Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book review: Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates

When Zoe Kruller is brutally murdered, suspicion centers on her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and on Eddie Diehl, a married man with whom she was involved.  While it's titillating gossip for the local area, the murder is devastating for the families, particularly their children.  The book is divided into two main sections, from the perspective of Eddie Diehl's daughter and Zoe Kruller's son, and covers the time before the murder as well as the way the childrens' lives unfold.  Krista Diehl and Aaron Kruller grow up under the shadow of the mystery of Zoe's death, each believing the other's father is to blame and yet drawn to the other.

I've read several of Joyce Carol Oates's books, and I've only really liked one, so I'm not sure why I thought this one would be different.  While I was interested in what happened and in the characters, the story never grabbed me.  I love a book that entices me to stay up all night to finish it; this isn't that book.  At least, not for me.  It is, however, a well-told story with well-drawn characters and, ultimately, an unsatisfying ending.

If you read it/have read it and think differently, let me know.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ape House, by Sara Gruen

I really try to buy my "new" books at yard sales, or online if I simply must have them now.  Unfortunately, "must have them now" generally stikes while I'm holding them in the book aisle and I therefore end up paying retail at Borders or Target.  Seriously, Target's book aisle is short, but sooo enticing...and that's where I happened upon Sara Gruen's latest novel, Ape House.

I absolutely loved her previous book, Water for Elephants, so I couldn't wait to read Ape House.  Bought it right then and there, had it read by the next day.  Ape House is the fictional story of a group of bonobos (a type of great ape) who live at a language lab.  Rather than doing harmful testing on them, the researchers have been working with them on language aquisition.  When the lab is bombed, one of the researchers is severely injured, and the bonobos disappear only to quickly resurface on a Real World-type TV show, the relationships among the humans in the story both change and come into clearer focus.

While this book wasn't as magical for me as Water for Elephants, it was well written and had a great story.  I enjoyed every moment of it.  Gruen is definitely one of my new must-read authors, and in searching for the link for her two books that I've already mentioned, I was excited to find that she has at least two other previously published books:
 Riding Lessons and Flying Changes.  If I can hang on until December, they'll be on my Christmas list!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chasing Lance by Martin Dugard

Last week at N's practice I finished reading Chasing Lance, by Martin Dugard.  Jeff had bought it for me, as he typically will when he finds running- or cycling-related things.  Since this book covers the 2005 Tour de France, it was an interesting follow-up to Armstrong's
It's Not About the Bike (about his battle with cancer, subsequent recovery, and if this is a spoiler alert!! you obviously don't follow cycling or current celebrity events eventual Tour De France win).

While Dugard may have chased along after Lance, he didn't really talk to him much at all, so this is really a book about the Tour...the teams, the fans, the behemoth road show required to put on the event, the officials, and of course the journalists...and about France itself.

The most interesting thing for me about this book wasn't Lance, though his athletic abilities are amazing.  I gained a real respect for the supporting riders, whose job is to more or less keep the team leader fresh so that he's able to break away when necessary to get/stay ahead.  And while I'd love to someday go and watch--who wouldn't want to test out four years of high school French in a three-week tailgate party?--the descriptions of the course left me no illusions that I'd ever want to ride anything like it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Not About The Bike by Lance Armstrong/Sally Jenkins

It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to LifeIt's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good read about Armstrong's early career, journey through cancer diagnosis and treatment, and subsequent Tour de France victory. I know the name, of course, but I didn't really follow cycling when this was all going on. It taught me a lot about cycling tactics and team dynamics.

I think this would be an inspirational book for anyone going through a cancer diagnosis, and the experience certainly seems to have made a huge impact on Armstrong's life and focus. In addition to being about him, though, later parts of the book are also a bit of a love letter to his ex-wife Kristin. Like in John Denver's Annie's Song, the book survives the relationship it celebrates, and it's interesting to read it after the fact.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

New book! :)

Just started reading Ape House by Sara Gruen. She also wrote Water for Elephants, which I LOVED. This one is already good, and I haven't even gotten very far. I'm sensing a late night of reading in my near future. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Hours

The HoursThe Hours by Michael Cunningham

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Interesting how it all tied together in the end. I totally missed that...usually I'm better at catching things. I think it was a measure of how unengaged I was with the book.

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Born to Run

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

LOVED this! I thought it was going to be a book about running, but instead it was a story about running and runners. Very interesting and inspiring. Runners will want to run further, and nonrunners will want to be runners.

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