I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.
I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.
To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to Amazon.com through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Land arrives in Truitt's town with lies and deceptions in tow. Truitt's housekeeper, Mrs. Larsen, is suspicious from the start but can't pinpoint the cause of her worry. Truitt bares his soul to Land, sharing the painful history leading to his lonely and hermetic life. His one quest is to find his son Andy and restore his household in the Italian mansion built for them, deserted after Andy' departure and his first wife's death. After Truitt's detectives locate Andy, now known as Tony Moretti, readers learn that this reunites Land and Tony, who have been conspiring to take Truitt's fortune.
Land begins slowly poisoning Truitt with arsenic, and even though Truitt knows he is being poisoned, he can't find the source of the poison and seems resigned to his fate at her hands. Upon her return from her pilgrimage to St. Louis, ostensibly to talk Tony into returning home to his father, Land finds her feelings for Truitt cause her to change the murder plan before it is too late for Truitt to recover.
The book is, as the author writes, "a story of people who don't choose life over death until it's too late to know the difference, people who goodness is forgotten, left behind like a child's toy in a dusty playroom, people who see many things and remember only a handful of them and learn from even fewer, people how hurt themselves, wreck their own lives and then go on to wreck the lives of those around them, who cannot be helped or assuaged by love or kindness or luck or charm, who forget kindness, the feeling and practice of it, and how it can save even the worst, most misshapen life from despair. It was just a story about despair."
Readers may be surprised more than once by twists and turns in the story, perplexed by character's actions, and unable to understand the sense of resignation to a fate that could be avoided. It is, as the author writes so eloquently, "a story about despair."
A Reliable Wife was published in 2009 by Algonquin Books.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
The book is written as a series of letters to an anonymous friend by Charlie, who is later identified as "the wallflower." Charlie begins writing after his friend Michael commits suicide because of "problems at home." He is befriended by Patrick, himself something of an artsy outcast, and his sister Sam. Charlie is very attracted to Sam, although she is older and inaccessible, but he sees her as his "ideal" for much of the book. He becomes involved in their world and circle of friends, which includes regular attendance at Rocky Horror Picture Show reenactments. The challenge to "participate" in life drives Charlie to act but not necessarily out of his own desire to do so, which puts him in situations that he might not have chosen, such as parties and near sexual encounters with a girl he's not particularly attracted to. Charlie also writes about his siblings, an older sister and brother, whose interactions with him are less kind, but accurately portray sibling relationships. All the while, Charlie aches to be part of the "infinite." As the book unfolds, some secrets are revealed, including the homosexual relationship between Patrick and the quarterback of the football team, and the damaging relationship between Charlie and his Aunt Helen.
Just as the last book Charlie has read is his favorite, he artfully describes how his favorite music affects him and how he imagines it might feel to the song's creator: "And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. And how many people enjoyed good times with those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy. I hope that they feel it's enough." Charlie struggles throughout the book to feel anything is "enough" although the book's conclusion gives readers hope that Charlie might find it.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was first published in 1999 by Simon and Schuster.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Readers should be warned that this is not an advice book. Jacobs does synthesize his own learnings from the experience at the end of the book, but he doesn't proclaim any particular path to healthiness. What's more, some of the methods he explored may be counter to the reader's quest for ultimate good health--running barefoot and the "caveman" workout come to mind. Not to say that these approaches may work for some people under some circumstances but just as Jacobs' writes, they're not for everyone.
What makes Jacobs' books endearing is his transparency. Whether it is his low testosterone level (which he does manage to improve) or his relationships with his eccentric Aunt Marti (who battles cancer despite her almost obsessively healthy lifestyle) and his aging grandfather, Jacobs is honest. His self-effacing humor and candor make his struggle for healthiness seem attainable for anyone, albeit using the methods that work best for them. Not everyone may find working at their computer while walking on a treadmill to be practical. But, Jacobs reported that this and other lifestyle changes made him " . . . like climbing a flight of stairs without my heart thumping like a cartoon animal in love."
Drop Dead Healthy is entertaining, and if it inspires a reader to make healthier lifestyle choices, then the book accomplishes more than it sets out to do. Jacobs isn't a health guru and he doesn't seek to change his readers, but it would be difficult not to absorb some nugget of health wisdom. And if that helps any reader's heart not thump "like a cartoon animal in love" then the book is a success on multiple levels.
Drop Dead Healthy was published in 2012 by Simon and Schuster.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Jess and Stump stay with Miss Lyle until one fateful Sunday morning. Stump is selected to attend the grown- up services, and Jess spies on the proceedings. When he sees what's happening, he calls out "Mama!" which the churchgoers assume is Stump, and word of Stump's healing is called a miracle. Jess later says it was a mirage, "It was like Mama was lost in the desert and had gotten so thirsty that she was willing to see anything that might make her feel better about being lost. I knew that she needed to think she heard Stump holler out for her, even if I knew he didn't, and I wondered if it was a sin to think any less of a miracle just because you know it ain't real."
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Set on the eve of the Darcy's annual ball, the mystery unfolds when Elizabeth's youngest sister Lydia arrives at Pemberley alone and hysterical. Lydia reveals that she had just left a pub with her husband, Wickham and his friend Denny, when the two left their carriage in a state of disagreement and ran into the woods as they were en route to Pemberley. She is convinced one or the other is hurt or that harm would come to them. What Darcy and his compatriots find after searching for the pair is Wickham with bloodied hands, weeping over the dead body of Denny, and uttering what seems to be a confession.
The novel unfolds as the investigation takes place, Wickham is arrested, and further evidence is given. The story, of course, is not so simple. More mysteries are unraveled that relate to the deadly event, and since readers of Pride and Prejudice already know a bit about Wickham and Lydia, they will agree that James does a remarkable job recreating these characters for Death Comes to Pemberley.
This sequel will not disappoint, and is a perfect poolside read. Death Comes to Pemberley was published in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Callie Anne's narrative is funny but also touching. Her life revolves around her changing feelings about boys, popular music, and confusion about her parents' relationship. When she discovers that Memphis likes her mother, she is crushed and embarrassed since she imagined that Memphis might be a perfect match for her. Callie's abusive father is burdened by his ambition to build a theater business of his own and his wife's mental illness, while his wife is paralyzed by panic attacks and is unable to leave their small home.
Reynolds is a master storyteller. Her characters are realistic. There's no lack of clarity about who is the hero and who isn't, although Reynolds gives the readers an opportunity to make their own judgments in the gray areas, and draws out the mystery until the end. A quick and engaging read, The Starlite Drive-in has all the makings of an excellent summer read.
The Starlite Drive-in was published in paperback by Harper Collins in 2011.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
The book's central character is Hugo Cabret, a twice-orphaned boy who is rebuilding an automaton, a robotic human he found in the clock tower where he lives. Hugo's father, a clock maker, is lost in a tragic fire, and his uncle, who becomes his guardian on his father's death, disappears and is presumed dead. Hugo takes over the clock maker's duties in order to hide his uncle's disappearance from the stationmaster and keep from being sent to a orphans' home.
Hugo's project leads him to pilfer small pieces from a mechanical toy maker's shop in order to rebuild the automaton. When the toy maker catches Hugo and confiscates his precious notebook with its automaton designs and drawings, Hugo makes a deal that leads him to solve the mystery of the automaton and its creator.
A beautiful book with an engaging protagonist in Hugo, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a book for all ages. It was published in 2007 by Scholastic Press.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Monday, January 16, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Klauser describes writing (she is also the author of acclaimed books on writing, including Writing on Both Sides of the Brain) as a means to both "program" your thinking and discover what you really want. She urges readers to dream big dreams, and quotes Nelson Mandela to inspire her readers to pursue their grand plans, "Your playing small does not serve the world," Mandela said. "Who are you not to be great?"