We’ll be really careful!, by Jan Eliot

Find in catalogThis fun-filled book of laughs is great for all ages on different levels. Be good to read alone, or as a group. One of things what makes me drawn to comic strips is the way she would take it from every day life experiences. The way she would put it into this book, was pure genius in creatively well done. Especially how this line of work was (and still is) a man’s field. This is about this family and how they are dealing with obstacles that arise. For instance the oldest teenage daughter is having to deal, with her mother has moved on with her life. Is seeing another guy, Who’s not her father. Even though, he has past on, a few years back. She has a tough time dealing in excepting with this issue. That for many having lost a parent will be faced with this at some point in there life. may even resort in running to the grave suite of a loved one and talk to them like they are still there with them. Like life is not fair that they aren’t there but still have that need to be able to move on with what is holding them back in liking this new person is in there parent’s life. However, they know that they are not their to take the place of that missing parent. this shows that this is one of many issues that Jan Eliot has touched base on. There are many areas that are just as good of subjects that she has touch on, but making it as lightly humorously way. I think that is how she can make her work more relatable on many levels.

A Series of Unfortunante Event Book 4: The Miserable Mill, by Lemony Snicket

Find in catalogThis book is about these 3 Baudelaire orphans with their rather large inheritance. Count Olaf and his goons wants to get their hands on the Baudelaire fortune. They will do anything to get the money, even if it means to put the orphans in harm’s way. Now the way this happens to come about with the accident with their parents was quite unfortunate. But it does comes in handy to remember some of these memories of their times with their parents, because it will help them get through the tough times that come in their path, especially with Count Olaf and his goons alone with their trickery, deception, and disguises. For example, Klaus was being hypnotized by an eye doctor. The second time that he had to go over to the doctors office, Violet and Sunny went with him. Violet and Sunny was told to stay with the receptionist, while Klaus was taken back, and the 2 girls saw right through Count Olaf’s disguise easily. But I can’t give too much away, for it would ruin the story altogether. So read it and find out what happens to the Baudelaire orphans. Overall this book is a breathtaking adventure, that I highly recommend to others, of all ages.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Find in catalogI had not read this book since I was a teenager, and so I decided to revisit it after re-reading Orwell’s 1984.

What struck me most this time was Atwood’s skill at writing from within the minds of her characters, in such a way that you are almost able to articulate their next thoughts and feelings before they happen on the page.  The Handmaid’s Tale is a disturbing and poignant story of a dystopic (post-1970s) U.S. community in which women have lost all personal and political agency and autonomy and exist only to serve men, supposed for their own benefit and well-being. Atwood’s achronological narrative challenges the reader to keep up and to constantly reflect on the relationship between past, present, and a future yet to come.

I highly recommend (re)reading this book, particularly in order to consider how, despite the hyperbolic allegory, society today is not so far removed from the horrifying reality portrayed in the novel.

Cell: a novel by Stephen King

Find in catalogI came across this book after having reread Orwell’s 1984, and having read for the first time Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy this year.  I was looking for other novels dealing with (post)apocalyptic realities in a realistic/present way.  Although not nearly the same caliber of writing nor the same degree of societal critique, Cell is page-turner of a novel that explores the notion of an apocalypse in relation to everyday, modern technology.  Like King’s other books, the female characters are reduced to types and play secondary roles, and a palpable sexism is present throughout the work.  Those issues aside, however, I would recommend _Cell_ if you are looking for an engaging but not intellectually challenging read–for a long flight, a vacation, a rainy weekend.  I could very much imagine this novel being made into a film.  Like Mr. Mercedes, it seems like King writes his books already anticipating their adaptation into film, a characteristic which both increases popular interest in his works but also makes the endings a little too neatly wrapped up, in my opinion.  Still, I enjoyed Cell from start to finish, and it does dialogue with other apocalyptic literature in interesting ways.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Find in catalogI hadn’t read a Stephen King novel since I was a teenager and came across my dad’s book collection in the den.  I had nightmares for weeks after reading _Pet Sematary_ at the age of 9 or 10, and read only two or three other King novels before moving onto other genres. I came across Mr. Mercedes on the Lucky Day shelf (one of my favorite features of the Eugene Public Library!).  I checked it out on a whim, started it that day, and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished it a few days later.  It’s not great literature by any means, but it’s gripping, visually graphic, and compels you to read more.

In particular, I appreciated the way King writes from multiple perspectives, in this case from both victims/heroes and victimizers/anti-heroes.  After finishing Mr. Mercedes, I immediately checked out and read Cell, another of his more recent novels, which I also enjoyed!

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Find in catalogThis novel, recently made into a film starring Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, and Alec Baldwin, is written by someone who is not, first and foremost, a fiction writer.  Although the story–of a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease–is compelling and tragic, how it is told is not. I’d recommend this book for those interested in the topic of Alzheimer’s, or for those caring for people with Alzheimer’s. I wouldn’t recommend the book for those seeking well-written, cohesive prose by an experienced writer.

The Wife: a novel by Meg Wolitzer

Find in catalogThis is a truly great novel, written by one of my favorite authors.  After finishing it, I spent several days reflecting on it, rereading passages aloud to my partner, and researching Wolitzer and her other works (of which I’d already read many before reading The Wife).

Her prose is at once poetic, whimsical, and sharp.  Her lexicon is varied, artistic, and nuanced.  Her fictional exploration of the issues with which the novel grapples–gender within a heterosexual marriage, sex & sexuality, writing (the craft and the profession), patriarchal and misogynistic culture and society, to name only those that most stand out to me–are compelling, profound, and right on the mark.  The book deserves a first, second, tenth, and fiftieth read.

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

I would call So Much Pretty a literary mystery. The plot involves two crimes that occur in a rural small town, but it is a slowly unfolding story of the lives of the residents of this town, the ways they have come to be there, and the ways they are impacted by and implicated in the events that unfold. I do not usually read mysteries, but found this one so well-written and poignant, raising important issues about violence against women, and with a shocking twist that will keep you riveted in the end. The cast of characters is varied, interesting and authentic.

 Most of all, this book is a challenge to often over-simplified portrayals of social issues and ethical dilemmas that gave me much to think about. I am left wondering what it means to make a rational decision in an irrational world, and whether it is even possible.

Reviewed by Erin