Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hating Olivia

Hating Olivia: A Love Story (P.S.)Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko
review copy provided by Harper Perrenial
Summary from Goodreads:
Max Zajack's life is cheap rooms, dead-end jobs, and suicidal fantasies until he meets the alluring and mysterious Olivia Aphrodite, and everything goes to hell.


Max is a struggling musician and wannabe writer. His life is in a rut until one night, while playing a gig at a local club, he gazes out into the crowd and sees Olivia. Before long, they are sharing a bed and host of dark vices that begin to consume them. Their love turns toxic, sending them spiraling downward toward the inevitable. Violently romantic, viscerally honest, Hating Olivia is the story of two loners whose obsessive love brings them to the edge of destruction.

My take:
This book initially sounded intriguing, but somehow it was different than I expected. I'm torn on this one.  There are things that I liked about the book, but the characters were not really very likeable. Olivia is just trouble from the get-go. I also would not call  Max and Olivia' relationship "love" in any real sense - obessession, most definitely - but not love. The story is told from Max's point of view, so we only get his interpretation of Olivia's motives for her behavior.

Max is just this guy who reads all the time and thinks he is too smart or too good to work like everyone else, so he holds down a series of low-level, unchallenging jobs to pay the bills --- but only when he has to.  He would prefer to let Olivia support him while he spends his time reading and supposedly working on his novel.  For most of the book, Max gets nothing useful done. All he cares about is not being required to actually work and having sex with Olivia. And occasionally talking about writing his book. He knows he is just stumbling through his life, but he keeps doing it.

The relationship that Max and Olivia have is just so wrong on so many levels.  They are one of those couples that bring out the worst in each other. We've all known a couple or possibly been part of such a couple.  It is painful to watch and it was painful to read about them. But here's the thing -- I couldn't put the book down once I got a couple of chapter into it. Not much happens, and while I didn't really like Max or Olivia much, I thought Max was pretty funny and the writing is very good. There are lots of literary references throughout the book, which were fun. And, I wanted to see if Max and/or Olivia made it through to the other side of their completely awful relationship.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

De Bello Lemures, Or The Roman War Against the Zombies of Armorica

De Bello Lemures, Or The Roman War Against the Zombies of ArmoricaDe Bello Lemures, Or The Roman War Against the Zombies of Armorica by Lucius Artorius Castus
purchased kindle edition from Amazon
Description from Goodreads:
A recovered Latin text tells the story of a struggle between Roman legionaries and the undead in 185 AD. Lucius Artorius Castus leads an expedition to Gaul to defeat a rebellion against the rule of the Emperor Commodus - and gets more than he bargained for when his enemies rise from the dead to fight again. The power of the zombie horde is amplified by the Babel of Ancient Rome's religions and superstitions, and the terror the undead bring in their wake foreshadows the incipient medieval darkness already creeping into the world at the end of Rome's Antonine age. Richly annotated, this mashup of survival horror and alternate history takes the reader on a bracing journey into one of ancient Rome's dark corners.The book is structured as a work of nonfiction, with a foreword describing the history of the Latin document and its solecistic title, a "translation" of the text itself, and extensive footnotes. It is a loving homage to the paperback nonfiction products of university presses - a classics text reimagined as a postmodern horror tale.

My take: There isn't too much I can say about this book. It is a pretty standard zombie story, but the Roman history twist is different from the usual zombie fare. I feel that it is pretty dead-on for what it is trying to do.  I think it reads like Tacitus -- which is sort of what I think the author was going for. There is little to no real character development - which is how the ancient histories are written. The frequent footnotes about historical aspects and the Latin and Greek words translated throughout keep up the ancient Roman document premise and add some fun and interesting reading.  This an extremely short book, but fun and easy to read. I liked the idea behind it, which is why I ordered it in the first place. I think it works out well.  I would happily recommend this book to anyone who likes the zombie genre and/or Roman history.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday (5)
















 
It's Friday, so it's time for Follow Friday hosted at Parajunkee's View . It's also time for another Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jenn at Crazy For Books.
 
This week's question for Book Blogger Hop is:
Why do you read the genre that you do? What draws you to it?"
My reading tends to be pretty eclectic, so I read many types of fiction, including the classics, historical fiction, paranormal, some young adult. I look for a great story and characters that are believable.
 
This week's question for Follow Friday is:
What makes up your non-human family?
At the moment, we have no non-human members, but there has been considerable talk of adding a dog to our family in the near future. I would love a cat as well, but I am extremely allergic.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 E-Book Reading Challenge


The 2011 E-Book Challenge is hosted by The Ladybug Reads. Since I got a new Kindle for Christmas, I will be reading most of my books on it. I will be aiming for the Possessed Level - read 50 e-books in 2011.

Wodehouse Reading Challenge

Okay, one more challenge. I've been intending to read Wodehouse and this is the perfect opportunity. This challenge is hosted by The Little Bookworm at Wodehouse Reading Challenge. I hope to read some of the Blandings Castle books, but my real interest is in the Jeeves and Wooster series.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't wait to read" selection is:

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic by Professor X
In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic

Description from Goodreads:
A caustic expose of the deeply state of our colleges-America's most expensive Ponzi scheme.



What drives a former English major with a creative writing degree, several unpublished novels, three kids, and a straining marriage to take a job as a night teacher at a second-rate college? An unaffordable mortgage.


As his house starts falling apart in every imaginable way, Professor X grabs first one, then two jobs teaching English 101 and 102-composition and literature-at a small private college and a local community college. He finds himself on the front lines of America's academic crisis. It's quite an education.


This is the story of what he learns about his struggling pupils, about the college system-a business more bent on its own financial targets than the wellbeing of its students-about the classics he rediscovers, and about himself. Funny, wry, self-deprecating, and a provocative indictment of our failing schools, In the Basement of the Ivory Tower is both a brilliant academic satire and a poignant account of one teacher's seismic frustration-and unlikely salvation-as his real estate woes catapult him into a subprime crisis of an altogether more human nature.

I think it sounds interesting to say the least, and I look forward to reading it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Unit

The UnitThe Unit by Terry DeHart
purchased from Amazon
Description from Goodreads:
Jerry Sharpe is an ex-marine and, for him, survival means protecting his family by any means necessary.


Susan is learning just how far a mother will go for her children. But how far will she go for a man she doubted before the bombs fell? As Jerry's training and instincts take over, she is certain of one thing -- her children need her.

Melanie was going to go to college. Now, she is struggling to find a way to live in a world gone mad without losing sight of what she believes in.

Scotty has a new mission - more than survival. He was saved, and he'll be damned if he won't fight for what's right.

 
And Bill -- Bill was locked up, but the power went out and the guards left. Now he and his fellow inmates have realized that everything is free for the taking...if you're strong enough to hold on to it

My take:
I like post-apocalyptic fiction and this definitely qualifies.  The reader  finds out exactly what happened to land this family and the rest of the country in this predicament gradually as the story progresses.  The story is told from each of the family members' and Bill and Bill Jr.'s points of view in alternating chapters. Bill and Bill Jr. are some of the bad guys of the story and the reader gets their story too.  It can be a bit disorienting at first, but the method does allow the reader to better understand  the characters' motives, strengths, and shortcomings.

This story is very grim and I was uncomfortable with some of the things that happen in the story -- not because they were unlikley, but because they are far too likely to happen in such circumstances.  There is a lot of violence and a fair amount of graphic description and language. Considering the subject matter, I think it is all pretty much relevant.

One thing I had a little problem with was that this family was so very knowledgable about firearms -- but then again, those would likely be the ones to survive in a post  apocalyptic world.  There were a couple of instances in the story where someone happened upon a stash of arms or food that just seems a bit too convenient.

One of the big events towards the end of the book was a complete surprise for me.  I have to admit that I like it when I think I know what is going to happen and then the author just throws me for a loop. This one event did that for me.

From the extra in the back of the book, it looks like the story will continue from the son, Scott's point of view. I plan to read the next book when it comes out.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dystopia Challenge 2011

I've decided to participate in Bookish Ardour's Dystopia Challenge 2011. I love dystopian fiction and this will fit nicely with my reading habits.  I will attempt the Contagion level - read 15 dystopian books during 2011. I haven't picked the books yet, but I will update and review the books I read for the challenge during the year. I think I will start the challenge by reading The Iron Heel by Jack London.