January 15, 2012

The Reading Files - The end is near

Only two books this week. Don't look at me like that! One was a heavy tome. In fact, heavy enough to tone those upper arm and back muscles. Those of you who follow me on Facebook might have seen a status update earlier this week in which I'm contemplating how reading heavy books is also great workout for ... other parts of the female body. In short, holding such tomes may seriously avoid "droop" if you know what I mean!

The Passage (Justin Cronin)
Source: bought used
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic / Paranormal

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.
With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

Title & Cover: I really really like that cover, though I could do without that red title bar - I know there are other cover versions out there, one similar to this one minus that red nuisance, but the one shown above is the edition I own!
Story: I thought this would be a dystopian novel. Virus breaking out. People dying. The works. Suddenly, vampires everywhere. Then things start getting really weird. And even weirder.
Narrative: In one word? Tedious. Long winded to a fault. The whole book is like a scrapyard of stories mended together with rubber bands. And for a book this size it's amazing how little is actually happening.
Characters: A lot of attention is given to present the state of mind and inner workings of pretty much any character. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but oddly enough it didn't help me connect with the characters either.
Thoughts: How often do editors tell authors to tighten up their manuscripts? Not often enough it seems. If this novel were only half as long (!) it wouldn't have made it onto my list of chunksters for the Tea & Books Reading Challenge, but the flow of the story might have improved a bit. Bottom line - this book simply didn't work for me. Bummer.

All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehmann's Dressing Room (Erma Bombeck)
Source: bought used
Genre: Humor

Erma has discovered that the odd habits of the animal kingdom are strikingly similar to our own, and she reports her downright hilarious findings in All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehmann's Dressing Room. Erma shows how close animals in the wild and humans really are, and how much we can learn from one another. The hippopotamus is a vegetarian and looks like a wall. Lions who eat only red meat are sleek and slim. Are nutritionists on the wrong track? From the garter snake transvestite, to the barn swallow who can't make a commitment, to the lion who mates eighty-six times a day, Erma reveals that we're not all that far removed from the animal world.

Title & Cover: Cute!
Story: Spruced up with curious animal facts, Erma shows how much humans and animals actually have in common. In fact, more often than not, it's only the clothes that separate the two.
Narrative: Her observations and dialogues are, as always, spot on and laugh out loud funny!
Characters: Say hello to a wonderfully likable and oddly familiar family, including an Aunt who's renown for her fruitcake ... the kind you can use for construction work!
Thoughts: Perfect for a quick and enjoyable read! Once again, Erma does not disappoint!


  1. I like your book workout idea. I think your points about The Passage are one of the reasons that I'm so put off my long books (not buying them obviously, I have plenty on my shelves). Sometimes the length is justified but often they just need a good pruning.

    I still haven't read The Passage.

    1. Well, not every book is for everyone! Some absolutely love "The Passage" so the book obviously worked for them. Now I'm hoping that the nest tome in line "Under The Dome" won't be the same ordeal for me ...

  2. I am about 38% (kindle version) through The Passage (also one of my books for the reading challenge).....I am inclined to already agree with your review, having just reached the section around the 'colony' I am starting to feel lost and as if I am reading a book about something different and by a different author?? In the name of the challenge I will persevere, but it might take some time!

    1. You made it so far, you can do it! Believe it or not, it was the challenge and sheer willpower that made me finish this book.

  3. Oh I'm sorry you didn't enjoy The Passage very much in the end. I will admit that the timeline of the colony threw me off a bit, though once i understood what was going on, it became fascinating to see how the sociology changed in that time it existed. I really enjoyed The Passage, and am eagerly awaiting the next book later this year.