Thursday, 9 August 2007

4 books of different types

Finished August 9
Walking Ollie by Stephen Foster
The short yet entertaining book is the story of a man and his dog. Stephen and his partner got a lurcher puppy from an animal rescue organization. The dog had a lot of issues, but Stephen was determined not to fail in this matter. At one point he was spending more than four hours a day outside with the dog trying to overcome the dog's fear of him. Ollie was a exuberant, playful dog who loved to run outside, but lacked control and feared Stephen for no explicable reason. In the house he cowered and retreated and was extremely tense. They had trouble housetraining Ollie. Stephen talks about the methods and resources that he tried and how the relationship with the dog is today.

Finished August 8
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
This teen graphic novel is not for me, but it seems very popular with high school students and older teens. Enid and Rebecca are best friends, just out of high school. Enid seems very anti-establishment and tries on different "looks" as she searches for her identity. Rebecca is more the follower in this relationship and talks about following Enid to another city and moving in with her if she goes away to college. She lacks self-confidence and feels second best to Enid in terms of attractiveness. Enid is drawn to those on the fringes of society: the verbally abusive politically incorrect record store owner John Ellis; an old man, Bob Skeetes, who does astrological and psychic readings; an odd-looking couple Enid labels Satanists. The girls still engage in annoying childish behaviour like crank calls and describe others with politically incorrect racist terms and cruel comments. As I said, not my cup of tea, but I can see how it would appeal to young women at the age of discovering themselves.

If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus
A sad memoir of a woman and her younger sister, both repeatedly caught up with men who are physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive. When Janine's younger sister Amy is killed by the man she was having a relationship with, Janine is compelled to look at her own life and analyze the reasons for their choices. She describes the situations well, admitting to her own love of "passion and drama" in a relationship and how that led her to put up with uncertainty and fear of her partner. She doesn't try to explain her sister's motives, but describes the home life they grew up with and the behaviours they experienced when they were young to show possible influences. Janine now speaks on domestic abuse and encourages all of us to approach and help those we see in need. I was moved by this book, and could see how a woman could be slowly inured to this type of life.

Mixing with Murder by Ann Granger, Read by Kim Hicks
This book is from the Fran Varady series. Fran is a young women who has been surviving on her own since she was sixteen. She is now in her early twenties. Her mother had left the family when she was quite young and she was brought up by her father and grandmother, but after they both died, she had to struggle to survive. She has the dream of being an actor, but is still anticipating her big break. Meanwhile she lives by doing odd jobs, and working at such jobs as waitressing and helping in a convenience store. Her friend, Ganesh, also works in the store, which is owned by his uncle. This story has Fran forced by a London club owner to go to Oxford and try to convince a former dancer at the club to return. But there is a lot more to it than that as Fran discovers and she gets mixed up in the middle of murder and deceit. This is a good series and Fran is an interesting, streetwise character.

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