Literary Mumblings

A few words about the books I’ve read…

A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

Posted by Amanda on June 15, 2009

luckyI have always had a fascination for the Second World War and all that ties into it. Call it an appreciation for history (I still think it is the best story ever told) or call it a result of studying International Relations but WWII interests me. So, when I won a book from LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program that was a memoir of a (then) young boy who survived Auschwitz, I was very happy and looked forward to reading it.

Most memoirs are slow readers for me but I enjoyed A Lucky Child. I don’t normally find myself sucked in but Mr. Buergenthal, who has since served as a judge for The Hague and done a lot of work in the area of International Law of Human Rights, wrote very simply and tried to tell his story. It mostly consisted of small anecdotes building up into his remembrances of the war. Because Buergenthal waited more than half a century before putting his story to paper, there is a sort of detachment to the writing. Buergenthal had these experiences but he has lived a long life and can look back with less pain than if he had written this book in the 1950’s.

Buergenthal tells many different stories and shows many people responding to their circumstances in many different ways. The detachment he has makes it so that Buergenthal isn’t just pointing the finger at anyone or painting any one group as the good or bad guys. Nor does he ignore the fact that Nazi Germany went after several groups. In the chapter on his time in Auschwitz, he makes the point to tell the story of when a group of Kapos, Jews who worked for the Germans within the camps to gain extra privileges and safety, beat up and killed a man who had just arrived at the camp. Buergenthal is very honest in his memoir and I found that I appreciated it.

Altogether, this was a quick readable addition to the narrative of the Holocaust. While this one isn’t earth shattering or very different from any other story, it is important as a reminder of what happened and how different people responded to this time in history.

2009-29

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Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers

Posted by Amanda on June 8, 2009

So I suppose I should start with an acknowledgment that I clearly suck at keeping up with a blog. In light of the fact that I am several weeks now without a post and several books behind, I am afraid my next few entries will have to be a bit shorter than I might otherwise try to make them.   But I am going to keep trying and hopefully, anyone who actually reads this will have a bit of patience with how rare anything new shows up here. On to the story!

unnaturalLord Peter Whimsy, how I love you. You have a wit that sparkles and you make me laugh while I am reading so that other people around me give me weird looks. Which I could not care less about because you are cracking me up with some strange monologue, all done as you solve the crime. Who needs some silly Holmes character with an opium addiction, when I have you? (Actually, Mr. Holmes, I love you as well but you have to admit that addiction of yours does detract from your general awesome-ness…)

Unnatural Death is the third novel in the Lord Peter Whimsy series and in this installment, Lord Peter hears of a case where a woman has died, seemingly of cancer and he sets out to prove it was murder and then find out who did it.

While Unnatural Death didn’t really jump out as particularly great when compared with Whose Body? and Clouds of Witness (the earlier stories), it was still a fun read that I enjoyed. Lord Whimsy is highly British in his wit and sentiments and I love it. The mystery is a good one and, while it isn’t the best Whimsy story so far (you should definitely read the first two), I am still looking forward to collecting and reading the rest.

2009-23

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Posted by Amanda on May 4, 2009

fahrenheit451A classic tale.  The story of a fireman – a man whose job it is to burn books.  Because society has grown past them.

Fahrenheit 451 is just one of those amazing classic books that you are always told that you have to read and is, amazingly, as good as everyone says, if not better. I choose to read it during the Read-A-Thon because it was a small book but it is also very interesting and it sort of grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go.

For those of you who have not yet heard of this book, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is about Guy Montag, who works as a fireman in the not-so-distant future. The job of a fireman in this dystopian novel is to start fires where books have been found and Montag is fond of his job but a new neighbor, a teenage girl who is different from everyone else he has ever met, begins to make him question things.

One of the most interesting factors for me was the history of how books came to be banned. Minorities would object to the text of one book and another minority would object to the text of something else and soon, books had to be censored to make people happy. Because that was the only important thing – that people were happy. Please the minority at any cost. And so society banned books and the firemen only enforced that ban.

Even outside of that interesting meditation on society, this is an amazing book. There were some slower parts but all of it comes together wonderfully. This books has earned the respect of people everywhere and there is a reason. If you haven’t read it, go. Get yourself to a bookstore (or a library) and read this one. It won’t take you long and you won’t regret it.

2009-22

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The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick

Posted by Amanda on April 27, 2009

hawkSo, occasionally, one just feels the need for a bit of fluff. It’s like candy. Not terribly harmful when it comes in small doses and it can be just the thing you are craving.

Romance novels, or for me, Christian romance novels, are candy. If you haven’t heard of Christian romance novels, it is basically the same idea. As far as the differences go the guy and the girl get married first, there are no descriptions of intimate scenes, and you occasionally have to put up with rather corny conversion dialogues (which I believe are 100% unrealistic, but what in a romance novel is supposed to be realistic?)

I figured that a nice piece of candy would be the perfect way to start off the Read-A-Thon and I was right. The Hawk and the Dove was a wonderful book for my needs. No real profound ideas. No high prose or literary prowess. Not even a terribly original plot. Just a cute story told in decently talented writing where the guy gets the girl after a sufficiently long period of misunderstandings. Which is exactly what one wants on occasion. I enjoyed this one, as I have the ones before it. I will probably go for another of Wick’s books the next time I have a craving for a little piece of candy. And then I will go back to being good and reading “nutritional” books. Goody.

2009-21

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Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Posted by Amanda on April 20, 2009

watchmenOccasionally, I am grateful to Hollywood for making a book into a film – not because I like movies made from books (everyone knows that 99% of them are nowhere near as good as the original book), but because it helps me to discover a new book to read.  Not that I need much help with that, considering the size of my TBR pile, but still…

And to be honest, I didn’t see Watchmen in theaters because I just moved to where I am now and don’t have a group to go to the movies with yet. The people I do know here aren’t really into movies, and even less into the type of movie I suspect Watchmen is. Thus, no seeing Watchmen yet. Still, the advertisements did their job and got me interested, at least as far as the book is concerned. Thus, when I had the chance, I went and bought the book, figuring it would be interesting and I could count it toward my Once Upon a Time challenge.

So. Watchmen is a graphic novel about a group of masked heroes in an alternative version of the Cold War. There seems to be a plot to kill former heroes (there was a law passed to outlaw vigilante-like activity) and the remains of the hero community tries to find out what is going on.

One of the most interesting aspects of Watchmen is how flawed all the characters are. Half of the “super-heroes” are nearly, if not completely, insane. They are not all good – they do bad things and are mean to each other. If you were expecting Superman and Lois Lane or Bruce Wayne or any of the classic comic book heroes, you are in for a surprise.

I don’t usually have to think about the art, but I will say that the art of Watchmen was very good.

Actually, I would have to say I basically enjoyed all of the aspects of this book. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting and I might have wished for a few elements to have been changed but I liked this book.

2009-20

Posted in Graphic Novel | 3 Comments »

Read-A-Thon: Last Hour

Posted by Amanda on April 19, 2009

deweys-readathonbuttonOk – so I think this is going to be my last post and then I am going to snatch a few hours of sleep before dragging my sleepy butt to church. Anyway, there is the End of Event Survey to do:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? How about the five hours that I slept earlier?
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Ummm… mysteries and comedies are usually nice and easy to read.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Not at the moment. You guys did great!
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? The blog having all the information in one place was very convenient and it made it easy to see what was going on.
5. How many books did you read? I completed two books, started a third, and listened to a portion of a fourth.
6. What were the names of the books you read? The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers, and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
7. Which book did you enjoy most? I really enjoyed everything I read but I will say that Wick’s fluffy romance was perfect for this morning and I did enjoy it immensely.
8. Which did you enjoy least? There wasn’t one that I didn’t enjoy. Good books, all!
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I wasn’t a cheerleader, though I think those who were did an awesome job! Maybe next time, I will try to do that job.
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I am definitely interested in participating in the next RAT and would like to do much more. Read (without disappearing for 5 hours and then sleeping for 5 more), cheer, and maybe donate a prize (especially since I was so lucky as to win one!)

With that, I think I am calling it a night and will let my sleep-deprived head recover a bit.

Thank you to everyone who organized this – you guys are amazing! And for those who read for hours and hours and read hundreds, if not thousands of pages – you guys amaze and inspire me. Night!

Posted in Read-A-Thon | 14 Comments »

Read-A-Thon: Hour 23

Posted by Amanda on April 19, 2009

Well, the RAT is nearly over and I am rather close to falling asleep again. Not sure I will make it but I have actually read (and finished my second book) so I guess I am fairly satisfied.

Title of book(s) read since last update: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers
Number of books read since you started: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick and the two listed above
Pages read since last update: 53
Running total of pages read since you started: 542
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1hr 10 m
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 8 hr 30 m

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Read-A-Thon: Hour 22

Posted by Amanda on April 19, 2009

So yeah – remember me saying that I was just going to exercise or take a quick nap… well the quick nap that was supposed to be 30 minutes (I even set an alarm) lasted just a bit longer. As in, I just woke up. But I am back and hopefully, I will be able to make it through to finish the rest. Anyway, as you may have figured, I haven’t really read anything since my last post, so I’ll get back to that one now…

Posted in Read-A-Thon | 1 Comment »

Read-A-Thon: Hour 17

Posted by Amanda on April 19, 2009

I have to admit that the last hour has really hit me hard and I am at that stage where I have to shake my head on occasion just to feel awake for a few seconds. I think it might be time for some exercise or a very short nap. We shall see.

Title of book(s) read since last update: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Number of books read since you started: The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick
Pages read since last update: 64
Running total of pages read since you started: 489
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1hr 5 m
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 7 hr 20 m

How’s everyone else doing?

Posted in Read-A-Thon | 2 Comments »

Read-A-Thon: Hour 16

Posted by Amanda on April 18, 2009

Well, I am finally back and I had a decent time but I am very happy to be back in my room with Fahrenheit 451, ready to dive back into the books. I did get a chance to listen to the first two CD’s of The Kite Runner and I may pick that up when my eyes need a break but for now, it’s back to the reading!

While I was gone, the mid-event survey was held so I am also just going to add my answers into the pool…
1. What are you reading right now? I am finally back and picking up Fahrenheit 451.

2. How many books have you read so far? Just one 😦 But we are going to fix that.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I think I am very much looking forward to Unnatural Death, my Dorothy L. Sayers mystery.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Not really, though maybe I should have so I could have spent the whole day here…

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Just the dinner meeting with some acquaintances.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I think the fact that I am really hoping to stay up all night, when I didn’t even plan to earlier today.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Maybe make the feeds work easier. It might just be me but the feeds don’t seem to be updating and so it is more difficult to see who has posted recently.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Make sure there were no breaks. No other things I had to do. And maybe by then, I will be in my own place and won’t have to worry about being anti-social as far as other people go.

9. Are you getting tired yet? Not really, but let’s see around hour 20.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Probably nothing great – just to have fun and stretch on occasion.

Posted in Read-A-Thon | 1 Comment »