Archive for the Hot Tip Category

This is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper

Posted in Hot Tip on August 16, 2011 by sherid

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family-including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister-have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.  Via Goodreads.

This is where I leave you is by far the funniest, raunchiest, seriously smart book I have read in a while and possibly ever?  Judd Foxman is currently in a tailspin after walking in on his wife having explicit relations with his boss.  Reading how this scene plays out in the book made me laugh so hard my kids came running out of their rooms to see what I was laughing about.  Of course, I couldn’t tell them the details.  “It’s adult,” I said, sending them back to their rooms with annoyed looks on their faces.

A few weeks later, Judd has to return home when his father dies after a long battle with cancer.  His family of non-devouts Jew’s, are forced to sit shiva to honor their father’s last wish.  Non-senimental at best, Judd’s family has mastered the art of dysfunction and wisecracking.  Everyone in the Foxman family has their own unique personality including his younger brother Phillip, the “Paul McCartney of our family: better-looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead.”

Jonathan Tropper is wickedly funny and heartwarming at the same time.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Foxman family, and was sad to see them go when the Shiva ended.  I’m thrilled to have found a new writer to love, and I’m glad to see he has many more books published for me to delight in. HIGHLY recommended!!!!!!!

Triple Play – Sedaris, Lippman, and Bennett

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on November 16, 2010 by sherid

I’ve been reading so much and so fast it’s hard to keep up with the blogging.  Today I’m just gonna do a quick and dirty triple play on three books that I have read recently, starting with Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk:  A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris.

Biased.  That’s what I am when it comes to David Sedaris.  I love, Love, LURVE him.  In his latest book he takes a shot at Aesop’s Fables, Sedaris style.  I read this quickly, mostly while taking a long bath.  I enjoyed it, it was clever but not as laugh out loud funny as I’d expected.  I can’t help thinking that I only liked it because I am such a Sedaris fan girl, otherwise I may have chunked it.

Next up, I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman.  I have read a couple of books by Lippman, and this was far and away my favorite.  It’s about a woman who was abducted for the entire Summer when she was 15 years old.  Now 38, she gets a letter from her abductor who has been living on death row and is about to be executed.   Now, she must decide whether or not to communicate with her abductor.  The novel is interesting because it really is a psychological study into how individuals react in dangerous situations.  This book reminded me of something that happened in my hometown many years ago.  A police officer went on a rampage, pulled over and raped 2 women, and then went into a local bank and shot one teller in the head and held the rest  hostage.  One of them was a girlfriend of a guy I knew, a friend of mine.  They always struck me as a funny pair, he was so charismatic and funny, and she was so quiet, never said a word.  After it was over, and stories from the bank emerged, it turns out she had survived by literally chatting up the officer.  She talked to him, said she had a cousin on the force, offered to get him a soda.  She was the first one released as a hostage.  Weird, but that story kept coming to mind as I was reading this book.  Interesting read.

And finally we come to An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.  The queen has a new hobby and it’s reading!  Unfortunatly, hobbies are rather frowned upon for queens.  I would review this myself, but feel it could only be done properly with a Brittish accent so I leave it in the good hands of Completely Novel’s video blog:  Carry on!

Hope you enjoyed my triple play.  Soon to come are my thoughts on The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Versailles by Kathryn Davis, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

The scariest monsters are the real ones

Posted in Hot Tip, Score on October 26, 2010 by sherid

“As dramatic and chilling as a bedroom window shattering at midnight.” — The New York Times

Ah yes, the time is here again for my annual “scariest book I ever read” recommendation.  Another year has gone by, and the answer remains the same.  The scariest book I’ve ever read is still The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule – the true crime story of Ted Bundy.  So, if you wanna be scared, and I mean REALLY scared, read this book.  I’d be willing to bet you will be double checking and double bolting your windows and doors before you go to bed.  If you can get to bed that is…

And NO, I am not rereading it, I live in an apartment alone with 2 kids for chrissakes, do you think I’m nuts?!

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on October 14, 2010 by sherid

  

All they now wanted was to stay where they were with the Lotus-eaters, to browse on the lotus, and to forget all thoughts of return.
Homer, The Odyssey as quoted in The Lotus Eaters.

The Lotus Eaters is an extraordinary debut novel by Tatjana Soli.  Helen Adams, the main character, is a young amateur photographer who leaves college early to go to Vietnam to cover the war.  She is met by a male dominated press core, who seem to find her both equally annoying and fascinating.  She quickly befriends Sam Darrow, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist who is known as the best in Vietnam.  He is reluctant to take her under his wing, but finds her persistence and innocence alluring and soon they are traveling through Nam together following soldiers in combat missions along with Darrow’s Vietnamese helper Linh.  Linh, having fought for both sides in the Vietnamese army before he defected provides a Vietnamese perspective, and contributes to an already beautifully layered story,”We are a people used to grief. Expecting it even.”

Soon, Helen’s tenacity and courage pays off and she soon becomes a noted photographer for Life magazine while covering the war in Vietnam.  Eventually with war as the back drop, Helen and Sam fall in love and try to coax each other into leaving Vietnam and going home, but as more and more time goes by it becomes harder and harder to leave the country they have come to despise and love at the same time.  If war is what you do well, then how do you stop doing it?  After one horrible scene in battle, Helen decides to leave and go back home to San Francisco to live with her mother.  She is there only a few weeks when she realizes that she cannot cope with being home and doing trivial things like going shopping for new clothes when so much of who she is, was still in Vietnam.  Vietnam was at the center of the world, and in her eyes everything worth doing in life was there.

“This is what happened when one left one’s home – pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place ever completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind. Pieces of her in Vietnam, some in this place of bone. She brought the letter to her nose. The smell of Vietnam: a mix of jungle and wetness and spices and rot. A smell she hadn’t realized she missed.”
As the war slowly ends , and the fall of Saigon is near, Helen struggles with knowing she will now have to either leave Vietnam voluntarily or risk  being killed in the communist invasion and its aftermath.  Even with that knowledge she still can’t bear to leave the violence and monstrosities behind for a life that which without it, would seem inconsequential, “Clear now that she was as dependent as any addict on the drug of the war. He had underestimated the damage in her.”
 
In Homer’s Odyssey, the Lotus Eaters become addicted to the narcotic plants, and no longer desire to return home.  Soli uses a quote from the story at the beginning of her novel and it serves as a pretense for all the events forthcoming in the book.  A brilliant idea for a title to fit an equally brilliant book.
 
I really loved this book from cover to cover.  It is my favorite read so far of 2010.  The characters were authentic, the writing was sparse and beautiful, no wasted paragraphs or wordiness, everything about it was good in my opinion.  I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.

Ghosts, and Goblins, and Serial Killers, Oh My!

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on September 29, 2010 by sherid

By Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean – HarperCollins Pub. (2008) – Hardback – 312 pages – ISBN 0060530928

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
A well deserved Newberry Award Winner for outstanding Children’s Literature, The Graveyard Book is a pleasure for all ages.  I enjoyed it immensely and literally tried to bribe my 5th grade son to read it (he doesn’t read enough).  The Graveyard Book was the first book I completed in Carl’s Annual R.I.P. challenge.  Read all about it here.  Carl’s challenge is the only one I participate in every year and I’m hoping my participation will help to re-initiate me into the world of book blogging after my long and unforgivable lapse.  Here is my tentative list for this years challenge:
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
Will Storr vs. The Supernatural – Will Storr
Ghosts of the McBride House: a true haunting – Cecilia Back
The Bell Witch: An American Haunting – Brent Monahan
Spooky yea?  Happy Reading *insert maniacal laughter.*

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on September 23, 2010 by sherid

When I finished reading this book I literally gave it a kiss, a hug and told it thank you.  Sadly, I have to return this precious thing to the library, but I’ll be looking for it at used bookstores and if I ever see it looking all sad and lonely on the shelf I’ll quickly take it home with me and give it a nice place to live forever and ever.

This book centers around Juliet Ashton, a thirtysomething writer in London post World War II.  She is looking for a new project to work on, when she receives a letter from a man in Guernsey, which a Channel Island off the coast of England.  The man has come across a book by Charles Lamb that was once owned by Juliet and he is eager to learn more about it to discuss it with his book group The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society.  Juliet is intrigued by the letter and they begin a correspondence and Juliet consequently makes Guernsey  her next writing project.  Adding brevity to the story is the fact that Guernsey was occupied by the Germans for 4 years until being freed by allied forces.  The Islanders are still coping with putting their lives back together after the occupation, and Juliet is soon immersed in the lives and stories of all the members of the literary society, and eventually leaves London to research her book on the Island of Guernsey.

 This book is written as a series of letters, which I don’t normally care for but it totally worked this time.  I enjoyed Juliet immensely, and I loved learning about the Island of Guernsey and what it was like to live under German occupation.  I can’t recommend this enough.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line with tags , , , , , on May 14, 2009 by sherid

BB

In Cajun, we call it an ahnvee. In French, it’s envie. In redneck, it’s a hankering, and plain old normal people might refer to it as a compulsion, urge, or craving. Well last weekend, right out of the clear blue sky (thanks Forrest); I got the biggest ahnvee to read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. The urge was so strong and specific that I ran all around town until I nailed down a copy of said book. Now why, you might ask, did I just HAVE TO HAVE this particular book? I dunno. Seriously, I mean I’ve never read Bryson, although I’ve always meant to get around to it, and I’ve heard good things about A Walk in the Woods. But really I just knew that at that precise moment, I wanted to read that exact thing. And I did. And it was good.

A Walk in the Woods is Bill Bryson’s true account of his attempt to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. The trail is the longest footpath in America; it starts in Georgia and ends in Maine covering 2,178 miles. It goes through 8 National forests and touches 14 states. Crazy people actually hike this thing the whole way through. Bill Bryson tired to, but he failed. Sort of. He made it from Georgia to Tennessee, and then he stopped and went home for a break, and then attempted to drive to some parts of the trail and hike a little and then stop and repeat the process the next day. His last real attempt was in Maine, where he made it about halfway on torturous terrain and then quit and hauled ass home. So he didn’t succeed at thru hiking the trail, but what he does succeed at is hiking enough of the trail (around 870 miles of it), that we get a really accurate portrayal of what it’s like to hike the Appalachian Trail, or the “A.T.,” as the cool kids call it.

We learn about the gear, we learn about the bears, we learn how it feels to walk 15 miles a day mostly uphill, with a 40 pound pack on your back whilst being attacked by bugs. We learn that after you spend your day doing this, you are treated to ramen noodles, a drafty tent, and a shitty night’s sleep on the hard earth in the company of mice and snakes. The truth is, it all sounds horrible but also really really great. It certainly appeals to the escapist in me. Checking out of corporate America for 3 to 5 months to do nothing but walk in the woods. Sure, I get it. Freedom man, freedom.

Of course, I would never do it. Ever. Mice? Bugs? Snakes? RAMEN NOODLES??? No thanks, I’ll just stay in the cabin and read about it, thank ya very much, and I would suggest that you do the same.