Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remember Me - Sophie Kinsella

I bought this book in the Qatar International Airport because I had 2 hours to kill and nothing to read. I love Sophie Kinsella and was happy to have an excuse to read her newest book. Once again Ms. Kinsella has delivered a funny, sweet and super girly book that I didn't want to put down. Chick lit is my guilty pleasure - sometimes I just need it!

This story is set around Lexi - a British woman who wakes up and has no recollection of the past 3 years of her life. This is pretty important because in the last 3 years she has been promoted, lost a ton of weight, gotten married, lost most of her friends and as people keep telling her - become a major bitch! But now the old Lexi is back and not quite sure who she is supposed to be. There are alot of twists and turns and you will be laughing out loud. This was a great vacation read!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Russian Debutantes Handbook - Gary Shteyngart

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book - I really didn't even know what it was about before I started it. It was another one of those random buys. I started this book when I was travelling from Ankara to Istanbul on the bus then to Istanbul to Singapore on a plane. I got into the book right away - and there was never a dull moment. This book is about a young Russian-American named Vladimir who is looking for a life of wealth and meaning (and of course a woman). His mother and father are successful but he is not. He works at a non-profit immigration center and that is where he meets an old schizophrenic Russian man who says he will make Vladimir wealthy (actually the old mans son will) in Prava if he helps him get his citizenship. Pretty much everything goes right and goes wrong.

I really enjoyed this book because it was a humorous book about Russia in the nineties. I had never read any contemporary Russian literature before. It was smartly written and really funny! A good read!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Holidays On Ice - David Sedaris (Audiobook)

After listening to "When You Are Engulfed In Flames", I knew I had to listen to some more David Sedaris as soon as possible. Holidays on Ice is a short audiobook and was a great thing to listen to when I was doing cardio at the gym. There are some great stories about when David worked as one of Santas elves over a Christmas holiday....he knows how to make any story hilarious! I should have listened to this over Christmas because I found that since it was after the holidays that I just wasn't as interested in Christmasy stories. Some of my favorite stories involve some of the people who bring their children into see Santa - and some of the ridiculous things that they do and say.

Thank God David Sedaris is here to remind us how funny the holidays can be!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Harem - Barbara Nadel

Since moving to Turkey I have tried to read some Turkish fiction. I like to read books about the area that I am living in. I bought this murder-mystery set in modern day Istanbul without knowing anything about it or the author. I have found with books like this that it could be hit or miss. But I lucked out because it was a great read! It is one in a series of books about a detective named Ikmen who lives and works in Istanbul. A mutilated body of a young girl is found in an underground cistern..and she is wearing Ottoman clothing. She is Detective Ikmen's daughters bestfriend so this case is personal. This book also involves the kidnapping of an American woman who is married to a Turkish movie star. There are many plot twists and lots of interesting things happen. The only fault with the book is that sometimes I had to go back and see who was who because the names are a bit confusing. Istanbul is such a beautiful and mysterious city...this book makes me want to visit again and also read some of the other novels in this series!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wonder Boys - Michael Chabon

I bought Wnder Boys on a whim at a used bookstore in Antalya, Turkey. I had read "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" a few years back and hated it, so I don't really know what compelled me to buy a book by an author that I was sure I didn't like. But then I remembered that someone had recommended it to me so I thought What The Hell and bought it.

It was nice to read a novel about a small town in America. Even though I am Canadian, I sometimes need my quick dose of American culture - especially when living abroad. This was a great read and really entertaining. The story is about an aging, over-weigh, potsmoking writer/English professor named Grady Tripp who has ben working on his novel Wonder Boys for the past 7 years. When the book begins we learn that his editor Crabtree (who is insane and very funny) has arrived to checkout the novel which Grady has lied about and said that it was almost finished; that his wife has left him because she found out he was having an affair, as well as a whole list of other terrible and hilarious things. The story all happens in a few days and is a great read. I really recommend this book!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

I started reading this book many years ago and probally got a few chapters into it before putting it down. I don't know why I didn't like it but it put me off the book for years. I have a copy on my shelf back in Canada but decided to tackle it again after I saw a copy on a friends shelf here in Turkey. It was also a book that I could choose for my 1% Reading Challenge, as well as the Diversity Rocks Challenge. I found this book an easy read and really interesting. The story is set in India in the late 1960's and looks at how the lives of two twins, Rahel and Estha, are affected after a horrible incident happens to their British cousin Sophie Mol (which they call The Terror). The story deals with issues of class, gender and poverty. I found it horrific some of the things people do (and the people they destroy) to save the reputation of their family. The story is beautifully written and I believe should be read a few times to really understand what it is about. There were parts of it that were a little confusing because the story jumps from time period to time period. But when you get to the end, everything comes together. I really like books on India. There is a harsh reality of poverty and class and gender inequality that can never fully be realized by people who have never been there. But by reading some wonderful Indian novels, at least we can get a glimpse of another world.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Moon - Stephanie Meyer

When I started this book I was not expecting much. I had enjoyed the first book in the Twilight series but didn't think that it was better then the similar books I had read as a 14 year old girl (The Vampire Diaries etc). Also, a friend had read the book just before I did and she didn't like it so much that she didn't finish it!! But I had some hope and now I am glad I read it! It was a great Friday night read..I had the house to myself and really got into the story. I liked it so much more then the first one. This book begins with Bella and Edward...but quickly turns into Edward leaving and Bella having to deal with it. I liked how we got to meet other characters besides the Cullens and Bella's relationship with Jacob Black is really interesting. This book has both vampires and warewolves and some many different types of love.

I saw the Twilight movie the day after finishing the book and thought it was pretty good. I can't wait till they make "New Moon" into a movie....I think it will be even better then Twilight!

Friday, January 16, 2009

March - Geraldine Brooks

I loved, loved, loved this book!! This novel is set around Cival War times and goes where Louisa May Alcott did not venture in "Little Women" - this novel talks about Mr. March and the life he lead before and during the war. The idea of the story intrigued me and I was not disappointed! Mr.March is an abolishionist chaplain who travels with the soldiers down to the Southern States and there he learns quite a lot about himself and his beliefs. I really liked this book because the characters had their share of faults and they seemed very real. I also really liked learning about Mrs. March and about her life before she had her "Little Women" turns out she was quite a controversial woman who had a great many opinions!! I have already given this book to a friend to read. I think I may have to read "Little Women" again!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

I liked this book. Set in the Southern states of America and in Harlem, this novel looks at an African-American man who has repeatedly been mistreated by the white population as well as members of the African-American population. When we first meet him he is kind and beleives that education is the path to betterment...but after things fall apart for him he begins to think differently. There is so much to this novel, so many things happen in the 500+ pages that sometimes it seems to overwhelming. It was difficult to read, sad and gut-wrenching in parts, but I think it is a very important read. It made me think a lot about issues of race and how things have changed (and how they haven't) in the last 100 years. There are parts ofthis book that are going to stay with me forever. For example there is a part where one of the Brothers tells the narrator about escaping to the North after being on a chain gang for 19 years 6 months. Another line that made me think came when the narrator was thinking about the Brotherhood (a group headed by mostly influential white men).

"They were blind, bat blind, moving only by the echoed sounds of their voices. And because they were blind they would destroy themselves.... Here I thought they accepted me because they felt that color made no difference, when in reality it made no difference because they didn't see either color or men."

Everyone should read this book..even if it takes you a bit of time..push through!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Haven't Forgotten About You!!

It has been many many days since I have posted here. That's not because I have forgotten to post or that I have been too busy. It's that I haven't finished my third book yet! I know - it seems to be taking me forever. I am reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and it is a hard and involved read. I knew that it would take me some time when I started it but I didn't realize how emotionally draining a read it would be. About a young black man in the early 1900's, within the first two chapters I was horrified how he was treated - some parts made me feel sick. I find that I can only read a few chapters a day because I have a lot of thinking to do after I am finished it. I am reading this novel because it has been on my shelf for a while and also it is for 2 challenges (1% Well Read Challenge and the Diversty Challenge). I hope to finısh it this weekend and start on another for the 1% Well Read Challenge (I still have 4 to read by the end of February!!)

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Sunflower Forest - Torey Hayden

This book was sent to me by my father-in-law for Christmas. I love when I get British books because they are usually not books I can normally find in Canada. This book was very interesting and deals with mental health (a subject I am very interested being a social worker). The book is set in the late 1970's about the O'Malley family and the struggle that the family goes through because the mother Mara is mentally ill. This story is more complicated than just mental illness; it also deals with WWII and how Mara (the mother) was held in an Aryan breeding camp where she was raped, gave birth and then had her children taken away. After the war is over she meets Cowan O'Mally, an American military officer, who marries her and helps her search for her missing son. They live in Wales for years, in a cottage called "The Sunflower Forest" before moving back to the United States to start there family.

This book was sad. It was hard to read in parts and I had to keep reminding myself that it took place in the 1970's and that the mental health system is very different now. The one part I hated about the book was how the mother had been through some of the most horrible things imaginable and she never gets the help she needs. The family (mostly the father) believes its a family issue and can be handled; but in reality it's bigger than them.

I think people should read this book because it opens our eyes a little bit more. That's what I think books are for.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fangland - John Marks

The first read of 2009 did not turn out to be a good one. It was actually one of the worst books I have ever read. I forced myself to finish it, even though all I wanted to do was put it down and never pick it up again. It is a complicated (but boring) plot about Evangeline Harker, an assistant producer at a hit American news show who travels to Romania to meet with a gangster (named Torgu) to see if he will be on her show. Pretty much everything goes wrong and Evangeline is held hostage in a remote Romanian hotel. Perhaps Torgu is a vampire (I can never actually figure out what he is) but he is for sure a freak. The books had the potenial to be good but the biggest fault is that it is very obvios that even though the book is mostly narrated by a woman, it is written by a man. There are very weird sex scenes in this novel that are so far-fetched and ridiculous; and obviosly a male fantasy. I wish this book had have been better.I wish my first book of 2009 was spectacular....I guess I have to hope the next 50 wıll be spectacular!