Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gangleader for a Day (Sydhar Venkatesh)

I enjoyed the content of this book but I was really put off by the author's voice. Between his photo on the jacket cover and the way he describes himself, I really think he has a high opinion of his own intelligence and maybe humanity.

I first heard of this book when I read Freakanomics... where, ironically enough, I heard much the same voice. I do love the first hand account of life in the projects, though, and you have to give the man credit for venturing in them, even against the advice of his professors, friends and parents.

Reading this book is painful, when I think about the way I worry about money and I think about the way some other people have to live, I feel like a terrible person. But I guess not terrible enough to really change anything, eh?

The Surrogate (Judith Henry Wall)

One of my TBR books that I read on vacation. Not bad, but not great. It definitely kept my interest though there were times when I was wondering if the dialogue (both internal and external) could have been anymore contrived. Since I have an interest in IF, adoption and other sorts of issues this book appealed to me. I was surprised to find a fairly harsh assessment of the state of politics and the way the religious right is attempting to rule the nation. The reader's guide at the end of the book indicated the author had a real person in mind when crafting one of the big villains, and I can't wait to do some more research to find out who she might be modeling.

Overall, I'd give it a C.

The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

I've heard some people disagree, but despite the density I really liked this book. The dialogue could have been better but I really felt for the characters and wanted them to be OK. I couldn't put it down, despite the fact that it took up a better part of my vacation week to read it. I'm glad that PB recommended it to me.

Overall plot revolves around the building of a cathedral and two generations of families (and monks) who are involved in that building. The attention to detail and the amount of research that must have gone into this is astonishing. Overall, I give it a B+.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are you there, Vodka? It's me. Chelsea (Chelsea Handler)

One of the funniest things I've ever heard. She has an obsession with midgets, and curses like a trucker. What's not to love?

Bizarrely enough, this is also a PB recc.

Silent Pray and Winter Prey (John Sandford)

Just.can't.stop.reading.about.Lucas.Davenport.

Am obsessed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Woods (Harlan Coben)

Another recommendation from PB - he listened to it first and thought I would like it.

This has got to be one of the most well-written books I've ever... listened to. In fact, it's so good that I kind of wish I had read it because for whatever reason I think I might have liked it better. Who knows if I really would have?

Anyway, there is too much detail and well-crafted storytelling to even attempt a synopsis, but the book centers around a DA whose sister disappeared as a teenager at summer camp. A victim of a serial killer working at the camp, with two bodies and her bloody clothing found. An interesting subplot involves his father and a rape case that he was currently trying. A lot of discussion of parents and protection and what we do for our children. Highly recommended. A.