M Train by Patti Smith.
This is Patti's follow up to her last book, Just Kids. No, it is not a sequel and it does not pick up where Just Kids left off (sadly). But M Train is still a noteworthy read. While the book seems to lack a distinct plot or direction, the reader will find themselves surprised to see that they are still really enjoying this book. Patti is a poetic, lyrical, visual writer. She spins magic with her words.
Much of the book feels somewhat searching and sad. Yet, for anyone who loves to either write or read, this book is still a worthwhile one to pick up. Patti is by far one of the better writers that I have ever read. This book follows her pilgrimage through her favorite cafe haunts. She searches for a muse, a topic of inspiration. The reader wonders if she will ever find it. Yet, one finds themselves continuing to turn the pages. Patti conjures beauty with her words and passages, no question. She inspires you to want to create similar beauty with your own. I found myself pulling my pen from my purse and underlining numerous passages and even whole paragraphs.
However, while M Train is a recommended read, Just Kids by Patti Smith is a MUST read. That one easily makes my top-10-best-books-I-have-ever-read list. The story told in that book is gripping, raw, tender hearted and breathtaking. I have read it twice and will unquestionably read it again. Not only is it an unconventional but marvelous love story but it paints a rollicking, groovy, glittering picture of NYC during the time when Patti and her love, Robert experienced it. Totally fantastic.
Read both ;-)
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Another great read. I just finished reading this one about 1.5 week ago. Though actually, I had read it once years ago and remembered I loved it, but couldn't recall many of the details. Those had begun to escape me. I found this book used while on my vacation in the USA for just $7 so I snagged it. And upon my conclusion of reading it again, I was equally if not more wowed by it.
This book tells the story of Astrid and her mother, Ingrid. The two of them versus the world. They are close, in fact they are nearly part of one another, and yet in many ways Astrid doesn't know her mother at all. When Astrid is barely a teenager, her mother is imprisoned for poisoning her boyfriend. This throws Astrid into the foster care system and we venture with her through various homes. Homes with different rules, different characters, different challenges and different heartbreaks.
I think I read this book in three days. Its a tough one to put down. There is a sensual eroticism to this book. It evokes a smokey sensuality with it. The words of the story read like poetry. And as I said, Astrids experiences leave the reader stunned, emotionally moved, jaw gaping, and turning the pages as quickly as possible for more. Though this isn't a particularly uplifting read, its still an excellent one. I highly recommend it.
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
This is a semi-reliable review because unlike the previous two reviews, I have not finished this book yet. I am on roughly page 200 (though I will be further after tonight). I am shocked to say I am really loving this read. I was hesitant, unsure if it was my type of thing. But I am hooked.
I have to preface this review with saying, there are obviously a number of sexist, chauvinistic, violent aspects of the story which I do not like and do not think are good things to be glamorizing (which to some extent, the popularity of this show and of these books absolutely does). However, in going along with the times of the story, I can deal with it for the sake of this one book.
That aside though, I have to say, the writing is vivid, clear and strong. Similar to The Wire (TV Show, and a kick ass one at that), there are many, many characters yet the author is skilled at keeping all of them memorable, distinct, and shifting gears within the story cleanly and with clarity. The book is densely layered with numerous plots occurring at the same time. Yet similar to his characters, he is able to handle this seamlessly.
The characters themselves are intriguing and gripping. The book is filled with suspense, romance, atmospheric details, darkness and lots of fun. The fantasy and magical parts of the story merely add to it. I really never thought I would say it but I am loving this book. In fact, I laid in bed last night reading for an hour and a half!!! I actually cannot recall the last time I did this. And I plan to do it again for an hour this evening, upon finishing this blog entry. ;-p