Can't Stop Reading

Lucky for me I get a hefty discount at work, because I just can't seem to stop myself!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Its kind of shocking how much you don't read when you spend most of your days sightseeing and most of your evenings drinking wine from a box. Who knew?

One of the few things I have read while I've been here is something I've been meaning to read forever. Nick Hornby's Long Way Down. Its the story of four misfits who meet up when they all head to the top of the same building to jump off it one New Year's Eve. It doesn't sound very funny, but it actually is pretty hilarious.

Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ all have very different reasons for being there, but they're all four pretty screwed up. Martin is a former TV show host, just out of prison for sleeping with a 15 year old (she told him she was 18) divorced and unemployed. Maureen has been looking after her vegetable of a son for the last twenty years and just doesn't think she can do it anymore. Jess is an incredibly angry 18 year old, mad at the world since the disappearance of her older sister three years ago. JJ has finally realized that he'll never be the rock star he always imagined he would be.

The four decide to form a club, to see them through till they decide to try again. Which leads to some pretty great laughs, as per usual with a Hornby novel. My only complaint about the book at all was the character of Jess. Who seemed suspiciously like an angry teenaged boy. Other than that though, it cracked me up but good.

Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
ISBN 1594481938
352 pages

Monday, October 16, 2006

Yay! I've read my first book by an Australian, while in Australia!

It actually wasn't much of a gamble, as I picked up the new Jaclyn Moriarty. I will say though, that like everything else in down here, it was crazy expensive. $16.99 for the paperback! Fortunately, it was worth the price.

Bindy Mackenzie is one of those kids who does an insane amount of homework, and is not overly popular. In fact, the girls she is especially not popular with were featured in a few previous books. Anyways, thanks to this new Friendship and Development course, Bindy has to hang out with this kids on a weekly basis. And hanging out isn't really one of Bindy's strong points.

After totally alienating her peers, Bindy gets a little weird. It must just be that she's stressed, right? Because who would poison a harmless teenage girl? Who indeed! And that's where the fun really gets started in this mystery.

A great read for any teen who's ever felt sure that life was more exciting than it appears to be.

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty
ISBN 0439740517
494 pages

Friday, October 13, 2006

Okay, so I'm officially in Australia! On my insanely long flight (22 1/2 hours in the air, 36 hours total travel time) I actually only read one book. That's because I was busy with a trashy magazine and bad movies. You know how it is.

The book I read is one that I've been meaning to forever, The Brooklyn Diaries by Paul Auster. Its the story of Nathan Glass, an ex-life insurance salesman who moves to Brooklyn to die quietly. Which is ridiculous, because he is 59. But whatever. Instead, he runs into his long lost nephew, Tom, and somehow gets sucked into the goings on in his neighbourhood.

The plot is pretty loose, but I can't say I minded, because he's such a great writer. Nathan is a great narrator, with a good sense of humour and timing.

The Brooklyn Follies made an especially good airplane book because you can pick it up and put it down easily. Like I said, the plot was not overly strenuous for my poor, travel-addled brain.

Anyways, while I was wandering around Sydney today* I picked up a few Australian books, so I'll have those reviews coming up next week sometime, I imagine.

*What is with crazy Aussie book prices?! $16.99 for a paperback YA novel?!

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
ISBN 0805077146
320 pages

Saturday, October 07, 2006

When I was a teenager, I read a couple books by Suzanne Fisher-Staples set in the Middle East. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and have often wondered why there isn't more teen fiction set there. Lucky for me I stumbled across Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher.

Mithra and her brothers were forced to flee their comfortable life when their father's coup failed. Since then, they've been living in caves and begging. Mithra dreams of finding the rest of her family, and returning to her former glory, though both her brothers seem content with the life they now lead. But then her younger brother Babak starts dreaming other people's dreams. But this talent leads to their capture by a powerful Magus, and the dreams Babak has lead them to begin a long journey to the west. Meanwhile, Mithra plots their escape at every turn.

In the end, the caravan (with three Magi in tow now) makes their way to Bethlehem. It’s an interesting perspective to an old story, one I found quite intriguing. It helps that Mithra's an interesting character. She's not the most likeable person I've ever read, but she's definitely someone you don't want to walk away from.

Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher
ISBN 0689850425
283 pages

In my time I have read several books of historical fiction that use Shakespeare as a character. But now we've got one with Christopher Marlowe. Who was way cooler anyway.

The Secret of the Rose is about Rosalind and her brother. After their father is arrested for being Catholic, Rosalind and Robin are on the run. They end up in London with no money and very few options, leading Rosalind to disguise herself as a boy, for safety and all. Fortunately, Marlowe literally runs into them, and Robin gets work as an apprentice at the Rose theatre, and Rosalind becomes Marlowe's personal servant. But Marlowe seems to be involved in a lot more than playmaking, and Rosalind has the constant worry of being ousted as a "papist."

Even though I know what end Marlowe came to, I found that Thompson had me on the edge of my seat. Rosalind serves as a handy guide to life in sixteenth century England. Throw in spies and you've got a recipe for a fun book.

The Secret of the Rose by Sarah L. Thompson
ISBN 0060872500
291 pages

You'd all be forgiven for thinking I'd already left for Australia. But that's not till Wednesday! I was actually doing a tour of Southern Ontario. Getting a visit in with friends and family before heading off to the other side of the planet seemed like a good idea. But it meant spotty internet access, so I've got a whole lot of posting to be doing today.

First book I read was The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon. When I picked it up, I read the author bio. Which is hilarious and wonderful. She's a graduate of the University of Rigamarole. I have to say though, that I don't think the rest of the book lived up to it.

The story revolves around Ven, who's a Nain. They're a race that tends to live underground, and lives for several times longer than most humans. But one of Ven's ancestors was a bit of a rebel, and he moved above ground and started a ship building business. Ven and his family (a dozen brothers and one sister) run that business now, under the instruction of their father. Although he looks about 12, Ven is actually 50 and he's finally allowed to go out on his first ship inspection. Except it all goes terribly wrong. Attacked by fire pirates, Ven and the brand new ship are sunk and burned, leaving Ven floating on a piece of boat. This situation leads to some pretty incredible adventures for Ven, too many, in fact, to describe here.

Any kids into the fantasy adventure genre will enjoy this book, though I found there were some pretty serious flaws. Haydon does a fair amount of telling, as opposed to showing, which is irritating. I also found that I had figured out a lot of the mysteries long before Ven and his friends did.

That being said, I know I'll be picking up The Thief Queen's Daughter when it comes out.

The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon
ISBN 0765308673
368 pages