Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Stench of Honolulu

Handey, Jack. The Stench of Honolulu. 3 CDs. unabridged. 3 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781619693609. $24.98. 

American humorist, Jack Handey, narrates his zany and ridiculous travel novel filled with tongue and cheek humor and hilarious mis-adventures. "Wrong Way Slurps" and his companion Don head to Hawaii, to find the fabled golden monkey. Their journey is not an easy one though, they encounter turtle men, horrible smells, angry natives, and a pelican god; according to the narrator this is no tourist attraction, this is a hellhole! Told by a reliably unreliable narrator this absurd adventure will have the listener laughing uncontrollably. Narrated by Jack Handey himself, the humor is always present and the story (or lack thereof) flows smoothly from his sarcastic and witty voice. For fans of ridiculous travel novels and absurd laugh out loud literature. - Erin Cataldi, Franklin College, Franklin, IN

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Transplant

This book was like a punch in the gut. Nothing has opened up the immigration issue more than this novel has.

Personally, I never had very strong opinions on immigration and illegals in America. I always thought that everyone deserved a shot at a better life and if they want to come here let them, our forefathers got the chance, why can't they? It doesn't hurt me one iota, illegal immigrants generally take the jobs no one else want anyway. This book however, really made me take another look at the issue, it is sooo much more complicated than that!

This story follows Agata, a young Polish girl who comes to the US as an au pair, dreaming of a better life and Mario, a Mexican who just wants to earn enough money for his mother to get a new kidney. Over the course of about ten years these poor illegal immigrants try to do everything in their power to do the right thing, get legalized, and improve their lives, but time and time again they are shut down. Eventually their paths cross and Agata and Mario have a child. Both of their families disapprove, but they tough it out and try to make it work.

This story is heart wrenching and beautifully crafted. Mario and Agata try soo very hard and you want them to succeed. This story is just a fictional account of what happens to thousands of illegal immigrants every day, it's saddening and something must be done.

A definite eye opener and a must read!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger

Harbison, Beth. Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger. 7 CDs. unabridged. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427230843. $34.99.

New York Times bestselling romance author, Beth Harbison, brings every girl's worst nightmare to life. On the happiest day of Quinn Barton's life, her wedding day, she discovers that her husband to be has been cheating on her. Quinn flees the scene and spends the next ten years hiding from the memories of her failed romance in, ironically, a wedding dress boutique, spending her life helping other young women live the dream that she never got to. When her ex-fiance returns to town, predictably Quinn's life is turned upside down. There isn't much intrigue or excitement, but it is a very truthful account of heartbreak and the hope for love and redemption. Read by talented voice and television actress, Orlagh Cassidy, who gives the characters heart, depth, and fantastic southern accents. Perfect for fans of mindless romance, a great beach read. - Erin Cataldi, Franklin College, Franklin, IN

Friday, July 19, 2013


This is one of the most... different novels by Kurt Vonnegut that I have ever read. For one the story is told in a linear format and doesn't jump all over the place. He tells a traditional story with, get this, a surprise at the end, a surprise that he doesn't ruin for you! Plus it has a happy ending which is almost un-Vonnegutesque.

This book follows Rabo Karabekian's involvement in the abstract art movement and his subsequent hum drum/ boring life that he has fallen into as an old man. When Circe Berman barges into his mansion she turns his life upside down and begins to bring him back to life. She makes him start working on a memoir and the details of his life are insightful and humorous. He recalls serving in WWII, his two wives, his kids, his famous artist friends, and his time spent as a young Armenian art apprentice. Vonnegut weaves the tale elegantly and the conclusion of the book is very much a reflection of his skill in drawing together everything he's hinted at throughout the book and giving you something you never would have guessed.

Another excellent read :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Grimm Legacy

Shulman, Polly. The Grimm Legacy. 8 CDs. unabridged. 9 hrs. 19 mins. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068454. $59.99. 

What if fairy tales and legends weren't just stories, what if they were real? Elizabeth finds out first hand at an after school job at an unusual lending library in New York City. The library houses the mysterious Grimm collection containing: Cinderella's slippers, magic carpets, Puss's boots and every other imaginable magical object. The adventure begins when magical objects start to go missing and Elizabeth and her new friends take it upon themselves to try and track down the thief and preserve the magic before others steal items and use them for evil. The bizarre escapades that Elizabeth and her friends get in will have young reader's hearts pounding and begging for more. Romantic intrigue also ensues as the friends find themselves turning to each other for support. Earphones Award winner, Julia Whelan does a masterful job of switching between characters and conveying their youthful tones and excitement. For young fans of fairy tales and fantasy, both boys and girls will get into the action, adventure, humor, and fairy tale intrigue.  - Erin Cataldi, Franklin College, Franklin, IN

Cat's Cradle

Very rarely do I wish that a book would get turned into a movie, but this one is quite the exception. It's always been one of my favorite Vonnegut books and re-reading it has only made me appreciate it even more.

Good ol Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is most definitely a laughing prophet of doom and this spin on the Armageddon cements his well deserved place in the literary world. In the style of Dr. Strangelove, this tale brings many questions to the table and questions the moral responsibility of scientists and the discoveries they make, or rather unleash.

In this tour de force John (call me Jonah), is working on a memoir of the family members of Dr. Felix Hoenniker, father of the atomic bomb. Getting entwined with this family has more consequences then he can ever imagine, as the late great scientist Felix passed on one more deadly scientific weapon to his three children, Ice-9.

A must read for everyone, and an essential Vonnegut novel :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Slaughterhouse Five

After re-reading this for a third time I picked up on so many new elements that I had somehow overlooked the first two times. I know the character, Kilgore Trout, shows up in most Vonnegut novels but I had totally missed the fact that Howard J. Campbell, the American Nazi war criminal from "Mother Night," makes a few brief appearances in here and so does Eliot Rosewater. I feel like an idiot for missing key pieces like that! I'm getting rusty!

Anyways, this is probably one of the best instances of Kurt Vonnegut's literary genius. It's a staple in every collection and is one of the best "anti-war" books there is. Vonnegut is a master at conveying the absurdity of war and does a brilliant job of getting his point across by introducing the unforgettable Billy Pilgrim. Billy has come unstuck in time and "Slaughterhouse Five, or the Children's Crusade" is Billy's journey back and forth through different parts of his life. Billy surviving the fire bombing in Dresden during World War II, Billy marrying his wife, Billy being abducted by aliens, and Billy practicing optometry. The prose and the back and forth of all these moments is brilliant and some of Vonnegut's most memorable quotes are found in these pages.

If you haven't read this already, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mother Night

In preparation for a workshop on teaching Kurt Vonnegut next week, I'm rereading some of Kurt's more popular works. I haven't read "Mother Night" in about five years so it was fun revisiting it. Per usual Vonnegut inserts lots of dark comedy and zany writing into his novels. This novel follows an American, Nazi war criminal, Howard J. Campbell as he recounts his life, the war, and his time in Israel cell awaiting trial for crimes against humanity. It's not such a cut and dry case however, is Howard really guilty? He was a very convincing and cut-throat Nazi propagandist but he was also an American undercover spy, does one negate the other? What defines a man? Vonnegut dives deep into the human psyche to show how mulch-faceted we all are. Not everything is black or white. 

Vonnegut's prose is beautiful and witty and as always warms my soul a little. Like all of his other works this is a must read!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Apprentices

I don't generally, give bad reviews, but I had a tough time getting into this jumbled and confusing young adult book. I received it free though Librarything and didn't realize until I got it that it was a sequel. I tried getting it through the public library but there were too many holds on it, so I trudged through this novel on my own.

It's difficult to even summarize this book. Sixteen year old Janie is expelled and kidnapped by the wealthy father of her roommate so that she can perfect de-salienting water (she's a math and science whiz) and in the process lure her "magical" friends to come to the rescue (somehow Janie had met an apothecary, his son - her love interest, a Chinese girl, a young British actor and a Hungarian Count in the first book and together they used apothecary methods to heal, conjure, transform, and do other improbable things). I'm not even making this up, it gets confusing and droll. The only character that has any  real depth is Jin Loo (the Chinese girl) who lost her entire family in the first novel. For no reason, she's suddenly in her childhood home and she sets her families spirits free. Weird but cool I guess.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend reading this unless you read the first book, "The Apothecary," and liked it.