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Happy 6th Birthday, SPR!

As of my "maternity leave," here are the stats of the past year: 74 books reviewed 9 guest posts 4 independent bookstores 3 d...

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Metaphysical Double Life of Eri Lane

The Metaphysical Double Life of Eri Lane by Jocelyn Nora Moore sounded light and fun and overall entertaining, so I picked it up this weekend.  It was so fun and entertaining that I whipped through it in less than two days.

Eri Lane is a gifted student, albeit with an attitude on her that makes me look like a kitten.  She and her best friend Malcolm are super-bright but otherwise normal high school students--or so it seems to their peers.  Rather than sleeping at night, they are guardians of the barrier between dreaming and being awake.  When strange things start to happen in the dream world, Eri and Malcolm must find a way to save those they love--and the world too while they are at it.

I had an absolute blast with this book.  The characters in this book were so well-developed that they blew my mind.  Ms. Moore is an adept writer and clearly understands how to tell a story and create characters that draw you in and with whom you want to spend time.  Her writing is sophisticated and she crafts sentences in a way that made me not want to put down this book.  I am not particularly in love with fantasy (as well all know well by now if you are a faithful reader), but Ms. Moore's writing transcended my aversion and kinda made me just want to be Eri Lane.  If you love sentences and structure as much as I do then you will love this book.

Have I mentioned how excellent a writer Ms. Moore is?

Get the book here.  99 cents, guys. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shaman, Friend, Enemy

I enjoy books that focus on things I know absolutely nothing about--one of which is shamanism.  Hence my desire to read Shaman, Friend, Enemy by M. Terry Green.  It's a world I am completely unfamiliar with so I ran with this one.

It's the story of Livvy, the lightning shaman who only comes along once in a generation.  She heals people through the use of lightning that she can summon.  The only thing about shamanism is that it is not only used for good, but also for evil.  When a sketchy water shaman shows up to rid the world of Livvy, can Livvy fight back and win?  And what else has Livvy been up to and not sharing with her cohorts?

Overall I found this to be a fun read.  As I said earlier, I know absolutely nothing about shamanism so learning about that was interesting and eye-opening.  There is also a bit of summoning and conjuring (not the same thing!) going on in the book and I found that to be intriguing, particularly surrounding the reasons as to why it was happening (which you will not get out of me here!).  There were a few times where the first book in the series was referenced and since I didn't read it I was slightly confused, but this didn't happen enough for it to become a big complaint. 

As we come upon summer, I would totally recommend this book as a beach read (notice the new category for this on the right???).  You will be engrossed, you will be educated, and you will have a blast.  So what are you waiting for?  $0.99 on Amazon.  Go, and pick up the first book in the series (Shaman, Healer, Heretic) while you are at it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

I would be the first to admit that I am lacking in my Kurt Vonnegut cannon.  I bought my brother The Slaughterhouse Five for Christmas years ago and have been meaning to read it, really I have.  I picked up God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater on an Amazon sale last month and ran out of books on my bus home from Boston last week.  What a lovely accident, I tell you.  This book has made me a happier person in so many ways.

Synopsis?  Why, I am not even sure how to begin.  Eliot Rosewater runs the Rosewater Foundation, founded by his father as a tax shelter for passing on his fortune to his son.  Unfortunately Eliot takes this seriously and moves to Rosewater, Indiana, the hometown of the (you guessed it!) Rosewaters.  Norman Mushari is a conniving lawyer who aims to bring Eliot down.  Norman goes out to the East Coast relatives to shake things up and bring in a new branch of the family.  That's all you get for this because, well, you just have to read it.

This story is laugh out loud funny.  Like, on the train, on the plane, can-not-stop-giggling funny.  This book just brightened my life (not only my day!).  The characters were so well-developed and honest while still being so ridiculous that they seemed unreal.  The story was fairly short (I read it on my Kindle), but it is one I will keep on my device to pick up in the event of a no-good-very-bad day.  Because no matter how low I get, Eliot Rosewater will bring me back up. 

Vonnegut is a master of language, and he crafts a sentence with such aplomb.  This book was a blast and I can't wait to re-read it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Xor: The Shape of Darkness

Moshe Sipper's Xor: The Shape of Darkness is the story of Lewis, a young man who lost his mother when he was 8 years old.  On his twelfth birthday he comes home from school to find his house destroyed, his father dead, and himself in a land he doesn't understand--Xor.  It turns out he was adopted as a baby by his earthling parents and he is actually a Shaper--the most important and powerful beings in Xor.  He is now charged with saving Xor from destruction by the Realm Pirates. 

Happy birthday, kid.  That was my initial thought.  I mean, how much would that bum you out on your twelfth birthday?  Actually, I might be more inclined to be pumped about saving a planet, but that's my sick sense of duty or humor or adventure or whatever.  I had a blast reading about the world that Sipper created.  There were ArPers (artificial persons), maps that popped up in the middle of the air, and transportation that feels like floating.  Where do I sign up?  I have vacation time coming up.

If you are a fan of fantasy then yes, this book is definitely for you.  Or if you just like reading about worlds that are unlike Earth than pick this up.  You can get it on Amazon for the awesome price of $2.99, so hurry up, kids.  Get your read on this weekend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Economics: A Simple Twist on Normalcy

I love a good non-fiction piece, particularly when I can learn more about that which I am not an expert in (so, so, so much...), so I picked up Kersten L. Kelly's economics: a simple twist on normalcy last week to freshen up my knowledge of basic economics.

Using examples such as online dating, Deal or No Deal, and the price of gas, Ms. Kelly explains such economic concepts as elasticity versus inelasticity, framing, and dynamic inconsistency.  Milk is an elastic product--gas is not.  Curious as to why?  Well, I won't spill the beans here.  Psychology gets its very own shout out in this book as well.  Economics and psychology are intricately intertwined--we are always trying to get the better deal in life due to both areas of our lives holding sway.

I enjoyed the mix of psychology with economics in describing how and why we pick the way we do.  The refresher on elastic and inelastic goods was also quite nice as I often forget how dependent I am on certain goods and believe myself to be dependent on others.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the section on online dating in an economic capacity having done it myself many, many times.  There were a few times where I felt this book fell back into jargon which, as someone who is not an economist shut my me out a bit, but for the most part it's easy to look past.

Need a refresher on basic economics?  This is well-worth the Amazon asking price of $3.99.  Done and done.  Also, head over to Kersten's website and peruse: http://theeconomicsbook.com/.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Sense of an Ending

Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending was recommended by some magazine somewhere and the premise sounded very interesting, so I thought, hey, why not?

This lovely novel is split into two parts--one in the past and one in the present.  The past tells the story of his befriending of Adrian and the time their group of friends spent together in primary school, including dealing with the apparent suicide of a classmate.  The present brings us into a world where Adrian has befallen the same fate after taking up with the narrator's former girlfriend.  Tony, our storyteller, finds out decades later that he has been left Adrian's diary in the will of an old acquaintance.  When the diary is refused him by it's current owner, he goes on a quest to discover the reason why Adrian committed suicide.

This book was beautiful and languid.  Barnes is such a fluent writer that reading his work is akin to a focused canoe ride down a river.  I am working, but not so hard that it's tiring.  Occasionally I hit a patch where I can sit back and let the vessel take me, but others I have to steer it in the right direction.  My socks were knocked off at the ending--honestly, it was something that I could not have guessed.  How lovely and shocking it was.  Definitely worth a pick-up and some time spent with these characters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan is a book of essays on Sullivan's thoughts and experiences on everything from Michael Jackson (I bet you have no idea why he named his children Prince--I DO!!!) to dealing with his brother's electrocution and subsequent recovery.  It was quite a lovely book for my day off last week.  I went to the local coffee shop, found out where all of the cool kids are in my 'hood, and read the whole thing.  Divine.

Sullivan's essays run the gamut from the above mentioned subjects to his trip to the world's largest Christian concert festival back around to a famous television show shooting in his house for half a decade.  Each essay is different in content but holds the same voice of the writer, making this collection just as interesting as it is eclectic.  I was humored, I was shocked (pun not intended), and I was satisfied.  I put this down contented in my happy day sitting in the sun soaking it up.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Hilliker Curse

The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women by James Ellroy came across my recommendations list so I picked it up.  Why not, right?  I dig a good memoir.  In fact, it's kind of Celebrity Memoir Friday with this one seeing as how Ellroy wrote some super famous books adapted into feature films including The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential. 

As the years pass beyond his mother's murder, James Ellroy deals with The Curse.  He caused his mother's murder by wishing it so and he continually searches out his mother's affection in women.  Meaningless sex, monogamy, marriage and kids--it doesn't matter so long as he is actively seeking it.  Does it lead to what he is looking for--Jean Hilliker?

Ellroy's writing style in this book is perfunctory and observant.  He doesn't mince words in his account and is brutally honest with the advantage of hindsight.  At times you want to reach out and hold him and tell him to stop making such horrible decisions.  You want to cheer for him when he finds love and you want to slap him when he lets it get away.  You want to scream, "Just get it right already!!!" 

I am really looking forward to picking up Ellroy's first memoir, My Dark Places.  I would have probably liked to read this first since I feel like a good bit of what he discusses would be explained.  I was expecting more insight into Jean Hilliker, so I am excited to pick up this "prequel" to find out the details of Ellroy's story.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Have Book - Will Travel

Have Book - Will Travel by father/son team Kfir & Yonatan Luzzatto falls under the banner of YA Fantasy Lit.  This was a super fun book, particularly if you love fantasy, so forget the YA label and just enjoy the book.

Max is a wealthy young man sent to his uncle's for a time--his uncle's home just happens to be a castle-like structure.  While poking around one afternoon Max meets Darla, a young woman from the village outside the castle who has found a way in through a hole in the wall.  These two find a mutual love of adventure stories, and soon they find themselves escaping the confines of their respective lives and enter into the world of the book, traveling via teleportation.  When they run into a small snafu, namely being chased by a bad man who wants the book, can they escape in time?  Will they be able to get home--ever?

This book was a super fun read.  I am not normally a fantasy fan but I am certainly willing to suspend my disbelief for an enjoyable story.  This was kind of like book candy--it was a super easy read and kept pushing me through the story.  I loved the different aspects of the "map" in the book that Darla and Max were able to visit; the details were vivid and descriptive, and I could see these fantastical places.

I also love that this was written by a father/son team.  It's so cool that this world could come together though a neat collaboration.  This book comes out on June 1, so keep an eye out.  Or pre-order.  Whatever floats your boat.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Litigators

John Grisham's The Litigators is his newest and therefore was my book candy for my trip to Chattanooga a couple of weeks ago.  I zipped through this one.  Some shocker, right?

The two lawyers at the "boutique firm" (read: super small and so-so firm) Finley & Figg are adequate at best and have no desire to be anything but.  David Zinc is a lawyer at a huge, big-box firm who one day goes to work and realizes that he doesn't want to do it anymore.  He just leaves.  Through a very funny process he ends up drunk and with a self-invitation to join Finley & Figg.  When a huge mass tort case comes up for the firm regarding possibly faulty pharmaceuticals, the lawyers are pushed to the brink.  How far will this case take them, and what kind of trouble waits around the bend?

That was hard to do, for this book has such an intricate plot that kept my face to the screen of my Kindle for days.  I just love Grisham's characters; he puts so much into creating full character arcs that it's hard not to care about the men and women in his books when you read the last sentence.  I enjoyed this story, and I enjoyed the secondary stories just as much as the main narrative line. 

What can I say?  I am a sucker for a good John Grisham book.