Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles: Book 1

Carter and Sadie Kane are brother and sister; yet, they hardly know each other. Since their mother's death, Sadie has lived with their grandparents in London while Carter globetrotted around the world with their Egyptologist father. Then, on a Christmas Eve trip to the British Museum with their father, Sadie and Carter's lives are turned completely upside down. Now Carter and Sadie must deal with Egyptian gods meddling in their lives and find a way to defeat the most evil of Egyptian gods, Set, in order to save their father.

Rick Riordan uses both children as narrators in this book and I found it to be an interesting storytelling device; although I would sometimes get confused as to who was telling the story at times.There is a whole plethora of characters introduced along with various stories about their backgrounds and at times that can get confusing. But I think a lot of that exposition is necessary just because as a whole, we (the general public) know less about Egyptian mythology than Greek mythology so we've got to be educated. Overall, it's a very good story, well told with lots of action. This book is a lot like the later Percy Jackson books except it deals with Egyptian gods instead of Greek gods; so, if you're a Percy Jackson fan, it's a must read. In truth, there's a chance I might end up liking this series better than Percy Jackson.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literatures 50 Greatest Hits

Beowulf on the Beach is a fun, quick little read. Murnighan uses his background in medieval and renaissance literature to give readers his opinions of some of the best classic books or pieces of literature. He does quick little synopses of the stories, plot lines, best lines, and the things that you should skip in the books (and you won't miss anything by skipping those parts of the books). I enjoyed seeing another opinion on some books I really loved and getting a good idea of what other books I might (or might not) want to tackle in the near future. It was an entertaining book that inspired me to read some classic literature. I just don't know if it will be any of the ones recommended by Murnighan.

9 Dragons

In Michael Connelly's latest Harry Bosch novel, Harry faces his most emotional case ever. While investigating the murder of a Chinese store owner, Harry brings in a local Chinese gang member as his suspect. At the time he brings the suspect, his daughter is kidnapped all the way over in Hong Kong where she lives with her mother. Harry rushes to Hong Kong to chase down his daughter and bring her home.

I love the Harry Bosch books and have been reading them for a long time. Each year I look forward to the new book in two series: Harry Bosch and Stephanie Plum. And this book was no exception - I loved it. And I was surprised by it. It wasn't so much the mystery that surprised but the emotion that this book had in it. When Harry Bosch's daughter gets kidnapped, the reader gets to see a side of Harry that I don't recall ever seeing. He's emotional, determined and a man on a mission. Oh, and I cried in a Harry Bosch book! It wasn't just a little tearing up either, it was straight out bawling. I couldn't believe it when that happened. 

I listened to this book. It was narrated by Len Cariou who does a good job reading the books and bringing the characters to life although I did sometimes feel that Harry's daughter's voice was a little off. 


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge follows the title character through thirteen short stories in which Olive plays a role - sometimes as the main character other times, she's just a person mentioned in passing. The stories take place in a small coastal town in Maine. Olive is a retired schoolteacher that most of the children in her classes were scared of. Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009.

A part of me is at a loss for words on what to say about this book. Not because it was bad or that it I didn't like it. In fact, I think I liked it too much. I am always impressed when I read a really good short story because it takes so much talent to write a story in a small amount of pages that has the power to get someone invested in the characters and pull at their heartstrings and make them want to know more about that person. Even more so, to have to the ability to make you feel for that person. Elizabeth Strout manages to do this thirteen times and not just with the title character. In each story, she paints pictures of people who are desperate, lonely, harboring secret fears and/or loves. And the thread that weaves each story together is Olive Kitteridge - the gruff, old lady that most people don't really like. I knew by the time I finished the first story (which focused on Olive's husband, Henry - a person that everybody in town loved) that I was reading a great book.  There were times I would read passages and phrases and have to stop and read them again because they were not only beautiful, they were poetic. It took me much longer to read this book than normal because I kept rereading parts of it and savoring the stories. I couldn't read one story and move directly into the next. I had put the book down and think about it for a while. Give the story a chance to sink in with me.  I can definitely see why this book was a Pulitzer Prize winner. It has that extra little something that all writers strive to achieve.