Monday, September 28, 2009

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This is a graphic novel written by an Iranian women, about her childhood growing up in Iran and in Austria, and how all of what she experienced shaped her into the woman she is now.
I had seen the movie before I read the graphic novel, so I knew what to expect for the most part. Even having seen the movie, though, there were still things that shocked me. A lot of her story involved the ways that her countrymen were tortured by their own government for being Revolutionaries.
One of the best things about this novel is that you get to see what life inside Iran was really like, and not just what we've been shown its like from an outsider's perspective. Satrapi tells us that despite all the freedoms they lost, they still managed to live their lives and go on. I think the best lesson that I get from this novel is that no matter what, you can survive if you want/have to. You can survive anything if you have a reason to, and there are so many reasons to survive.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I heard about this book from a review on NPR, and I was intrigued. This was also another audiobook for me, and it has to be said that the reader was really good, and that had something to do with how much I liked the book.
The Magicians was kind of like a mishmash of The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter books, but with main characters that are older and more mature than the characters of either of those stories. Since the characters are older, the issues here are very different. Getting in to college, falling in love for real, intimacy, etc. I really liked how everything worked here, how all the characters got along or didn't. It seemed very real, all the interactions between characters were genuine and personal, sometimes to the point that it was uncomfortable to listen to. But I love books like that, ones that really and truly engage you in the lives of the characters.
To get to the story itself. There is a young man named Quentin who has been obsessed with a series of books about a magical place called Fillory, which definitely reminds me of C.S. Lewis' Narnia. There are three siblings who travel to Fillory via various portals. They have to fight battles and use magic etc. So, Quentin loves these books, and really wants Fillory to be real. Then one day he shows up for a college interview, and finds out that it might actually be real.
He is talented enough to get into a magic college called Breakbills, that is actually located in upstate New York. And of course, adventures in magic and in his love life ensue.
The only thing I didn't like about the book was the induvidual boob descriptions for each and every female character. I understand that the main character is a teenage guy, but seriously?
Other than that one thing, I really enjoyed this novel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

This was a very odd book about one surviving member of a cult and all of the things he goes through when more and more of the survivors end up dying. I can honestly say I liked it. Like all his books, it always on a subject that I never would have thought about if he hadn't written about them. These are the kinds of people that are never really talked about until something bad happens to them, or if they do something bad. I'm always glad I've read one of these books. They're always something new.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

I just finished listen to this, one of the very few audiobooks I have ever listened to. The story was about a famous writer with a very mysterious past who contracts a biographer with a unique point of view to write her biography before she dies.
Vida Winter, the famous author, has written many very popular novels in her lifetime, but her life story is one that she is afraid to tell. That is why she contracts Margaret Lee to write it for her. But she specifically hires Lee instead of any other number of biographers because Lee has a particular perspective that is uniquely helpful to telling Winter's story.
I quite enjoyed this story. I'm not generally into ghost stories, and this most definitely is a ghost story. But I liked this one nonetheless. Ms. Winter is an intriguing character, one who tells stories, but tells them in a such a way as to make you want to know if she's telling you the truth or if she's telling you a version of a version of the story. Winter has things about her past that she is desperate to hide, and yet she also wants to be able to die without these memories and secrets weighing on her mind and soul.
Margaret Lee, one could say, is more of a detective than a biographer. She knows that she is not being told the complete and accurate truth by Vida, so she goes in search of it on her own. She very much wants to know what really happened. She also has a vested interest in the story, because there are twins in Vida's past, and Lee herself is a twin, but her twin is dead. Lee wants to know what its like to be a real twin, because she was never able to do so.
If you like ghost stories, you'll like this one.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front is the first book in The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. The series is all about Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, a wizard, who lives and works (as a wizard, as a matter of fact) in Chicago. He even advertises in the newspaper and phone book. He does some work with the Chicago PD, on any cases that seem out of the ordinary. This book focuses on a couple of murders that seem impossible. Dresden is called in by the police to help them try to figure out how these murders could have happened, and to find out who could have committed them. He also gets a call and a visit from a very mysterious woman who needs help, but won't give Dresden very much information for him to go on.
As Harry begins to research both of these cases and discovers, to his surprise, that they are connected.

This was a very quick read for me. I tend to like paranormal stories, so I like that about it, but I wasn't the biggest fan of his writing style. Maybe its just me, so don't judge his work on my opinion. If you like paranormal thrillers, you will more than likely enjoy this book. I was glad I read it, cause it was something I might not have been into previously, but I don't know if I'll ready anymore in the series.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I have a few books waiting to be finished, so look for a few more reviews to be posted in the next month or so. I get side-tracked too easily.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Wow, it sure has been a while since I posted anything here. Pretty sad, I think. I have been reading, but mostly reading a lot at the same time and not really finishing any of them, except for this one.
To get to the story; I really liked it. This was a story about two Beautiful Girls living in Shanghai in the early 1930s, and what their lives are like after their father loses all of his money and their money by gambling it all away.
These are two very sophisticated sisters, May and Pearl, who run around the city like they own it, often defying their father in a very unChinese-like manner, posing for calendars that advertise everything from diapers to makeup and motor oil. They play with the international crowd who had their very own section of the city closed off from the rest of the Chinese population of beggars, farmers, rickshaw pullers, and poor. May is considered the really beautiful one, while Pearl is just the taller, thinner, less attractive older sister.
One of the great things about the novel is that See focuses a lot on the superstitions of traditional Chinese; we find out that people really did think that when you were born determined what your character would be like. Pearl is a Dragon, so she is stubborn, and she protects what she loves; May is a Sheep, so she is complacent, follows along, but is also stubborn. The sisters' relationship is complicated, just like any other two sisters. They love each other, they get jealous of one another, they fight, they make up, and they protect each other to a fault.
The one thing I didn't like was See's writing style. She unfolds everything for you, reveals all the little motivations for the reader like we can't do it on our own. Please, just let me use my brain for a little bit, and let me fill in just few of the gaps; I don't want any author to do that for me. I was expecting more from See considering the reviews I heard, but I have to admit I was just a little disappointed, but only in her, not in her story.