Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Thoughts - Sunday Shorts

Just a few quickies -

By the Iowa Sea by Joe Blair
published 3/6/12

Synopsis from publisher:

After his first cross-country motorcycle trip, Joe Blair believed he had discovered his true calling. He would travel. He would never cave in to convention. He would never settle down. Fifteen years later, Joe finds himself living in Iowa, working as an air-conditioning repairman and spending his free time cleaning gutters, taxiing his children, and contemplating marital infidelity. “Our history,” he writes, “gains more weight day by day. And the future seems more and more unlikely to be anything cool at all.” Joe believes it would take an act of great faith or courage to revive in him the passion and promise that once seemed so easy to come by. What it takes, he discovers, is a disaster. When the Iowa River floods, transforming the familiar streets and manicured lawns of his neighborhood into a terrible and beautiful sea, he begins to question the path that led him to this place. Exquisitely observed and lyrically recounted, this is a compelling and often humorous account of an ordinary mans struggle to live an extraordinary life. Joe Blair lays bare the moving, hopeful story of a river that becomes an ocean and a love that is lost and found again, by the Iowa Sea.

My thoughts:

Gosh, I just couldn't feel sympathetic for this couple. The author's writing was good - sometimes quite good - and his descriptions of the flood that ravaged Cedar Rapids and its surrounding areas were compelling. But I found his dissatisfaction with his life increasingly shallow, and he and his wife remarkably irritating. I would read this author again if he wrote about a different topic.

Finished: 3/7/10
Source: review copy from publisher via Netgalley
MPAA Rating: R for language, adult situations
My rating: 5/10

A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire #4 by George R.R. Martin
published 2007

Synopsis from publisher:

It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears....With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King's Landing. Robb Stark's demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist — or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.

But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces — some familiar, others only just appearing — are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.

It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests — but only a few are the survivors.

My thoughts: Why in the world would they change narrators 4 books into a series? That was so weird. He was fine, really, but it took my a WHILE to get used to him.

I can see why fans of the series were so mad about this book - all the stuff that you are really interested in is never even addressed! But since I'm (potentially) the only reader on the planet who does NOT hate Cersei, it wasn't bad for me - my least favorite of the series, but still a good read.

Finished: 3/25/12
MPAA Rating: R - if they are lucky
My rating: 7/10

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
published 2008

Synopsis from publisher:

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss' sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place.

My thoughts: I wanted my husband to read this, so I got the audiobook and (of course) had to listen myself. It was a good production, although it did take me a bit to get into the narration. The scenes that excited me were even more exciting, the scenes that choked me up were even more emotional - I can only imagine what it will be like watching it on a big screen. This is the first time I've read this first novel since I've finished the series, and knowing how it all ends makes it more poignant. Small phrases and bits of dialogue have so much more meaning - this is a truly great series, and I'm happy to say it holds up on this second time through. Still very highly recommended.

Finished - 4/4/12
Source -
MPAA rating - PG-13
My rating - 9/10

1 comment:

Talking With said...

Here's an interview with Joe Blair about his life, his writing and his book, which we just taped in Iowa City: