Ken Follett: Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy
Not as good as Book 1 but still eager for Book 3.
Heather Armstrong: It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita
From the creator of dooce.com.
John Grisham: The Appeal
(Don't judge me: I had a long plane ride, and I like John Grisham)
Kenneth Cain: Emergency Sex: And Other Desperate Measures
It's a memoir about 3 UN civilian peacekeepers, not a naughty book you'd be embarrased to show your friends.
T.C. Boyle: The Inner Circle
Fictional account of the research of Dr. Alfred Kinsey, narrated by one of the researchers in his inner circle. Starts strong, but gets boring quickly. (***)
Matthew Pearl: The Poe Shadow
From the author of the Dante Club, a novel about the mysterious death of Edgar Allen Poe. Nowhere near as good as Dante Club. Boooo. (**)
Augusten Burroughs: Dry: A Memoir
It's darker than the first memoir - a challenging feat at that. It lacks a little of the humorous edge that made Running with Scissors so engaging, but it's still a good/tragic read thus far. (***)
Augusten Burroughs: Running with Scissors
I took a break after Vowell's recount of the Lincoln assiinations to read about even crazier people. Burroughs first book is exactly like it's marketed - a funny, dark, sedaris-like memoir that's 100% engaging. (****)
Sarah Vowell: Assassination Vacation
Because I just can't get enough of Vowell.
Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Love the story. The narrative voice reminds me of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but in a way that doesn't make me dizzy.
Richard Ford: The Sportswriter (Vintage Contemporaries)
I hope I like it -- I have three Richard Ford books on my shelf.
Carolyn Parkhurst: Dogs of Babel
The whole "teaching a dog to talk" thing is weird, but it's a sensitive story about dealing with grief. (****)
James Clavell: Shogun
I hear there are stories of jade gates in this behemoth novel. I like jade gates. (*****)
Kristin Gore: Sammy's Hill
Kind of terrible but entertaining, both at the same time. (**)
Myla Goldberg: Wickett's Remedy : A Novel
Not as good as Bee Season, but a good read. (****)
Jonathan Safran Foer: Everything Is Illuminated : A Novel
Since I'm too lazy to write a review, check out this one, as I agree with 99.99% of it. (****)
Tom Robbins: Wild Ducks Flying Backward
The short writing of Tom Robbins, including travel writing, tributes, essays, poetry, and others. Highly recommended thus far, though I haven't got to the poetry section yet, which I hear is, um, labored. (*****)
A. M. Homes: Music for Torching
Homes tells odd, odd stories about mundane things, like life in suburbia. So far, so good.
John Irving: Until I Find You : A Novel
Not recommended, particularly for diehard Irving fans. I almost gave up half way through, but pushed on, only to be let down. (**)
Sarah Vowell: The Partly Cloudy Patriot
A collection of essays - a visit to salem, mass and the chapter on presidential museums are especially entertaining. Highly recommended. (*****)
Barry McCrea: The First Verse: A Novel
I didn't love it, but I appreciated it.
Romaine Patterson: Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard
Buy this book immediately. It's not actually out yet, but it's due out soon, and aside from the fact that my friend wrote it, it's exceptional and important. (*****)
Chang-Rae Lee: Aloft (Wheeler Large Print Book Series (Cloth))
eh, it's ok. I'm not feeling very inspired by in, so I might put it down in favor of one of the books I got for my birthday.
Eric Schlosser: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
I appreciate the business savvy of the early pioneers of the fast food industry, even if the effect was the fattening of a nation. The chapter on the flavor factories was also exceptionally interesting. Recommended. (****)
Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
I didn't like Wonder Boys because I had seen the movie too many times, but I love his writing styl. Though I felt like I needed to carry a dictionary with me when I read this, I thought it was exceptional. Highly recommended. (*****)
A.M. HOMES: Jack (Vintage Contemporaries)
Because I loved Safety of Objects, i thought I would like this. But I think it would have been better as a short story versus a novel.
Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner
In many ways, similar to my all time favorite book, The Power of One. Set against a backdrop of modern Afghanastan, story of a boy battling his own lack of courage.
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc: Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx
Final book club selection. Excellent book about growing up in the Bronx and all things foreign to my own childhood.
A. M. Homes: The Safety of Objects
Love, love, love this collection of short stories.
Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club : A Novel
Written by fellow Harvard alumn, a clever, sophisticated historical fiction/mystery novel. Don't read before bedtime - it's creepy at parts.
I'm a bit of a band camper. I can't hold a tune or find a beat. I make jokes that only a few people understand. I used to drink like a frat boy, though I've mellowed considerably and it's been ages since my last Irish Car Bomb. I carry a book with me at all times. I often tell stories with little or no point. Every once in awhile, I find people who think these qualities are very endearing.
Why is it called Smoke and Ashes? There are two stories behind it. The one I'll choose to share: it's how I once referenced what was in my wallet instead of money, yet I still managed to go out and do amazingly fun things. This web site chronicles those things... at least some of them.