"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened
and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you
and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse,
and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."
Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

American Gods

American Gods - US - Mass Market Paperback
Image courtesy of
American Gods
Neil Gaiman

Cover Synopsis
"Shadow is a man with a past.  But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble.  Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible car accident.

"Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself.  The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible.

"He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming.  And from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same..."

Neil Gaiman's novel is beautifully detailed and intricate, overflowing with interesting characters and places.  It's a wild odyssey full of old gods and myths, ancient stories and strange adventures - and even stranger ideas that linger in places you'd never expect.

It's a great novel.

However, I will say American Gods is a long novel and, yes, I'll even admit it was a confusing novel for me to read.  Sometimes, I thought Shadow's story made absolutely no sense - why has he agreed to do this?  Why is he so important?  What is it that makes him so special that Mr. Wednesday specifically singles him out? - and it wasn't until the very end of the story that I understood Shadow's real importance.

Likewise, I didn't always understand who (or what) certain characters represented.  Some characters were obvious (or were when I realized the implication), like Low Key Lyesmith or Mr. Wednesday; however, with other characters, I went the entire novel without ever finding out who they really were.

But that may be my own fault, considering my knowledge of world mythology is rather small.

Overall Impression
To put it simply, I enjoyed American Gods.

So much of the story (and the characters) rely on simple belief alone for their existence, what may or may not exist and what we, as people, give power to - and this idea made Gaiman's novel unique and interesting.  I was pretty well hooked as I tried to puzzle out Shadow's story and figure out what would happen next.

I will point out, however, that if you know anything about mythology and the religious fervor once attached to old gods, you'll know that their stories and their entire existence will not always be pleasant.  They are selfish, murderous, promiscuous, and volatile.  They are destroyers and killers and pillagers, demanding of sacrifice and belief - and, honestly, that's about as nice as they get.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Image courtesy of
Marissa Meyer

Cover Synopsis
"Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden to her stepmother.  Being a cyborg does have its benefits, though:  Cinder's brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in new Beijing.  This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball.  He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on.

"Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger step-sister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade.  Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.

"But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig.  Something others would kill for."

Marissa Meyer's first book in the Lunar Chronicles is unique and fascinating.  It's Cinderella meets science-fiction; it's a classic fairy tale with a dystopian twist - and it is invigorating.

I love the fact that Meyer has completely re-imagined and revitalized a familiar old fairy tale and turned it into something wonderfully complex and fascinating.  And I especially love that the author has created a tough, intelligent, and pragmatic heroine in the character of Linh Cinder.

Cinder is smart.  She's self-sufficient.  She's inventive.  She's a mechanic - and a darn good one at that - and she doesn't need anyone to rescue her.  She may eventually find her Prince Charming, but she's more than capable of rescuing herself (which I really like about her).

Be forewarned, however, Cinder is tragic.  I'm just going to come out and say it:  There is no happily-ever-after.  This novel is only the first of four, which means Cinder's story still has a long way to go - and she still has a lot of trials and tragedy to face.

Overall Impression
I loved Cinder.

I devoured this book:  I finished it in less than two days, and then I promptly went online and bought the second and third in the series (the fourth one, according to Marissa Meyer's website, comes out in November of 2015 with a prequel appearing as early as January).

I loved the characters.  I loved the complexity of the story.  I even loved the sad parts (which broke my heart, but I loved them regardless).  So, long story short, I found Cinder to be a beautifully detailed story with appropriate amounts of suspense, action, and discovery to keep you invested from beginning to end.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shoot the Moon

Shoot the Moon
Image courtesy of
Shoot the Moon
Billie Letts

Cover Synopsis
"In 1972, windswept DeClare, Oklahoma, was consumed by the murder of a young mother, Gaylene Harjo, and the disappearance of her baby, Nicky Jack.  When the child's pajama bottoms were discovered on the banks of Willow Creek, everyone feared that he, too, had been killed, although his body was never found.

"Nearly thirty years later, Nicky Jack mysteriously returns to DeClare, shocking the town and stirring up long-buried memories.  But what he discovers about the night he vanished is more astonishing than he or anyone could have imagined.  Piece by piece, what emerges is a story of dashed hopes, desperate love, and a secret that still cries out for justice...and redemption."

Shoot the Moon has an intriguing premise:  a small, American town turned upside-down by a grisly murder; a boy returning home after discovering the truth; a mystery and a secret buried beneath the quiet facade of a seemingly amiable old town.

It's a murder-mystery, so parts of Billie Letts' novel are unpleasant.  Like the abusive and corrupt sheriff, or the mean-spirited radio station owner.  They both make my skin crawl (as they probably should, given their part in the debacle).

And, even though I did find closure in the final chapters of Shoot the Moon, it's still a tragic story.  I can honestly say I was disappointed.  That is, I understand why it ended like it did - and I completely understand the motivations of the characters.  How they act falls in line with how you imagine they would act in such a situation - but I wasn't exactly happy with the novel's resolution.

Overall Impression
Admittedly, I wasn't completely invested in the story.

I finished the book, but I wasn't completely committed to it.  I really just wanted to see what happened at the end - you know, the Big Reveal, the Scooby-Doo unmasking, the who-really-did-it in the Whodunit - to gain closure.

I'm not knocking Letts' novel.  I mean, I find it thoughtful and interesting, a comprehensive examination of human nature and a series of unpleasant circumstances that does, as the cover synopsis asserts, discover justice and redemption.

However, I can truthfully say Shoot the Moon isn't a novel I will read a second time.