The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters

One of my goals in 2018 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters by Chip Kidd was a book I picked up somewhere (a book sale, a stoop sale, a stoop?) bc it had an interesting cover and an interesting sub title. 

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This book sat in my to-be-read pile for a long time, years and years. Who knows why it was the one I chose one day?

Navigating love, lust, art, and inspiration during his first year away at college is hard until our narrator meets surgary sweet Maybelle Lee, and kitchy bitchy Himilllsy and enigmatic, design obsessed Winter Sorbeck. Then it get far harder!

Set in the 1950s, a young man struggles with becoming an adult, what that means and how it revolves around art. An interesting take on a coming of age story, a look at the art school life in all it's quirky glory, I really enjoyed this book. Written in a non traditional manner, by a graphic designer, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in design, art school, or coming of age stories, or books set in the mid century. 

This book is hard to describe but that might be what makes it worth reading. What's your favorite book that you can't explain?

The Hound of the Baskervilles

One of my goals in 2018 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

I've read The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arther Conan Doyle before, but when my dad gave me The Complete Sherlock Holmes read by one of our favorite readers, Simon Vance, I was super excited. 

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My excitement didn't get me too far when I realized that we no longer had a place to listen to CDs!! The only place we can listen to CDs is in the car but that means I have to actually bring the CDs into the car. That didn't happen for a while, so I ended up listening to this book thru one of my free subscriptions, read by Simon Prebble. 

Infamous detective Sherlock Holmes sends his friend and partner, Dr Watson, to the countryside to investigate the legend of a huge hell hound stalking the Baskervilles. After the last Baskerville to live at the manor dies under mysterious circumstance, Watson and Holmes must protect the new heir and discern if the hell hound is real or only a myth. 

If you know mysteries, you know Sherlock Holmes and in this, one of his most supernatural and disquieting cases, he does not disappoint. There's not much to be said of Conan Doyle's brilliant detective, fluid writing style, sardonic wit and gripping mysteries that has not been told. If you've never read any Holmes tales, this is a classic to start with. If you have, it's well deserves another reading. I highly recommend  this book for those who love mysteries, period pieces, books of the supernatural, and the list goes on and on. 

Who is your favorite fictional detective?

Working Cats

One of my goals in 2018 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

When I saw Working Cats by Terry Deroy Gruber in one of my favorite used book shops in Brooklyn, I couldn't resist. 

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This book was published in 1979, the year I was born! It's full of photos of cats "working" in various places, or on the street. It features really awesome photos of these cats and a quote from a human working along side them. I got this booked but I put off actually reading it for a long time. Some of the stories are sweet, some heartbreaking.  But I know that this coffee table style book will be one that I will cherish and have for a long time. I would highly recommend this book for cat lovers, those who love vintage photos and people who love coffee table books! 

Buddhism For Beginners

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

Buddhism for Beginners by Thubten Chodron is not the type of book I would usually read, but it was offered as a free audio book from one of my subscriptions so I gave it a try. I loved the reader, Gabra Zackman. 

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Growing up I was taught about multiple religions by my non religious parents. I had picture books about The Buddha, Shiva, Anansi... Although I had some previous ideas about the Buddhist methods, this book was a plain language, simple explanation of the Buddhist teachings. 

I won't be converting to Buddhism, but I took a lot from this book. It's core concepts of love, compassion, mindfulness, and careful speech, thought and action really resignate with me and my beliefs and ideals. This is a nice introduction to these concepts, plus the more complicated beliefs of Buddhism. It also gives the reader a good overview of the history of the religion and it's branches and how Buddhism differs from place to place. I really liked the reader for this book. The launguage can be confusing even in its simplest forms and the concepts can be daunting so it was nice to have a really pleasant reader for this introduction to Buddhist teachings and practices. I would recommend this book to those interested in learning about Buddhism, those who like self help books, books on history and culture, or those looking to be more mindful in day to day life.  

I listened to half of this book twice, I had started it, put it down for a while, and when I went back I decided to start it again. The calm reader, and the wonderfully peaceful ideas are soothing and easy to listen to over and over so this is a book I plan to listen to again and again. 

What books do you like to read more than once?

The Down East Murders

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

I picked up The Down East Murders at a local book sale bc it looked old and just a little bit corny. I was not wrong about this third in a series by J S Borthwick, it is a delightfully bad mystery novel. 

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I didn't realize this was the 3rd in a series when I picked it up, or I might not have. That fact doesn't even really become clear until a quarter way into the novel. But some relationships might have been easier to understand if I'd read the previous series. 

Sarah Deane doesn't mind slaving away at the local museum near her aunt's Summer home in Maine. She'll get to visit her aunt and with any luck Alex, the ruggedly handsome doctor/birdwatcher/ameuture slueth that has been in and out over her life the last few years. But when local artist's work starts disappearing, and then people start turning up dead, Sarah must turn her attention to investigation.

This was a pretty terrible book. Long winded, a bit boring, nonsensical, trite. But it was also exactly the kind of book I thought it would be and exactly the kind of book I was wanting to read!
This is the epitome of what I would call a beach novel; easy to read, light, forgettable. Read it one Summer, or every Summer. It's the kind of book I aspire to one day write!! It also feeds my love of books about shore towns, with it's focus on fictional Weymouth, Maine and it's crazy characters. I don't think I'd recommend this book. It was pretty poorly written. But if you're researching your trashy beach mystery, as I am, it might be worth a look!

Do you prefer silly fanciful mysteries?  

 

Sunny's Nights

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

I picked up Sunny's Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World by Tim Sultan new, which is rare for me. But when I heard about it, so close to bar savant Sunny's death, I had to read it!

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Sunny's is a special place, and Sunny was a special man. More than a drinking establishment, Sunny's bar was a gathering place, a creative vortex, and for Tim Sultan, a life changing event. 

Put together as a series of vignettes, stories and small chapters, Sultan starts at his unexpectedly finding Sunny's and ends with time's slow, inevitable, move forward. It's clear that he loves this place, and the man behind it, as more than just a bar and bar owner, but it's also clear that Sultan thinks highly of himself and sees himself as an intragal part of Sunny's (which perhaps he was). This, along with the common held belief (by Brooklynites) that Brooklynites are a superior variety of people, makes this book a little overblown and pompous. Now, perhaps, having been a Brooklynite, I have a biased take on this. Although I found Sultan himself to be a bit bloated, I still really enjoyed this book. Again, having been to Sunny's many times, and having my own arsenal of stories, moments, and memories about the bar, I may be biased. The lyrical way in which Sultan describes his time and memories does well to transport the ready to a time and place. Overall, I liked the atmosphere created by the stories of an otherworldly bar at the edge of the world. I enjoyed the feeling of being cocooned in a strange place and time that this book evokes. I would recommend this book to those who read books about Brooklyn, NYC history, bars, or old souls. 

Have you read any books about places you've visited? Were they written about in the way you experienced that place?

The Price Of Salt

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

The Price of Salt By Patricia Highsmith was a free audio book from one of my subscriptions. I had wanted to see the movie (Carol) based on this book, so I decided to listen to to the book first. 

I listened to this one a while ago. I haven't been reading much and I'm falling behind in my reviews!

Therese is a young woman freshly moved to NYC making her way in the big city. She has trouble  connecting with people, but she's not going to let that stop her from living her dream and becoming a theater set designer. Until that happens, she's resigned to slog thru working in a department store and dating a boy she doesn't love. Everything changes when she meets Carol.

This was an odd book for me, there were parts that dragged on and on and while I was listening to it, I didn't much like it. But now that it's over, I guess I enjoyed it? There was a lot of imagery, and texture to the writing, which I did enjoy, but at times even that felt uneven, or distracting. I enjoy books about the queer community and this period piece had some thought provoking aspects. But I also felt as if this book tried too hard to capture that time and place. Over all, I wouldn't read anything else by Highsmith, but I would recommend this book to those who enjoy dreamy textured writing, queer or lesbian stories, or roadtrip books. 

Has any of my readers read this? Has anyone seen the movie? Thoughts?

Jaws

One of my goals in 2016 was to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here. This is also a goal for 2017.

I have been wanting to read Jaws by Peter Benchley for a while but every time I picked it up, I couldn't get into it. Sometimes listening to a book is easier. This version is read by Erik Steele. This book was listened to in 2016 and can be added to that list. 

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I had a few themes to my reading/listening materials for 2016 and this book definitely falls in to one of them. I've been devouring books about shore towns, beach life, and seasonal communities. 

Amity hibernates in the Winters. But the town comes alive in the Summer. The people of amity rely on Summer tourists and Summer business to keep it alive in the off season. The town leaders are willing to make Summer profitable at any coast. But Police Chief Brody's job is to protect the town, too. 

The movie Jaws is a classic, of course. The book was quite different; much slower and more involved in the town itself, and the character that make up Amity. I really enjoyed that this book was about a seasonal shore town facing a devastating Summer. There's an interesting juxtaposition between the towns needs and the shark's needs. I would recommend this book for readers who live by the beach or have a seasonal life style, fishermen, or people who like books of movies based on books. 

Do you have a favorite beach town novel?

Ghostman

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

Another book from my father's audio stash, Ghostman by Roger Hobbs was read by Jake Weber. 

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I listened to this book way back at the end of 2016. My husband got to hear some of this one, and it was fun to share and discuss this audiobook. 

Jack is the man on a robbery they call the Ghostman. His area of expertise is to make the other members of the heist disappear, but he never existed in the first place. When old debts and old loves come back to haunt him, Jack must reassess his career choices. 

I put off posting about this book for ages bc I didn't get a great picture of the cover. And bc I wasn't overly thrilled by the story it's self. But last week, my dad texted me to let me know that the author had died. In fact, Roger Hobbs died last year right around the time I was listening to this book. He was only 28. My father wanted to let me know, and also to see if I wanted to read/listen to the sequel. 
Ghostman was extremely silly mafia noir style. But it wasn't very good. Violent and genre specific to the point of nonsensical, I found the book a little hard to get thru. I liked the reader's enthusiasm, but he lost the thread a few times, intermingling voices, which didn't help this book's flow. Overall, Ghostman was a silly violent romp and totally worth reading/listening to, if that's your thing. Personally I'm more into classic noir. My favorite thing about this book is that it's set in Atlantic City, NJ. I enjoyed that it has some reference to the city and surrounding area. 
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy this type of mafia/noir/heist genre. 

Any lovers of this style of book out there? Can someone recommend other books like this?

The Prestige

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

Many years ago, shortly after the movie came out, I read The Prestige by Christopher Priest. Recently I saw it pop on as a free audiobook from one of my subscriptions so I decided to listen to it. To my surprise, it was read by Simon Vance. 

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Hot off the heels of listening to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo read by Simon Vance, I had no idea The Prestige was read by the same reader when I started it! I really loved his reading style on the last book, but even so, it took me a while to recognize it was him. It was a fun surprise!

Andrew Westley (born Nicholas Borden) is tempted to look into his early life, his life before he was adopted, when he is sent a mysterious diary. Next an invitation to the sender's home reveals yet another dairy and the strange tale of rival magicians spanning over a century. The story of Rupert Angier and his grand father Alfred Borden turns out to be far stranger than he can possibly imagine!

Having read this book over 10 years ago, I didn't remember everything, but I did remember some of the big reveals. I remembered it was very different than the movie and I remembered that I liked it. One of the things I had forgotten that the book consists of the diaries of the two men, and that the history of their rise to fame and sometimes gruesome details of their hatred towards each other is slowly explained via the journals. The Prestige is not your typical mystery but it will keep you guessing until the very end. I recommend this book for mystery lovers, magic enthusiasts, and those who like the diary style of story telling. 

What are your favorite books that were made in to movies?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here

I had avoided seeing the movies or reading the books in this Swedish series for many years, but when my father recommended the book on tape, I decided to give it a shot. This copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is read by Simon Vance. 

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It took me a while to get into this book, but Simon Vance's reading really won me over which made me want to finish.

Mikael Blomkvist is an aging but charming investigative journalist who has no troubles with the ladies, but does have a tendency to be drawn into the wrong stories. Lisbeth Salander is a young and brilliant but defiant ward of the state trying to find her place in a world of men who hate women. This unlikely pair is drawn together by a 36 year old mystery and a shared passion for justice. 

Having never seen the movies or read the books, I really had no idea what this book was about when I started. I vaguely knew there was a older man and younger woman in it and that she was a "goth" type. When I first started reading people told me to watch out as this book contained very violent scenes, particularly brutal violence against woman. Later my father told me the book had been originally titled Men Who Hate Woman or something to that effect. I knew that the books and movies were immensely popular, so I was surprised but this. After reading, I can say that this book is very violent, chauvinistic, misogynistic, and portray woman as stupid, lacking common sense and prone to falling to pieces over men and sex. What bothered me most about this was that Larsson, a male author, clearly thought he was writing the opposite. It seems to me as if he were trying to say how strong woman are to the best of his abilities, yet he still had woman make stupid, self harming decisions, and fall into the arms of, and in love with, any man who didn't rape them, and in turn fall to despair and spite when that love was not 100% reciprocated. Even if these men didn't rape them, it was still ok for them to bully and disrespect the woman in an appallingly casual fashion. I think Larsson completely missed the point he was trying to make. This aspect of the book infuriated me, more so than the anti woman theme itself, and I came close to stopping many times. It also made me question what aspect of the book that people liked so much. I feel sure that the parts of the story that I found to be intriguing are not what the general public liked or focused on. This book contains rape, murder, horrific violence, incest, degradation, animal cruelty and animal killing. Be warned. 
The aspects of the book I did enjoy were a slow build of character, family, and mystery written in a uniquely Scandinavian style and sensibility. Simon Vance's reading was wonderful, the various voices distinct and thought out.  

Overall, I have to say I cannot recommend this book and will not be reading the sequels. I'm sure many people have read this and feel differently, share your comments here!

Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History of Punk

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here

Through many years and many roommates it seems I've always had a copy of this book. Not sure who or where this one came from, but it finally came time to read Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. 

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I came to punk rock music later in life, but I quickly fell in love. To me, punk is like the blues in that it gives release from the nature of feelings it invokes. Blues expresses your sadness, allowing you to let it go and punk does the same for anger and injustice, isolation and self doubt. I tend towards later, more arty punk, most notably The Minutemen, which this book doesn't even touch upon. Please Kill Me delivers only a slice of punk biased by the author's particular view of the music and the scene. But that's ok, too. 

From interviews with various leaders in the punk scene in the late 60s, throughout the 70s and into the 80s, Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History of Punk weaves a story known to few, lived by less, but influential to all. 

It's amazing to think that Elvis, Libarace, Miles Davis and Iggy Pop, all lived in the same time period and their astoundingly different music was around at the same time. This book is a fascinating look at how influential punk was and how it shaped a music era unlike any other, all though the player's own words. Oral histories can be difficult to keep track of and this one falls into that category. With dozens of characters, and no clear linear narrative, this book can be hard to grasp. It has a glossary of it's rogue gallery, but unless you already know these characters it's easy to get confused. It also deals a lot with the gossip and relationship between punk's forerunners, and that often overshadows the impact and ramifications of punk on the world. Having some knowledge of the punk scene is recommended before starting this book. Those new to punk might want to check out the book Our Band Could Be Your Life, or several documentaries on the subject before diving into this book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in punk rock and those who like any of the bands mentioned in the book; Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones, MC5, The Sex Pistols plus many more are the obvious groups, but Patti Smith, David Bowie, and Miles Davis also apply. I'd also recommend this book to music lovers in general. But be warned, drugs, sex and rock and roll do apply and this book is often gross and graphic. Overall, Please Kill Me is a fast paced and easy read with an unique historic relevance. 

What are your favorite books on music?  

Ringworld

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. This kinda counts. See other books I've read or listened to here.

This reading of Ringworld By Larry Nevin was a free audio book with one of my internet subscriptions. It is read by Grover Gardner.

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Ringworld is one of my husbands all time favorite books and was also recommended by my father, as well as almost every sci fi lover I know. I have read this book before, but when I saw the free reading, I was happy to revisit this book. 

It's Louie Woo's 200th birthday and he's pretty bored. He could go on another deep space sabbatical, find some interesting aliens, meet some exotic women, but he's already done that many times. Much to his surprise, an exotic alien finds him instead. Nessus, a cautious Pierson's Puppeteer, offers Louie a dangerous, mysterious, adventure he can't refuse; Just what Louie was looking for.

First off, this reading was amazing. It made me like Ringworld even better than I already did. Gardner's clear, precise reading make Nevin's scientific (sometimes slightly dated) writing easy to understand. I can't wait to find more books that he has read. I knew that I liked this book, but on second reading, I found it even more interesting. It has all the great hopes, dilemmas, and predictions that many great sci-fi novels have. This book has many themes of tolerance, and fear, and hopes for meeting alien life. It has a very interesting take of xenophobia/xenophilia. Ringworld also plays with the traditional 1970s sci-fi sex and sexuality themes, without being too crude. This is a classic sci-fi book and if you're a fan of this genre, you must read it! I would also suggest this book for people who like exploration novels, books about voyages, and anyone interested in interpersonal relationships between a variety of peoples. 

What are your favorite sci-fi novels?

Blood Oath

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. This kinda counts. See other books I've read here.

Another book my father recommended I listen to, Blood Oath was written by Christopher Farnsworth and read by Bronson Pinchot

I'm torn over whether listening to books counts toward my goal of reading more in 2016.  For 2017, I have plans for a new goal to watch less TV... I think listening to audio books will definitely help that. 

It wasn't Nathanial Cade's choice to be turned into a vampire, or to be bewitched into serving the American government by protecting the President at all costs. Getting a new, arrogant and inexperienced "handler" with a history of youthful indiscretions might be is too much. When an old threat resurfaces, Cade's loyalties will be tested and he will be forced to trust those he never expected. 

I thought Blood Oath was an interesting take on a vampire tale, switching between several character's points of view and mindset, not only focusing on the vampire. Farnsworth plays with the vampire and monster mythos, posing interesting questions about otherworldly beings. This book has violent moments, as any vampire story does, and the descriptions are not for the faint of heart. The reading is very expressive and the voices distinct. Bronson Pinchot does not sounds how I thought he would! Overall, I really enjoyed this book, I would definitely get the sequel, but I'm not sure if I would read or listen to it. I recommend this book for those who are vampire enthusiasts, monster lovers, and people who enjoy political thrillers. 

What are your favorite vampire books?

Simple Matters

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. See other books I've read here.

I love Erin Boyle's blog, Reading My Tea Leaves, so I was happy to get and read her first book, Simple Matters

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I've bought 4 books this year, and 2 of them about decluttering and organization (the other two are about sharks). What does that tell you about my head space?

Like her blog, Simple Matters focuses on Erin's methods for simplifying and organizing one's life. She uses her own life to test theories and try out ideas for decorating, meal planning, entertaining, baby raising, and tiny life in the city. 

It took me a while to get through Simple Matters. Although I love Erin's blog, I found the book to be a bit clunky and disorganized. Not everything on the blog in relevant to me but the book somehow felt less so. I had trouble weeding out things that felt useful and those that didn't. There were still many things I enjoyed about this book, but I wish it were organized more like her blog. All that being said, Simple Matters is full of gorgeous pictures and sage advice. I can't wait to read her next effort. I would recommend this book for anyone interesting in living in a tiny space, people trying to reorganize their home, or those who enjoy simple living. 

What genre of books have you been reading more of these days?

Saga: Book 1 - 4

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. See other books I've read here
I added a new addition to this goal in June, which is to read at least one comic book trade paper back per month. 

Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples is probably my favorite comic to come out in recent years.  

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Landfall and Wreath have been at war for what seems like forever. But they and the worlds they've out sourced the fighting to have forgotten what the war's about. Some fight blindly, but some are starting to see that war might not be the answer. When a feisty Landfall guard falls in love with a pacifist Wreath defector, all hell breaks loose.  

I had read the first two or three books of Saga back when they first came out. I've been wanting to pick the story up ever since. When I decided I wanted to be reading more comics this year, these were the first books I went for. I read more than my months worth and I'm glad I did. This isn't a beginner's comic, as it jumps in time and is narrated by a character that is only a baby. But the love story in the midst of struggle and strife is compelling, and the characters are really interesting, both good guys and bad guys. Sometimes you're not sure who you're rooting for. Plus there's a giant talking cat. Can't go wrong there. 
If you're a comic book fan, particularly a indie or super hero parody fan, you should be reading Saga. I would also recommend these books to people who like sci-fi love stories, wartime stories, and space adventures. If you're new to comics, it might take a little effort to get the hang of this book, but stick with it, the simple, colorful artwork, and heartfelt story are worth it!  

Asbury Park Reborn

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. See other books I've read here.

My mother gifted me Asbury Park Reborn: Lost to Time and Restored to Glory by Joseph G Bilby and Harry Zielger bc she knows I have a deep nerdy love of the history of my surroundings. 

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Asbury Park, NJ, has a rich and varied history that i s clear to anyone who walks through the city. By looking at the architecture, one wonders how the city developed over time and wonders at the stories and significance of many buildings. Asbury Park Reborn... has the answers. 

One of the reasons we moved to Asbury Park was it's distinct, infamous, and controversial history and the mark the city has made on the world. So, it was a great pleasure to read more on this history, and especially of buildings we pass every day. Concisely written with a small chapter on each building, some demolished, most still standing, Asbury Park Reborn... is packed with information. The histories are more than just of the buildings, but also of the city as a whole and how each piece fits together. This book also illuminates how Asbury Park looks today and sheds some light on the future of the city. 

Asbury Park Reborn... is a fascinating, brief and enjoyable read! the authors were thorough and clearly love the city they were researching which makes this book even better in my opinion. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's interested in US history, shore towns, small towns, gay rights, racial rights in America, or New Jersey. 

Bangkok 8

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. See other books I've read here.

Another book from my unread book pile, I think I originally picked Bangkok 8 by John Burddett up off a stoop or at a cheap book sale but it may also have been given to me by a fellow mystery lover purging his collection.

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I did not pay $2 for this book, that I do remember. I'm pretty sure it was totally free. 

Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is trying to stay on the path to enlightenment with the Buddha, but it doesn't come as naturally to him as it does to his partner and best friend.  When Sonchai's partner is killed as a result of a mysterious and snake filled murder, he must solve the case and put aside his spiritual ascension to seek revenge. Although a gifted detective, the case proves difficult not the least bc of a sexy and forward FBI agent also on the trail. Sonchai's learning a lot about about Western vs Thai culture, life in general and himself. Will he be able to avenge his brother when the time comes? 

I really enjoyed this book, it has an interesting pacing and inner monolog of it's main character, both of which switched back and forth from a seemingly Western pace and mentality, to a more Eastern slow and spiritual approach.. The details of life in Thailand make it clear that the Author spent a lot of time there but I still felt that the reader was getting the information translated through a Western white male perspective. I felt that took away from the book a bit bc I felt dubious about some of the feelings and reactions in the book. This might have just been my take on it, tho. I really enjoyed the fact that I wasn't sure what the resolution would be, right up to the last chapter. I would recommend this book to those who like foreign thrillers, books set in exotic locals, and people who enjoy reading about Buddhist mentality.  

Have you read this novel? Can you suggest other books set in Thailand?

Neither Here Nor There

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. See other books I've read here.

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson was a book that I had in my "not yet read" pile of books. 

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My "not yet read" pile of books is actually about 20 wine boxes of not yet read books now housed in our basement. It's my goal to get thru at least some of them this year. Last year, I read A Walk in the Woods and really enjoyed it, so now when I see a Bill Bryson book, on a stoop, or thrift shop, I usually pick it up and add it to the pile. I can't recall where I picked this copy up, but I was pleased to note it too had traveled to Europe:

Neither Here Nor There sees Bryson retracing the steps of travels he took nearly 20 years before in Europe. Now a seasoned traveler, he wanders with relative ease and confidence, but the trip reminds him of a time when he was new to traveling and new to Europe. He remineces about his past trip, his memorable travel partner (the infamous Kats), and how times have changed as he explores a "new" Europe.   

Bill Bryson makes you want to be a better writer. His style is so easy, effortless and approachable, you start to think "Well, if he can do it, so can I!". For this I think I will enjoy all his books. In this book, he makes apt and interesting observations as he wanders rather aimlessly thru various countries. Even though this book was written some 30 years ago, and many things have changed, the pleasures, annoyances, victories and defeats of travel never do, and Bryson makes you feel as if you are right there with him. 
I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys travelogs, people who have traveled in Europe and those who wish to. 

Have you read this book? Have you traveled in Europe?

The Magic Art of Tidying Up

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. See other books I've read here

I've been hearing about Marie Kondo's The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up for a while now. I finally picked up a copy and read it over two days. 

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Have you ever wished your house was neater, and you life was more organized? Marie Kondo's Konmari method will give you the secrets to put your house in order once and for all. By using her methods, she swears your life will improve. 

After much trial and error, and devoting almost her entire life to tidying up, Kondo claims her method will help you organize your house and life. Part self help book, part instruction manual, part semi mystic guru advice, I found this book quite strange. But inspiring!

I don't want to give away the processes in the book, as it's far more interesting to read them from Kondo than from me, but one of her principals is to touch every single thing in your home. This helps you decide if you need to keep it, or it can be let go. There are many ideas in the book that I took away, but what I found most inspiring was the idea of treating every item in your home with love and reverence. If there is an item for which you cannot do this, it's time to let it go and thank it for the use and joy you did once get from it. I love the idea of every little thing in your house being special and cared for and important, even if it's just to you. Marie Kondo is much more practical in what she loves in her house than I am, but that's ok! 

Since reading about the Konmari method last month, I haven't done too much tidying, I must admit. I certainly haven't followed the method in any real way. But I have been thinking more about what I own, what I use, and what brings me joy. It certainly has made me think of many items in a different light. 

I really enjoyed this book, and can see myself going back and rereading it at a time I might be ready to actually put this method into practice. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for more tidy in their lives, people who like instructional books, and people who love inanimate objects. 

The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up caused quite a stir when it first hit the blogverse, have any of my readers read it? Care to share your opinions?