Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.

Today's post will cover the last two weeks as I have been away!!
Synopsis here.The Ottoman Motel
From the library.
I  enjoyed this despite being a little disappointed in the ending. I kept hoping things would work out for Simon. Lots of dysfunctional characters and a fairly fast paced storyline that keeps you gripped till the end. Some of the children were really strange characters and a little scary. I can't really imagine a small town being this weird but I'm sure it happens.

Even the Dogs: A Novel
From the book jacket:
On a cold, quiet day between Christmas and the New Year, a man's body is found in an abandoned apartment. His friends look on, but they're dead, too. Their bodies found in squats and sheds and alleyways across the city. Victims of a bad batch of heroin, they're in the shadows, a chorus keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage as their friend's body is taken away, examined, investigated, and cremated.
All of their stories are laid out piece by broken piece through a series of fractured narratives. We meet Robert, the deceased, the only alcoholic in a sprawling group of junkies; Danny, just back from uncomfortable holidays with family, who discovers the body and futiley searches for his other friends to share the news of Robert's death; Laura, Robert's daughter, who stumbles into the junky's life when she moves in with her father after years apart; Heather, who has her own place for the first time since she was a teenager; Mike, the Falklands War vet; and all the others. 
Theirs are stories of lives fallen through the cracks, hopes flaring and dying, love overwhelmed by a stronger need, and the havoc wrought by drugs, distress, and the disregard of the wider world. These invisible people live in a parallel reality, out of reach of basic creature comforts, like food and shelter. In their sudden deaths, it becomes clear, they are treated with more respect than they ever were in their short lives.
Intense, exhilarating, and shot through with hope and fury, Even the Dogs is an intimate exploration of life at the edges of society--littered with love, loss, despair, and a half-glimpse of redemption. 

From the library.
This is not an easy read by any means. I don't mean only the story but also the fractured sentences and unfinished thoughts. It is beautifully written for such a sad reflection on a lot of lives these days.

The Red Book
From the book jacket:
The Big Chill meets The Group in Deborah Copaken Kogan’s wry, lively, and irresistible new novel about a once-close circle of friends at their twentieth college reunion.

Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane were roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989. Clover, homeschooled on a commune by mixed-race parents, felt woefully out of place, both among the East Coast elite and within the social milieu of her prep-schooled beau, Bucky. Addison yearned to shed the burden of her Mayflower heritage, finding escape in both art and in the arms of another woman. Mia mined the depths of her suburban ennui to enact brilliant performances on the Harvard stage, including a heartrending turn as Nora in A Doll’s House. Jane, an adopted Vietnamese war orphan, made sense of her fractured world through words, spending long hours as an editor at the Crimson.

Twenty years later, all their lives are in free fall. Clover, once a securities broker with Lehman, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window slams shut. Addison’s marriage to a writer’s-blocked novelist is as stale as her so-called career as a painter, as troubled as her children’s psyches, and as mismanaged as her trust fund. Hollywood shut its gold-plated gates to Mia, who now stays home with her four children, renovating and acquiring faster than her director husband can pay the bills. Jane, the Paris bureau chief for a newspaper whose foreign bureaus are now shuttered, is caught in a vortex of loss, having lost her journalist husband—the father of her young child—to war, her adoptive mother to cancer, and quite possibly her current partner due to an errant email.

Like all Harvard grads, they’ve kept abreast of one another via the red book, a class report published every five years, containing brief autobiographical essays by fellow alumni. But there’s the story we tell the world, and then there’s the real story, as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion weekend, when they arrive with their families, their histories, their dashed dreams, and their secret yearnings to a relationship-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend.

This was a fun book about typical people's lives.
I had never heard of Harvard's Red book until I read this book.
 The “red book” is an anniversary chronicle that is sent to Harvard alumni every five years, asking them for basic information, such as address, email, occupation, spouse/partner, children, if any, and a concise summary of the past half-decade of their lives. I liked how the author built her stories around their "red book" input.
I loved how she hopped  from one character to another and managing to blend their lives together,

From the book jacket:
When Sheila McGann sets out to redeem her disgraced brother, a once-beloved Catholic priest in suburban Boston, her quest will force her to confront cataclysmic truths about her fractured Irish-American family, her beliefs, and, ultimately, herself. Award-winning author Jennifer Haigh follows her critically acclaimed novels Mrs. Kimble and The Condition with a captivating, vividly rendered portrait of fraying family ties, and the trials of belief and devotion, in Faith.

This book gets off to a plodding start but it redeems itself in the ending. It took over half the book for the author to develop the characters and I wish she had developed the narrator of the story as I really wanted to know more about her. It felt like she was trying desperately to pad the story with fillers as the story line itself is a bit thin. 
I identified with a lot of the Irish and Catholic descriptions of life.

The Salesman
From the book jacket:
It Is The Hottest Summer In Dublin's History, and Billy Sweeney, a middle-aged salesman with a failed marriage, a faltering career and a tumbledown house, has more than the weather on his mind. His youngest daughter lies in a coma in the hospital, following a mysterious attack. Devastated by the unfolding consequences of that terrible night, frustrated by officialdom, and failed by the system, Billy finally tires of seeking legal justice. He decides to take the law into his own hands, but when his plans go spectacularly wrong, the results are terrifying, often hilarious, and in the end, unforgetabble.

I've enjoyed a lot of O'Connor's books in the past. This felt different and it was certainly a tough read. I read it in between reading Faith and The Last Hundred Days.

This is a very dark and gripping novel. I definitely did not like the main character but yet you could identify with him. The way the story twists certainly keeps you reading, however the long drawn out central part of the book had me skimming the pages. This might be because I felt in a hurry to finish it.

The Last Hundred Days
From the book jacket:
The socialist state is in crisis, the shops are empty and old Bucharest vanishes daily under the onslaught of Ceaucescu's demolition gangs. Paranoia is pervasive and secret service men lurk in the shadows. In The Last 100 Days, Patrick McGuinness creates an absorbing sense of time and place as the city struggles to survive this intense moment in history. He evokes a world of extremity and ravaged beauty from the viewpoint of an outsider uncomfortably, and often dangerously, close to the eye of the storm as the regime of 1980s Romania crumbles to a bloody end.

This is a fictional description of the last days Ceaucesu's Communist regime, however I am intrigued enough by his narration that I will be looking for non-fictional books to read further about this period.


  1. I enjoyed The Red Book...hope you do, too.

    Even the Dogs sounds intriguing.

    Have a great week. Here's MY MONDAY MEMES POST

  2. These all look good. I am especially interested in Even the Dogs.

  3. I might have to add The Ottoman Hotel to my reading list - it sounds bizarre and I like that :-)

  4. I've had my eye on The Red Book. Even the Dogs is intriguing.

  5. I think Faith sounds really wonderful.
    Have a great reading week :) The Brunette Librarian's Blog

  6. Even The Dogs sounds amazing, wow. I hope you're enjoying all of your books, have a great week!


This blog does not allow anonymous comments.