Monday, 28 May 2012

New post on a hot day...

I guess you could say I'm preoccupied with the weather on a regular basis, and don't mind sharing my preoccupation with you - this may be sad, but I think it really makes me feel better to tell you how I feel about the current weather conditions.  Right now I am most definitely not drinking hot tea, as it is very warm and muggy outside.  There is promise of cooler weather later in the week, which helps to keep my spirits up.

But now let's talk about books.  I have three books to talk about today.  The first is Half-Blood Blues, my new bookclub selection.  I will say that I was compelled to read this book once I got further into it, and the slang-style of writing became less of a barrier.  I still was not entirely comfortable with the language, and right to the end I had to reread some passages, or read them slowly, to ensure that I understood them.  Having said that, I did want to know what happened next, and took the opportunity to read whenever I could.  I did not love this book, but it touched on many aspects of Nazi occupation in various European countries that I knew little or nothing about.  I also learned about the jazz scene at that time in history, and the plight of Negroes, in particular Negro musicians, at that time. Perhaps I didn't love this book because I couldn't identify with any of the characters, and not just the characters themselves, but the language they used to express themselves, which was very different from the language I would use to.  Or maybe it was the setting - books set during war-time do not always interest me.  But as a female author writing mainly from male characters' perspectives, I think Edugyan was successful.  All in all, it was a worthwhile read, and I'm curious to see how our first meeting will go.  I'll update you on the highlights.

The next book I want to talk about  is Play Dead by David Rosenfelt.  I listened to this as an audiobook, and I loved it!  This author is one that I'm sure I would not enjoy reading, but I love listening to his books being read aloud, and I especially enjoy the Andy Carpenter series read by narrator Grover Gardner.  He has the characters' voices and attitudes down pat - he IS Andy Carpenter!  The writing is light and funny, but the stories deal with serious crimes, and the author provides the reader with alot of information about the legal workings of an investigation and a trial.  I would definitely recommend this as a light summer read (or listen).  I have listened to other books by this author that were stand-alone titles and were not narrated by Gardner, and found them less entertaining, but still worthwhile.  I'm actually listening to another book narrated by the same person - it appears that he narrates most of the books in the "Inspector Montalbano" series by Andrea Camilleri.  These books are set in Italy (the author is Italian), so the styles of narration, as well as the writing styles, differ greatly between these two series.  One is funny and set in New Jersey, the other is more of a cozy mystery set on the coast of Italy.  I nearly did not recognize that it was the same narrator, but now that I've listened to more of the audiobook, I can hear the familiarity in the voice.  I think he's doing justice to this author's works as well, but I won't make a final decision until I finish listening to this entire novel.

My other bookclub is meeting on Saturday, and we will be discussing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.  This short novel is written from the point of view of a teen who is autistic, and may be considered a young adult novel.  I read it a number of years ago, and thought it was a fabulous book, which prompted me to add it to our selection list.  It is proving to be just as good as I remembered it to be and I feel like I'm learning much about the way an individual with some degree of autism would think, feel, and relate to others and the world around him.  This novel also illustrates situations whereby those with various challenges may be misunderstood or otherwise hindered in their lives, and not necessarily encouraged to perform to their utmost abilities.  It is a moving story for this reader, written in a style that is both detached (as the narrator is himself) but also intimate, as though the narrator is sharing his innermost thought and feelings with the reader, on a very personal level.  I would definitely recommend this award-winning novel to just about anyone.

That's all for tonight.

Bye for now!
Julie

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