Monthly Archives: November 2015

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

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At first the plot line of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency isn’t quite clear. It’s a little bit of everything. The story starts off with Richard MacDuff attending a dinner at his Cambridge Alma Matter with an old professor named Professor Chronitis. During the dinner the professor performs a magic trick that seems nearly impossible. He takes a salt shaker and a clay pot and then fuses the two together. It’s not until after dinner that Richard realizes he forgot to pick up his girlfriend Susan, the sister of his boss Gordon Way. He leaves an awkward message on her answering machine that will later incriminate him in the untimely death of his boss.

It’s this message that brings Richard and his old pal Dirk Gently together. Having taken many names before Dirk is now running his own P.I. business where he believes that all things are connected together in some fashion or other. Using very unorthodox methods, Dirk begins to work out what happened to Gordon Way and it’s far more complicated than a simple homicide.

There’s the Electric Monk, an alien from outer space trapped on Earth, and a time traveling professor who’s managed to hide his time machine disguised as his apartment. While he unravels the death of Gordon Way, clearing Richard’s name in the process, he discovers that the alien has a nefarious plan and his using a man determined to prove himself at any cost.

I won’t spoil the entire plot unraveling but I will say that this book is one rip roaring adventure. Just when you think you have it nailed down it takes a turn in the opposite direction. This novel had a bit of everything in it. There was humor, mystery, science fiction elements, and romance. It took a bit for the plot to start moving but once it did it moved quickly. Anyone who enjoys Doctor Who themed novels with love this one.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

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I Love the 80s

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book from the year you were born. I had a hard time with this category trying to look up books purely by year until I discovered the power search setting on the library’s webpage. Best thing I discovered all week. I couldn’t believe how many options there were. I finally decided to settle on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, famed for his Hitchhiker series.

I’ve read the first Hitchhiker book by Adams and loved it. Adams himself described this book as a “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic.” How can you beat that? I can’t wait to see what Dirk Gently has in store and how Adams will tackle the detective genre.

Stay tuned for the full review of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Happy reading!

The Handmaid’s Tale

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Since I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood I’ve seen this book everywhere, maybe in part because it’s banned books week. I just saw The Handmaid’s Tale on a pin of the 50 scariest books of all time. And I must say it fits on that list. It’s not a horror novel or a work of supernatural terror. This novel is unsettling. It’s prophetic. It’s terrifying because it could possibly happen and has been happening, in varying degrees, around the world.

The Handmaid’s Tale centers on a woman known only as Offred, literally meaning belonging to Fred. Through Offred we learn that the United States government has been overthrown by a totalitarian Christian theocracy. This Christian theocracy, known as the Sons of Jacob launches a revolution in the U.S. where they kill the president and Congress and manage to suspend the Constitution under the pretext that they are trying to restore order in the chaos they created. Quickly this group takes away all of women’s rights through use of their credit and debit cards, which to me is terrifying because it could be so easily done. After taking away women’s rights each woman is assigned a specific task in this new society. Offred becomes a handmaid, which is a nice way of saying baby machine. That’s her entire purpose in this new regime is to produce offspring for Commanders and their wives to rebuild the population.

The women in this new regime literally have everything ripped away from them. They no longer even have their own names. They belong to a man and that’s their role. They are no longer able to read or write because the male commanders feel that this would give them too much power.

In an interesting scene between Offred and her commander, he explains that the theocracy felt this new society would be better. But better never encompasses everyone.

I really enjoyed Offred’s narration. You can feel her isolation, her longing, and her fear. You are totally encapsulated in her world. You see, feel, and hear everything she does. But with her narration you have to realize that she is human. All that she sees and reports may be tainted by her own thinking. Especially at the end you realize how much Offred took control of the narrative, perhaps even chaining a thing or two.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a truly breathtaking work of fiction. It makes me want to go out and read more Margaret Atwood. If you’re looking for a dystopian novel to read, or a book for banned books week, give this one a try. It’s truly terrifying in it’s implications.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Required Reading

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel I should have read in school. I had a particularly hard time with this category. For the most part I’ll read anything put in front of me. I could not think of a “typical” required reading book from either high school or college that I had not already read. Until finally I stumbled upon The Handmaid’s Tale. I took a women’s literature course in college and had a choice between reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Charlotte Bronte’s Villette and I chose Villette. 

I have to say that I’m very excited to read this book. A co-worker of mine just read it and said that it was pretty amazing. She did mention a very open ended ending that she wasn’t so fond of so we shall have to see. I like some good speculation about what might happen next. And best of all this novel was at my local library. I call that a win-win. Stay tuned for the full review of The Handmaid’s Tale. Happy reading!

The Little Stranger

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It seems that almost every time I look on Pinterest I see something about The Little Stranger. It’s on almost every list of books that will scare the living daylights out of you. I must say that it was pretty darn scary. Waters created such a suspenseful atmosphere at Hundreds Hall. It’s very reminiscent of Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. We first glimpse Hundreds Hall in it’s hay day, as seen through the eyes of physician Dr. Faraday who’s parents worked at the Hall. Desperate to have a piece of the beauty, Faraday takes a small acorn off the bannister and carries it with him until his parents discover it.

Jumping to the present, we again get a glimpse of life at Hundreds through the now adult eyes of Faraday. Hundreds Hall is no longer the beautiful building it once was. It has fallen into severe disrepair after WWII, with the family lacking funds to sustain the manor house. The paint is peeling and many of the interior rooms have been closed off. Faraday is called to the Hall to treat a young serving girl, Betty. She has recently become employed by the family and insists that there’s a strange presence in the Hall disturbing her. Faraday refuses to believe her and chalks it up to homesickness. Using this visit as a jumping off point, Faraday insinuates himself into the close knit Ayres family lives and begins to treat Roderick Ayres, the son and lord of this manor house, for injuries he sustained during the war.

It takes a bit for the plot line of the story to emerge, spending quite a bit setting up the atmosphere of the tale and introducing the characters, but once the plot begins it’s a roller coaster ride.

The disturbances start with Roderick who begins to feel a presence in the Hall, much like Betty. And insists he has to be there to keep it from hurting his family. In Roderick’s room small circular scorch marks begin to appear until finally his room catches fire. Faraday convinces the family that Roderick is a danger to himself and must be committed. They acquiesce and away Roderick goes.

From there things just begin to crumble. Each family member is forced to face something horrible from their pasts and the consequences are tragic. It makes you wonder whether the ghosts are real or imagined. Do we create our own ghosts from leftover resentments and guilty feelings? Can these manifest themselves into something tangible?

It was these wonderings that make The Little Stranger unsettling. The novel probes the psyche and sometimes what’s there is perhaps left buried.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015.