Thursday, August 8, 2013

Neil Gaiman: "This was what lay beneath the thinly painted scrim of reality."

Okay, so Neil Gaiman isn't exactly an unknown author. However, I was in the mood to write a blog post and the last book I read was The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. Therefore, you get a post about a well-known author.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the kind of book where you're left a little off-balance. The lines between fantasy and reality are blended together so beautifully, you're not entirely sure what to think. It tells the story of a man's childhood, during a period of time where it was strange and fantastical and scary. Put simply, it is a story about a memory.

I really enjoyed this book. So much so, in fact, that I read it in one night. It's a fairly quick read, with language that is easily digestible. However, I should mention that my mother (who self-admittedly is not much of a fantasy reader) found the book a little fulfilling.

If you loved Coraline, you will probably also love this. If you're not in the mood to get emotionally invested in a darker tale, or you prefer your books with a strong sense of reality, then you should probably skip this one.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Denise Kiernan: "The world may have changed, but she wasn't about to."

So, in a rare twist, I read a non-fiction book. I first heard about The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II because Denise Kiernan, the author, appeared on The Daily Show. I've always had a bit of a fascination with The Manhattan Project and the general time period, so I decided to pick it up.

The title is pretty self-explanatory. The book mostly tells the story of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which was a secret factory town. No one working there knew more about what was going on than they had to. They just knew that they were helping the war effort. The book also occasionally tells other interesting anecdotes about the time period, generally focusing on women.

This book was a pretty quick read. It certainly didn't get dense the way many non-fiction books can. It often felt like I was reading some sort of fifties chick-lit, though it was definitely a bit more intellectual than the average beach novel. There were small filler chapters that filled the reader in on some of the science behind the discovery of atomic power, which occasionally got a little tiring to read. However, I'm sure that someone more interested in that side of things would love them.

Denise Kiernan has a feedback form on her website, so I left her the following note:

"I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I absolutely loved The Girls of Atomic City. I don't usually read non-fiction, but I couldn't put this book down! It's always awesome to hear sides of a story that aren't well known. Thanks for writing such a great book!"

I have a ton of books I've read and haven't posted about... maybe I'll get around to that someday!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jeanette Winterson: " all children, adopted or not, I have had to live out some of her unlived life."

So, I know I haven't written in awhile. Since the last time (October, apparently) I've read quite a few books. I just haven't found the time to write about them. Hopefully I'll start making time to post a bit more! However, I say that almost every time I start again, and I usually get too busy. We'll see.

Anyway, onto the book! Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Amazon) by Jeanette Winterson is a memoir, which is a change of pace from my usual books. Jeanette Winterson was adopted by a Pentecoastal family. Her story is not a very happy one-her adoptive mother was a religious zealot whose behavior became worse once Jeanette revealed she was a lesbian. Jeanette Winterson also wrote Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, which the inside cover of Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? claims is "considered one of the most important books of contemporary fiction." However, I've never read or heard of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (oops).

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal is a very interesting read. It can get a bit intense at points, but I think the overall journey is worth it. It's definitely interesting to see a different take on adoption-often adoptive parents are glorified as amazing, perfect people. It rarely occurs to people that an abusive person might want to adopt a child.

Jeanette Winterson has a small feedback form on her site, so I left her a note:

"I just wanted to let you know that I recently read Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and I really enjoyed it. You have a wonderful writing style and your story is very inspirational. Thank you for sharing it with the world!"

Anyway, that's all for now. We'll see if I manage to post more consistently.