“Never saw no miracle of science that didn’t always end up as something worse.”

never let me go

 

It’s been about 3 days since I finished this book and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. This is first book by Kazuo Ishigiro. This review will be a little more succinct than my typical review because it’s hard to go too deep into the plot without spoiling things. The basic story follows Kathy, Ruth and Tommy; three friends who are students at a school called Hailsham and the years after they move on from their education. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that there is something very different about Hailsham and its students. I figured out pretty quickly how things were going to go and how it would likely end but this in no way effected my enjoyment of it. While I can’t say I enjoyed this book which is deeply sad, it is beautifully written. It’s not the emotional gut punch of watching “Requiem for a Dream” but there is a pervading sense of quiet sadness throughout the book from beginning to end.

“Life itself is the proper binge”

my life in france

 

This book will remain forever on my shelf as something to read when I need to feel better about life, or for when I am feeling somewhat directionless. Julia Child’s memoir spoke to me on an extremely deep level. I already knew I loved her, now I idolize her. Watching her jump fearlessly from life in a foreign country in which she barely spoke the language, to cooking, to “cookery bookery” and finally into hosting a cooking show without allowing fear to hold her back is inspiring. I don’t typically use language like this for book reviews but I fell in love with this one from the first chapter.

“My Life in France” details Julia’s life from the time she arrived in France with her husband Paul for his job with OSIS through her return to the United States and the publication of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” volumes 1 and 2. Julia’s excitement and love for the nation of France and it’s people is evident from the start. Though told chronologically, it is more a series of memories about a pivotal time in her life. Though it is not without conflict, Julia does not dwell too much on the more difficult aspects of her life. She and Paul viewed most inconveniences and discomforts as part of a great adventure rather than anything to fret over.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Julia Child’s memoir is inspiring and lovely to read.

Seriously, just call the cops.

boy in the suitcase

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. But I foundĀ  Nina Borg, the main character in this first of Danish Mysteries to be infuriating and hard to relate to. Perhaps there is something I’m missing about Danish society and the way government employees react to foreigners, because many other people seem to think this book is excellent. But when someone like myself, who believes in a healthy mistrust of authority, is screaming “Lady, call the police and go home to your family!” it makes the book hard to enjoy.

Nina Bork works as a Red Cross Nurse and it’s clear from the jump that she takes her job Personally. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since Nina’s patients are refugees who are often resented and disdained by Danish society. But Nina is often absent from her husband and two children. She is convinced by an estranged friend to pick up a suitcase in a storage locker which contains a small boy who is drugged but alive. She realizes quickly that there are extremely dangerous (who don’t seem to be associated with the police) people looking for this boy. I realize that calling the authorities at this point wouldn’t have made for a very exciting story. But the fact that Nina chooses to take this task on by herself, even after people start dying, made the rest of the story very difficult for me to get into.

Honestly, I can’t say that I enjoyed this book much but I’m in the minority. So…maybe pick it up?

“We’re all wired into a survival trip now.”

transmetropolotin

The first volume of Transmetropolitin is almost twenty years old and is still as disturbingly as relevant as it was in 1998. Warren Ellis’ twisted dystopian future doesn’t seem so far fetched given current events. I didn’t catch it at in its original release, much to my shame. I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up over time. I can’t say I’m 100% pleased to discover I was wrong.

Spider Jerusalem a journalist who, by Ellis’ own admission was modeled after Hunter S. Thompson, is forced out of his self imposed exile by his publisher to whom he still owes 3 more books. In order to write, he has to live in a society that he hates. In order to make a living in the society he hates, he has to go back to reporting…the job that he hates. Despite his loathing, it’s clear that Jerusalem’s journalistic voice is deeply compelling and possibly the antidote that this ailing culture needs. He is joined on his adventures by Channon Yarrow, an assistant forced on him by his editor to make sure he gets his work done. Channon, of course has no control over Spider. But she does help keep him tethered to his basic humanity.

If you haven’t read Transmetropolitin, you really should. If you haven’t read it since its original publication, you really should. It’s an angry, vulgar but deeply intelligent comment on modern culture.

Gunpowder, gelatin. Dynamite with a laser beam

rat queens 1

 

I was skeptical about this graphic novel when I picked it up. I’d been looking for some more female-centric stories and I’ve been a Dungeons and Dragons player practically from the time I was in the womb. The description of this book sounded possibly fun but potentially more character quirks than actual story. I’m definitely glad I took a chance.

Reading Rat Queens is a bit like playing a table top RPG with your best gaming friends. The stakes are serious but the atmosphere is fun. Everyone plays characters that are unique but have aspects of their own personality. The nods to gaming are clear but not heavy handed and they definitely don’t take away from the story. I immediately added the next book to my TBR pile as soon as i finished this one. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun but not overly silly read.

This is the House. Come on in.

DEATH IN CITY OF LIGHT

 

My actual review is somewhere between a 3 and a 4 but I tend to round up for a generally well written book. The story of Dr. Marcel Petiot and his victims was likely overshadowed in the world at large by the end of the Second World War and the ensuing Nuremberg Trials but in Paris it was a media sensation and his trial had almost a carnival-like atmosphere to it.

During the Nazi Occupation of Paris, Dr. Petiot lured in those vulnerable to Nazi persecution with promises of passage out of the occupied territories and into relative safety. Many of his victims were unsavory underworld sorts whom Petiot were later claimed were collaborators (his defense in court was to claim he was working for the French Resistance) but others were simply frightened Jewish families. Though there is no doubt that Dr. Petiot killed at least 27 and as many as 100 persons, there are still many unanswered questions regarding his case. King’s book does its best to separate documented facts from rumors which flew freely during this time period.

King’s book paints a vivid picture of Paris during the Nazi occupation and it’s aftermath. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion allowed a serial killer to murder with impunity and to come very close to getting away with all of it.

I’m Holding Out for that Teenage Feeling

eleanor and park

 

I’ve spent half the day trying to properly describe how much I love this book and nothing is doing it justice. This book is such a beautifully realistic depiction of teenage love that I was equal parts nostalgic for those feeling and glad I’m a fully formed adult whose passion has been tempered with wisdom. Rainbow Rowell’s characters are realistically flawed and familiar in a way that makes you identify with them almost immediately.

Eleanor and Park takes place over the course of a school year in Nebraska over the course of a school year in 1986. Eleanor lives in poverty level conditions with her mother, siblings and abusive stepfather. She is forced to wear her limited clothing creatively to disguise the fact that she has very little to wear. Park comes from a relatively well adjusted middle-class family. However he’s quiet and likes punk, new wave and comic books. He’s also one of only two Asian kids in his school (technically he and his brother are half Korean but, as Park points out, he is the only once who looks it). The two are thrown together by chance on the school bus. While they first do their best to studiously ignore each other, they soon form a bond which grows into a deeply romantic relationship. Everything they go through should be incredibly familiar to anyone who’s experienced their first teenage love; the intensity of the feelings, the misunderstandings, the insecurities.

Although the fate of their relationship is given away at the beginning of the book, I won’t spoil anything for you. But if you’re looking for a story with realistic characters that make you care deeply for them I can’t recommend this book enough.

I still haven’t found What I’m Looking For

who killed these girls

 

This is an extremely frustrating book to read. This is not because it’s not a well researched and compellingly written work of true crime. It’s because after 25 years, the brutal murders of 4 young girls in an Austin, Texeas yogurt shop have still not been solved and likely never will.

On Friday, December 6, 1991, 17 year olds Jennifer Harbison and Eliza Thomas were working the closing shift at an I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt (aka ICBY) in Austin. Tagging along with Jennifer were her 15 year old sister Sarah Harbison and Sarah’s 13 year old friend Amy Ayers. The two younger girls had a sleepover planned that night. Sometime right around closing, unknown persons entered the store, subdued the girls, forced them to strip, shot all four of them to death and then set the store on fire to cover their tracks. The murders would rock then (then) sleepy town of Austin, Texas. Despite a great deal of media coverage and a huge public outcry, no suspects were brought to trial until well into the 2000s and those convictions would be later overturned.

There is no one person or event to blame for the lack of results in this case. There is no “ah-ha” moment like those in Making a Murderer. Many little things would contribute to its extremely frustrating outcome. But at the core of the issue was the fact that this complicated and emotional crime was simply too much for what was then a rural Texas town.

A science fiction master’s early work

I have no mouth

 

The best way to describe Harlan Ellison’s prose would be “lyrical.” This short collection of stories varies from from a hopeless, post-apocalyptic landscape to the a contemporary California in an emotional spiral after his divorce. Just describing the plot likely won’t hook you. It’s Ellison’s words that do all the heavy lifting in his stories. This collection of stories was published in the late 1960s and Ellison’s views on women tend to reflect this. But this shouldn’t let it deter you from reading one of the masters of speculative science fiction.

“Closing the door, you leave the world behind.”

you-will-know-me

 

Sometimes a good mystery leaves you guessing until the very end. Sometimes you think you have it all figured out but you find out you didn’t know anything. While reading You Will Know Me by Megan Abbot, I figured out pretty early on where the book was going. The interesting part was watching the protagonist come to that conclusion.

Katie and Eric Knox are the proud, dedicated parents of gymnastic prodigy Devon. She is the star of their local gymnastics gym and is expected to become an elite, Olympic level athlete. Their local gym community has pinned a lot of their hopes and dreams, along with the gym’s future success on Devon. When a member of their team is killed, everything is thrown into disarray. The story is told through Katie, Devon’s mom. As the mysterious death is investigated, many secrets come to light and Katie is forced to rethink everything she knows about the people who are closest to her.

This book is such a compelling fast read and the first one I’ve read by Megan Abbot. After enjoying this one so thoroughly, I’ll be moving her bumping her other books up in my TBR pile.