There’s a surprise at the end of this book that I wish I had known about before I started reading. The Tenth Circle is a metaphorical journey through...moreThere’s a surprise at the end of this book that I wish I had known about before I started reading. The Tenth Circle is a metaphorical journey through Dante's Inferno, told through the eyes of a small Maine family whose hidden demons haunt every aspect of their seemingly peaceful existence. Woven throughout the novel are a series of dramatic illustrations that pay homage to the family's patriarch, comic book artist Daniel Stone, and add a unique twist to this gripping story. Trixie Stone is an imaginative, perceptive 14 year old whose life begins to unravel when Jason Underhill, Bethel High's star hockey player, breaks up with her, leaving a void that can only be filled by the blood spilled during shameful self-mutilations in the girls' bathroom. While Trixie's dad Daniel notices his daughter's recent change in demeanor, he turns a blind eye, just as he does to the obvious affair his wife Laura, a college professor, is barely trying to conceal. When Trixie gets raped at a friend's party, Daniel and Laura are forced to deal not only with the consequences of their daughter's physical and emotional trauma, but with their own transgressions as well. For Daniel, that means reflecting on a childhood spent as the only white kid in a native Alaskan village, where isolation and loneliness turned him into a recluse, only to be born again after falling in love with his wife. Laura, who blames her family's unraveling on her selfish affair, must decide how to reconcile her personal desires with her loved ones' needs.(less)
One of my favorite books, a story that has stayed with me since I read it five years ago; there’s something about Travis that grabbed my heart. It’s t...moreOne of my favorite books, a story that has stayed with me since I read it five years ago; there’s something about Travis that grabbed my heart. It’s the 1950’s and twelve-year-old Travis is having a tough childhood: his beloved Japanese mother is in a mental institution, leaving him in the care of his emotionally unavailable Marine father, and he is constantly tormented by a redneck teenage neighbor. His life changes dramatically when he leaves Omaha to spend the summer with his father's family in Widow Rock, Florida. Travis's grandfather is the town's stern sheriff, his grandmother is often bedridden with headaches or heat exhaustion and his saucy Aunt Delia ("the subject of eighty percent of all Widow Rock Gossip Reports") is a 16-year-old spitfire. Travis is smitten by her verve from the moment she screeches to a halt in her '55 Chevy, and aunt and nephew bond quickly. Delia trusts her secrets with Travis, and he gains a masculine sense of protectiveness as he learns about the power of sex, lust and violence. Besotted with Delia, Travis loses emotional control and commits an outrageous act. The suspense builds to an explosive ending, and Travis's coming of age is brutal, touching and memorable.(less)
This inspirational fable by Brazilian author and translator Coelho has been a runaway bestseller throughout Latin America. The charming tale of Santia...moreThis inspirational fable by Brazilian author and translator Coelho has been a runaway bestseller throughout Latin America. The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world, is compelling in its own right, but gains resonance through the many lessons Santiago learns during his adventures. He journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment. The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it's full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams. The cumulative effect is like hearing a wonderful bedtime story from an inspirational psychiatrist.(less)
To appreciate this novel you need to read Notaro’s collections of short stories, she’s hilarious. And if you’re familiar with the Slug Queen in Eugene...moreTo appreciate this novel you need to read Notaro’s collections of short stories, she’s hilarious. And if you’re familiar with the Slug Queen in Eugene (Oregon) you’ll really love this book. When Maye Roberts's husband, Charlie, gets a tenure-track job at prestigious Spaulding University, childless, 30-something Maye leaves her tight-knit group of friends and job as a Phoenix reporter to move to the school's eponymous Washington State burg. While Charlie fits in easily, Maye, after a faculty dinner run-in with Dean Spaulding's wife, Rowena, feels lonely and bored. When she learns about the Sewer Pipe Queen pageant, a local tradition that guarantees the winner a town full of friends, she enters with her singing dog, inflaming Rowena further. As tensions thicken, Maye's rather notorious pageant sponsor, Ruby, may hold the key to Rowena's continuing rage and to the decades-old incident that sparked it. This book is filled with the same winningly acerbic riffs that drive Notaro's popular essays. (less)
The time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the...moreThe time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and there are rumors that every copy of Carax's novels have been burned. As Daniel's quest continues, frightening parallels between his own life and Carax's begin to emerge. A friend gave me this book, saying it’s the best book she’s read in quite a while. A neighbor I ran into on the elevator said it’s a fantastic book, as did a stranger on the MAX one afternoon when she saw me reading it. It starts out somewhat slow but before you know it you can’t put it down.(less)
After reading several books on suicide and grief, being the surviving spouse of someone who had just recently ended their life, I felt I needed someth...moreAfter reading several books on suicide and grief, being the surviving spouse of someone who had just recently ended their life, I felt I needed something light to read. Normally I read the back cover and the first few pages before buying a book, but in this case I didn't. I saw the cover, I love Paris, it looked like a light read. So I bought it, headed to the nearest coffee shop and settled in to read some fluff. Imagine my surprise when on the first page I read that she moved to Paris after the death of her husband. Damn. But, it was a great read and I've recommended it to others who love Paris.
Suzy had always fantasized about moving to Paris with her husband, but when he dies unexpectedly, she decides to fulfill their dream alone. Here she gives a deliciously conversational chronicle of her first year in Paris and of the dizzying delights and maddening frustrations of learning to be a Parisian. Filled with insider’s tips on everything from cooking the perfect clafoutis to shopping, C’est la Vie is delightfully entertaining and captures the exhilarating experience of beginning a new adventure.(less)
Ok, leaving it all behind and living my days out walking on the beach is a dream for me so I loved this book. Bode leaves a job from which he was deri...moreOk, leaving it all behind and living my days out walking on the beach is a dream for me so I loved this book. Bode leaves a job from which he was deriving no personal satisfaction and a lackluster marriage to become a beachcomber. He gets a beach house at Miramar Beach, California, and uses his time walking the beach and ruminating about sand dollars, jellyfish, and the mist and tide in his self-described journey to the center of himself. The days and nights of irregular and random beachcombing allow him to reflect on who he is, who he wants to be, and what it means to be human. This striving for an authentic life makes this book sensitive and worthwhile reading. It’s one of those books that you stop reading a segment and just reflect on your own life.(less)
UPDATE: I shelved this one for a later date and see that it's now been a year since I tried reading it. The premise is great, it's just written so dul...moreUPDATE: I shelved this one for a later date and see that it's now been a year since I tried reading it. The premise is great, it's just written so dull and boring. I'll try again at a later date. You know, Al Gore can be a pretty funny and interesting guy (and definitely intelligent)...I just don't see why he has to be so boring when talking about important topics. ----------------- I've just started this book and so far it's good but kind of dry. Gore spends a lot of time quoting others (way too much) and goes into too much detail on medical terms, such as how the brain processes thought. But like I said, I've just started it, so I have hopes that it will pick up because the message is a topic I'm very interested in.(less)
A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air. "Why?" asks the confushed waiter, as the pan...moreA panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air. "Why?" asks the confushed waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. "I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up." The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation. "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."
Who would have thought that a book on grammar would be an International best seller. And that I would love it so much! I had the opportunity to meet the author and she's a riot...you'll love this book.(less)
William "Belly" O'Leary, erstwhile drunk and druggie, has just left prison after serving four years on an illegal gambling charge...moreThis woman can write!
William "Belly" O'Leary, erstwhile drunk and druggie, has just left prison after serving four years on an illegal gambling charge. He's gotten two years off for good behavior and awaits contact from the New York Racing Association, who'd sent word to keep his mouth shut; his oldest daughter, Nora; and his "midwestern princess," Loretta. A bus returns him to Saratoga Springs, a place he envisions as a classic woman in a Greek chiton, revered most of the year but in August--racing season--turning into a brassy dame with dyed hair and too much makeup. The town has changed--now track season runs from July to Labor Day, and designer coffee shops and Wal-Mart have displaced Belly's old haunts, leaving him pushing 60, trying to pass for 45, and stranded in a new world of childproof lighters and a daughter studying "Book Arts." Comically poignant and well paced, Davis' look at "family values" under stress seems good movie material.(less)