"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Shining Girls

TITLE: The Shining Girls
AUTHOR: Lauren Beukes

I have a new must-read author! This is not her first book, and while I was aware of her earlier books, I hadn't gotten around to reading them, or even getting them. But the plot of this caught my attention: time traveling serial killer. That covers science fiction and mysteries, two of my favorite genres to read. As it turns out, the science fiction is more fantasy due to there being no explanation for the killer's ability to travel forward from the 1930s. All he needs do is be in the house he found, think of a time to visit, then step outside.

Through a series of events that seem pre-determined, petty criminal Harper Curtis comes into possession of a coat during the Great Depression and in a pocket of that coat is a key to a house, a house that seems to draw him to it once he puts on the coat. In a bedroom in the house, he finds artifacts pinned to a wall, with names beside them, names of girls written in his handwriting. Names he hasn't written yet. Names of the Shining Girls he knows he must kill.

In the early 1990s, Kirby Mazrachi is a journalism student hellbent on finding the man with a limp who nearly killed her four years earlier. She enlists the reluctant assistance of the reporter who had covered her case and together... I won't say more because this book is too clever, too mind-bending to spoil. The killings are violent and the writing is graphic in that regard, but the prose hums along, painting pictures that bring each of the Shining Girls to life before their encounter with Harper. Beukes makes you care about them and their pre-destined fate. And in Kirby, she has created a protagonist you can't help rooting for, a feisty, take-no-prisoners young woman determined to control her own fate.

The other joy of the book is how Beukes ties up the loose ends, playing with time paradoxes as Harper jumps back and forth through time during his killing spree. If you don't mind scenes of graphic violence, I can't recommend this book highly enough. And now I'm off to read her first book, Moxyland.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

World of Ice and Fire

I just got this, The World of Ice & Fire, purchased on Amazon. It looks amazing. I don't know when I'll have time to read it, nor do I know where I'll shelve it. It's a bit tall. And heavy. They did a really nice job with it. The art inside is lovely.

World of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin
And here's GRR Martin's take on his book.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Room

TITLE: Room
AUTHOR: Emma Donoghue

Room is a remarkable book. Told in the voice of 5-year-old Jack, it's the story of survival, endurance, and hope under the worst of conditions. Jack's mother was kidnapped when she was 19 and imprisoned in Room where she was repeatedly raped by her captor and bore his child. She's done everything she could to give him a good life and for his first five years, Jack's entire universe is Room, his only experience of the outside world coming from an old TV where, he's been told, everything is pretend. But Jack is growing and asking questions and Room is getting too small for him. If he's to have a future, they need to escape.

Donaghue's prose is simple and direct, presenting everything from Jack's chidish perspective. The story, and the suspense, is minimal, but the words resonate and have stuck with me. I wanted to know more. I want to know what comes next. It's been a while since I read a book so simple, yet so emotionally powerful.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Life After Life

TITLE: Life After Life
AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson

Ursula has the ability to relive her life over and over, haunted by feelings of deja vu and even precognition. Every time she dies, she's born again. Sometimes, her deaths are the work of fate. Other times, she can avoid them by making different choices. But this odd ability of Ursula's is not all that interests Atkinson so much as what Ursula experiences in her many lives. Born in 1910, when she manages to live past her teens, she experiences World War II, sometimes from the center of the Blitz and sometimes in Germany. She loses loved ones over and over. And given the chance to kill Hitler, does she? But in a life that reboots every time she dies, does it matter what she does? Is it real? Is any of it real? How much can we affect our own reality? Is Ursula really reliving her life over and over, or is she, in each reality, tapping into the Ursulas of infinite realities? If you had the ability to change your life, would you? And what would be the repercussions? So many questions are posed by this extraordinary novel that offers no real answers. And for a life that reboots with birth after every death, is there ever really an end? Atkinson is one of my favorite writers, and in this, she's surpassed herself.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Book Sculptures

Call me conflicted. While I find myself a bit put off by anyone doing anything with a book other than read it, I do love seeing the cool things people do with books. These sculptures are amazing.