Monday, June 24, 2013

Golden Boy

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 40.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Summary (copied via Goodreads):
The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.
Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he's the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He's even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max's mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won’t have as much control, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.
The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won't his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he's starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him — desire him — once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?

My Opinion:
Good intentions, difficult choices, the horrifying description of THAT moment, desperation, hope, love...all the feelings just came together in this completely original yet realistically grounded story.  The characters were achingly human and vulnerable; Daniel was my favorite, followed closely by Max.  I loved this book and read it in one sitting.
Highly recommended.

Quote from the Book:
"But then I realize that I am whole, whatever that means and does not mean."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Imperium

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 39.

Imperium by Robert Harris

Summary:
This historical fiction novel is written from the point of view of Tiro, slave/constant companion to Cicero (and famous in his own right as the inventor of shorthand), as he looks back and remembers Cicero's rise to power.
*Interesting note: there are rumors that Tiro really did write such a biography, but that book has vanished and this novel is a fictional recreation of what the book might have said.

My Opinion:
As a truly random reader, I read about many subjects outside my normal "knowledge zone".  The good books teach me something, the bad books confuse me.  This was a good book - I knew very little about Roman politics before reading this book but I was able to follow the story and was fascinated by the drama.  I read this book in short spurts over a long period of time to absorb the immense details; this is not a criticism of the book, it was due to my lack of knowledge about the time period.  While I can't judge the accuracy of the book, it appeared to be well researched and the author clearly knew his material.
I would definitely recommend this to someone interested in Cicero and ancient Rome.

Quote from the Book:
"Power brings a man many luxuries, but a clean pair of hands is seldom among them."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Listen

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 38.

Listen by Rene Gutteridge

Summary:
The small town of Marlo is completely shaken up when a website begins posting private conversations online for everyone to read.  Uproar ensues as neighbors and friends turn on each other, and the police must find out who is behind the website and how the conversations are being recorded before the violence escalates into murder.

My Opinion:
I read this for my book club and believe we will have plenty to talk about.
What a fascinating, frightening concept.  Conversations thought to be private (the ones that bothered me the most were the ones recorded between spouses in their own home...who hasn't been their less-than-best selves in those moments before?) turn up verbatim online for the entire town to read.  Suspicion, embarrassment, and hurt feelings bring out the worst in people, and this town went crazy.  Completely crazy.  Actually, unbelievably crazy in my opinion.  While the book was compulsively readable, I would recommend it with the caveat that the ending wraps up entirely too neatly for the high-level drama that occurred throughout the entire book.

Quote from the Book:
"All this over a conversation.  We humans can tame animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Calling Invisible Women

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 37.

Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

Summary:
A wife and mom in her fifties, Clover has felt invisible in her life for awhile.  Then one morning she discovers she truly is invisible, and she is crushed when her family doesn't notice (only her best friend and her dog can tell she's invisible).  As Clover uses her invisibility to get to know her family better, she joins a group of women that are also invisible, and together they fight for the appreciation and recognition they deserve.

My Opinion:
I loved both the concept and the writing style of this book.  I planned to read a chapter or two before bed...those plans immediately changed when I started reading, and I completed this quick read in one sitting.
I knew I would relate to the feeling of invisibility, as any mom does at some point, but I was pleasantly surprised by how positive and empowering the book was. I admire the way Clover continued to care for her family, even when they completely let her down by not noticing she was invisible, and used her situation to help others.
I highly recommend this book, and I will definitely read other books by the author.  

Quote from the Book:
"She was invisible even before she knew she was invisible."

This is How

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 36.

This is How by Augusten Burroughs

Summary:
Each chapter is an essay on how to survive, from the small ("How to Ride an Elevator") to the big ("How to Lose Someone You Love").

My Opinion:
I really liked this book.  It was very readable, thanks to the author's great talent of using light words to make deep points (hopefully that made sense; it's a compliment).

My Favorite Chapter:
"How to be Fat"
No, I don't think I'm fat.  No, I'm not calling you fat by recommending that you read it.  Just read it.