Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand; Curious Adventures of a CSI

There's been an explosion of interest in crime scene forensics in recent years. Images we never thought would make for good viewing are now all over the airwaves. This book was written by a real-life crime scene investigator partly in an attempt to separate fact from fiction.
There are some good day-in-the-life kinds of observations about the job. The author, Dana Kollman, has an annoying habit, though, of reprinting and reveling in the gallows humor shared by investigators of grisly scenes, while simultaneously claiming she's really very sensitive and would never repeat such jokes just for a laugh. Somewhere in there there's a disconnect, and it gets aggravating.
Still, if you're interested in science or criminal investigations, this can be a pretty fun read.

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones is a story about a young girl, Susie, who is murdered and the search for her killer. She tells her story while looking down from InBetween or her heaven watching her family in the aftermath of her death. The only person who suspects the real killer, George Harvey, is her father, but without substantial evidence there is nothing the police can do. Once they do find some evidence, the killer mysteriously disappears. The story revolves around the girls family and how they each deal with Susie's death.

In my opinion, the premise of the story was brilliant and imaginative but the delivery was lacking. From a technical point of view, a writer is never supposed to use coincedence to move a story along and the fate of George Harvey was less than satisfying. I found myself flipping through pages, anxiously waiting the ending that I thought was near, and was dismally disappointed. What started out as an amazing story fizzled out in the end.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Running with Scissors by Augustine Burroughs

A quote by Burroughs' editor Jennifer Ecklin: "Here is a book you are either going to love, or totally not love, but you will never forget what's in it.... People have very strong reactions to it, one way or the other, but they can't get certain images out of their heads. Even as you're going along, reading it, there are parts where you can't believe you're laughing." ~Washington Post, July 30, 2002.

My first instinct as a librarian who deals with reader's advisory is to tell you NOT to read this book. I have read "A Child Called 'It'" and "The Glass Castle," so I am familiar with some disturbing childhood memoirs but this one was the most disgusting, and to me, unbelievable of them all, one I could not with good conscience recommend to anyone.

However, some readers enjoy the fantastic and horrific which is why stories like this one become so popular: they are controversial and unforgettable.

Augustine Burroughs spent his teen years living with his mother's psychiatrist after she signed over legal guardianship. The cast of his childhood is very colorful, which includes his 30-something year old male lover Neal who he meets while living with his mother's shrink, his mother the lesbian poet whose psychostic ravings include smashing all of her dishes on her front lawn, the Santa Claus look-a-like psychiatrist Dr. Finch who sees messages from God in his bowel movements and spends an inordinant amount of time in his "masturbatoriam", his mother's girlfriend Dorothy who thinks it is hysterical to watch his mother bathe in a bathtub with bubblebath and broken glass, and the doctor's daughter Hope who kills their housecat by suffocating it in a laundry basket in an effort to cure it from an invisible disease and asks God questions by doing "Bible dips".

I admit, there were certain moments in the book where I couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. However, for the most part, I felt horrified and had my eyebrows permanently raised in suspicion that the author wasn't just pulling my leg. I kept waiting for the next line to be, "Gottcha!" Reading this story was like reading a terrible article in a newspaper, like mentally ill children locked in cages, and wishing you had never picked it up in the first place.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

This is a graphic novel version of the Neil Gaiman novel. In the story, the bland but good-natured Richard Mayhew unwittingly stumbles into a fantasy city existing beneath London. The two cities, London Above and London Below, cross paths frequently but follow entirely different rules. The book is worth reading for the concept, though the adapted story and artwork leave a bit to be desired.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


This one is an unconventional love story. Jude is a twentysomething who lives in Canada. The story opens when she's flying across the Atlantic to be with her dying mother. She meets a flight attendant, Sile, a (female) half-Indian, half-British fortysomething. Although Sile is in a relationship, and they live so far away from each other, the two click. Emma Donoghue handles both the subject matter and her prose with a deft touch. I enjoyed her short story collection, Touchy Subjects, as well. Read this one if you're open to new types of relationships and enjoy well-written, literary novels.

How to Meet Cute Boys

I am the kind of person who has to be in the mood for an audio book, and if I don't like it right away, I won't finish it. I'm picky about the voice who reads it, too. This is the first one I've completed since February. Written by Deanna Kizis, How to Meet Cute Boys is about Benjamina Franklin (yes, that is really her name), a 27-year-old magazine writer who gets to go to all the happening parties. She meets a much younger guy named Max, and the rest of the story is about their tumultuous relationship. Alyson Silverman, who reads the book, does a great job--I could picture the character through the reading. And the writing is great. But the overall story falls a little bit flat. I read a lot of chick lit, so I get sick of the same old formula plot. I'd recommend it if you like to listen to fluffy stuff while driving.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Prada Paradox

This is the final title in the Play.Survive.Win series by Julie Kenner. I started reading these books after I saw the first one, The Givenchy Code, in a bookstore and thought it looked cool. The second title, The Manolo Matrix, came out shortly after I read the first one. This series is chick lit with a cerebral twist--the stories are suspenseful, they're all interlinked (this final book wrapped everything up nicely) and they're dashed with a sense of humor. I recommend starting with Givenchy and reading them all straight through! You can read an interview with Julie Kenner in this month's issue of the May TPL Magazine. And thankfully, she's got lots of other new books coming out.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Being a popular book right now, I won't spoil any details. After reading "The Tenth Circle" and "My Sister's Keeper", I am becoming a fan of Jodi Picoult. "Nineteen Minutes" is about a high school student, Peter, who goes on a shooting spree at his high school and the ramifications it has not only on the students of the high school but parents and the local community as well. Jodi Picoult captures the dynamics of high school drama in a story that hits very close to home. Told in multi-narrative style, Picoult keeps you in suspense as you move forward and back through the story as she reveals more and more plot details. Honestly, I could not put this one down. I only found one minor kink in the nearly flawless delivery, which I know Picoult meant as a plot twist that failed. Despite the one flaw, however, this book is a great read and will keep you wanting more.