Monday, March 17, 2014

The Hypnotist's Love Story

The Hypnotist's Love Story
by Liane Moriarty

I have a very hard time going into a book store and not making a purchase.  This wouldn't be such a bad affliction if I didn't have a daughter who works in a book store.  Because she works there, I can't just not go there.  You see?

One day when I was running errands with my daughter she needed to stop by work.  Lo & behold, I had to make a purchase so I scanned the shelves to satisfy my need.  I happened upon this book by Liane Moriarty.  I had previously read and loved What Alice Forgot which LM had written so I thought why not?

Liane Moriarty has now joined my list of favorite or "go-to" authors.  Welcome Liane!

I was enjoying this book very much when I went to Goodreads to update my progress.  There I made the mistake of looking at reader reviews.  While many if not most of them were very good, a few gave this book low marks.  What I recall about those marks is people not liking the characters or not finding a climatic event which they felt the book was leading to.

I disagree with both those opinions.

While the book is a love story in which a female stalker quite prominently and sometimes scarily inserts herself, it is ultimately a book about relationships.  It's not a mystery or thriller so don't be looking for someone to be pushed off a cliff, drowned or beaten to death.  As the story is told in two voices, it's easy to see how different one might feel on the inside compared to how she may be viewed from the outside. I found the characters to be very real and dimensional.

The hypnotist is Ellen, a hypnotherapist. She meets and falls in love with Patrick, a widower with a young son.  Patrick dated and lived with Saskia for three years after his wife's death.  Saskia has been stalking Patrick since he broke it off with her three years prior.  An unusual love triangle to say the least. Ellen is more intrigued than frightened by Saskia's obsession with her fiance. She feels her relationship with Patrick is more threatened by his dead wife than his stalker.  Through her voice we see her insecurities and frustrations. Saskia thinks she might actually like Ellen if they had met in other circumstances. Her relationship with Patrick included mothering his son in his earliest years. Through her voice we try to understand her obsession with the man and his son after she is stripped of the roles of partner and mother. 

I think Liane Moriarty did a fine job of exploring relationships fraught with more obstacles than most.  While at one point I thought Ellen and Patrick were definitely on the rocks, she writes a monologue for Patrick that made me want to cheer. 

I give The Hypnotist's Love Story five shots.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Love A Good List

This blog is stealing a page from another blog I follow.  I'm about to share with you a list from the Listopia section of Goodreads.

Have I mentioned how much I love Goodreads?  It's my couch potato equivalent of going to the bookstore.  Don't get me wrong, nothing could compare with actually being inside a bookstore, but when I can't leave home, Goodreads it is!

Goodreads holds my lists of what I've read and what I want to read.  That "want to read" list grows exponentially faster than the "read" list, but I push on.  Other features that I adore are the "giveaway" books.  There are literally hundreds of books being given away by the authors and publishers.  I've won a few in my time. It's fun. Who can resist a free book?  Then there is the Listopia feature.

You would think that loving to read as much as I do and having hundreds of unread books right here in my home that I would have a "next in line" stack of books that I automatically pick the next one from.  Not so.  I never know what kind of book I'm going to want to read next so I don't even try.  But  Listopia has every kind of list imaginable and it's an awesome way to discover what's next.

It's also a place to find if I measure up.  Okay, I admit it - I have no idea who's standard I am measuring up to or why I even care, but it's kind of fun.  I suspect that this list of 100 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once is a compilation made by popular vote.  Let's see how I fare.

Again, drawing my inspiration from that other blogger, I will draw a line through the books I have read.  An asterisk indicates it's on my "want to read" list.

 100 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once (according to Goodreads Listopia)
  1. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  2.  1984 by George Orwell
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen*
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  6. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  7. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (I have no intention of ever reading this)
  8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger*
  9. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald*
  11. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte*
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  14. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (I have no intention of ever reading this)
  15. Lord of the Flies by William Golding* (This was assigned reading in HS but I don't think I ever finished it.  I want to go back and read it)
  16. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury*
  17. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  18. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  19. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  20. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  22. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  23. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  24. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (I probably have read at least Wonderland)
  25. Night by Elie Wiesel
  26. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  27. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  28. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte*
  29. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  30. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell*
  31. Holy Bible: King James Version
  32. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (I'm sure we read at least parts of this in school)
  33. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  34. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde*
  35. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  36. Brave New World/Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
  37. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  38. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (I have no intention of ever reading this)
  39. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  40. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  41. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  42. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  43. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  44. The Odyssey by Homer
  45. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  46. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  47. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  48. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  49. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  50. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  51. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (I'm sure we read at least parts of this in school)
  52. Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
  53. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck*
  54. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery*
  55. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  56. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens*
  57. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne (I still have my mother's book given to her in 1927)
  58. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  59. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  60. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  61. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini*
  62. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
  63. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  64. Life of Pi by Yann Martel*
  65. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  66. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  67. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  68. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  69. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne*
  70. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  71. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  72. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  73. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  74. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R.Tolkien (I have no intention of ever reading this)
  75. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  76. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  77. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  78. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  79. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  80. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  81. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  82. The Little House Collection (1-9) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  83. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  84. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith*
  85. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  86. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  87. The Book of Mormon: Another testament of Jesus Christ by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  88. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  89. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  90. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  91. The Stand by Stephen King
  92. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  93. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  94. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver*
  95. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  96. The Quran
  97. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  98. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  99. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom*
  100. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Now that I've copied the first 100 books of this list onto my blog I see that it was created in 2008. Not that it matters as it appears that it's being added to and voted on still to date.   

36 of 100 is my count of the books I have read.  18 more are already on my list of "to read."  You may have noticed that I marked a couple as NEVER!  This is because I've tried to read Tolkien and just couldn't get into it.  And Les Miserables?  Not a chance.  There are definitely others that I'm sure will never be on my list but those just are so far off the radar for me, I had to note it. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Beach Trees

The Beach Trees
by Karen White

The story presented in The Beach Trees is a murder mystery reaching back several generations.  Revealed in two voices, the first Julie, who learns through her current situation that it is possible to build your future on the foundation of the past although it may not seem stable to do so.  The second voice is Aimee who tells her story of the past hoping it will provide clues for mysteries in the present.

I found the story slow to get into.  Too much unnecessary detail for me.  However, the references and descriptions of post Katrina New Orleans and Biloxi was very interesting and enlightening.  Julie didn't understand why so many people would rebuild after such devastation and as one who doesn't live there, I understand that.  But as the stories unfold and we meet more people who chose to stay and rebuild it begins to make sense.

The current day mystery is why Monica, a woman who is deceased when the story begins, left New Orleans, her childhood home, and her family and never made contact with them again.  Therein lies my main criticism of the story.  Because she is dead when the story begins it's unlikely that we'll ever uncover her reason, but when it's finally revealed I found the motivation lacking in believability.

Lastly when we get to the point of tying it all up in a pretty pink mystery solved ribbon I was confused.  I'm still not sure exactly who did what, but it could be because I was reading the end in the wee hours of the morning.  Unfortunately, I don't care enough to go back and re-read it.

The beach trees, for which the title of the book comes, are trees that were killed by hurricane Katrina and yet remain standing.  An artist was commissioned to turn the dead trees into sculptures. Another artist donated his time and talents to carve more trees.  Out of the devastation comes beauty.  You can learn about and see the sculptures here.

I give Beach Trees 3 of 5 shots.  It was good but I'm ready to move on.