Archive | July 2012

Catching Up: An overview of the last month and half of books read!

First off, it’s been way too long. I took a vacation for a couple weeks, but that is no excuse because I finished 9 books now since I finished my last review. A couple of those were dog training books: My Smart Puppy by Brian Kilcommons (which I give 5 out of 5 stars), and What is My Dog Thinking? by Gwen Bailey (only 3 out of 5 stars). But there’s been some books I needed to have reviewed for MIA challenge, and others that I found by chance that I read for pleasure. There’s been some good books in the mix. Let’s review:

I read the House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe which I really enjoyed. The book revolves around only a handful of characters and follows them threw life essentially. The lead character has narcolepsy and another of the main characters has severe insomnia. So the book delves heavily on sleep disorders as the title suggests. I feel like I use the word quirky too often, but this book definitely fits along those lines. These characters stay intertwined though life spreads them far apart. Details are very important in this book and really nothing should be overlooked. In the end all the stories come together, and some of it is outright hilarious. I don’t want to say too much without giving the twists away, but it’s a definite good read.

Next I tackled The Worst Day of My Life, So Far by M.A. Harper. This book was about a woman who takes care of her mother as she battles Alzheimer’s. This book was a page turner, and I fairly enjoyed it. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. The book is set in a smalltown in Louisiana and we follow a lot of the main characters past before she takes care of her mother as well. The book is at times hilarious, at time depressing, at time annoying and frustrating. I liked all of these things because I really felt a lot of swings in the emotions this lady. It all feels true in that sense, her feeling towards her mother, her hatred of the town, her relations with her husband (who cheats on her and leaves her) and all of that. The ending is haunting to me, I wont give it away but it shows the mother in another light—-after her Alzheimer’s is at an horrible downturn. Its almost as if the lucid soul is still inside but the ability to share that lucidity is gone. It’s very interesting. 

The next book was a book I struggled to get through, When Madeline Was Young by Jane Hamilton. There’s a very odd plotline for this book, and that was why I wanted to read it. A young man married this Madeline but Madeline soon got into a bicycle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Madeline essentially reverts back to a young child and never progresses past that mental stage. Long story short, the man marries another lady, Madeline’s old nurse, and they keep Madeline as their own child. It’s odd having this family grow up with their own kids and yet this grown adult is their “sister” a forever young girl. I think my problem with this book is that nothing really happens. We hear about some “interesting” encounters, as told by the eldest son Mac. I find it slightly unsettling that Madeline is so sexual despite the mental capacity of a young girl. That disturbed me. The family fights regarding politics were interesting, as was the racial issues encountered when the mom takes in these siblings from the city “showing them their life” essentially. Overall I really didn’t like it. I got through it but that was because I hate not finishing books—- otherwise this one would’ve been put down.

Then Before I Wake (Book 6 of the Soul Screamers series) by Rachel Vincent came out. I just love Rachel Vincent. Another page turner, but I hate to say anything about the book due to the big spoiler from book 5 still. But this book was good like always. I really hate that this series is about to end soon.

For the MIA challenge I read a book about Tourette’s syndrom. Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. I liked the book— but it’s very odd. I still have a hard time understanding what the book was talking about with some of the little girls tics. Needless to say I had some very bad imagery in my head when they were talking about eyes popping out of her head. She croaks like a frog and has fits of flailing arms too. The book is set in rural Kentucky in the 1950s which is important to note because they didn’t have a clue what was going on with Icy. She becomes an outcast and is put in a mental institution. I actually had to look up more information on Tourette’s at this point, I was surprised they did not diagnos her on spot or at least after her first episode at the institution. Either way, the book is rather amusing because of Icy’s narration, but very bittersweet. I was not crazy about the ending either which is why it got bumped down to 3 stars. 

Next I read One Day by David Nicholls with a lot of misgivings going into it at first. I needed another book to read and didn’t have an opportunity to head into the library. So I went browsing OverDrive and there was hardly anything available. Grabbed this one and went with it. A romance? Oh great not my favorite genre— I’ll read it now and then but I often feel like I’m reading erotica most of the time when I read book categorized as a romance novel. Well this book is amazing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It follows the life of two characters but only on one day throughout the years. They graduated from the same college and on graduation day they had their own little fling— lots of kissing but nothing else though. Though they only spent the night and the next day together they kept in touch and became best friends. What I love most about this book is how real it is. It’s never the right time. Timing is of course everything. ———– SPOILER: Yes they do end up together at some point, it was meant to be of course. There’s a lot of trials and tribulations they go through but it makes everything that much more interesting. I wont go any further because this author does a wonderful job at throwing in things you just don’t expect and I can’t spoil that. I however, was spoiled partway through I looked through some reviews— it was still just as good. 

Lastly, tonight I finished another lucky find on OverDrive: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Well I finished reading this here at work and burst into tears. So I don’t recommend reading it at work! The book is written from the dog’s perspective and it’s a wonderful look at family life. The family goes through hard trials—- disease, death, legal issues, etc. The dog, Enzo, understands it all and truly is another family member. He says it himself, it’s as if he’s a human soul stuck in the dog body. Enzo truly believes in a National Geographic special he watched about Mongolia— where they believe dogs are reincarnated to a human in a latter life. The racing part is because the master/dad is a race car driver. I’m not a Nascar or anything fan but I was definitely interested in the descriptions of everything the dog gave. This dog loves his racing. The book spans Enzo’s entire life and is touching and sad at the end. I don’t know how else to describe the book. I really enjoyed it. At time I really thought it was silly with the dog narrating, but it worked at other points. I can say I do talk to my dog differently now. My little 6 month old pup is no where near as wise as Enzo (as a border collie she should be though!!) but I’d like to think somewhere within her she understands.

On somewhat of a side note, I also had the book hit close to home for me because Sophia, my puppy, has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia already— or rather the pre condition before any arthritis sets in. She’s not in any pain yet but we noticed her joints popping. Enzo at an older age develops hip dysplasia and talks about his experience and mentions how he knew his hips were different even at a young age. My poor little girl is all I could think. We plan on going through with surgery on Sophia at some point here soon. Here in Northern California they’re talking $3000 per side for a Triple Pelvic Osteotomy. The surgery sounds nasty, cutting her pelvis in three areas to reshape the hip joint. But it’s our best option.

Well I’m caught up now. I sure hope to be more on top of my book reviews from now on. Maybe sometime here soon I’ll update with info and maybe photos from my Idaho/Yellowstone vacation!