fortitude

08/4/2016

Guarding his domain – the main branch of the New York Public Library, along with his (not pictured) eternal companion, Patience.

For more information, visit the NYPL page about the lions. Or visit the library!

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book review: started early, took my dog

08/10/2013

Started Early, Took My DogStarted Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

I keep thinking that, at some point, I’m going to get tired of the adventures of Jackson Brodie, reluctant private detective, but then I never do. Case Histories is still the best in the series, but this is another solid outing, helped by the fact that Atkinson spends a lot of time focused on characters other than Brodie. I predicted some of the twists, but not all, and probably close enough to the reveal in the story that it wasn’t really a prediction so much as path I was being led toward in any event.

I generally like detective and crime novels, but for the most part, they’re pulpy novel equivalents of shows like CSI. My favorite part about Atkinson’s books is that they tend to be much deeper and more character driven than the typical novel of this “type”. They’re much more character stories that happen to be about a detective and a mystery (or a series of mysteries).

Looking forward to reading Life After Life, Atkinson’s latest novel, and a departure from the Jackson Brodie series.

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book review: the man in the rockefeller suit

07/21/2013

Haven’t posted a book review in quite some time…

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial ImpostorThe Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal

I’m always fascinated by true crime stories, and I remember watching some of the events of this case unfold in the news a few years ago. Perhaps something to be more fascinated by is how gullible people can be when the possibility of getting to be adjacent to fame and fortune is flashed in front of their faces. But each trusting person became another point of proof for this ultimate grifter, another brick in the wall that created the multiple fictions of his personality.

It’s also a true testament to how the wealthy (or those who appear to be wealthy) can get away with so much more than the rest of us (at least until they make a mistake so monumental and hubristic that it can’t be ignored).

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dark places

12/31/2012

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn

I was glad to read in an interview today that Gillian Flynn is apparently a well-adjusted married mom, because after finishing this final book of hers (the second chronologically in order of writing, but third in my order of reading), I was getting a bit worried about the dark recesses of her soul. Her ability to get into the heads of thoroughly unlikeable people, who do thoroughly unlikeable (and unspeakable) things, is profound. Many people didn’t like this book because Libby, the narrator/main protagonist is such an unpleasant person, but she’s unpleasant because of the horrors that have been visited upon her, first by the person who murdered most of her family when she was a child, and then by the people who sought to take advantage of her story, and even those who cared for her but waited until it was too late to explain to her that she had to grow up at some point.

You can see the seeds of Gone Girl here, with the shifting narrations (Libby in the present day and her mother and brother in the past), but they’re a bit more straightforward in the sense that they’re true narratives from each of their perspectives.

In any event, if you liked her other books, I certainly recommend this one, and any future books Flynn may write.

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The twelve

11/30/2012

The Twelve (The Passage, #2)The Twelve by Justin Cronin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took a little while for me to get back up to speed, and to re-familiarize myself with the wealth of characters (most are from the first book, but they’re now scattered to the four corners of the post-apocalyptic world and living amongst others, rather than all operating in one small group), but once it got going, I tore through this book almost as quickly as I tore through the first. A well-written meditation on many types of love, loss, what we will and won’t do to survive, what ‘survival’ even means, and sacrifice. Can’t wait for the third and final chapter!

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sharp objects

11/15/2012

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

After being awed by Gone Girl, I decided to go back and pick up Gillian Flynn’s earlier books, which also had good reviews but certainly not the buzz surrounding the latest. I have to say, this was just as good. The twists were a little less…twisty, but they were still there, and once I finally sat down to read this (after a few false starts probably stemming from trying to read this immediately following Gone Girl), I ended up reading almost the entire book in one day.

Seriously. When I woke up this morning, I was on page 33. This is the first book in some time that actually caused me to not turn on the TV when I got home from work tonight, because I didn’t want any distractions while finishing the last few chapters.

Well done. One more Flynn book to go until she writes the next one!

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gone girl

08/19/2012

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Wow. just…wow.

Not wanting to spoil anything, so there’s not much I can say except that this was just brilliant. Given how many people online and in reviews had obliquely mentioned a twist while attempting to not give away any detail, I can’t say I was as blindsided by the twist as I might have otherwise been, but the sheer anticipation of reaching it was also exciting (and given how many twists and turns there actually were, even wondering whether one of the smaller, earlier twists was what they were referring to). This book is an intricate puzzle where every piece fits together perfectly. And horrifically.

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Faithful Place

08/11/2012

Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3)Faithful Place by Tana French

Third of the Dublin Murder Squad series, and so far, the best. Frank Mackey may be my favorite of the “central” characters so far, if only because he was so well drawn in The Likeness as well – and the mystery of what happened to Rosie (and consequently to Frank) was heartbreaking. Actually, I don’t know which is more heartbreaking – spending 22 years living your life thinking that the love of your life had abandoned you, or finding out that, well, she hadn’t. I don’t want to spoil anything, but (while the groundwork for the reveal was absolutely laid) I was unsure right up until the reveal as to who the killer was. Definite recommend.

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Unfamiliar Fishes

08/2/2012

Unfamiliar FishesUnfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

As always, Sarah Vowell brings a unique and personal perspective to some overlooked areas of American history. I can’t say that I loved this as much as some of her earlier endeavors, but only because (as a north easterner), I think I have more context to place works such as Partly-Cloudy Patriot and Assassination Vacation. Nonetheless, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and Vowell’s unique voice brings some entertaining commentary to what is, in actuality, the fairly horrible history of our treatment of the Hawaiian people.

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In the Garden of Beasts

04/2/2012

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's BerlinIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

It was interesting enough that I didn’t give up on it, but certainly nowhere near as captivating as Larson’s other books, and quite boring given the subject matter of the rise of Nazi Germany. Larson’s other books show a real dexterity in juxtaposing historical events with individual evils going on in the same place at the same time (i.e., Chicago serial killer during the Chicago Worlds’ Fair in Devil in the White City). Perhaps he thought that the inherent evil of the Nazis was enough to sustain the book, and in theory, it should have been, but it was just…flat. At a certain point, I just couldn’t give a crap about how many lovers Martha took or whether Ambassador Dodd got to work on another chapter of his book glorifying the racist antebellum south. Oh well.
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