Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss, Read by Renee Maudman

I really don't remember how this book arrived on my To Read list, but I'm glad it did! Why? Because it's a sweet, gentle read about the West.  And life. And love. There aren't many words wasted on emotions, but there is plenty of description about how to break a horse, which I appreciated.

Nineteen-year-old Martha Lessen leaves home by herself in order to make a living breaking horses.  She doesn't get far from home when she finds new family--the owners of the horses she breaks. She sets up a circle--two horses per ranch that she works with, and she travels the circuit, gently training horses to stand still in barbed wire, take children in their saddle, and just be overall darn good horses.  Martha is quiet, shy, and unsure of herself around people, and her bumbling is adorable.  She isn't sure what do around affection and sarcasm because her family life was rough and mean.

My words aren't doing justice to this quiet read. It's just a sweetheart of a novel about farm life at the bring of World War I and trying to make it as female on your own in a man's world. So, so good.

And, yes. I like horse books.  I've reviewed mysteries like Tami Hoag's Dark Horse and years ago I read all of Dick Francis's jockey mysteries, the Misty books, and scores of other horsey kid books!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Well, this wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be.  I remember when the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was caught and read everything I could about his story and background.  But, as I read this graphic novel written by someone who went to school with him, I couldn't help thinking that the author published it just to make money.  I didn't feel the story was that enlightening. Yes, Backderf did his research. He had to since he pretty much ignored Dahmer or teased him throughout school.  I never felt all that sorry for Dahmer--rather I found myself feeling sorry for the author and how he had to justify his bullying and exploitation of a kid who grew up to be a serial killer.

This has been compared to David Small's Stitiches (there's even an endorsement from Small on the book), but I just didn't see the comparison other than that it's a graphic novel and a memoir.

This book is a 2013 Alex Award Winner and I can see the teen appeal. I also understand how committees want to have a wide range of genres present on the list.  But I wouldn't have fought to keep this one on it.  I know, I know--I'm in the minority here because it won so many awards and has received praise from tons of people, including many of my friends.  But I just didn't see what the fuss was all about.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. Read by the author Augusten Burroughs.

This is one of those self-help books that you can skim and scan to find the parts that apply to you--at least that's what I did. I didn't want to listen to the section about losing a child to disease or watching your spouse die of cancer. Some of those parts were just to depressing to take.  However, I LOVED the sections about dating, weight loss and shyness.  LOVED!!!!  I laughed, of course, but also had some serious stop and think moments. Augusten Burroughs is that guy that I wish I could hang out with--sure, he'd be a downer sometimes, but his sarcasm and honesty is something that I'd love to see in person!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown, Read by Paul Michael

Okay, Dan Brown, you're starting to be like all the authors who get famous and re-write the same book over and over. Once again, Robert Langdon is in Europe, needs the help of a beautiful woman, and runs around solving mysteries that have to do with art, history, and literature.  So, if you liked his other books, go for this one, too.