Some of My Favorite Books

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Book That's a Breath of Fresh Air

Isabel's Bed by Elinor Lipman. This is one of the few books she's written that I haven't read yet, so to rid the old, creepy serial killer from my head, I decided this was a perfect pick.

I stumbled across the author Elinor Lipman when someone told me about Laura Lippman, the mystery writer. I saw Lipman's books sitting on the library shelves, through the years, next to Lippman's (Lipman's came first of course... pm vs. pp), but I ignored them. For one thing, some of Elinor Lipman's book covers look ridiculous.

<---This one does not.

Some of her book covers have goofy cartoon-looking people and a font that, when you're looking for a good mystery to read, just can't be taken seriously. But when I finished all of Laura Lippman's books, I picked up one of Lipman's and was instantly hooked. She's fabulous!

I read The Way Men Act first, and I'd recommend it as a first Elinor Lipman book to read. Isabel's Bed is proving to be just as enjoyable.

And did you know that Elinor Lipman wrote Then She Found Me? The movie by the same name starring Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, and the lovely Colin Firth is loosely based on the book. It's one of my favorite movies.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

GR = Gary Ridgway/Green River = Creep

Book Read:  Green River, Running Red, The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer
Author:  Ann Rule
ISBN:  978-0-7434-6050-7

I just finished Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule. I usually read at night, in bed. Well, I was about 100 pages from the end last night and thought I'd just stay up and finish it. But this part of the book covered the interviews the detectives had with Gary Ridgway about the 48 women he admitted killing, mostly from 1982 to 1985 in Washington state. I am fascinating by these slasher books, but this one really got me. The details he gave were too much right before I was going to sleep. I had to stop reading. Then I had a fitful night's sleep any way. No nightmares but I woke up several times thinking about the jerk. Awful. Horrendous. Yuck.

So, I got up this morning and after checking email, doing a little online farming (pitiful, yes, but fun), etc., I sat down with another cup of coffee and finished reading. To get the bad taste out of my mouth from this horrible ending (actually it was a good ending to the book, just a horrible thing to have happened), I called my friend Marilyn who, like me, loves a good slasher, especially Ann Rule's. She hasn't read GR,RR, so I may send it to her. She remembered Gary Ridgway though from the news and that it seemed to drag on. It did. He was finally arrested in 2001 but wasn't sentenced for 2 more years--a life sentence for each count of murder to run consecutively. So he'll rot in prison. Good.

What book have you read that creeped you out?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ann Rule Rules!

Let me just say it and get it outta the way. I love Ann Rule! In case you've been living under a rock or just don't read true crime books, Ann Rule is the leading true crime writer.

I haven't read one of Rule's books in several years; maybe that's why I've felt out of sorts. Hmmm. Anyway, I started reading Green River, Running Red night before last and just love it. Hear me out. I don't love serial killers, but I find it fascinating to read about why people kill. This story made national headlines, and I've seen the movie, The Capture of the Green River Killer, featuring Tom Cavanagh, so there's no surprise of who dunnit.

Oh, this picture of Ann Rule was taken when I attended one of her book readings/signings in Denver several years ago.

In case you've never read one of Ann Rule's books, like I said, the end is usually no surprise. In the GRRR, I know that Gary Ridgway was found guilty of killing all of these girls/women in the Seattle area and dumping their bodies, at least at first, in the nearby Green River. No, reading a true crime book is more about the whys. It's the journey, not the destination. 

Do you read true crime books? Do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Now & Then... Read

And nearly forgotten. This was an interesting enough story but I guess just not my cup of tea. Like I mentioned, I'm not a huge fan of time travel (well, other than The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. That was an excellent book!). Anyway, I liked that in the end, Anna and Joseph had to travel back to their future lives even though both wanted to stay behind in the 1800s, sort of like Reese Witherspoon in the movie Pleasantville staying in the 1950s because she'd done it all in the present.

Book Read:  Now & Then
Author:  Jacqueline Sheehan
ISBN:  978-0-06-154778-2

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan

Okay. I started reading Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan and just got into a chapter that, I must say, was put in the right place. I mean, if this nonsense had happened in the story right off the bat, I'd have closed it and reached for another book.

Time travel.

I'm not a fan of science fiction or fantasy. Give me the real stuff. Relationships. Mundane life. Heck, I'll take murder. Just keep it real. But the story had moved along enough that I was interested in the characters thus far so will continue reading it. And the writing is good.

Do you like time travel or other phenomena that may or may not (admit it, probably not) really happen?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Elinor Lipman and Elizabeth Berg Articles

I just finished writing articles for Suite 101 about two of my favorite authors:  Elinor Lipman and Elizabeth Berg. The only problem with having favorite authors is having read all of their books. Could they write a little quicker? Please?

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Hour I First Believed -- Wally Lamb writes another winner

SPOILER ALERT:  This entry contains details of the book 
you may not want to know if you haven't read the book.

Book Read:  The Hour I First Believed
Author:  Wally Lamb
ISBN:  978-0-06-039349-6

When all is said and done, this book was a pleasurable read. The first part was about the fictional character, Maureen, a part-time nurse at Columbine High School, and the shootings there by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris in April 1999. The second part was all about the aftermath of Caelum and Maureen Quirk's lives after her version of the ordeal. Hell on earth, I'd say. And it just kept getting worse.

It was an interesting study of cause and effect, how different people deal with the same situation. And talk about a couple of people with a string of bad luck. Good grief. Between Caelum's drinking, avoidance, family history that gets unearthed by a woman he has a fling with, and Maureen's inability to cope with life after the Columbine tragedy, her drug abuse, subsequent manslaughter charge and then imprisonment and finally untimely death, the book keeps the reader turning the page.

But maybe it should be subtitled:  If It Weren't For Bad Luck, They'd Have No Luck at All. Lamb likes to use song lyrics as book titles after all.

And in the end, it is hopeful and shows that a life can turn around even after decades of despair.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't Judge a Book by its Movie -- Heartburn

Well, in this case, you can judge a book by its movie. I read Heartburn about a week ago and just finished watching the movie. Nora Ephron also wrote the screenplay so the movie followed the book very closely. Of course, as usual, the book went into more depth and off on tangents and gave actual recipes, short as they were, where the movie glossed over things, stayed on point, and only a few snippets of recipes were discussed.

All in all, since, as I mentioned, I read the book over too long a period to keep the characters straight in my head from one sitting to the next, and I watched the movie all in one chunk, I'd say I liked the movie as well, if not better than the book. Strange but true. The only other time I can say that was with the short story Brokeback Mountain and the movie. Both good but I think the movie really captured Annie Proulx's writing. Very well.

What book/movie have your read/seen that really stuck with you? Is the movie ever as good as the book for you?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed Hitting Too Close to Home

When I started reading Wally Lamb's latest novel, I really didn't know what it was about. Well, it's about the Columbine shootings in Colorado in 1999. Lamb plops a character, Caelum Quirk, into the fray as an English teacher at Columbine High School, and his character's wife, Maureen, is a part-time school nurse there, to boot.

The facts of the Columbine killings are dead on. I know, I was living in Denver at the time, and every time one of the victims' names is mentioned in the book, I can picture the double-page spread and the pictures the Denver Post published to memorialize them.

Bottom line, it's creepy reading. Lamb is a really good writer, and he makes a believable case for this Quirk guy to have been there. He provides an inside look at a day that only a handful of people really experienced firsthand.

I finished Part One, Butterfly, last night. I'll start reading Part Two, Mantis, tonight. I'll finish the book, but I'll be glad when I'm finished.


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