Harriet Browns daughter is 14 when she begins to stop eating, and gets her family sucked into the vortex of the world that is anorexia.  Not only affecting Kitty, Harriet and the whole family begin to feel that they are suffering.  Trying with the help of doctors and therapists, they try to encourage Kitty to eat and return to her normal self.

I enjoyed this book, as I have seen others go through similar problems with eating disorders and even though better now, they continue to live with the urge to not eat.  At 15, I discovered that eating an apple, a couple of cruskit crackers and a cup of packet soup made my small size denim skirt spin around my hips.  It didn't last long for me, and size 10 is now a distant dream, but that sense of control was overwhelming. 

So an interesting insight into what a family goes through to help out their child in a time of trouble - 4/5.

Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner

Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner (2010)

Across Boston neighbourhoods, families are being tormented by troubled children.  I enjoyed the beginning of the book, with the story of detective D.D. Warren who is investigating several murders of whole families and Victoria, a nurse in a pediatric mental health ward, who has her own troubled past.  I have seen the Oprah show on kids like these, and it must be horrid to live with your own child who is threatening  to kill you.

The middle of the book was the set up for the end stage, which is the part of the book I seem to dislike most in a thriller, as it always seem to end up the same way.  With the protagonist detective/police Sargent being chased/kidnapped/trapped.  So it is a 3/5.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Breath - Martha Mason

Breath - Martha Mason (2003)

Having a bit of a tiresome week, it was good to read this book and be grateful for all that I have in my life.  Martha Mason was just eleven, when she was made a quadraplegic from the Polio virus, which resulted in her spending her next sixty one years in an iron lung.  Relying on her parents to support her, she becomes top in her class in high school and then at university, and continues to learn throughout her life.

When her father dies, she is forced to take on more of a role of caring for her mother who spends her final years battling with dementia, and Martha eventually with the help of carers, runs the household.  You have to admire her strength and devotion to her mother, and think of what an amazing person she is to barely complain about her sixty year imprisonment.  Me, I don't think I would last a week.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Shimmer - Alyson Noel

Shimmer - Alyson Noel (2011)

Riley is continuing in her job of rescuing  souls with the help of her dog Buttercup and her guide Bodhi.  This book is mainly about their encounter with the troubled Rebecca, who with her dog is tormented by the circumstances around their death.  Helping them to find peace helps Riley to understand more of her job. 

A quick light read (it is a young adult book), I maybe have done my dash with the series now.  3/5