Sunday, September 18, 2011

27: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Jeff Lindsey
Published: 2004

Why?: How can you not want to try a book that completely screws up your view of the world by making you root for the serial killer? (What’s that you say? You’re sane? Then probably most of what I have to say doesn’t make much sense to you! 0_~) If you’ve seen the Dexter series (viva la Netflix!), then you’ll be familiar with this storyline, much of which was borrowed for the first season. After that, the novels and the series split off, with relatively little in common beyond the concept and names (especially concerning Dexter’s sexuality; he remains more asexual in the books, which I prefer). The writing of Darkly Dreaming Dexter is sly and amusing in a twisted way, which is has to be, given that it’s written in the first person by a man who deals with his urge to kill by killing on Very Bad People, and not the good ones…all while working as a blood analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Department! Strangely enough, these novels have one of the best versions of a family formed by adoption I’ve ever read. It’s about time there was a happy adoptive family who know that blood doesn’t matter when there’s loads of love involved!

Gist: Dexter Morgan is a normal dude, going about his business: blood analyst for the police by day, and serial killer killer by night. He tells about one of his most difficult cases while introducing his readers to the rules he lives by, instilled in him by his father, Henry Morgan.

Quote: “Really, now: If you can’t get me my newspaper on time, how can you expect me to refrain from killing people?”

Bonus Trivia: Jeff Lindsey has a sense of humor about creating a character who’s much more famous than he is. He claims a taxi driver once asked him if he’s seen Dexter, and mentioned that “I heard there are some books, too”!

Darkly Dreaming is on my Kindle, and there's only so many pictures to take of that. So here is Gomez, helping me type this very entry. Also, sticking his tongue out at me.

Perfect For: I guess you’ve got to be a little nutty, and not too afraid of gruesome crime scenes, though they’re less detailed than the Dresden books.

Genres: Fiction, Novel
Keywords: Mystery, Horror

Saturday, September 17, 2011

26: Melisande

E. Nesbit and P.J. Lynch
Published: 1901, 1999

Why?: E. Nesbit was one of the first authors to write children’s books with children as main characters, and stories about ordinary children in fantastic worlds owe a lot to her (“E” is for “Edith”!). She also had a wonderful sense of humor, and this short story shows that off to best effect. Melisande is a twist on the Rapunzel story, though interestingly enough, Rapunzel has since been confused with Melisande – Rapunzel didn’t have magical, fast growing hair! To round out the perfection of this story, P.J. Lynch’s illustrations are gorgeous, as always.

Gist: Melisande is a beautiful princess with one unusual feature: she’s bald. Luckily (or unfortunately, as her family will learn), she has something of a surfeit of fairy godmothers, and she goes from no hair to far, far too much!

Quote: "I've seen too much trouble come of christening parties," said he. "How ever carefully you keep your visiting-book, some fairy or other is sure to get left out, and you know what that leads to. Why, even in my own family, the most shocking things have occurred. The Fairy Malevola was not asked to my great grandmothers christening-and you know all about the spindle and the hundred years' sleep."

Bonus Trivia
: The full story of this short story is “Melisande: or Long and Short Division.”

Perfect For: The young and young at heart, a great family story

Genres: Fiction, Short Story
Keywords: Picture Book, Classic, Humor, Fantasy

Sunday, September 11, 2011

25: A Prayer for Owen Meaney

I'm not ignoring today's anniversary, but my thoughts on Sept. 11th are so private that I'm not one to blog about it. My thoughts are with everyone who is remembering the day that changed America.

A Prayer for Owen Meaney
John Irving
Published: 1989

Why?: This book isn’t a quick read, and I didn’t curl up with it on the beach. I actually started it while canceling out my Audible membership and finishing off my built-up tokens. The audiobook is well-read by an almost soothing narrator, whose voice adds to the conversational narrative tone of the book. This book is great to read in chunks, letting each section sink in before moving on to the next. Its nonlinear construction makes you feel like the storyteller is weaving the tale for you right there in the room, rather than detracting from the story. Despite some fairly strong anti-American leanings (which are important to the narrator’s character; and, well, it's john Irving), the story is engaging, and the characters nuanced.

Gist: John Wheelwright is an ex-patriot who tells the story of his life and religion through his past with a boy (later man) named Owen Meany. Owen is a tiny person with a strange voice, strong convictions, and a faith born out of tragedy. The story of their lives together is covers the gamut from bitter to enthusiastic to horrifying to freeing.

Bonus Trivia:
The rather horrible film Milk Money has a school named Owen Meany Elementary.

Perfect For: This is a toughie, because the book is far outside what I usually enjoy! But it’s definitely a great novel for fans of modernist fictional or fictional biographies.

Genres: Fiction, Novel
Keywords: Drama

Saturday, September 10, 2011

24: The Man With Two Left Feet

This wasn't my original plan for today, but then the day kind of exploded. We have two very sick cats, so I took one victim (roomie's cat Fred) to the vet. Got home, rushed out for a haircut. Came home, started watching some college football, took off my nail polish...heard a strange sound...

...Found that Fred had taken leave of his senses and wandered into the "dogs only" portion of the house, and Alfred was bugging him. I leaned down to get Alfred to back off and Fred went BERSERK. Result? Alfred doesn't have a scratch on him, but I have loads...hand, arm, and side. Fred even left a claw in there for me. Nice, huh?

Soooo off to the emergency room, where they treated me like a moron for coming in about a cat bite/scratches before it became disgusting and infected. I don't know if you're familiar with the dangers of cat bites and scratches, but I am, thanks to my grandmother and aunt. So I refuse to feel dumb for being proactive. If I was such a waste of their time, how come they insisted I have a tetanus shot and a week of antibiotics? Hmm?

So, whilst trapped in the waiting room, I curled up with my Kindle. College football was on, but I was in pain and not in the mood. A while back, I downloaded one of the few free books available from one of my all-time favorite authors: P.G. Wodehouse. Reading this short stories really lifted my spirits, so I decided to make it my rec for the day!

The Man With Two Left Feet
P.G. Wodehouse
Published: 1917

Why?: Well, it's pretty much up there in the italics there. It's impossible to feel too horrible while reading Wodehouse, and since this collection is free, that's even better! I'll be recommending more Wodehouse - I just can't help it. Plum, as he was and is affectionately known, is a classic British humorist. He wrote both novels and short stories, but I find his incredibly charming style best suited to shorts. This is a fairly random collection, which might be why I love it so much, as I'm a fairly random person!

If you check this book out online, the very first page is adorable and really shows Wodehouse's style!

I had just taken off my nail polish when it all went down. Of course. Sigh!

Gist: The Man With Two Left Feet contains 13 short stories, most of which are stand-alone. Two stories are told from the perspective of dogs ("The Mixer: He Meets a Shy Gentleman" and "The Mixer: He Moves in Society") and the collection does contain the first appearance of Bertie and Jeeves, "Extricating Young Gussie." There's also an amusing (sort-of) sleuthing story, some romances, and an adventure or two. Since the stories are so brief and self-contained, they're perfect for when you need a pick-me-up!

It's available for a buck on the Kindle (I thought it was free, but I'm mistaken...or they've changed it!) or you can read it online for free. Free! Awesomesauce! We'd better not get used to free, given the ridiculous length of copyright these days (life of the author + 70 years!).

Probably not hugely sanitary, huh? At least he's trying to make up for being at the source of the problem...right?!

Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
Keywords: Classic, Humor

Thursday, September 08, 2011

23: Life Among the Savages

I am ridiculously tired! My grad school pulled an about face on me and required a Wednesday night class - I live 4 hourrrsss away! So I was at work before 7:10, worked untl 12:30, had to take half a day, drove a little over four hours, class for four hours, drove home, home at 1 am on Thursday, up at 6, work, then I had tickets for a local dinner theater that I bought a couple of months ago! Great fun with some awesome ladies, but about ready to be UUUUUNconscious! I am, in fact, too tired for Pet Photo Sessions (tm). For a special bonus, one of the cats is sick, soooo yeah. Gross.

Life Among the Savages
Shirley Jackson
Published: 1952

Why?: I admit to having a huge soft spot for humorists. Shirley Jackson is most famous for her more political work (“The Lottery”) and her collection of horror novels (the most famous is probably The Haunting of Hill House). I read her stories about raising her four children in suburbia before I read “the Lottery” or anything of her creepy works. In fact, it must have been a decade after I read “The Lottery” that I realized this book was by the same author! The stories are delightful and witty, far ahead of similar books dealing with the realities of family life.

"Our house is old, noisy and full. When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books . . ." This book is a collection of stories inspired by Jackson’s real life and children; exactly where fiction and reality diverge isn’t clear, but only in the same way that all master storytellers adjust their lives for a good story.

Bonus Trivia:
Life Among the Savages is followed by Raising Demons. Also, a selection from this novel, about her son starting kindergarten, is often included in Jackson collections with the name “Charles.”

Perfect For: Ages 12+, people who love a good chuckle

Nonfiction, Memoir
Keywords: Humor, Classic

Sunday, September 04, 2011

*Shaking my fist in frustration!*

The net has been a nightmare all week, so I haven't been able to post (NO, I can't post at work; like most schools, blogging sites are blocked. Even if they weren't, I doubt I'd post, I'd feel guilty. Alas!). So now I'm all behind in my 182 and I find that personally insulting.

Really internet! What did I ever do to you?!

*insert copious moaning and generally nerdy gnashing of teeth here*

I think, since my blog is pretty much unread by anyone save myself :) I'll just back-post my book recommendations, but not add any random geekery. I was working on a TMNT rec to go with my random post, so that'll be up sometime tomorrow! Phew!

Also, could fall come now? I'm totally ready for it. It should not be 100 degrees while I'm watching college football. Just sayin'.