Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Book Reviews: "Know Your Cat," Before the Dawn," "The Brothers K," "The Help," & "Walking Across Egypt"

 by Francesca Riccomini
Rating: *

This book was actually a Christmas gift to us from Gracie (Seth went and bought it for her). I thought maybe I should actually read it so Gracie would stop her whining about me not "understanding" her. Plus I figured it might help our relationship and bump me up a couple notches. I did actually learn a few things, some of which I've put into practice in order to make her life even more cushy than it already is. God forbid she feel any stress or discomfort on my behalf. I have to admit I do like that cat. I can't help it... even though she's constantly doing mean things to me. At least now I know how to read her subtle signs of impending wrath. Anyway, this wasn't the highest quality book I've ever seen, but then again, it was in the "bargain bin."

by Nicholas Wade
Rating: **

I liked this book. It took a little more concentration to read than a regular novel, so I had to read it in smaller chunks... kind of like a textbook, but not so dull. It just covered so much scientific information it took my brain a while to process it all. But, that's not saying it wasn't good. It really enlightened me on the whole humans came from monkeys viewpoint. For example, our ancient homo sapien ancestors lived at the same time as homo erectus and the Neanderthals. I had always been under the impression that we evolved from them. And there was so much information about our DNA and all of the information scientists can glean from it. They have found that our ancient ancestors came from Africa and how approximately how big the society was, where they dissipated to and when, when humans developed the ability to use language and tools, and so many other amazing things. Every night after reading I'd always have some interesting bit of knowledge to share with Seth (whether he wanted to hear it or not). Truthfully I got about half-way through this book and got distracted by other more tempting book options, but I may revisit it later.

 by David James Duncan

I fell in love with David James Duncan after reading The River Why. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this book at the library on CD! I was so excited. Although this book was centered on baseball (not fishing, like The River Why), I still loved it. Maybe even more than The River Why, which I didn't think was possible. The narrator had a great voice and added a lot to the story. If you've ever listened to a poorly narrated book, you know how much it can ruin a good novel. I honestly hated getting out of my car at the end of my commute each day and found myself wishing the drive was longer, just so I could keep listening to this book. Duncan is a literary genius. He's such a creative, engaging writer. I can't recommend his books enough.

by Katherine Stockett
Rating: **+

My sister, Corinne, sent me this book as a surprise. I had already added this to the list of books I wanted to read so I was excited to be able to start it so soon without having to go find it myself. This is a book about the civil rights era and the experiences of some black women who were maids in white homes. Truthfully I was a little put off from the very first chapter. Stockett began the book speaking as one of the black women named Aibileen, but used the stereotypical dialect we're all so familiar with such as "chillen" for "children," "Law" for "Lord", etc. Anyway, I thought this was a little cliché, but got used to it as the book progressed. I guess it's an important part of the book to differentiate between characters and how they speak, but I thought Stockett could have found a more creative way to do it than using the old standbys. Which isn't to say the book wasn't good despite all of that. You can tell Stockett is partially writing about herself via Skeeter. At least that's what I thought, especially after reading her bio. I think it was a worthy read and I enjoyed it. It constantly drew me in and made me want to read more. A good first novel for Stockett.

by Clyde Edgerton
Rating: **+

My mom recommended this book to me several times over the years and I finally got around to "reading" it.  I saw it at the library on CD and thought it would make a nice addition to my daily commute. This was a highly entertaining book about an old woman and all the experiences she has. A lot of the book is told from her point of view and it's funny to imagine her as all the "crazy old ladies" you know. There's a part towards the beginning involving a rocking chair... that alone is worth reading. This was a great, fun book and definitely a good choice as an audiobook in the car. The reader did a great job on the character voices and made the book really come to life. There's a sequel to this called "Killer Diller" so I'll definitely have to pick that one up now too! Thanks for the recommendation Mom!


Paul said...

Karen, if you want a good book about cat behavior, I'd recommend Tribe of Tiger. I can't remember the author, but she examines all aspects of cat life and connects a lot of it to their base instincts (she even has a chapter on mountain lions).

heidi said...

Oo, oo, oo! You're reading "My Life in France!" !! I hope you love it. It's got a special place in my heart, because my little brother gave it to me. Paulie says it's the best foodie book he's ever read (& he and I've read quite a few). Anyway, now that I think of it, it pairs BEAUTIFULLY with "Julie and Julia" AND I think it makes a lot of sense to read Child's book first.

Speaking of foodie books--Paul and I also like Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything. Funny, informative, and, it makes me hungry. I do think you'd like it. He's got a stong personality.

I'm having to dig deep to come up with recommendations--you're just whizzing through books! Have you become a speed reader? (I swear, Paul reads SO FAST. I'm not slow but I ain't fast.)

Rachel said...

It would appear that you are well on your way to achieving your 2010 reading goal.

You are so smart to listen to books as you drive to and from work. I am now programming this into my own Karenbot interface so that I can copy this behavior and continue to become more and more like you in every way.

Also, I love that Gracie gave you a book for Christmas.

Also, I'm glad you liked the Brothers K. I'm currently in the middle of The River Why and am just getting SUCH a kick out of it.

Also, Heidi, I recently saw "The Man Who Ate Everything" at B and N and thought to myself, "I must read this book." The sentiment has been reinforced.

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