I know, I know... it's been a few years (4+ actually). Just so you know... I'll never be up to speed on current reads and my reviews, well, they will always be me just writing about books in a random way. This has always been and will always be a random thoughts blog in the fullest sense.
I started the year reading November Road by Lou Berney. This was such an entertaining read even without the ending I had hoped for. You know me and my sappy, happy endings. The book reminded me of childhood days road tripping it to North Dakota to see our uncle during the summers. Though our road trips usually took a detour off the beaten path for spankings with twigs found on the side of the road by our step-mother Freda. Trust me, if I had known about Frank Guidry when I was six I would have summoned him up a time or two to save us. Speaking of Frank... Frank Guidry, the ever loyal lieutenant to New Orleans' mob boss Carlos Marcello. Carlos Marcello... every time I read that name I thought of Oscar Martello. *eyes glaze over* I'm sorry. Where were we? Oh, yes. Frank Guidry, the ever loyal lieutenant to mob boss Carlos. Frank is way too loyal if you ask me. He reminds me of me when I became too trusting and complicit with my medical care and out of total laziness I was just doing whatever the doctor told me to do until I almost died. Not that Frank's lazy... he's anything but. It's just, one too many errands later and now Frank's just another loose end in a world full of wasted lives. With a new take on the JFK assassination, November Road has plenty of suspense, love, murder, more murder, and wisdom. My favorite line in the book was given by Leo, personal assistant to the charismatically crazy Ed Zingel. When Frank inquires about how making decisions should come easy when you know the knack to a happy life, Leo replies, "With every decision we create a new future. We destroy all other futures." Clearly Frank took that to heart in the final pages of this book. Frank may have been just another wasted life on the run from Carlos in the beginning pages of this novel, but by the end... his life was everything but wasted.
I found myself silently screaming while reading this book. It is all of our current political nightmares captured in 340 pages with the added bonus of a happy ending. When Remy Stanton inserts himself as hero in an armed robbery, he finds himself thrust into the public spotlight and intentionally the new face of a ruthless business man's run for President of the United States. Secrets, secrets, and a little bit of love keep the novel moving quickly. Seriously realistic and brilliantly written, this novel gave me a glimmer of hope.
I didn't smile once while reading this book. It was that good. Seriously. I mean, this was a depressing look inside rural back country living where all roads lead to nothing but bad decisions, unemployment, misplaced hope, miserable memories, and insanity. All of the characters are broken. All. Of. Them. The Weight of this World is everything I would have expected from a novel by David Joy. The despair... hauntingly beautiful.
The Upper Hand by Johnny Shaw is a seriously fun read with lots of laughter and witty comments. After the death of their mother, a dysfunctional family reunites with a long lost relative and together they plot to steal millions from the televangelist that inherited their inheritance. Bonding over family secrets and stories of buried treasures, the Ucker kids create their own definition of family and pull off a heist their parents would be proud of. Or, at least, their father would be.
I'm a lover of church hymns so I was curious to hear the tune for the hymn sung at Bertha Ucker's funeral found on page 41. I know, I know... seems kind of bizarre, but this is the second book by Shaw that I've found myself googling a hymn after reading. I've attached the hymn, well, the versions I could find online, below. The words were written by S. Trevor Francis and the music is by John E. Gaul. Tune: Columbus.
I Am Waiting for the Dawning
I Am Waiting for the Dawning Piano
I Am Waiting for the Dawning Piano/Information
If you have a couple hours to spare I highly recommend this inspirational book by Admiral William H. McRaven. Make Your Bed is really good. Seriously... listen to it.
And if you're willing to take a completely different path with your listening, I would also recommend My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her love of history and her heritage are so infectious you'll find yourself jotting down names of historical figures mentioned so you can learn more about them. The bonus of this book in audio is you get to listen to Ginsburg read her own opinions as well as listen to recorded lectures and speaking assignments. It really is fascinating and I can't suggest this book enough.
I'm currently listening to Cold - The Susan Powell Case Files