Jack Reacher, all around badass

Jack Reacher. Six feet, 5 inches and 220 pounds. Ex-military policeman and all-around badass. Maybe you’ve heard of him?

I was talking to my father one day and he started ranting a bit about the new “Jack Reacher” movie starring Tom Cruise. (Book-related ranting runs in the family). He talked about how the movie was based on a very extensive book series, but they had cast it all wrong.

Jack Reacher was supposed to be huge. Burly. Muscular. A giant. He stands out in a crowd, intimidates the bad guys and is able to throw down on any enemy who gets in his way. Though I am not usually one to pick up light crime-action novels, it made me curious, and I thought I’d give them a try.

“Killing Floor,” the first in the series, opens over breakfast. Reacher watches as cops burst into a diner to arrest him for a murder he didn’t commit. He is interrogated and jailed, though there is no evidence against him. Reacher becomes intrigued by the cop’s inability to realize he isn’t the murderer, but he stays out of it. It isn’t his problem.

Suddenly, it becomes personal when he finds out that the person murdered is none other than his own brother, Joe. Reacher then takes down each criminal with his military-trained efficient and smooth kick-butt abilities. Reacher not only solves the town’s problems but gains a lady friend, Roscoe, who adds a little personality and love interest to the plot.

After “Killing Floor,” I read “Die Trying.” Now, I’m currently on “Tripwire.” This stumbling-upon-a-crime scenario seems to be pretty common so far in the series. In the second book “Die Trying,” Reacher helps a woman on the street and ends up being thrown into a vehicle with her, kidnapped and held as part of a rebel militia scenario. In “Tripwire,” he is digging pools in Key West when a detective comes looking for him, is killed and then Reacher follows the detective’s trail to discover himself once again involved in something very twisted and personal.

Each book has a crime element, a love element and a lot of action. There is plenty of running, fighting, shooting and scheming to keep you turning the pages to see whose butt gets handed to them next.

Reacher, though not a deep character, is entertaining because he is so incredibly calm, cool and proper. He believes in being polite, treating women well and minding his own business. He only gets involved when a wrong needs to be righted, and then he doesn’t give a damn what is legal, only that justice be served, often in blood.

The Reacher books are quick, entertaining reads that will keep your attention on any beach, flight or rainy afternoon. I plan to continue reading and with 15 books in the series, I’ve only got 12 to go.

(See original article I wrote for our Get Out)

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books that make you think

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic:  Top Ten Books That Make You Think
(About the World, Life, People, etc)

1.) The Things They Carried – one of the most beautiful books about war I’ve ever read. Lovely writing but heartbreaking.
2.) The Book Thief – Though there are a lot of books about the holocaust, this one really sticks with you long after you’ve read it. Beautifully written.
3.) 1984 by George Orwell – The first time you read this in school you’ll just have to examine a lot of aspects of humanity and life. It stays with you.
4.) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – Most of Steinbecks work will make you just sit there long after you’ve read them for the first time going over the book in your head (in a good way.)
5.) Anna Karenina – If this book doesn’t make you think about love, jealousy, beauty, betrayal, everything that life encompasses, then I am quite surprised at you.
6.) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Though I love all of Bradbury’s books, this one should be read by all.
7.) The Remains of the Day – This book always makes me think about the extremely small, but oh so significant moments in life. Those moments you should have spoken up, or wished you could have done something differently, and you wonder if it would have changed everything.
8.) Push – Sometimes books are heartbreaking, but they reflect humanity quite honestly.
9.) Middlesex – a wonderful book about figuring out who you are, even if its not who were raised as, and being true to that person.
10.) Blindness – What would the world be like if everyone slowly went blind like a plague? Would we lose all our humanity? An interesting look at what people are like under pressure, societal expectations and of course, an unlikely illness we all hope never comes to pass.

Every Day by David Levithan

Can you imagine going through life waking up every day in a new body? Borrowing other people’s lives, families, rooms, schools, friends.. but never having your own? Though it sounds lonely and hard, A makes their way through life like this. A doesn’t know their sex or family because A has been shunted from body to body since A was an infant. A doesn’t fight against it until one day, A falls in love.

The day A falls in love is much like any other. A wakes up in a 16-year-old’s body, a boy named Justin.  A eats breakfast with Justin’s parents, goes to Justin’s school and meets Justin’s friends. Much like any other day. But then A meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon and everything is suddenly different. They run away for the afternoon and have one, shining, perfect day. Afterwards A decides that A wants to be with Rhiannon, every day, no matter who A becomes tomorrow. A is sometimes girls and sometimes boys, sometimes miles away and sometimes just next door. A tries to find out if love can in fact, overcome all obstacles.

Levithan often writes about love. Simple love, teen love, complicated love, but it is almost always, love.  He writes about it effortlessly and beautifully, making the reader want nothing more than to be a part of his stories even when they end sadly. His writing often addresses humanity in a way that is thoughtful and kind. He writes about love whether it be between two boys, two girls or two people of the opposite sex.

Every Day is no different. Exploring how it could feel to be pursuing a relationship when tomorrow you may be a boy or girl, fat or thin, gay, transgendered or straight. A experiences all these aspects of love and relationships. It is well written, engaging and sweet. Every Day is a book you won’t want to put down until the end, because love is love, no matter who, especially in this case, you are.

Broken Harbor by Tana French

Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, a no-nonsense grizzled detective on the murder squad in Dublin, is given a case in Brianstown, formerly known as Broken Harbor. A family murdered in their home with only one survivor. Was it an inside job or a random killing? Was it an act of love, revenge or just plain evil? Kennedy and his rookie partner, Richie, are on the case.

But Kennedy isn’t new to this location. His own childhood trauma occurred on the beaches of the very same harbor, reverberating throughout his life every since. His own memories, guilt and confusion play a part in his ability to solve this case. His sister has gone crazy again, something that he believes started with what happened on that beach when they were kids. He has to figure out the past, the case and keep himself together, with just a few days to do it.

Broken Harbor, like all of Tana French’s books, isn’t a straightforward murder mystery. The mystery is as much psychological trauma as it is physical, often entwined around dark memories long buried. These memories inevitably start to seep into their everyday life, making the characters unravel slowly, thread by thread, until they are barely hanging on. As you read, you almost feel like you’re going a little crazy with them.

I have enjoyed every book by Tana French, though I believe The Likeness is still my favorite, and this book is no exception. Well written and fast paced, it is full of deep emotion, vivid imagery and suspenseful plot twists. Broken Harbor is well worth picking up, but you may want to read it with the light on. Just in case.

(Book will be released July 24, 2012)

Remembering Ray Bradbury

I grew up in a family of readers. Usually it was every person for themselves. When we arrived in a bookstore it was like an explosion, each of us flying off towards the section we like best. Once and a while though, my dad would hand me a book he thought I should read. Maybe I’d enjoy this, he’d say. I began reading Bradbury in 6th grade.

I had soon worked my way through his books, reading some of them a few times over, when we took our yearly outing to the LA Festival of Books. Bradbury often came to sign books and say hello to his fans. His line was long and slow, but worth it. He would talk to people as he signed, take pictures with them, make jokes, ask them how their day was. He wasn’t an author who would just sign a book and move you along. He was friendly, he was a real person.

Ray Bradbury was the first author whose books I had read and then sought out to meet in person. I remember being terrified. To this day, I still have no idea what I said or what he said. I just remember him being incredibly nice, talking with me and laughing. He signed all the books we had with us and waved us on our way. As we walked away I looked back at the table and smiled, seeing a group of people surround him for a photo, where he jokingly posed looking surprised by the sudden mass of fans around him.

As we stuffed our signed books into our bags, my dad cheerfully said that Bradbury’s signed books would never be worth much because he did so many signings every year for his readers. And I’ve always thought that’s how it should be.

A book’s worth isn’t measured by the money you can sell it for. A book’s worth is measured by how it changed you. The memories you made while reading it. The parts of you that grew because of it. The friends you bonded with over your shared love of that quote from your favorite passage. Those few fleeting moments you had with the author when you stood in line for hours just to say hello.

I think Bradbury knew that, or maybe he just loved signing books, but either way, I’ll never stop being thankful. Thankful for his books and for his friendliness to a speechless 13-year-old girl, meeting an author she loves for the very first time.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

  “You should just accept who you are, flaws and all, because if you try to be someone you aren’t, then eventually some turkey is going to shit all over your well-crafted facade, so you might as well save yourself the effort and enjoy your zombie books.”

Jenny Lawson grew up out in the country in west Texas with a practical mother… and a father who would wake up his daughters at 2am to see a ‘magical’ squirrel that is actually a dead squirrel he is using as a puppet after he took out it’s insides while the blood is still dripping down his arm. Also, in case that sounds grosser than it should, he’s a taxidermist. So really, its not that gross… he does that sort of thing all day anyway. Hell, he gets paid for it! At least, that’s the kind of logic that you should live by if you read this book, which you should, because it’s pretty damn funny.

Lawson’s book is a collection of stories about her quirky life, mostly embarrassing and amusing moments that she brought upon herself (but sometimes not, when her father is involved) through her imagination, sense of humor and slight OCD. Everything from accidentally getting her arm stuck while learning to artificiality inseminate a cow in high school, to long illogical fights with her husband about leaving towels on the floor which end up being arguments about the zombie apocalypse.

I read this book by not reading it, some people call it cheating but I call it paying more than you would pay for a paperback to listen to a book being read to you thank you very much, which in short is called the Audiobook. Lawson even recognizes this fact in the beginning of her book and thanks the reader (listener), which I appreciate because yea, audiobooks can be a lot of money and it’s nice to be thanked sometimes.

My actual point here is that some books really succeed as audiobooks (see previous review of World War Z) and this is definitely one of them. Hearing Lawson talk about thinking there are Chupacabras in her walls or making her stuffed french pirate alligator talk to a stewardess on a plane, cannot be more funny than when it is said in her voice. I have witnessed the Chupacabra fever that grips Texans and actually attended the armadillo races that her father loves. So that probably gives me a little more familiarity with her humorous anecdotes. But really, anyone would find this book funny because Chupacabras and talking stuffed alligators are funny. That my friends, is just a fact.

Top Ten Books Written In The Past 10 Years That I Hope Are Still Being Read In 30 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This was actually much harder than I expected! A lot of books I thought would go on this list turned out to be more than 10 years old (seriously guys, thanks for making me feel really old.) So here’s what I came up with:

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro  – Really anything by this author, wonderful writer.

The Bean Trees by Barabara Kingsolver – A lot of her less well known books are just as great as the others. I hope people are still discovering and loving them for a long time to come!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I feel like I’ve loved this book my whole life, so its hard to realize it was published in 2007 which really isn’t all that long ago. I still recommend it to people constantly and I know I always will!

Kafka on The Shore by Haruki Murakami – I actually had a friend have no idea who this author was the other day, which made me sad. I love his books! I can only hope lots of generations to come will too.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – I think this was the best book he has ever written. Beautiful writing and a very good book about war, humanity, love and loss.

Percy Jackson Series  by Rick Riordan – I love this series! I think they did a horrid job on the movie, but the books are great. I know a lot of kids love them now and hope they keep reading them!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I don’t think there’s a chance these won’t be read by people in 30 years, but you never know. Sometimes books become a fad and fade out of existence after their popularity is spent.

  Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, SuperAtheletes and the Greatest Race the World has Ever Seen by Christopher McDougall – A great book about running but also just about people, traveling, experiences and a tribe of amazing people. I really enjoyed it and I’m glad it is getting a lot of attention right now.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – Still my absolute favorite book by Krauss and I am constantly surprised by how few people I know have read it.

  The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I was surprised this one counted, I thought it was much older. Still one of my all time favorite writers.

Well that’s what I have! Hope everyone had a wonderful memorial day weekend full of books and sunshine!