Monday, September 26, 2016

christmas carol

Its been a while since I've read me some Charles Dickens, and I've never read A Christmas Carol before, so I decided to give this one a go. Its been on my shelf for years; is a good looking hardcover published by Reader's Digest in 1988. The title of the volume is actually A Christmas Carol and Other Stories, and includes two other short stories: The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth. This site describes a copy of this hard cover for sale this way:

No DJ. burgundy leatherette bound HB spine with large gilt stamped titling and boards a bright green leatherette with intricate frame surrounding titles. Sharply cornered with tightly bound interior textblock.
According to Abe Books glossary of book terms:
DJ = Dust Jacket, HB spine = Half bound, and sharply cornered refers to the corners of the covers no being bent or blunted.

I don't think I've ever read A Christmas Carol because I've seen so many versions, from old black and white movies, to cartoons, to 'Scrooged,' with Bill Murray, to school plays. The story holds up; its wonderfully written, the pacing and the set up are great. There's just enough to let you know how much of a heel Scrooge is before he gets his intervention. Dickens also gives us just enough horror to keep the story spine chilling without going over the top and spoiling what is clearly intended to be a Christmas story. This one is worth the price of admission.

In fact don't bother with the other two. Between them, The Cricket is a better story, The Chimes just stinks. Its a mess, from beginning to end.

Friday, September 9, 2016

gone girl

I assume that everyone knows that this book was made into a movie, with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, as the husband and the Gone Girl in question, respectively. I didn't see this movie.

I'm pretty sure I picked this book up at my library's ongoing book sale, and its been sitting on my shelf for over a year, waiting form me to remember it was there. Well, I just did, and ended up reading this in about a week. that's quick for me y'all I then recommended it to my beautiful wife, and she cranked it out in about 2 days. The reason I recommended it is easy: its a mystery/intrigue/crime novel, written unlike anything else I've read.

There's not much I can say without revealing too much--altho I'm willing to bet that if you're interested, there are others that don't mind giving all but the ending away in their review--but I will say that I was hooked from the second chapter. The Dunnes have a seemly wonderful relationship, from the exterior. Not too uncommon in life, or in fiction. But what is interesting is how Gillian Flynn tells the story of their relationship as a kind of evidence gathering, prompted by the recent disappearance of Mrs. Dunne.

Flynn's style is sharp and modern. The story is well thought out and intricately plotted, and her characters are real in the way we can feel the emotion that pours out of them. As I said, I flew through this book, finding ways to read here and there, and putting other things off, until I finished. big difference from one the last ones

Read this book, and then recommend it to someone else who likes a good read.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

thirteenth child

I'm not sure where I picked up this copy of The Thirteenth Child, but I'm guessing it was the library book sale. This is the first in a trilogy called Frontier Magic by Patricia C. Wrede. I'm pretty sure this falls into the YA category; it was a fast read, and our heroine is a young woman. At least she is by the end of the story. A large portion of this book followed the young Francine--known as Eff--from her early life in Pennsylvania town, to her new how in a frontier town of an alternate 1860s America. An America where magic is commonplace, and in fact most folks need it, or believe they do, in order to deal with the magical wildlife around them.

Eff lives with the stigma of being a thirteenth child, but she is also the twin sister of the seventh son of a seventh son, which sort of makes up for that. But only in some ways. Eff has to find her own way, without the natural benefits her twin brother enjoys. But her bother does love her, and comes to her aid if ever anyone gives her trouble because of her birth order.

By the last third of the book or so, Eff has become a young woman of 18, and has lengthened the hem of her skirts, and begun to put her hair up. I would guess that the remaining books in the trilogy will focus on her at about this age. And I also expect that her romantic impulses, and an emerging magical quality of her own, which both began to blossom by the end of this book, will continue as the main plot points.

Wrede isn't writing the Great American Novel here, so I don't expect all of the characters and sub-plots to be fully developed, but I did feel like some things just weren't important enough to explain, and I was left guessing for myself. I took a look to see if my library has the second and third volumes; they don't. The second volume is available via inter-library loan, but the third volume isn't available in any of the libraries in network. That makes me think that this trilogy isn't all that popular, so I don't think I'm going to bother.