14 July 2017

Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I bought this book new because it was on my Goodreads TBR. I don't remember who recommended it or why I put it there. But from the very beginning, I could tell there was something different about it.

In fact, this is one of those books where at first you have a sense that you're missing something important about the world you've fallen into. Then as you go on, a vague chill catches you as you think you understand what's happening. When the characters finally come out with it in blatant terms, the fact that you were right doesn't soften the blow.

The author does this all very well. He meanders through the entire story with some pretext that the narrator Kathy is meant to be with her friend Tommy but their relationship is more or less sabotaged by the manipulative friend Ruth. This plot distracts you from the main theme and from the something amiss I mentioned earlier.

What I liked about the novel: the author's ability to weave a tale and theme together is superb. I can't say I would have read a book with this "moral of the story" had it been advertised as such.

What I disliked: in his ability to keep these characters as real as possible, the language is sometimes vulgar and sexual topics are thrown around without much shame. Nothing was graphic, thankfully, but the main character's sexual relationships are discussed freely.

Overall, I would rate this book well because it made me think. That might not have been what I was looking for when I bought it, but it became one of those books that's haunted me a bit. I can't say that about very many books, to be honest. Perhaps: The Boy In The Striped Pajamas and The Book Thief, though the context was different. Similarly, the movie Gattacca.

22 May 2017

Gracie - 100 Word Short Story

This week's 100 word short story got an honorable mention. I'm happy with that; there were a lot of entries much better than mine:

I accidentally set Grace on fire; it took her a year to forgive me. A lifetime when you’ve 7.

We were friends when I stole the money her Pa gave her for tithe.

Best friends when I undercooked the scrambled eggs.

Dating when she caught me kissing a zenlike hippie.

Married when I flash a haughty grin toward the passenger seat. You won’t escape, Grace. Not this time.

But, maybe I congratulate myself too early – I see her determined glare as I slam the coffin closed. 

30 April 2017

Book Review: Mirror Image by Danielle Steel

I'm not actually sure what I was expecting from this book. I got it cheap at a thrift store without even paying much attention to the description. I had never read Danielle Steel before and thought she must be pretty good because you see her books all over the place.

I can actually be kind of hard on authors that are new to me. And this book was wildly outside my usual realm of interest (this seemed literary rather than plot-driven, historical, as well as somewhat romantic). But I found it very interesting anyway. Some parts were a bit predictable to me but I found myself caring enough about the characters that I didn't mind. Well, I should say I cared a lot about Olivia and was curious about Victoria, whom I couldn't relate to as easily as I could Olivia. Overall, this was a pretty good book and mostly a clean read though with some sexual references etc. I won't be opposed to reading more from this author.

26 December 2016

Book Review: Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Like the rest of this series, Saint Odd blew me away. There's not a lot I can say without spoilers but I'm also not sure what to say that could express how I really feel here. From the beginning, Odd captured my heart with his fight to keep good conquering evil. Even though I own most of the novels Dean Koontz has published, and many more from other favorite authors, I've never stumbled across a character that resonated as deeply as Odd. Which is at least part of why I hate to see the series end.

I actually finished this book several days ago, but I just haven't come to grips with the series being over. I write this review now because I'm realizing, I may never come to grips with it. This will probably forever be one of my favorite fictional characters, my favorite series.

17 November 2016

Song Review: Thy Will by Hillary Scott

Song reviews are something I've been waffling about on for a few months now. I want to do them because songs give me a lot of random epiphanies and even more frequently, funny moments. I chose this first one out of hilarity factor.

Go ahead and listen to this song; I  love it, despite my usual disdain for female singers. At first, this song started playing on Radio Station #3, that's preset number 3 in my car, i.e. one of 3 stations I flip through when the others are playing something I don't like.

Anyway, this song is a pretty deep discussion on God's Will and how we know it's best even when our situation feels pretty awful. I think that's why it's such a powerful song; it's so easy to relate to.
As for the hilarity: the chorus goes something like this.

"Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done." Pretty simple right? Well, of course it is. For the first several times I heard this song, I swore the artist was singing, "I will be dead, I will be dead." I thought: that's a really dumb song. Oh yea, everything sucks and the world's going crazy but who cares, I'll be dead? Then, finally, the real lyrics hit me. Like face smash hit me. OOHHH, that's what she's saying. So, I'm in the backseat of the car, hubby and mom in the front seat. I go, "I know she's saying 'Thy will be done,' but I keep hearing 'I will be dead.' That's real inspirational." Cue peanut gallery laughter from the front seat.

Well, now I know all the lyrics and actually like the song now that I know what it's saying but every time my husband hears the song he sings along, "I will be dead, I will be dead!"

Going Home

Hi all,

It's been awhile since I've posted any new writings. Mostly because it's the time of year when I barely have time to shower let alone write and post. But also because I'm still trying to determine how to word what I want to say.

Well, last month the hubby and I took a brief vacation from the world of St. Louis (it was perfect timing, I slipped out of MO the day before the big debate) and went home for awhile. It had been 3 years since I'd been home (to northern NYS). We rented a car, drove all around the state visiting friends and family. We dropped in on a few of our old haunts including our home church and the college we graduated from. It was really great to get to see a lot of people. But it was also kind of disturbing.

After all, here I am 3 years since my last visit and it feels like I've been gone a lifetime. I can navigate the roads with my eyes closed. I know how to get to the Walmart; I remember the best place to buy a Michigan. But it doesn't feel like home anymore. It feels like I'm visiting some nostalgic land of foggy dreams. Like I had forgotten my hometown actually existed. It doesn't make sense because St. Louis doesn't feel like my permanent home either. It's just the place where I live, the place I lay my head at night. Maybe it's just a part of growing up. Maybe it's my writer-ly imagination messing with my head.

Anybody else ever ran into this kind of thing? -breakthisleap

19 October 2016

Book Review: Killing Floor by Lee Child

*Sigh* I picked this author up on the recommendation of some readers and writers I trust. And, of course, I agree with a lot of the good things I've heard them say.

Which is why this book is kind of hard for me to review. I really loved the writing; the main character had good voice and I was easily drawn in by the story.

Unfortunately for me, some of the content was vulgar. I mean, most of us know what goes on between inmates in prisons. However, I read to escape the real world a bit and am not at all interested in reading about some of the gross stuff. Another example, one of the murders in this novel includes forcing one victim's severed body part down another victim's throat. Ick.

I'm also a little torn about the main character. He's interesting to read because he's so much different than the standard mc in a lot of thrillers. But I also felt like some of his behaviors were reflective of emotional immaturity that isn't resolved in this novel (perhaps later in the series). Overall, I'm not really sure how I felt about this book. I like the writing; I can easily tell this author is good. But some of the content is just not my cup of tea.