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The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories
Simon Rich
The Dog Stars
Peter Heller
The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions - Alex Rosenberg Reality...what a concept! This book is not meant to persuade anyone that there is no god. Instead, Rosenberg assumes that the reader is a nonbeliever, who wants to get a better grip on reality. An engaging read that will have your brain working overtime.
An Alphabet of Dinosaurs - Peter Dodson I realized that I needed a dinosaur identification book for my five-year-old son, when I couldn't identify one of the three dinosaurs on a T-shirt that he wore recently. I guess in actually it's me that needs the dinosaur identification guide, so that I can better answer his questions.
This is a beautifully illustrated book with 26 dinosaurs to study (let's see...26 letters in the alphabet. Yeah, that works out.) At least there is no Buttasaurus in this particular kid's book.
Cain - José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa This book was a joy to read, and I think it's the kind of book that begs to be reread. By the title the reader knows the subject of the book: Cain slew his brother Abel, and was cursed by the lord to wander the land until he died a natural death. Cain rides his little donkey through various "future presents," witnessing events such as the fall of Jericho, and the building of the tower of Babel. Cain is there to grab Abraham's arm before he can go through with his crazy act of faith, and slay his own son. Saramago uses Cain as his biblical critic, arguing with God about who should and should not be slaughtered when He decides to obliterate the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

I would recommend this book to heretics with some biblical knowledge, such as Sunday School in your younger years. Open-minded believers with a sense of humor should also find pleasure reading this little gem. Saramago has given us a fine last novel full of humor and insight that I will be happy to add to my bookshelves.

Really, Really Big Questions About God, Faith, and Religion

Really, Really Big Questions About God, Faith, and Religion - Stephen Law, Nishant Choksi An excellent book to help explain the many different belief systems in our world to inquisitive younger readers. Philosopher Baggini takes an objective approach, leaving questions open for readers to think upon.
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky - Heidi W. Durrow I'm still digesting all the elements of this story. It's quite compelling, and there some wonderful passages. There is also an underlying sense of melancholy, which is not a bad thing, but I think my actual rating would be more like three and a half stars. After a few days of rumination I may get energetic and put a real review on here.
The Leftovers - Tom Perrotta I'm still digesting this book, but I'm waffling between giving it three or four stars. In some ways, the Rapture-like event is merely a plot device to explore how any major, catastrophic event transforms the lives of those effected. The book is a quick read, and the characters are well-drawn and poignant, but I also feel that Perrotta missed some opportunities, with the plot device, he chose to explore the issues of faith, belief, and extremism. On the other hand, The Leftovers is a very human story about a group of citizens in a smallish New Jersey town, coping with the curve-ball that life has thrown at them.
Zombie in Love - Kelly DiPucchio, Scott Campbell Mortimer is willing to give an arm and a leg for true love, but his romantic destiny always seems just out of reach. That is until Mabel shows up at the end of Cupid's Ball, just when Mortimer had given up all hope. Suitable for Halloween or Valentine's Day.
House of Holes - Nicholson Baker After reading nearly a hundred pages (not even halfway) of House of Holes, the word "monotonous" started to hover over the text like a cloud. There is a lot of fun to be had between the pages of Nicholson Baker's latest novel, and part of that fun is watching Baker let his imagination run wild — through a field of sex organs. Ultimately though, there is no character detail, or plot to follow. Just chapter after chapter of wild (predominately hetero-) sexual fantasies from the mind of one of America's premier literati.

House of Holes is a pleasant diversion, albeit a hellaciously sexual one. I would label it more bawdy and bizarre than erotic, and I certainly found myself chuckling along the way towards the only climax possible in a book of this type. As a novel though I think it works better as short stories: Since there is no genuine continuity — except a few names and the title location — I think it might work better if the reader picked it up periodically rather than wading through orgasm after orgasm for 262 pages straight. Then again...
Galveston - Nic Pizzolatto An impressive debut that works just as well as a character study, as it does a dark-hearted crime thriller. Roy "Big Country" Cady is on the run from his boss in New Orleans. He ends up on the shores of Galveston, with a couple of passengers in tow. Trouble is never far from Roy though, and he now finds it morally impossible to strike out on his own, leaving his dedpendent passengers to fend for themselves.
The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding - Sarah Burns Many of us remember the horrible rape of the central park jogger in 1989, and the tabloid-like headlines that accompanied the case. What didn’t make the headlines was the fact that the five boys (four under 16) that were tried and convicted of the heinous crime were all exonerated of that crime in 2003. Once the boys were in the system though, the system decided convict them no matter what the facts bore out. Sara Burns does justice to their cases, and reminds us all that our race and class is oft times used against us in a court of law.


Candy - Terry Southern, Mason Hoffenberg, Hoffenberg This already feels dated, and I'm only about 25 pages into it.


Stick - Elmore Leonard I have this adage: If all else fails, read Elmore Leonard. If I'm at a loss on what to pick up next, I can always turn to Elmore Leonard for a guaranteed good read. He's a master of characterization and dialogue, and he makes it all look so easy.

Stick is no exception. The main character is a likeable anti-hero, who is just trying to get his life back on track after spending some years in Jackson, a prison in Michigan. A simple job, intended to earn Stick some spending money goes south, and he spends the rest of the book trying to get what is rightfully his. Stick is filled with colorful characters, and a plot that will keep you reading late into the night.

The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh, and Wailer

The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh, and Wailer - Colin Grant I just found out about this book. And then I found a used copy! I am so looking forward to reading it.
Second Reading: Notable and Neglected Books Revisited - Jonathan Yardley I love books about books!
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead - Sara Gran An interesting beginning to a new mystery series. Claire DeWitt has had her share of problems in the past, including once being declared legally insane by the state of Utah. She also has a tendency to inhale any drug that is passed her way on the off chance that the experience may reveal a clue. In Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead the title character boasts of being the world's greatest detective. She is also okay with the fact that she is not very well liked. No one likes their mysteries revealed no matter how much they may think they do.

In this debut mystery Claire is trying to solve the disappearance of an Assistant District Attorney, who disappeared shortly after Katrina struck New Orleans. It has been a year since his disappearance, and his nephew, who is about to inherit the missing uncle's estate, wants the case solved before he reaps the benefits of the suspected death. Claire is does not actively investigate her cases as much as she opens herself up to any clues that may present themselves to her, whether they arrive through dreams, or revealed by the tattoo of a busboy in a local restaurant.

This mystery moved along at a quick pace, and Claire DeWitt has enough quirks to fill a few more novels. I think the sales would be better if this had been released as a paperback original. It's tough enough to sell hardcover mysteries, but trying to get a reader to shell out $24 on an author they have never tried before is tough.
Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ - Philip Pullman The current argument in the store is where to shelve this book. It states on the back cover that it is a work of fiction. It is also part of the Canongate myth series (#15 in fact.) My argument is that the bible is also a work of fiction, and we keep that in religion. My decision: keep the Pullman book in comparative religion.