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"Chuck Palhaniuk writes with fierce satire and wicked metaphor. Damned and Doomed follow a 13 year old post-dead overweight Maddison Spencer in her afterlife antics. The first two in a trilogy follow Madison Spencer as she acclimates herself to her damnation in hell. It may sound grueling, but these satires are hilarious, witty, and fast paced. Pahlaniuk offers readers a fun, uncomfortable and unique view into his writing and highlight satire as only Pahlaniuk can. Having read the final line of Damned - "To Be Continued..." I was anxious to pick up where I left off and follow our antagonist once again. Instead of letters to Satan like in Doomed, Damned is written as blog posts from Madison's PDA. If you are looking for books that will both disgust you and bring you to rolling laughter, these are the novels for you. Pahlaniuk most certainly challenges the norms in his writing and takes you on a wild ride."
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
"As a large fan of the Beat Generation, it is no surprise that I hail the writing of Kerouac. Though he is most famous for his book On The Road which was written on a single roll of paper, Dharma Bums is by far one of my favorite books of all time. It is both enlightening and poetic and truly makes you think about life the way Kerouac sees and interprets it. All characters in this book are based on actual people and poets of the Beat Generation. This novel follows Jack Kerouac's character Ray through a 3,000 mile journey across the US and his journey to enlightenment. Kerouac's poetic prose is certainly captivating and finishing this book makes you want to examine your own consciousness. "One night I was meditating in such perfect stillness that two mosquitoes came and sat on each of my cheekbones and stayed there for a long time without biting and then went away without biting". Dharma bums captures an insightful journey, love for poetry, zen and Buddhism beautifully written."
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
"Hyperbole and a half was an extremely witty and fun read...in fact, I read it in one sitting as I could not put it down. This book brings humor to an otherwise not so funny topic of depression and bipolar disorder as Brosh's comical mind examines it. The hilarious pictures which are crudely drawn lighten the topic and had me rolling with laughter from start to finish."
Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
"Another Beat Generation great, Allen Ginsberg's poetry is raw, sharp and beautiful. Though much of these poems have societal undertones and address things like sexuality and addiction, Howl and other poems is an excellent read for those who like poetry with a punch."
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
"This book is clearly a literary work of art. If it weren't for Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Naked Lunch might not have ever been published. Ginsberg and Kerouac visited Burroughs in Tangiers and tried to salvage what literary genius had been dripping from Burrough's pen. This book is not a novel by any means, it is a collection of thoughts and fears and if you are considering jumping into this book looking for a linear plot then you will be disappointed. Rather, this book can be dissected at any point and digested for the wonderful handle of words that can only be expressed by Burroughs."
I thought I’d heard more than I’d ever wanted to about Goldilocks until Mo Willems wrote this delightful tale. His adaptation of the classic includes a funny dinosaur visiting from Norway and many hidden delights in the illustrations. Goldilocks’ many faults are addressed, such as barging into strangers’ homes, and discouraged heartily. Goldilocks does eventually wizens up, notices that things are not as they should be, and escapes the dinosaur’s ingenious trap. Willems concludes that the moral is “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.
Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson Illustrated by Gennady Spirin
Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell
Rob Bell asks 'How do we reconcile faith in God with the suffering of the human experience?' This pain causes us to wrestle with our spiritual beliefs. This wrestling deepens our faith. It results in an inner beauty which would be impossible to develop without suffering. Bell examines this beauty resulting from pain.
This is the only book by Rob Bell that I would recommend to everyone regardless of background. I have reread it during difficult times. It encourages me to look beyond the pain of the moment and realize that there is a reason even if I don’t understand it.
Black Count by Tom Reiss
Tom Reiss tells the riveting story of Alex Dumas the father of the acclaimed novelist Alexandre Dumas. Alex Dumas’ life provided source material for much of his son’s novels so much so that The Black Count reads more like a work of fiction. Born to Antoine Alexandre de l’Isle and his slave Marie Cessette Dumas in Saint-Dominigue, modern Haiti, Alex Dumas rose from a slave to a general in the French Army. Reiss deftly combines the rich historical context of an tumultuous time in European history while expanding ones understanding of a figure responsible for a large amount of this time periods perception. Portions of The Black Count seemed quite familiar almost lifted from Alexandre Dumas’ novels instead of the inverse. This is one of my favorite biographies of all time.
Cinder: Lunar Chronicles #1 by Marissa Meyer
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Set in 1986, this punk-rock romance tells the story of two outcasts who fall in love over comic books and the sounds of New Wave. Prickly, overweight Eleanor is afraid to let anyone new into her life after being betrayed by the people she trusted most. And Park, the only half-Korean, half-Polish Goth in town, doesn't know how to fit complicated Eleanor into his already complicated life. I completely loved this tragic-but-hopeful novel.
Sandman Vol 1, Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's Sandman is one of the most critically acclaimed comics of all time, and when you read the first volume, you'll see why. Beautiful artwork, compelling characters and staggeringly poignant writing and story lines make Sandman one of the best works of its kind. Even if you don't normally read comic books, pick this one up. You won't be disappointed.
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Everything Vonnegut wrote was wonderful, but this is a particular gem. Loopy, funny, sad and fantastic, this is Vonnegut doing all of the things that he does so well. If you haven't read it already, read it now. If you have, read it again.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
I'm not sure that there is a book that captures the perfect magic and mischief of Roald Dahl's writing better than Matilda. This delightful story celebrates a precocious young girl who gets the better of all of the awful adults in her life. It's every kid's fantasy, brought to life.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This book is written for young adults, but if that description doesn't fit you, don't let that stop you. This is a hilarious, heartbreaking novel about two teens who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. Through the ebb and flow of illness, and a madcap journey to Amsterdam, they learn about the possibilities that life supplies even in the face of imminent death. This is either the most tragic comedy or the funniest tragedy that I've ever read.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
A story about Ruth, a writer living on a really remote PNW island with her husband and dog. Ruth discovers some old stuff that washes up on the beach, including a journal written by a young Japanese girl. The journal tells the story of the bullying that is being done to her, her father's attempts at suicide after losing his job, and the tender and interesting story of her great-grandmother's life. This is all tied together with Ruth's life on the island and her troubled relationship with her husband.
A Constellation of Vita Phenomena by Anthony Marra
The story takes place after the Russian-Chechnyian war. The book is starkly beautiful. Marra's style of writing is gorgeous and haunting. This was one of the most beautiful novels I've ever read. It is about the aftermath of the war. The main section of the book deals with an incompatent doctor (but a great artist), and his dangerous goal of bringing a 5-year old orphan girl to safety.
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
I knew little about North Korea, so this was enlightening and scary. It was a wild ride but most of it was based on possibly events. My book club read this and had a great discussion about North Korea's eccentric leader's, and then a month later, one of their leader's was executed! Orphan Master's Son was a love story and a thriller.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I am a big Donna Tartt fan. This is sad because she's only written 3 books and they are 10 years apart, so it's been a long wait. The Goldfinch is a thriller, and a love story that is very exciting. Miss Tartt is great at writing suspense. The book opens as the main character and his mother are going to an art exhibit. When they are in the gallery a bomb goes off and his mother is killed. He is given a painting called the Goldfinch. The novel covers the next 20 plus years of his often dangerous life. What a great read.
Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins
Billy Collins is a very easy poet to read, but he can also be very insightful and good. I enjoyed his new collection of old favorites and some new poems. We all know that he is "accessible", but I think that he is actually a better poet than that. He is a poet that I enjoy spending time reading and I was happy to get his new book.
Bellevue author Jim Snowden has published short stories in
Pulphouse, Mind In Motion, The Seattle Review, The King’s English, and MAKE.
His novella, Escape Velocities, was named a 2004 notable story by the editors
of StorySouth. Jim received his MFA from the University of Washington in
2004, where he won the David Guterson award for his work on his debut
novel, Dismantle the Sun. He also runs a small press, MMIP Books, which
published its first short story collection, Coming Unglued: Six Stories About
Things Falling Apart, in May of 2011. Its second collection, Blood Promises, And Other
Commitments was released in April of 2013.
In the summer of 1936, the racial and political climate in Munich are
growing tense, and Kommisar Rolf Wundt and his wife Klara are
increasingly desperate to leave Nazi Germany while they still can. But
when a member of the League of German Girls is found brutally
murdered and posed in the yard of a dilapidated farmhouse, Rolf’s
supervisor declares that they can’t leave until he’s solved the case. Rolf’s
investigation leads him from the depths of the underground Communist
movement to the heights of Germany’s elite Nazi society, exposing the
cracks in Germany’s so-called unified society as well as the unspoken
tensions in Rolf’s complicated marriage. Ultimately, long-buried secrets
and overwhelming evidence are laid bare, but how can Rolf bring the
killer to justice in a country devoid of justice? And how can he protect himself, his wife, and his
former lover from the barbarism of a corrupt and power-hungry government?
“Jim Snowden's The Summer of Long Knives is a powerful murder mystery whose historical
placement within Hitler's Germany adds layers of depth to an already-rich assemblage of
personalities, both good and evil. Crisply written and fast-paced, Long Knives is intriguing with
its mix of cruelty, to be expected from the nationalist Germans during the height of Nazi
control, and unpredictable outcomes surrounding the main characters' professional and