I met Hank Smith as he was traveling through our town and playing a house concert. He is a musician of considerable talent. While Leaving Auburndale wI met Hank Smith as he was traveling through our town and playing a house concert. He is a musician of considerable talent. While Leaving Auburndale was an interesting read, it's still a little rough around the edges.
Smith's descriptions of the craziness that is Florida are spot-on in many ways. His characters are reminiscent of some of the stranger than fiction folks you find in Carl Hiassen novels. He also captures some of the highs and lows of life on the road for musicians quite well. The life of a traveling musician has its perks but it can also grate on you in many ways. The story was an easy read and there is promise that there are more "tales of the road" left to be told.
The back of the book states that he wrote the book as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I think it's a valiant first effort and with some careful editing, it could actually be fabulous. Aside from the frequent typos, Smith's novel has some challenges with flow. Some elements of the story were repeated frequently (yes. musicians on the road sometimes drink a lot. we get it.) while other aspects of the story could have used more heft. I would have liked to see more of a contrast with the traveling musicians "life on the road" and his relationship with "the girl left behind". She's given only a fleeting part of the story.
Would love to see Hank hand this novella over to a talented editor and rework it a bit. I think that if he did, he would have the makings of a great series about Felix's "life on the road".
I admit that if it weren't for the fact that this book was written by Lauren Graham, the fast talking and quirky actress of Gilmore Girls and ParenthoI admit that if it weren't for the fact that this book was written by Lauren Graham, the fast talking and quirky actress of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, I may not have picked it up. It's the story of Frances, a young actress struggling to meet her self-imposed deadline for success as she tackles the acting world in NYC. It's the mid 1990s and Frances is living in a typical NYC apartment with two roommates as she simultaneously pursues love, friendships, and her dream of being a "working actress". She accomplishes these pursuits with varying degrees of success.
The characters are well developed, even if they somewhat conform to the typical chick-lit/rom-com tropes. The book is also well written and keeps you interested even to the end. I feel like she moved the story along at a good pace and, although somewhat predictable, there were enough twists to keep it interesting. I could totally see opportunities for Frances to share further adventures in future books, much like Bridget Jones or (a less sophisticated) Carrie Bradshaw. I think if that sequel come along (someday....) I would (maybe) pick it up.
I'm not sure if this book tried too hard or didn't try hard enough. Harrison attempts to create a new detective character in Linda Wallheim. She's a MI'm not sure if this book tried too hard or didn't try hard enough. Harrison attempts to create a new detective character in Linda Wallheim. She's a Mormon housewife! And she finds crime in her own backyard/ward! The result is neither Sherlock Holmes nor Jessica Fletcher. While I was somewhat intrigued with the perspective of the story within the Mormon culture, Harrison's "bird's eye view" seemed to be somewhat skewed. Apparently, all (or most) of the Mormon men in Utah are misogynists, pedophiles, murderers, or just plain clueless. Linda paints a version of the Mormon church that is so unfriendly to females, I can't imagine anyone wanting to be a part of it. As the Bishop's Wife, Linda assumes duties often assigned to a preacher's wife in the protestant faith. She calls on the sick, helps prepare for weddings and funerals, cares for children...and then solves murder mysteries on the side.
The dialogue was passable but often trite. Linda's inner dialogue was usually annoying, as she fretted about everything from whether one of her kids was gay or leaving the church, wondered if she was "worthy" enough to be the Bishop's Wife, or whether her closest neighbors might have committed a murder. Harrison even has one of the police officer characters point out that her "meddling" as a wannabe junior detective can be disruptive to an actual police investigation. The second storyline of Linda continuing to grieve for her newborn daughter who died over 20 years before seemed to interfere with every part of the plot and became more of an intrusion than an interesting aspect of her character. I don't think two pages of the book went by when her grief wasn't mentioned in some way. As a mother of a deceased child, I get where she was going. The grief never quite goes away. But it seemed like Linda never even dealt with her grief in a healthy way. Just get that woman to a counselor and let her talk out her feelings with a skilled psychologist. Instead, it seems to color every single event in her life, from making meals for her family to watching a neighbor's daughter to comforting a friend in the loss of her husband. It was grief overkill.
I did enjoy the subtle digs at fellow Mormon author Stephanie Meyer, although Harrison's prose is not much better and I found at least 3 passages that could have used better editing. The story began well enough but dragged quite a bit in the middle. I only finished it because I had read more than half the story before I became completely annoyed with it and it seemed a waste not to just end it once and for all. I understand Harrison has turned the "Sister Wallheim Mysteries" into a series but I really have no interest in her further adventures. ...more
This might be my favorite short story collection by King to date. My favorite part of the book was the introductions before each story where he sharedThis might be my favorite short story collection by King to date. My favorite part of the book was the introductions before each story where he shared some insights as to the inspiration or process involved in its creation. I love to see how his brain works. As a writer, he reinforces that need to be a good reader and observer of life in order to be a good writer.
Each story had a unique style and theme. There were a few tales I would classify as "horror", but most were either the classic "story with a twist" or just a tale with good characters. Hope he keeps churning out the stories as long as he is inspired. ...more
This book was such a sweet surprise! I received it as part of a book exchange in which I participate and I don't think it's a book I would otherwise sThis book was such a sweet surprise! I received it as part of a book exchange in which I participate and I don't think it's a book I would otherwise select to read. The novel tells the story of Liz Dunn, a quite unassuming woman living what could only be described as a lonely life in Vancouver, B.C. At first, it seems that nothing ever happens to Liz. But then things happen. And these events reveal a past that help us understand Liz's present and the relationships that she cultivates.
I don't want to give too much away through the review because I think part of the joy in this book was the unexpected nature of the plot. I actually found myself laughing at loud at certain parts and then becoming rather sad and sentimental at other times. This was a quick and engaging read that made me want to check out more of Coupland's work. ...more
This is a fun book written with geeks in mind, particularly geeks who love to read. Sloan gives a wonderful introduction to Mr. Penumbra's bookstore iThis is a fun book written with geeks in mind, particularly geeks who love to read. Sloan gives a wonderful introduction to Mr. Penumbra's bookstore in its early pages:
"Let me be candid. If I had to rank book acquisition experiences in order of comfort, ease, and satisfaction, the list would go like this: 1. The perfect independent bookstore, like Pygmalion in Berkeley; 2. A big, bright Barnes and Noble. I know they're corporate, but let's face it --those stores are nice. Especially the ones with big couches. 3. The book aisle at WalMart. (It's next to the potting soil.); 4. The lending library aboard the USS West Virginia, a nuclear submarine deep beneath the surface of the Pacific; 5. Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore."
Clay Jannon is an unemployed graphic artist and tech guy living in San Francisco. He's wandering through life searching for some purpose, primed for his ubiquitous quarter life crisis. On a whim, he pops into Mr. Penumbra's in response to the "Help Wanted" sign in the window. What follows is a journey he never could have anticipated.
The story is an action adventure. It's a modern novel with fun and quirky but relate-able characters. It's a commentary on the "death" of publishing and the written word and the subsequent rise of technology. But it is anything but predictable. It had just enough magical realism to be both fun and believable.
This was certainly one of the most creative memoirs I've ever read. As a superfan of the choose-your-own-adventure format when I was a child, I thoughThis was certainly one of the most creative memoirs I've ever read. As a superfan of the choose-your-own-adventure format when I was a child, I thought this was a fabulous way for NPH to tell his story. I loved that some of the "endings" were actually ridiculous fantasies while other alternate histories actually told the story of his life (thus far). Harris was funny and sarcastic at times but other points of the book, including his thoughts on his sexuality and his relationship with his partner David, were often poignant and touching. I also loved the guest posts of reflections from people who have known and/or worked with NPH over the years.
My only critique of the book was that, due to the format, I wasn't completely sure I had read EVERYTHING and I wanted to read every alternate storyline possible. It really doesn't work to read the book cover to cover. But, hey! That's the point, right?
It should also be noted that I read this book during a bout of the flu. Not sure how this skewed my review (one way or the other)....more
A powerful and thoughtful read. Atwood presents a realistic not-so-distant future in which the economy of the world has bottomed out. Unemployment isA powerful and thoughtful read. Atwood presents a realistic not-so-distant future in which the economy of the world has bottomed out. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Entire communities have collapsed. Only the ultra-rich are living comfortably and without fear. Along comes a "reasonable solution" in the form of the Consilience/Positron Project. People are either too desperate or too hopeful to NOT sign on the dotted line. This is the premise of the book. The story specifically follows Charmaine and Stan, a couple who seemed to have a life of promise before the economic collapse. They hitch their last hope on the Positron Project and all seems to go well for a few months. Then, through a series of events that may or may not have been purposeful, Charmaine and Stan find themselves in a deeper world that involves deceit, life and death, and danger.
I found Atwood's writing engaging. She hooks you with the plot from the very beginning and it's a page-turner right up until the very end. I found a few spots near the last 1/3 of the book where I felt the story dragged...just the tiniest bit. But I think I was really just anxious to see how it all resolved. The ending leaves you with a bit of a twist and the whole story has you considering that which we really value and find important in our lives. ...more
I just could NOT get into this book. It had an interesting concept but the run-on sentences and the author's style was too annoying. It didn't get myI just could NOT get into this book. It had an interesting concept but the run-on sentences and the author's style was too annoying. It didn't get my attention. ...more
For fans of sci-fi, fantasy, and video games, this book will be an interesting take on the alien "conspiracy theories" that are found in the many teleFor fans of sci-fi, fantasy, and video games, this book will be an interesting take on the alien "conspiracy theories" that are found in the many television shows and movies that are part of our popular culture. The story of a video game fanboy becoming the savior of the universe was not necessarily original. In fact, so much of this story seemed like pieces and parts of Ender's Game, Armageddon, X-Files, and more. But maybe that was Ernest Cline's point.
The book was an easy read and I think it would translate well to the big screen (or small screen) as well. I enjoyed some of the character's "nerd banter" and references to some of my favorite fantasy and sci-fi entertainment. I did feel, though, that the author's use of other tales toed the line between originality and cannibalization. I didn't like this book as much as Ready, Player One, but I enjoyed it all the same. ...more