Hey all!

While I haven’t been good about writing, I have been a very good reader! Instead of being overwhelmed with a number of full-on reviews to write, I have decided to post a bunch of mini-reviews of the books I have read in the last month. Click the title of the book to be directed to its Goodreads page so that you can get all of the publication info and a synopsis! I’m a pretty happy reader lately!

The Illustrated Man by Ray BradburyThe Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

Immediately following the announcement of Bradbury’s death, I picked up this old favorite. The Illustrated Man is a collection of short stories–some horror and many science fiction. The coolest part about this collection is the premise: a guy meets another guy on the road, a man covered in tattoos (illustrations). The kicker is that each of these tattoos move and tell a story. The illustrated man warns his new hobo buddy not to look at them because one tattoo tells the future of the onlooker. But, the hobo buddy doesn’t listen (of course), and so we get all of the tales found on the man’s body.

My particular favorite stories are the first ones: “The Veldt” (which I try to teach every year, alongside Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” for my irony unit), “Kaleidoscope”, and “The Long Rain”. Bradbury was a true genius.

Deadlocked by Charlaine HarrisDeadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Ugh. The Sookie books just keep going downhill! Deadlocked is the 12th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and while it’s not the worst (I think the last one was), it is nowhere near as good as the first 6 or 7 of the series were. I’m not sure where Harris is going wrong at this point. It might be that she seems to have her old characters pop up for no reason in her books in a sort of “Hey! Remember me? I have nothing to do with this plot, but I’m here!” At one point in this book, Sookie and Sam are reminiscing about how much better everything was a few years ago, and I couldn’t help but think “Yeah it was. You feel the same way too?”

I can’t abandon this series. I have to see what happens in the end because I invested so much in these characters. But, I have to say that the last few books have been nothing but weak sauce.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

After the Sookie debacle, and a rough week at work, I needed to escape in my reading. Thank goodness I discovered The Thirteenth Tale at the library! I’m not sure if I loved this book so much because it was truly well-written, or if it just perfectly suited my mood.

This is a story about a mysterious storyteller, Vida Winter, and her biographer, Margaret. We, the reader, get sucked, right along with Margaret, into Winter’s intriguing and mysterious gothic life story. It’s a book about twins, ghosts, and madness.

It is definitely written for lovers of the story. Lovers of books. Margaret, a woman who would sacrifice any living person for a copy of Jane Eyre, makes excellent observations about the act of reading and its effects upon a person.

Man, I just loved this book. It’s been a long time since I was swept away by a new book, and this one did it for me!

The Paris Wife by Paula McLainThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain

In the same way that it has been a long time that I was swept away by a book, it’s also been a very long time since I was physically affected by a book. I wanted to throw up when I read this book. Not because it was written poorly. I was very upset by some of the events that transpire in this fictionalization of the wedded years of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson.

As Ernest is courting Hadley at the beginning of the story, and during their early years of marriage, I developed a HUGE crush on Hemingway. He’s a young, passionate whippersnapper who enjoys boxing at parties and older, plain-spoken women. My dream man. But, I read A Moveable Feast and I have some background knowledge on Hemingway and his many wives. I know they’re not going to last. But, god! Did it have to be so painful? I wanted to hide my face in a pillow when I read about the lengths he went to in his affair, and what Hadley put up with. I yelled “Bitch!” at the book, I tweeted my nausea, I was very much upset!

This was a good book. I always wondered about Hadley when I read A Moveable Feast and I got some answers here. I also had forgotten why I hated The Great Gatsby so much (besides the forced symbolism throughout), and now I remember. I hate these people! The post WWI generation was a terrible lot! They just didn’t give a hoot! So, I’m glad I read this book. You always know it’s a good one if it makes you feel. I definitely felt with McLain’s novel!

the hobbitThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Luckily, I got to feel good again after The Paris Wife by finishing up The Hobbit. I read this for SJ’s “Putting the Blog in Balrog” Hobbit/Lord of the Rings readalong, and I posted about the first five chapters. Upon completion of this re-read, I think that The Hobbit is my favorite. At least for now. I might change my mind with The Return of the King, because that was my former favorite, but, for now, it’s The Hobbit. I just love Tolkien’s tone and humor in The Hobbit. It feels so magical and light. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it! And don’t skip over the songs!

Currently, I am halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring as well as my first foray into steampunk: Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan. Loving both!