Saturday, September 23, 2006

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation, by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

A very interesting book. I think the authors did a great job of adapting the 9/11 commission report to graphic novel format. The graphic novel seemed just as immediate and horrifying as the text version. Very well-done. Highly recommended.  

Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred (graphic novel)

Many, many thanks to my reading buddy Joanne, who recommended this excellent graphic novel to me. I could barely put it down. It tells the story of a young mechanic named Robin who works with an expert mechanic named Mac, keeping the ships of a kick-butt squadron of female fighters in good shape. I can't even do the book justice -- the writing is fantastic, the sight gags are good, and I'm telling you this even though I don't much care for the way Eldred portrays the ship's library. (The head librarian is named Ms. Ann Thrope!  And she has a bun and a bosom the size of a ship's prow! C'mon, how stereotyped is that?)
Anyway, you MUST READ this book. If you're still not convinced, check it out online at -- you can read the first couple of chapters there, and then I bet you'll be hooked.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler

This is the first published Bryant and May mystery (the geezer duo), but it's the third one I've read. I enjoyed it, but I think if I'd started with this one I might have been a bit confused, because it keeps switching between the present time and wartime London. Still a good read, though!

The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen

I never read The Corrections, Franzen's fiction debut (you remember, the one that caused all that flap with Oprah because he said he wasn't sure if it was a good thing that she picked his book for her book club?), but he is certainly a good writer. Some of the chapters resonated with me more than others. (I especially liked the chapters where he discussed bird-watching.) But there were certain parts of the book that just lost me, for instance, when he spent several chapters quoting stuff in German and then translating it. Just couldn't get into that part. So, I practiced the gentle art of skimming and was done with this book in no time!

Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell

What a fun memoir! I must admit I skipped over some of the more gruesome parts involving trussing chickens and skewering lobsters and the like... but overall I just really enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Remember Running by Darcy Wakefield

The full title of this book is "I Remember Running: The year I got everything I ever wanted -- and ALS." 
In short, to-the-point chapters, Wakefield leads us through her journey as she finds her true love, discovers she has ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease), and struggles to deal with the slow disintegration of her body. As a former English professor, she really knows how to use words well to describe the emotional roller-coaster of trying to live well with a terminal disease.

Never Been Thawed (movie)

What a weird movie. It's a "mockumentary" about a group of Christian frozen-food enthusiasts in Arizona who are planning a convention to showcase their frozen entree collections. Anyone who has enjoyed Christopher Guest's movies would probably like this one too, except the language gets a bit blue in parts. But even that's kind of amusing. It's twisted and funny and I liked it a lot.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

I confess that I picked up this novel wondering whether Haddon would be able to match the success of his previous book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. But he did! I really enjoyed this book. All the characters are really struggling to try and do the right thing, so even when they screw up (as they do often), I was still rooting for them. It was a book that was almost impossible for me to put down. I wanted to know what happened to the characters and I wasn't willing to stop until I found out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters

British writer Minette Walters has always been an excellent writer of psychological suspense, but this book is even better than the others I've read by her. Journalist Connie Burns is abducted and tortured while she is on assignment in Baghdad. She is released three days later, and refuses to talk to anyone about what has happened to her. Soon afterwards, she goes back to England to try and recover from the trauma. She rents a secluded house in a small village and tries to put the past behind her. Meanwhile she gets caught up in a mystery involving the former owner of the house, an elderly lady who was found by a neighbor in below-freezing weather by the fishpond. Was the neighbor somehow involved? Who can Connie trust? Will she be able to overcome the fears and psychological trauma of her abduction? This book truly kept me on the edge of my seat, until the very last page. I highly recommend it.

Cockeyed: A Memoir, by Ryan Knighton

Wow, this book was fantastic. Knighton teaches creative writing at a college in Canada. He was diagnosed in his teens with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that left him functionally blind by the time he was in his early 20s. He may be blind, but he still has a great eye for detail. He tells his story in a funny and powerful way, expertly eliciting emotion from his readers. Parts of the book made me laugh out loud and other parts made me sad. I can always tell when I've read a particularly good book because I am compelled to read bits of it to other people -- and this book is definitely like that. I'm very grateful to my friend Trisha for recommending it to me -- and now I'm recommending it to you! Go forth and read!

Heavens to Betsy by Beth Pattillo

The Reverend Betsy Blessing is an assistant pastor at a church in Nashville. She's smart and funny. She's also lonely, wondering what God wants her to do, and unsure if she wants to continue as a pastor, since many of her congregants appear to think a man could do the job better. I enjoyed this book a lot -- it reminded me of "At Home in Mitford" for a younger, hipper crowd. I'm looking forward to the second book, "Earth to Betsy," which we also own at the library.