**** 1/2
Very good
**** 1/2
Just okay
Not for me
Definitely not for me

LibraryThing Early Reviewers



Power By Ringsurf

.: A Year of Reading :.

Weather Forecast

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee (book and film)

disgrace-coetzee Winner, 1999 Booker Prize

Disgrace caught me by surprise. I didn't like the main character; I didn't like the events that happened in the book; but yet, as I turned the last page, I realized it was flat out brilliantly written. It definitely deserves its place on the shortlist for Best of the Bookers.

Before reading it, all I really knew about it was that a professor had an affair with a student. As it turns out, that's only a minor point. The book has several issues: men's subjugation of women, South Africa after apartheid, and animal rights. How Coetzee could say so much in just a little over 200 pages is amazing. There are several parallel stories going on. I want to say so much about it, but to do so would be to give away everything. I'm glad I was ignorant going into this novel, so I won't say much except that it will definitely get a re-read from me someday and preferably in a group setting. There would be many, many things to discuss.


(1999, 220 pp.)

As to the film, I thought it followed the book almost exactly. It was produced by Australians but I believe most of the outdoor shots at least were filmed in South Africa; the scenery was beautiful. John Malkovich played David Lurie exceptionally. My only small quibble is that his South African accent went in and out some. I thought the actress who played Lucy was also excellent. I highly recommend this movie IF you have read the book. You probably wouldn't appreciate it as much or at all if you haven't.

Film grade: A

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1)


I thought that I'd at least try out the series that everyone's been talking about - I guess it's a super hit on HBO as well. I was a little worried it would be too graphic for me and it was, but I'll probably at least try the next book in the series and take it one book at a time.

Sookie is a telepath and can hear everyone's thoughts -- except vampires. So when 'Vampire Bill' comes into the bar where Sookie works and Sookie hears nothing, it's a blessed relief to her. I won't say much else about the story, but it was a nice diversion when I was flying and at the airport. Like I said, I'll at least read one more and may even check out the DVDs. I am wondering, though, if Stephenie Meyer had read this series before starting Twilight. There seems to be some similar ideas, but maybe all vampire fiction has some basic commonalities.

2001, 242 pp.


Dream Angus

Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith is one of the books of the Canongate Myths . I've only read one other book in the series, The Penelopiad , by Margaret Atwood, and I truly loved it. I enjoyed this one as well, which is a retelling of the myth of the Celtic god of dreams and love.

The book starts out with the tales of how Angus came into being and grew up, and then it has separate stories, alternating between modern and ancient times, of Angus and his doings. One of the stories seemed a bit harsh, but in most of them Angus was a giver of good dreams, enabling people (and sometimes animals) to come to peace with their situations.

I really enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's writing style and I love myths, so I was very happy to read this book. Since both of the books I've read in this series were very enjoyable, I may branch out into the other installments listed below as well.

2006, 173 pp.


Other books in the series:

The Devil and Miss Prym

Most people either love Paulo Coelho's writing or absolutely hate it. I haven't seen many who have straddled the fence on this author. I'm in the former category, though I know quite a few people who don't care for him at all. While some believe his writing is too simplistic, I, on the other hand, sometimes crave simplicity! I do quite a bit of heavy reading (though not recently), and it's nice sometimes to curl up with one of Coelho's books and know that I will probably read it in one sitting. I also believe his 'simple' books have a much deeper meaning to them, and this story is also indicative of that.

One day a stranger comes to Viscos, an idyllic mountain town. The stranger has a plan to tempt the villagers with some gold. They only have to do one thing to get the gold, but that act is contrary to the basic character of the town's residents. There hasn't been any trouble in the village for years, and when Miss Prym, the local barmaid, is told of the plan, she is confident the villagers will be able to withstand the temptation.

The story raises the question of whether humans are generally good or generally evil, and also why God, if there is one, would allow evil things to happen to good people.

Highly recommended.

2000, 205 pp.
Rating: 4.5/5

Other reviews:

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

Dear Mr. Henshaw is definitely one of my favorite Newbery titles. I really, really enjoyed it. I listened to it on audio with my 15 year old son, and though he is much older than the target audience, he very much enjoyed it as well.

Leigh is a boy whose teacher gives him the assignment of writing to a favorite author. Leigh does and asks Mr. Henshaw some questions required of the assignment. When he gets a letter in response, Mr. Henshaw asks him a set of questions as well. Leigh continues to write Mr. Henshaw and they develop a correspondence over the years. Leigh wants to become a writer, and he asks Mr. Henshaw for writing advice but also tells him of some deeply personal events occurring at home, such as his parents' divorce.

This is an excellent book that can definitely be appreciated by both children and adults, especially if they are struggling with a major life event.

Highly recommended.

1983, 144 pp.
Rating: 4.5/5

Downtown Owl

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

I didn't even know who Chuck Klosterman was when I picked up this book, but after listening to just a few minutes of Downtown Owl , I had to check to see who he was and if he went to high school with me. He didn't -- as he's from North Dakota -- but Downtown Owl was so jarringly and surprisingly familiar to me that I had to make sure. Set in 1983 and 1984 in the cold, flat plains of fictional Owl, ND, this book captures small town plains life almost perfectly. At least it does for that time frame.

The residents of Owl converse and care deeply about the weather, crops, the high school sports teams, the bars, and the fact that the local movie theatre is closing down. (Check, check, check, double check.) The day doesn't seem complete if the farmers don't get together and talk about all these important events over coffee every day. (Triple check.) And last but not least, the English teacher is having the high school classes read 1984 in 1984. (Quadruple check.) Klosterman could have been telling this story about my own hometown in the very year of 1984 when I, too, was reading 1984 as a high school sophomore. Eerily familiar, I tell you! Oh, and the music, too. All the popular music of the day gets a mention, and that was a nice blast from the past as well.

The three main characters in the book are Mitch, a high school student on the football team; Julia, a young, brand new teacher who is the new celebrity in town; and Horace, a 70ish widower whose wife died of insomnia. I really don't want to say too much about the characters because they each have their own unique voice and slant on living in Owl that is best experienced yourself. If you want to know more about them, read the book!

The book does have quite a bit of bad language in it, one scene of animal cruelty that was graphically described, and an ending I wasn't sure if I liked or not, BUT... I will definitely be looking into Klosterman's next novel, particularly if it contains plains people in a plains town.

2008, 288 pp.
Rating: 4/5