Monday, September 3, 2012


You know you're reading a good book when you pause to look up at the night sky and you wonder where the second moon is.  You know you have just finished a good book when you feel a sense of mourning that you must now leave this fictional world and the characters which you have come to know in a way that feels all too real.  You know you have just finished a good book when you can't possibly begin reading anything else and so immediately download samples of all works by this author to your Nook in an attempt to hang on to this world a little longer.  This is why I am giving a strong recommendation to 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

This is by far the best book I have read in 2012.  I could not wait learn the fates of the two protagonists of this novel, Tengo and Aomame, yet I dreaded coming to the end of the book.  This novel is rich in character, plot, and language and could be classified in any number of genres.

1Q84 is a romance:  this is the story of Tengo and Aomame, two 30-year-old star-crossed lovers whose souls connected one fateful day in grade school and who have been searching for each other ever since.

1Q84 is a fantasy:  in the opening scene of Murakami's masterpiece, the year is 1984 (yes, an homage to George Orwell) and Aomame is traveling to a critically important appointment, but stuck in a traffic jam.  Her enigmatic cab driver suggests that she take an emergency stairway down from the freeway, but gives her this mysterious warning:  "Things may look different to you than they did before.  I've had that experience myself.  But don't let appearances fool you.  There's always only one reality."  From Chapter One.  Once Amomame descends the stairs and is on her way, she begins to notice small differences between the world as she knows it and the world as it appears now, such as changes in the police uniforms and a second, smaller moon hanging alongside our familiar moon.  She calls this reality?...1Q84.

1Q84 is a mystery:  who are the little people, and are their intentions malevolent?  What are maza and dohta?  (Hint:  close your eyes and say these two words aloud several times).  What secret does Aomame share with the wealthy, elderly dowager who employs her?  Why has the novella "Air Chrysalis," co-written by Tengo and a nearly illiterate teenage girl, Fuka-Eri, so angered members of a religious cult that has heretofore isolated itself from the world?

1Q84 is a thriller:  throughout the novel, the tension and pace build as Tengo and Aomame draw nearer to each other, while pursued by a strangely ugly yet able private investigator hired by the mysterious Sakigake group, which has determined that both of them threaten its existence.

Let me also say a word about the translation.  1Q84 was originally written in Japanese and has been translated beautifully into English by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel.  Many times I have read translations that are disjointed and choppy in the transition from the original language into English.  This is not the case for Mr. Rubin and Mr. Gabriel's translation, which flows freely and gracefully.

1Q84 is a masterpiece.  It is one of those books that will stay with me and haunt me, though not in a negative way.  It made me think.  It expanded my horizon.  It is literature at its best.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nook Deals

The MoviegoerIf you have a Nook, you might be interested in this:  Barnes & Noble is offering almost 60 e-books at a low price for the summer.  It is a very eclectic list, including the Boxcar Children, Max Lucado, and lots of novels.  By the way, if you have a Kindle instead of a Nook, check the Amazon site, because a lot of times the low prices come from the publishers and they offer it in all e-book formats.  Happy reading!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen

Smokin' Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum NovelFor the first time, I bought a Janet Evanovich in an e-book format rather than an old-fashioned book with pages.  Because I own actual books for the rest of the series, and because I am a little OCD, I will probably pick up a hard copy of this one when it hits the bargain bin.

I really liked this book.  Janet Evanovich makes me laugh.  Rarely does a Stephanie Plum novel disappoint me (with the possible exception of #16).  The plots in the series are similar and the antics of the characters are familiar from one book to the next, but each one still seems fresh to me.  If you make me laugh, I will be your fan forever, and these books make me laugh.  Thank you Janet Evanovich for Stephanie Plum.

In Smokin' Seventeen, Stephanie's mom, anxious for her to get married, gets tired of waiting for Stephanie to choose Ranger or Morelli and takes matters in her own hands by setting Stephanie up with a man that she considers good marriage material.  Mayhem ensues.

Speaking of Ranger and Morelli, how is it that Janet Evanovich writes these two characters in such a way that I am just as torn as Stephanie?  The novel ends with (spoiler alert!) Stephanie finally making her choice, although we have to wait until Explosive Eighteen to find out who is her soulmate.  Somehow I think Janet Evanovich will find a way to keep us hanging.  Would we really want Stephanie to make her choice anyway?

Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America

Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering AmericaI am so excited to be reading Ann Coulter's latest book, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America.  Ann writes with an intelligence and biting wit, and I am unabashedly, unreservedly a fan.  I recommend any of her books...they all make me think, and this one is opening my eyes in a new way to some of the tactics used by the left and how they truly are endangering the American way of life.

Largehearted Boy: 2011 Online Summer Reading Lists

I found this compilation of reading lists. Enjoy and Happy Reading!

Largehearted Boy: 2011 Online Summer Reading Lists

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Next Book Purchace

Jane Austen Education, A: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really MatterI just saw a book I have to have.  This will definitely be my next purchase.  I know nearly nothing about it, but after seeing the title and reading a charming interview with the author, I need to read it.  It is being released on April 28 and I can't wait!  In case you can't read it on this small picture, it is called Jane Austen Education:  How Six Novels Taught me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz (who is a self-described Jewish kid from New York).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged

I went to see Atlas Shrugged:  Part I, and one of my Facebook friends asked me for a critique.  I decided to copy and paste over to here.  So, for what it's worth, here are my thoughts:  I loved it. It exceeded my expectations. The owner of the movie rights self-financed and it was done on a very low budget, but it doesn't look like it at all.  (A number of other viewers heartily disagree with me on this, but I stand by what I said).  The cinematography was beautiful. The movie nearly perfectly captured the essence of Part I of the book. I couldn't believe how quickly the two hours passed. At times the dialogue was a little clunky, but the book is also that way. The man behind the movie couldn't get a distributor, so he did that himself too. It only opened in 250 theaters Friday, and it was kind of a miracle (wrought by much hard work) that he had that many. I think it's going to grow, though. Our (completely full) theater broke out in applause when it was over. Part II coming April 15, 2012 and Part III (you guessed it) April 15, 2013. Not looking for any Oscars, though. The Hollywood crowd will not like the politics.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recent and Current Reads

I apologize for not posting in a long time, but our internet has been down for about three weeks (long, boring story), but it's back, so here is update of my recent and current reading activity:

Recent Reads:
The Scent of Rain and Lightning: A NovelThe Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel                      
Two books by Kansas author Nancy Pickard:  The Scent of Rain and Lightning: A Novel and The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel.  It's been awhile since I read them, so they are not fresh enough in my memory to do a full review, but I do know that I like and recommend them.  They are both mysteries.  Nancy Pickard has been writing mysteries for many years, and she has really grown and matured as an author since her Jenny Cain days.

False ColoursThe Talisman RingTwo by Georgette Heyer:  False Colours and The Talisman Ring, delightful as always.  I am almost through all the Regency romances by Georgette Heyer.  What am I going to do when I've finished the last one?  Start over, probably.  These are the most wonderful, cheerful, funny and clean books.  I am so thankful to my friend Sharon for insisting that if I liked Jane Austen I would like Georgette Heyer.

Moon Over ManifestMoon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, another Kansas author and this year's Newberry Medal winner.  I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery/coming-of-age tale set in the fictional town of Manifest, Kansas.  Abilene Tucker is the delightful heroine of this novel set in 1936, with a parallel story line in 1918, unveiled in newspaper clippings, letters, and the storytelling of the mysterious Miss Sadie, as Abilene works to figure out the relationship between Ned Gillen and Jinx and what they have to do with the past of her father, Gideon Tucker.  Thoroughly enjoyable read.

Speak: 10th Anniversary EditionSpeak: 10th Anniversary Edition by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Novel about the aftermath of a rape of a young girl at a party.  Tough read, but important book.

Currently Reading:

Atlas Shrugged
This is my second time through Ayn Rand's masterpiece about John Galt, the man who said he "would stop the motor of the world, and did."  I am reading this in preparation of the movie Atlas Shrugged: Part I, which is being released (appropriately) on April 15.  If you believe that excessive government, taxes and regulation are damaging to our culture and society, but have a hard time articulating your argument, this is the book for you.  "Who is John Galt?"

Dragonbreath: Curse of the Were-wiener     I am reading the Dragonbreath series with the very enthusiastic Colin right now.  This is the first series of books that has really captured my 6-year-old's imagination.  Thanks to my friend, Wendy, for the recommendation.

Lewis's Mere Christianity (Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Paperback - Feb. 6, 2001))Last, but not least, these are the books I'm reading in conjunction with my Sunday School class  and my Tuesday morning Bible study.  We are studying Lewis's Mere Christianity (Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Paperback - Feb. 6, 2001)) during Sunday School.  This book was originally given as a series of radio broadcasts, it addresses the central issues of Christianity, building a solid case for why this is the one true faith.

Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of ProphecyI have been leading a Tuesday morning Bible Study and we are currently studying Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy.  This is my second time to do this study, but my first time leading it.  Beth Moore is an awesome teacher and through this workbook and the video sessions that are part of the study, I have learned about the book of Daniel in a rich and deep way and the lessons will stay with me for a lifetime.