Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a novel of epic proportions, both in size (576 pages) and content.  Some people describe this novel as a story about a boy and his dogs, but it is much more.  At some points it is sweet and at others it is a punch in the gut.  At all times it is a masterpiece in story telling.  Loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, expect a tragedy.  Expect loss.  Expect illicit love.  

As a student of Shakespeare, and Hamlet being one of my favorite plays, I have to say I simply thought The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was brilliantly written. I've noticed MANY reviewers saying they did not like the end of the novel--and without posting a spoiler I will say this--Hamlet' story was a tragedy, and so is the story of Edgar. Tragedies never have happy endings, do they? Of course not. Tragedies reveal the human condition--brutal as it can be, intertwined with love and tenderness.

One of the most unique transformations from Hamlet to this novel was the character of Ophelia, represented here by a beautiful dog, Almondine. I absolutely loved the chapters written from Almondine's point of view--especially one line where she was noting the delivery of mail on a daily basis--the mailbox caught and released the man every day. (paraphrased) There are many little gems like this scattered throughout the book.

One element I loved in Hamlet, but is missing from this story, is the advice that Polonius gives his son, Laertes--you know, the famous "Not a beggar nor a borrower be" etc. Polonius is represented by the friendly old vet, Page, and his son is the town's buffoon sheriff deputy.

Don't think that it is Hamlet retold, though, because the book is not. It stands on its own merits. I'd love to read anything else by Wroblewski.

I'm usually not a fan of verbose writers, but Wroblewski paints such a vivid image in the reader's mind that I have to say the length and extended descriptions did not bother me and the reading went quickly. 

Highly recommended!  5 Blooms

No compensation was received for this book review.

The Heavens Proclaim His Glory: A Spectacular View of Creation Through the Lens of the NASA Hubble Telescope

The Heavens Proclaim His Glory:  A Spectacular View of Creation Through the Lens of the NASA Hubble Telescope by Thomas Nelson is a hefty book of glossy photographs of the wonders of space interspersed with praise for God, Bible verses and quotations from notable people.  There is no way to describe the pictures other than absolutely stunning.  Nelson has found a very unique way to unite science and religion into a book that anyone can enjoy despite their spiritual leanings.

Each photograph is labeled and many are explained with details of distance from earth, size, and other scientific facts.  Complementing each photo is a snippet of spirituality that might come in the form of a Bible verse, a poem, or a quotation. 

Patsy Clairmont, author and speaker, said "Can you imagine an endless view of color, comets, and sparkling curlicues pirouetting through the heavens?  Lean in and be reminded that our Creator continues to shower the cosmos with His glory.  These pictures and thoughts make my heart dance with joy!"   

Clairmont is absolutely correct.  You can not look at these pictures without knowing, without a doubt, that our supreme creator is the ultimate artist!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

No one love's the work of Chuck Palahniuk like I do, so I am very excited to be reviewing his newest book, Tell-All. I promise I won't tell all--I don't want to spoil the fun!

*Boy Meets Girl.  Boy Gets Girl.  Boy Kills Girl.
The hyperactive love child of Page Six and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? caught in a tawdry love triangle with The Fan. Even Kitty Kelly will blush.*

Lillian Hellman, can you read this?  Chuck writes a winner with this all-star tribute to the glamour and glitz of the Golden Age of the entertainment industry.  The story is simple--or is it?  First let me start with the writing style.  Chuck's last few books have been experimental, frustrating this reader, until I finally declare the experiment "brilliant."  Chuck doesn't play with style in Tell-All, but he does do something pretty unique.  He "name drops" every single A to D list star from the beginning of celebrity-dom in Hollywood.  Hundreds of names.  Names I thought were fictitious until I Googled them.  And everything he writes about them--their dialogue, their actions--all lies.  All Chuck's imagination.  Lillian Hellman would be proud!
All of these names are intertwined into a brilliant tale of an aging movie star, struggling to hold on to her fame and name, whose vanity rivals that of Dorian Gray.  Always present is her dedicated companion, the teller of this tale. Palahniuk weaves a delicious story of husbands, has-bands, deceased pets and orphans hoping.  Brilliant!  I give this one 5 blooms! 

Disclosure:  This book was won in a contest held by Random House and  No compensation was received for this blog entry.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Dreamt of Sausage by Corinna Borden

As if being newly married to a resident husband who rarely leaves the hospital, separated from family by miles, and finding herself in a small town isn't enough stress for anyone, being diagnosed with lymphoma further complicates things for Corinna Borden.  Through journal entries and snippets of episodes of her life we are able to journey with her as she navigates her way,  and she does make it her way, her unique journey documented in I Dreamt of Sausage.

Through out the memoir she does battle--with her family, the medical community,  her body and the voices/tapes we all play in our minds.  She does her best to escape the toxicity of traditional medicine, often opting for treatments that do not benefit her, delaying treatments that are proven, although unpleasant.  She falls victim to unscrupulous New Age gimmicks, taking thousands of dollars of supplements, submitting to daily coffee enemas and subscribing to nonsense-speak at times.

Corinna's parents and sister and especially her husband are patient and accepting, even when they believe her life is in grave danger.  Even the slightest question about her alternative treatments elicit temper tantrums and yelling "You don't support me!"  Finally her family just accepts that she is doing what she is going to do.  I can't even imagine how hard this was for them, especially for her husband, whose life work is based in science, not New Age magic.

All in all, Borden writes a courageous recollection of her cancer road trip, and while it isn't the map I would have followed, it was an interesting read and I give this one a solid 3 blooms.

Disclosure:   This book was given to me by the author in exchange for a review.  No other compensation was offered and no promise of a positive review was promised to the author.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dueling Vampire Girlfriends--Sookie VS Bella

Whether you are Team Edward or Team Jacob, drooling over Eric's abs or fantasizing about being Bill's Southern Belle, you have got to admit vampire fever has sucked us all in.  But, as everyone knows, there is a great divide among the fans of both the HBO True Blood series, loosely based on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels and the Twilight movies based on the novels written by Stephanie Meyer.  Rarely will you find that someone is the fan of both.  It doesn't have to be an either/or situation, though.  Let's compare these two objects of intense vampire desire.

First Sookie, played by Anna Paquin.  Sookie is bright, confident and never afraid to express her feelings, even if that means pissing off an already aggravated bloodsucker.  She's independent and more than once she's saved someone else, even though she's considered to be a weak human.  Paquin plays the role fiercely, week after week, season after season, on the small screen, currently on season 3, with the two previous seasons available on DVD or download.  True Blood 
Bella, portrayed by Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, is dark and brooding, unsure of herself, full of that angst that goes along with not having a full realization of who she is and where she belongs.  She is dependent on having others look out for her, but her neediness provides plenty of opportunities for her knight to rescue her.  Rather than tv, Bella has helped the Twilight movies become blockbusters at the theater.  The 3rd installment, Eclipse, is set to release in a couple of weeks.  Twilight 
As different as night and day these two may seem, they both have a similar quality that is quite obvious.  They both love their men, fiercely devoted to them, regardless of how apprehensive they were getting involved with them. 

So what do you think?  Do you love both?  Hate one but love the other?  Or are you "over" vampires?

Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

As a rabid Chuck Palahniuk fan, famous author of the cult classic Fight Club boy was  I tickled to get Pygmy  and start it. As I read the first page, my first response was WTF Chuck?!? Another gimmicky style?  Are you trying to drive off readers or just bend our minds?  
Rant and Snuff weren't enough to tickle your creative fancy? The book is written as if it is a first person account of a person whose primary language isn't English, but the account is written in English. For example, flowers are called "plant genitals." 

I almost quit the book, but I kept on, and I finally adapted to the writing style. The story is about Pygmy and his comrades, who were taken from their parents at a very young age and made into weapons of "the state." We never find out which country--Palahniuk does this on purpose--the country who wants to destroy the USA is a composition of what could be many other countries. Anyway, Pygmy and his comrades all enter the USA as foreign exchange students, with their goal to inflict "Operation Havoc."

I really did enjoy the story, even as distracted as I was by the writing. I really wish Ole Chuck would just weave us a few good novels without the gimmicks. He's a great writer, has a huge base and doesn't need to "play." Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe his gimmicks are forever sealing his fate as one of the greatest contemporary writers of our time.

*Note-after having time to stew over this novel, and looking back at how difficult it must have been to write it, I see it in a different light--Palahniuk is a genius.  I rate this one 4 blooms!

Disclosure:  This book was purchased by me and I received no compensation for this review.

Dazed and Confused: Yes We Were

So last night I was flipping through the channels, in my insomniac daze, and what do I happen upon but the movie Dazed and Confused  Released in 1993, this movie is the ultimate "flashback to my teens" movie for my generation.  The movie is set in Texas, in 1976, on the last day of school before summer vacation.  Brought tears to my eyes, remembering the keggers, the smoke, the hot guys in those pants....why can't those pants come back?  But I digress.  If you get a chance, see this movie.  It rocks, literally. I should know, I own the soundtrack

Did I mention it has Matthew McConaughey in tight pants?
Okay he was a little creepy in this particular movie--remember his famous line?
"about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age"

Now just because *I* was a teen in the late 70's & early 80's doesn't mean I'm not aware of similar movies of different decades--all facilitating the memories of youth misspent.  How about
American Grafitti for the 60's crowd, The Breakfast Club  & St. Elmo's Fire for the 80's clubbers and Varsity Blues for those babies who were teens in the 90s?  All great movies.  I'm sure I've overlooked some of your favorites--feel free to set me straight in the comments section!

Disclosure:  I was not given compensation for this post nor was I given any of the DVDs listed in this post.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Would Susie Say? by Susie Essman

I've been a fan of Larry David's show Curb Your Enthusiasm for a long time, and one of the reasons that I love the show is because of the character Susie Essman plays.  I saw Susie on Joy Behar's show and she claims she isn't at all like her character, but she did enjoy yelling at her TV husband.  After hearing her talk I had to read her book, so I did.

I really like Susie Essman's frank and explicit way she expresses herself. I love the fact that she's not afraid to be herself and express herself in her own way, even if that way sometimes resembles some rough language. She also exposes a softer side, especially when she's talking about her new husband and his children. It isn't hard to believe that she got her start in comedy--she's a funny lady.

If you are a fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you'll love this book. Essman writes in a conversational style that is a very quick read.  4 Blossoms!

Disclosure: No compensation was given for this post.  I bought the book.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Freebie Friday Book Giveaway: Entertaining Disasters

Entertaining Disasters: A Novel (With Recipes)

Today I'm offering up the advanced reader's copy of Nancy Spiller's Entertaining Disasters. I read and reviewed this book for Elle Magazine for January 2009. My review for this book wasn't chosed for publication (my review for Sky Below was chosen, however) but you can see the review in a previous post in this blog. Just click the label for Nancy Spiller ;)

Here's how to enter to win-

  • Post a comment here (be sure I can contact you to let you know you won),
  • Comment on my Twitter,
  • Tweet with this phrase "Win Entertaining Disasters at
  • Link to my blog on your blog, Facebook, or message board.

You'll have to send me an email to let me know that you've linked to the blog. Each link and comment will count as one entry. Next Friday I will enter each entry in a random generator app and the winner will be chosen. Results will be posted on here and on Twitter on Saturday. Once I have the winner's address, I'll send the book on to its new home!

Good luck!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Freebie Friday Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to WingsPawsNMagick, our winner of the anthology Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex. Thanks to everyone who entered! Better Luck next time!