Ranging from the mildly strange to the hauntingly bizarre, “Trigger Warning” is a collection of short writings that should please fans of fantasy, magical realism and (in some stories) science fiction. I enjoyed Gaiman’s nods to both Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who, as well as his ability to play with format (the story “Orange” is told via responses to interview questions; the questions themselves are never seen, requiring the reader to stitch the story together as the narrative moves along). In the introduction, Gaiman includes brief notes about each story. I recommend book-ending your reading by reviewing the corresponding author notes both before and after each story. It’s a rare glimpse into the author’s process and the impetus behind the stories, which I feel adds to the enjoyment of the book. That being said, it’s Neil Gaiman, so my brain still hurt at the end of some stories, and many do not end well. As the author states in his introduction, “Consider yourself warned.”
Three words that describe this book: strange, creepy, beautiful
You might want to pick this book up if: you are a fan of bizarre, intriguing narratives or would like to explore the same by starting with short stories rather than a novel.
Even as “Sleeping Giants” is clearly a heightened, science fiction reality, I found myself really appreciating the realism on display in this story. If we somehow wave a wand and bring to life all the fanciful elements of this tale, then I could see the rest of the plot playing out very similarly to the way Sylvain Neuvel describes it.
One story element that I found lacking was an emotional connection to the characters. The way I really get invested in a story is if I’m actively rooting for someone or a relationship; I didn’t find that here. These characters, for the most part, are calm, cool, collected types. Ryan lets emotion get the best of him once, but it’s a wholly negative response. I wanted to really root for Kara and Victor’s partnership, but I felt no real thrill there. Continue reading “Reader Review: Sleeping Giants”
This book is about a 20-something woman who is an elementary school teacher. She is writing a book, sort of journal entry style, documenting the time in which she and her boyfriend are apart while he is in the military in Iraq. Hence the title “Long Division,” a double meaning with her school teacher job title and her long distance relationship. The book was a touch difficult for me to get into but after a few chapters, I fell in love with Annie and all her quirks. I love the relationship she found with an elderly woman in a nursing home and the depth of the relationship she had with her childhood friend. There was just the right balance of romanticism, cynicism and whimsy for my taste.
Three words that describe this book: utterly, totally, relatable
You might want to pick this book up if: You are a teacher, you have experienced restlessness, you have ever thought about getting a pet chicken 😉
More articles and experts are recommending we get away from screens and our technology addiction. Ever had a craving to live the low-technology, Amish-like lifestyle (without the religious doctrine)? “Better Off” is about a couple that tried it and all the benefits they reaped! They were worried it would be all about survival, but the shared workload created a natural camaraderie with their neighbors and natural exercise. They realized it’s in our current world where we are running in a gerbil wheel, trying to enjoy it. This should be the next One Read!!!
Three words that describe this book: transforming, anti-technology, discovery Continue reading “Reader Review: Better Off”
Dave Barry! His newspaper columns were great, and his books are even better. Little life lessons, with that twist of humor only Barry can convey. “Live Right and Find Happiness” was more of a reflective collection, speaking on cultural differences, the World Cup tour in 2014, a trip to Russia and how times have changed in terms parenting styles. Of course, you have the random blurb letter to family, everyday observations, technology, and all packed with humor. A great, light read, with eye-opening words, humility and family.
Three words that describe this book: humorous, heartfelt, eye-opening
You might want to pick this book up if: you are looking for a fun read. Dave Barry’s books are always guaranteed to be a great read, all based on his own personal life experiences with aging, parenting, work, travel and pet ownership.
I loved “Dead Man’s Folly!” Hercule Poirot is asked by his friend Ariadne Oliver to come visit her at Nasse House. She is planning a “murder hunt” for a garden fete, and she feels that there is something not quite right, but she can’t put her finger on it. In typical Agatha Christie fashion, a murder occurs, and Hercule Poirot sets out to find the killer! I loved this book. It is one of my favorite Poirot mysteries —I’ve read several. I have found a few to be boring, but not this one! I love the setting, plot, characters — everything really! Continue reading “Reader Review: Dead Man’s Folly”
“The Starter Wife” is about Gracie, a woman in a situation where she really doesn’t belong, fit in, or want to be. She tries with somewhat sincere effort to be a part of the Hollywood “Wife of” scene, and we readers get a peek with clarity, caring and pretty consistent humor! After a shocking text message, her life begins a journey to…she doesn’t know where! I liked Gracie and the narrative, which shared an interesting time in her life. This book is well written and moves with ease from page to page, and I really liked getting a look at the challenges and strife of a Hollywood wife’s life — it looks pretty, but it’s not. Continue reading “Reader Review: The Starter Wife”
I really enjoy Augusten Burroughs, and I like hearing him read his own books. He manages a compelling mix of vulnerability and strength. Even when he screws up his life or makes choices he regrets later, he is able to examine the inner monologue and present it for the world to view.
“Lust & Wonder” seems a good reflection on what I’d call regular adulting. He had a grown-up and mature relationship that wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t good, and he describes it in some detail. His reflections should have a universal tune to them for anyone reflecting on one’s own relationships. He describes his wild love for his dogs and the sadness of dividing custody as a relationship fails. He focuses on how his past continues to affect his present and highlights the moments when he tries to sort out whether feelings he’s having are appropriate to the situation or are really about a response to something that happened in his past. While I don’t have anything like the serious abuse and deep level addiction issues that Burroughs has, the analysis of whether a response is right for a situation applies even to someone without as much history. Continue reading “Reader Review: Lust & Wonder”
More a “Jane Eyre” tribute than an adaptation, “Jane Steele” tells the story of a Victorian woman, Jane Steele, who is inspired by her own reading of “Jane Eyre” to write a memoir. Like Eyre, Steele is orphaned at a young age, sent by a cruel aunt to a bleak boarding school led by a tyrant, and then becomes governess to the impish ward of a brooding and mysterious man. Jane Steele, however, handles things in a much different way than her literary counterpoint, accumulating a body count along the way. Continue reading “Reader Review: Jane Steele”
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2015 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
The son of John Steinbeck delivers a captivating novel similarly set in Montgomery, California (same as “Cannery Row“). “In the Shadow of the Cypress” explores the roles and culture of the Chinese throughout the history of the American West Coast. A potentially mind blowing archeological discovery is found pertaining to Chinese American history in the 1900’s. Narrators change in the story as the setting shifts from early 20th century to present day while the facts continue to unfold. Thomas Steinbeck’s voice has traces of his father but maintains a distinct difference. Almost a mystery novel, but not quite, it walks an interesting line of suspense, being gripping without any threat of mortal peril to any characters. It can be read and enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the former Steinbeck’s work. Continue reading “Reader Review: In the Shadow of the Cypress”