Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode


It's 1936, and Tobias Henry is stuck in the frozen hinterlands of Michigan. Tobias is obsessed with two things: God and girls.

Mostly girls, of course.

But being a Baptist preacher's son, he can't escape God.

When his father is blinded in a bizarre accident (involving hard cider and bird droppings), Tobias must ride the rails to Texas to recover a long-hidden stash of money. Along the way, he's initiated into the hobo brotherhood by Craw, a ribald vagabond-philosopher. Obstacles arise in the form of a saucy prostitute, a flaming boxcar, and a man-eating catfish. But when he meets Sarah, a tough farm girl under a dark curse, he finds out that the greatest challenge of all is love.


Came across this book, thanks to my mom.  She'd won a $25 gift certificat for and gave it to me.  Used the entire thing to load up on books for my Kindle.  The title of this one caught my eye (and was recommeded to me thanks to Amazon), so it made the cut and I couldn't wait to read it.  Dirty parts of the Bible?  SO THERE!!

So not.

This wasn't a horrible book.  Far from that.  I did like it.  I just didn't love it.  The characters were a little blah and the "naive preacher's son going out into the big strange world" motif's a little played out.  On top of that, it wasn't that long and, just when it started to get somewhere, it was done.  I could have done with a little less build-up and more of a payoff.

When I got to the end of the book, I found out that the book was a modern re-telling of some old Jewish story that I'd never heard of, which in no way made me all that eager to read the original tale.  I can't imagine it being even remotely more interesting than the book.

Bottom line, probably one to skip.  Like I said, it wasn't horrible, but it's not a book that would immediately pop into my head if someone were to ask me for a book recommendation.  Read it, if you want, but it's not really worth it, in my opinion.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.


To begin with, let me tell you why I chose this book.  To put it simply, I saw the trailer for the movie based on it.  Prior to that, I really hadn't given the idea of reading the book much (if any) thought, but I caught the trailer and it actually piqued my interest, so I decided to give it a chance.

I'm glad I did.  I really enjoyed it.  It was a lot like The Green Mile (one of my favorite books) in the structure of the storytelling: An elderly man in a nursing home, reflecting back on an important time in his life.  I only just now realized that simialrity.  Subliminal messages luring me in, perhaps?  The book was a pretty fast read.  I mean, I do tend to breeze through books, when I enjoy them, but even I was surprised by how easily I read this (12 hours off and on).

The subject matter was fascinating.  The fact that Gruen actually took the time to heavily research travelling circuses just made it even more interesting, because it was accurate (allegedly.  Can't say I've been involved in too many circus acts, so kind of have to take her word for it).

Complaints?  The plot was a little lost on me.  It just seemed like there were events that occured but nothing really pressed the story forward.  That's not to say it was boring, but it just seemed a little flat.  No real rise and fall.

Bottom line, I'd recommend it.  Especially if you plan to see the movie.  I've heard they're changing the ending (to what, I don't know), so it presents a good opportunity to see whether or not Hollywood can manage to change without ruining.  In my opinion, the ending doesn't need changing, but...we'll see.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Heat Wave by Richard Castle


A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.


So I liked this book.  I really did.  For anyone that's a fan of the show Castle, it's definitely am emjoyable read.  If you follow the show closely like I do, you'll know that "Richard Castle" drew inspiration for the Nikki Heat books from his own experiences tailing detectives of the NYPD and each of his police characters are inspired by a "real" NYPD detective.  Rook's relationship with Heat almost mirrors Castle's relationship with Beckett.  Almost.  It was well-written, considering it's supposed to come from an author that doesn't technically exist.

That being said, this book was pretty much an episode of Castle in book-form.  That's not exactly a bad thing, but if you're going to essentially turn your show into a book, you might as well just write a Castle tie-in novel and market it as such.  Don't try to sell it as a seperate entity.

Bottom line, if you like Castle, you'll like this book.  If you've never seen Castle, you'll probably still enjoy and, as an added bonus, you might feel compelled to watch the show, which is a must-see.