RIP VI is here!!

The RIP challenge (hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings) is near and dear to my heart.  I will be the first to admit, I have lousy luck with challenges.  There are just not enough hours in the day to read all the books I would love to read, so often I have other obligations as far as my reading goes, ensuring that the challenge books fall by the wayside.  Either that, or I just lose interest.  There is one reading challenge that I always participate in though, and that is the RIP challenge.  Fall could be my favorite season of the year, and I love settling into the season by reading spooky books.

There are three basic levels to RIP VI and I am going for the highest one, Peril in the First.  I am obligating myself to read at least four books for this challenge, although let’s be honest–I usually read more than that because I am a glutton for spooky reads in the fall.

I have compiled by list for this year’s RIP, although this pile is not all inclusive.  I have some books on my kindle that I will probably include plus it is always possible I will acquire new books!

An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears: I have wanted to read something by Pears for awhile.  I found this one at a used booksale and picked it up.

The Angel of Darkness and The Alienist, Caleb Carr: I have heard great things about the latter, and it would probably be the one I would read first.

The Witch’s Trinity, Erika Mailman: I bought this one on clearance a few years back and figured it would be a great choice for the challenge.

Bad Things Happen, Harry Dolan: I have wanted to read this since it first came out and now the 2nd book in the series has been released!

Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafron: It is time I read something by this author.  There is just no excuse!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs: I am so excited for this one!

The Poison Tree, Erin Kelly: My cousin just finished this one and loved it, so that definitely inspired me to add it to the pile.

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness: I don’t know much about this book, but I had it on my shelf and figured it would be a good inclusion.

Have you read any of the books on my list?!  If so, I am dying to know your thoughts! What books do you have on your list for this year’s RIP?

Borders Haul

I said I would resist.  I have vowed to save money recently, and I told myself that I definitely do not need any more books! But I work in a mall, and in said mall is a Waldenbooks.  I innocently went to browse during my break yesterday and low and behold, I spent some money.  I am so weak!

Fiction was 60% off and the shelves were pretty well picked over. I didn’t have a chance to really look over anything else.

Here is what I got.

Claude and Camille, by Stephanie Cowell: This one sparked my interest and it was only $5, so why not?

Cecilia, by Linda Ferri: I have a weakness for Europas, so this one was a no brainer.

The Irresistible Henry House, by Lisa Grunwald: I have been dying to read this one since I started seeing reviews reviews for it.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler, MPH: I have heard great things about this and so far what I have read of it, it seems like it will be a great resource.

Please share your input on the books I bought!

Book Review: The Most Dangerous Thing

The Most Dangerous Thing

Laura Lippman

William Morrow

352 pages

I love Laura Lippman.  I have read all of her stand alone novels, with the exception of one or two.  So you can understand my elation at finding a copy of her newest book in my mailbox.  I squealed with delight and shoved the book in my husband’s face, although he was understandably more reserved.

The Most Dangerous Thing starts off with Gordon, aka Go-Go, smashing his car straight into a concrete barrier.  He is killed instantly, and questions immediately emerge due to the circumstances.  He is an alcoholic who has recently fallen off the wagon, but despite his high level of intoxication, it seems questionable as to whether or not he purposely drove into the wall.

Go-Go’s death brings together his group of friends from childhood: Gwen, Mickey (now McKey), and Go-Go’s older brothers Sean and Tim.  They are harboring a childhood secret involving Go-Go, and they are unsure whether or not this secret could be a catalyst in Go-Go’s death.

The secret is slowly unraveled throughout the novel, and the narration switched between the viewpoints of the four remaining friends, as well as between their parents.  I’ll be completely honest; the mystery did not intrigue me at all. It seemed lackluster and apparent from very early on.  The way the characters dealt with what was going on seemed contrived.  I liked the way the novel was divided into four parts, but I think the fact that there were so many different points of view made it seem more muddled.  And the most important character of them all–Go-Go–seemed a bit ignored.

Go-Go was really the only character that seemed genuine to me, and his story was told through everyone else.  Maybe instead of focusing on so many characters, Lippman should have chosen just a few characters to focus on.  Not to mention, the group of friends are now middle aged, but none of them seemed to mature past their childhood antics.  I would have hoped for a lot more growth among the characters for a book that spanned such a large amount of time.

By now it’s pretty obvious that The Most Dangerous Thing fell flat for me.  Lippman is one of those authors I will always look forward to, regardless of how I feel about this particular book.  But I would be lying if I didn’t say this one really disappointed me.

Other Reviews:

I know I just commented on one the other day but I couldn’t find it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

 

Book Review: The Uncoupling

The Uncoupling

Meg Wolitzer

Riverhead

288 pages

Dory and Robby have it all.  They have been married for years and have a teenage daughter, but they are still very much in love and their sexual attraction hasn’t waned.  They both teach at the local high school, where they are highly respected and loved among the kids.  Their daughter, Willa, is more introverted but she has recently started seeing her first boyfriend, Eli, who is the son of the new drama teacher.

Mrs Heller, the new drama teacher, decides to put on a production of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata.  The basic premise is that Lysistrata forbids the women of her village from having sex with the men until the war they have been fighting in ceases.  Once the play rolls into action though, something strange happens–the women involved stop wanting to have sex with their significant others.

We first learn about Dory, who all of a sudden cannot imagine having sex with Robby anymore.  Robby is hurt and confused at first, but as days lead into weeks with no sex to be had, he gets more and more angry.  And while Dory laments the disintegration of a marriage that was very recently close to perfect, she can’t help how she feels.  Little does she know that all the women in town are having the same problem as she.

The Uncoupling gave me so much to think about.  Every paragraph gave me something new to digest and carry with me.  The scariest aspect for me was the idea of just losing that desire with the person you love.  Knowing that the cause was a spell did not abate my frustration at the lack of concern the women showed once they lost their desire.  They didn’t seem to care that their relationships were in tatters, which I couldn’t understand at all.  You certainly didn’t see any of them having sex just to appease their partners, even if they didn’t want to!

Another minor quibble I had with the book was that a high school would allow a play that so blatantly involved sex to be performed.  I know it sounds a bit ridiculous–I mean, the  book involves a spell being cast over the women of the community, which is obviously even more unbelievable, but what can I say . . . ?

Lest you think I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this book though, let me be very clear–I thought The Uncoupling was very well written and the themes involved gave me more to think about than any book I have read in a long time.  This book is definitely worthy of the praise.

Other Reviews:

Devourer of Books

Linus’s Blanket

nomadreader

She is too Fond of Books . . .

Lit and Life

Bibliophile by the Sea

Shelf Love

Book Chatter

Fizzy Thoughts

I purchased this book from a book sale.

Book Review: The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb

The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb

Melanie Benjamin

Delacorte Press

448 pages

I suppose it would be fashionable to admit to some reservations as I undertake to write the History of My Life. Popular memoirs of our time suggest a certain reticence is expected, particularly when the author is female. We women are timid creatures, after all; we must retire behind a veil of secrecy and allow others to tell our story.

To that, I can only reply “Rubbish!” I have let others–one other, in particular–tell my story for far too long.  Now is the time to set the record straight, to sort out the humbug from the truth, and vice versa.

Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump is a provincial girl living with her family during the 1800′s.  Her life is typical of the time and place, but for the fact that she is miniature.  Lavinia, or Vinnie, as she is called, is just over two feet tall and, unlike many dwarfs, her proportions are normal, just in miniature.  Vinnie and her sister miniature Minnie are both guarded and protected by their family, but Vinnie is not happy to be shielded from the world.  Instead, she is yearning to see what is out there and she refuses to be stymied by her size.

Vinnie grasps at the first escape she has, when a strange man claiming to be a relative shows up at the Bump home to woo Vinnie onto his boat of “spectacles”.  Vinnie spends the next few years dealing with unsavory situations and people as she performs upon the boat, but even after she leaves, her desire to see the world is still strong.   Despite the reservations of her family, Vinnie contacts PT Barnum in an attempt to become a part of his museum of curiosities.

Vinnie’s life quickly becomes a whirlwind.  She is invited to New York by Barnum and just a few weeks later she is married to General Tom Thumb, another “person in miniature”, and the two take the world by storm.

I knew before I even finished the first page of this book that I would be engrossed throughout.  Vinnie’s character intrigued me, and although I didn’t always agree with her actions and decisions, her flaws were real to me.

Benjamin did an amazing job taking people long dead and ascribing personalities to them based on what history has recalled.  I have no idea whether Tom Thumb was as naive and childlike as Benjamin portrayed him, or whether Vinnie was as shrewd and irascible as she seemed.  But regardless, Benjamin made me care.  The whole nation was enamored by them at one point, but their true selves remained hidden from the public, so what Benjamin did was take two obscure, mysterious people and bring them to life.

Given how much I loved this book, I can’t wait to read Alice I Have Been!

Other Reviews:

Lit and Life

The Novel World

I purchased this book from Borders.

Book Review: The Poisoner’s Handbook

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensics in Jazz Age New York

Deborah Blum

Penguin

336 pages

As a teenager, I was always drawn to true crime.  It was pretty much the only genre I read, starting with Helter Skelter, which I read countless times, trickling down to the likes of Ann Rule and other fast paced, non fiction crime stories.  Although I have gotten sick of the typical true crime books, sometimes one comes along that intrigues me enough to pick it up.  The Poisoner’s Handbook is one such book.

The book focuses on New York City’s first medical examiner, Charles Norris.  Norris and his right hand man, Alexander Gettler, paved the way for forensic science during the jazz age and made many bold discoveries that were the result of extremely hard work and perseverance.

Each chapter was chronological through the first two and a half decades of the twentieth century and each chapter focused on a different poison.  Each chapter was part scientific, with the chemical breakdown of the poison and the diligent work on behalf of Norris and Gettler on determining the presence of said poison in a cadaver and the effects of the poison.  The other part focused on certain cases in which the poison was used to maim or kill someone.

Personally, I could have done without all the scientific information, which bogged down the book for me.  When I do read true crime, it is for the story, and in that respect The Poisoner’s Handbook did not let me down. The story of the working girl on her lunch break who died after eating a piece of pie at a local diner . . . the dangerous poisons that are found in household items, and so on and so forth.

Had the book included more crime stories and less chemistry, it would have hit the perfect note for me.  Instead, I found myself bored for some of the book.  Despite that, the good parts outweighed the bad.

Other Reviews:

You’ve GOTTA Read This!

Sophisticated Dorkiness

A Book a Week

I purchased this book from Borders.

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