Category Archives: Books

A Pedigree To Die For

OverDrive is running the Big Library Read and the featured book is Laurien Berenson’s A Pedigree To Die For. It is a quick read, with pretty fleshed out characters and, well, dogs. Lots of dogs, mainly standard poodles. I am not a dog person (cats are our masters) but the amount of intrigue and devotion surrounding the fictional dog show enthusiasts in the novel was enough to keep the digital pages turning even for me.

Melanie Travis is teacher who finds herself out of work during the summer. She has a four-year old son to care for an a mooching younger brother. When her uncle passes away and one of his and his wife’s prized dogs goes missing, Melanie decides to humor her aunt’s theory about a murder taking place. After all, she has nothing else to do in the summer months.

She gets a crash course in dogs and dog shows which is a little awkward for me since she seems to have no issue at using the correct terminology for female canines. I know it’s what professionals call them, but seeing the b word thrown around so much is just odd and probably says something about our current culture and women. Whatever, I (kind of) got over it.

There is such a quirky cast of characters surrounding these dogs, and the family drama both on the surface and bubbling underneath provided additional substance to gnaw on. Melanie’s love life, or lack there of, was also refreshing as opposed to the tired cliché I was half-expecting.

Apparently there is a whole series of Melanie Travis books, and a quick look at their titles and cover art suggest they also revolve around dogs. I’m going to give the next book in the  series a try, so we’ll see if this cat person can handle all this dog business.

My New Obsession: The Library

When I was a wee little lass I enjoyed visiting the library as equally as going to the movies. I have always loved books (even the smell of them) so being surround by so many was a little slice of heaven.

In retrospect I can see that the frequent trips to the old brown building were in connection to my father continuing his education. He needed to go for a variety of reasons and so dragged me along with him. As such, once his studies were done so too were my own trips.

Anyway long story short in the past few months I have rediscovered the local public library and my wallet is so very happy. I can read manga (legally) without straining my budget or over stuffing my bookcases. That’s good because I still need to buy more shelves for the books I all ready have.

Right now I have numerous books and DVDs checked out on the topic of Hitler and the Holocaust, why I cannot fully explain. I can say walking around with a giant book with a big bright swastika on the front and binding does make one a bit self-conscience.

J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy”

J.K. Rowling’s first foray into adult literature, The Casual Vacancy, is a palate cleanser. It is as far removed from the magic of Hogwarts as one can imagine. It’s set in the fictional village of Pagford and the sudden death of one of the parish council members sets off some drama. I feel bad even calling it drama considering how slow moving all the various plot points are and how horribly petty the lot of them feel.

Indeed upon reflection of the finished book, the story felt like a giant heap of exposition, a hint of rising action and then…done. What was intended to be the climax felt anti-climatic and short. The characters are all rather flat and two-dimensional and the few that exhibit any short of change by the end of the story do so suddenly enough to make it feel contrived.

This is not a “bad” novel, but it wasn’t that great. Very solidly “meh”. It is perhaps the type of novel Rowling had to write to prepare for a post-Harry future.

A Million Little Pieces, A Few Big Lies

A Million Little Pieces
The year was 2006 and Oprah Winfrey had selected James Frey’s memoir about his stint in rehab, A Million Little Pieces, as her book of the month. I cannot recall if that was the first I had heard or seen of the book, but I do remember wanting to read it: it had a neat cover. You’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but we all know we do anyway. But then it was revealed that this bestseller was less biography and more fantasy, and although I maintained an interest in the book, it was far more muted and other works took precedence.

Flash forward to the present and I have finally read this controversial piece of fiction. My verdict? I still like the cover. My opinion on the insides are less positive.

It starts off okay, once you get used to Frey’s stylistic choices, specifically the utter lack of quotation marks and run-on sentences. But around page 150 or 200 the constant repetition starts to feel less artistic choice and more akin to someone trying very hard to be artistic. The further along the story goes the more ridiculous it gets.

Jimmy is a Tough Guy™. He beat a priest (maybe to death!), had multiple root canals done at the same time with no drugs, got in a billy club fight with a bunch of cops, had a hooker snort a line off his neither region, etc. He is smarter than the rehab counselors and doctors, too. Twelve Steps? Phaw! Jimmy is stronger than those puny programs. Don’t think too hard about if willpower is enough to over come addiction why he never did it before; just focus on his being super Tough™.

Far too many pages of this nonsense unfolds until finally, without any real warning, a light bulb goes off and he “gets it”. He is cured from his ills, his past is behind him, everything is starting to look bright. Most of his rehab buddies do not get a the same sunny afterlife, having instead rather dramatic deaths. The latter part of the book felt like really bad fanfiction: that’s how melodramatic their deaths are written. Of course the reason almost everyone dies is because then there are no witnesses to confirm or deny everything you just read!

Even so, I find myself curious to read the follow-up novel.