Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Die For You

by Lisa Unger

Quickie Recap: Isabel's husband goes missing, but that turns out to just be the tip of the iceberg. She finds out she's been married to a stranger these last 5 years - and not a very nice one. Not content to just let him get away, she chases after him, unadvisably, of course.

Quickie Review: Lisa Unger is like mousse cake. Not junk, but a treat. Indulgent. I read this to pre-screen for my mother, who will love it. I can picture her now, on the hammock, in the sunshine, with a frosty drink by her side.

Quickie Recommendation: Total tub book! It's a bit of a guilty pleasure, but guilty-light. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009


by Chuck Palahniuk.

Quickie Recap: Pygmy is a highly trained child terrorist who has infiltrated the US disguised as an impoverished foreign exchange student. He is there to rape, impregnate, and ultimately kill many, many capitalist pigs.

Quickie Review: Whoa whoa whoa. Palahniuk is one of those writers that generate a strong response in most readers. I loved Rant, hated Snuff and couldn't wait to see how I felt about his newest, Pygmy. But 50 pages in, I still didn't know on which side of the divide I sat. First off, it's not reader friendly. It's written in broken English that WILL frustrate you. After the first chapter or so I found my rhythm and it got easier, but never easy. And I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I couldn't quite believe the narrator, and I wasn't sure he was who he said he was. I was suspicious. I was also enthralled. I sure sped through it if I didn't like it, so I must have liked it quite a lot. It's definitely original, anyhow, and Palahniuk does an indictment of the American culture like nobody's business. This we knew already. I guess I can't really tell you if you'll like this book. I feel like people need to read it for themselves. I snorted several times, and it definitely was a conversation spark, so to me, it was worthy.

Quickie Recommendation: Tell me what you thought!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Socrates Died

Dispelling the myths, by Robin Waterfield

Quickie Recap: Socrates was put on trial and sentenced to death by his peers - this book gives the real reason behind the death sentence, and puts an uncomfortable spotlight on Athens.

Quickie Review: Evidently I thought this book might be good because I did choose to pick it up. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I got involved in it. Waterfield has exactly the right scope for this book - it puts Socrates in context. It's also about Athens vs Sparta, the Pelopennesian war, the political and religious and judicious climate of the times, and the people who stood on either side of the issue. It doesn't just list the charges against Socrates (mainly, impiety and the teaching\corruption of young boys) but explains why these would suddenly be brought to attention when they'd been largely ignored for years (not just in terms of Socrates, either).

Quickie Recommendation: Very interesting stuff.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Little Stranger

by Sarah Waters.

Quickie Recap: A small town doctor, Faraday, is called up to a crumbling old mansion to help proud but failing family who still inhabit it against all odds. The family fortune is gone, and they suffer set back after set back. But the family is oddly compelling, and Dr Faraday can't seem to stay away, even when things start to get very unsettling...

Quickie Review: The make or break of this book lays in the creepiness factor. It`s an old house with a history. Possibly, it`s haunted. There are unexplained happenings, mysterious deaths, and lots of dark corners. Either the author can pull this sort of thing off, or not. And this case, it was a resounding yes. I remember at one point it being maybe past noon, I was hunched over my desk at work, with another person in the office, our reading lights on, and I was still getting goosebumps.

Quickie Recommendation: Well executed. Find out more about it here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Quickie Recap: 5 short stories, each related in some way to a love of music, some stories overlapping briefly, if not in content then in theme.

Quickie Review: Beautiful. I found it absolutely lovely that there stories each had a similar feel to them. Each one was precious - each, I felt, deserved to stand alone, could have been fleshed out into whole novels, could have held my attention for oodles longer. And that`s not to say that I felt unsatisfied by any of them, because they were perfection as they were.

Quickie Recommendation: For me, this is a rarity - short stories that I really loved.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sweetness in the Belly

by Camilla Gibb

Quickie Recap: Lilly is a white Muslim in Ethiopia just beginning to find love when revolution tears her away. She becomes a refugee in England where she struggles to fit in and find her footing while every day her thoughts remain in Africa.

Quickie Review: Sigh. I loved this. Loved it. I have never read such an impactful account of immigration. You feel her sadness, her struggle, the urge to make a new home for herself while still yearning for the home she left behind. It feels real and it feels tragic. The contrast between the two countries is brilliant. It touches on war and politics as it must, but they are lived and felt, not just discussed. Acceptance is a struggle for Lilly no matter where she is, and her tenacity is tremendous. She is an interesting character, so much so that I forgot that she was a character and not a real person, and that's a huge compliment to Gibb.

Quickie Recommendation: Breathlessly, yes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lost in Cyburbia

How Life on the Net Has Created a Life of Its Own, by James Harkin.

Quickie Recap: The internet's powerful social networking webs have been 70 years in the making - Harkin traces the path from WW2 until now, and delves into all the www's nooks and crannies along the way.

Quickie Review: Confession time. When you pick up a non-fiction book that's going to be on a certain topic, it is usually written by an expert in that field - maybe a physicist, or a paleontologist. These people are knowledgeable, and sometimes they convey the material in really engaging ways. But they aren't usually english majors, and that usually shows. This book, however, seems to have been written by a writer. Call me a cynic, but to find this book so thoroughly well-written was a surprise, and a good one. And yes it was interesting, and topical, and I loved the way Harkin explores the commonalities between what's happening now in cybernetics and the counterculture of the 1970s. Norbert Wiener and Marshall McLuhan are also compared, and it's fascinating to watch the internet and its offshoots spring up around these men who predicted the things to come more accurately than even they could have guessed. Harkin does a wonderful job weaving all of these things cohesively, and then presenting them with a wink.

Quickie Recommendation: I have to give this one a yes.