Wednesday, July 27, 2011

These Things Hidden

Rating: 4 out of 5 Soccer Trophies

I'm just going to dive right in on this one. Something I can admire in an author's style is being sparse. The reason I can admire it is because I know how difficult it is to maintain that and to not get carried away in details, details, details. I am constantly stripping down my own writing and trying to convey the same message with less words. Gudenkauf has mastered this. While I was reading I couldn't help but notice how swiftly I, as the reader, was taken from moment to moment in these effortless little nuances. I felt like I was given just enough, yet I still wanted more. I devoured this novel because I felt I could learn something from Gudenkauf.

The storyline was emotionally intense. I was not particularly a fan of the premise. However, if I'd known what it was about from the jacket premise, I would not have picked it up and I would have missed out on this gifted writer's talent. That being said, if you read this, do not put it down because it has a "baby killer" in it. The themes in this story are prevalent to anyone who reads it.

I loved the voices in this book. Allison was surprisingly sympathetic. Brynn was quite antagonistic, and I was amazed because I thought it would be the other way around. Charm and Claire are strong female voices, but I felt distanced from them, probably because their side was told from a third person narrative. Gudenkauf did that for a reason, and that was, in my humble opinion, to show how it feels to be on the outside looking in on this boy's life. I truly felt how Allison must have felt to see Joshua being raised by Claire. Well, I at least got an inkling of it.

There were some elements I wasn't too fond of. There was a flip-flop in tenses and I wasn't sure how to respond to them. By the time I realized it was just Gudenkauf's style, I was already 75% of the way through the novel. It was disarming enough to be distracting for me.

The other not-so-fond moment, for me, was the climax. It seemed to just come and go. I felt like there could have been a little more lead-in to make me believe that Brynn was really off-kilter. She seemed fine-ish (even though she always comes off as a little whacked), but then she has a weird meltdown. I just wasn't sure what triggered it, so the ending of her story was a little more nonchalant than I had wanted it to be.

Other than that, excellent book. I gave it four out of five soccer trophies.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rockin' the Mo'

Hey, kids, so back in June-ish/end of May-ish I went to my friend Kym with an odd request. She has been cutting my hair for a couple years now. Lately I've been doing a lot more wild and crazy things with my hair. This time I requested to get a European mohawk which is a faux hawk, essentially, that extends to the back of the head/top of the neck. I did a more reserved version of it and got some interesting reactions especially at work.

Well, this time around I have done it again only a little more drastic. Complete with a little bit of caramel-colored blonde on the top just to add some spice to the already-spicy look. Personally, I love it. Kym said she's always excited to see what I will come up with because I'm a little more adventurous. Tessa, a coworker friend of mine, said today: You always look different every time I see you. I don't know if she meant that as a compliment, but I will take it as one.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stuffy English Accents

Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic.

In S. J. Parris's gripping novel, Bruno's pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen.

His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman. As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be. Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy. (From Goodreads)

I actually read Prophecy before I read this one which is unusual for me. However, with these books, I'm glad I read the second one first. Parris' first Giordano Bruno book is not quite as good as the second one. I thoroughly enjoyed the intrigue and everything in the second book. Heresy is filled with the same intrigue and wit as the second book, but there was something about it that made it harder for me to get through.

First of all, the story is told in past tense in this book where Parris switches to the present tense in the second book which gives the story more immediacy and urgency that adds to the poignancy and the urge to keep reading. I really hope that, in the third installment, Parris continues with the present tense because I enjoyed that a lot more with this type of story.

I can see a big pattern with Parris' writing. While it works, I hope that she mixes up the plot procedure a little more with the next book. Both books start out with a dinner with a cast of characters who become Bruno's list of suspects for the murders that are about to ensue. Both books have far too many characters to recall who is whom so she is constantly reminding the reader, or you are constantly trying to remind yourself or you give up altogether, by adding little hints. The hints, however, don't seem to be enough. She goes into a lengthy description of their looks at first which is nice, but those little tags are not picked up later in order for the reader to really get these suspects clear in my mind. I had the problem with both books, so I know it isn't just a one-time thing. Here's hoping she gives a little more in the next installment.

That being said, something I noticed that kind of made me laugh, was that Giordano Bruno, as these books are written in the first-person narrative, seems homosexual at times. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that it is a woman writing his voice. He notices the beauty of a man more than he notices the beauty of a woman. In this book, Bruno is constantly referring to Norris as a perfect, handsome, angelic man. When he speaks of Sophia, who is supposed to be alluring, young, and beautiful, it comes off as something just in passing. Again, I noticed it more in Heresy so maybe Parris has been made aware of this, but it was an issue that kept coming up in my mind as I read.

It took me a whole month to read this book. Granted, I only read late at night and at the breakfast table which is not like me. I usually take time to read sporadically when I'm a little more alert. The next book I read I'm going to go back to my old routine, make sure I set aside time to read.

There were some redeeming factors to the book. I loved the historical context about Oxford that I did not know about. Giordano Bruno is a great character to see Elizabethan England through. Also, the idea about martyrdom and what people are willing to sacrifice themselves for is a noble and reliable theme. All in all, I would recommend this book only so you can get to Prophecy which is, in my opinion, the better of the two installments. I will continue to read the saga of Bruno in hopes that the books will only get better and better. I gave it 2.5 out of 5 Stuffy English Accents.