Over the past year as I would research books to read and add to my Kindle Wish List, I kept coming across Ender’s Game and the thousands of five star reviews it had garnered. It was obvious that this 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card had become a cult classic. Still, I was hesitant to read it because like The Hunger Games, it was classified as both YA (Young Adult) and science fiction, two areas that don’t terribly interest me (The Hunger Games Trilogy excluded).
About two weeks ago, I finally pulled the trigger and added it to my books on my phone.As it turns out, I enjoyed Ender’s Game. It was creative, unique and it held my attention. It requires that you sort of suspend belief but that’s OK, too.
Ender Wiggin is a six year old tactical genius recruited by the government to go through an intense multi-year training program in the hope of developing leaders who will be able to destroy the “buggers” and save the Earth. There had been two previous massive wars with these alien ant-like creatures and everyone agrees that the earth was victorious only through some dumb luck. It’s a tough life for young Ender as he is separated from his family and secluded for the most part even from his fellow recruits. Ender distinguishes himself at the Battle Camp and is clearly the one recruit who is head and shoulders above the other.
Do we in the war or is the Earth destroyed by these invaders? You will just have to read Ender’s game for yourself to find out. I will tell you it is worth reading. Ender’s Game will be released as a full length feature film in November of 2013. It will be interesting to see if it has the same strong following as The Hunger Games. Meanwhile, I gave this book four stars.
The story is told from the point of view of John Hughes, a once prolific Irish writer who has not published in many years and is living off the royalties along with his wife, Laura and their teenage daughter, Rachael, in a nice home in Wicklow, about 30 miles outside of Dublin. Theirs is a fairly stress-free existence albeit a tad boring for John with visits to the local pub serving as the highlight of any given day. The area has been declared a tax-free zone for writers from abroad and attracts a new resident from England. Author William Cromer, along with his German lover, Ingrid, arrives in the neighborhood and suddenly John’s day to day existence is thrown askew. At a welcoming dinner party, John is smitten with Ingrid and becomes obsessed with her. The two of them begin a tryst that sees them jumping into bed together on a regular basis. John has fallen hard for Ingrid and is willing to risk his marriage to be with her. The entire affair seems simply a pleasant divergent to Ingrid.
Meanwhile, Irish Nationalists, disturbed that an English author is enjoying tax breaks in their country, are demanding extortion payments from William Cromer. There is a lot going on in this little novel which proves to be disturbing to the once bucolic life in the Wicklow countryside. Kevin Casey is an excellent writer and creates believable characters that will draw you in to their lives and keep you reading to see what happens.I am giving A State of Mind a solid ***1/2 stars.
Judd Foxman is not in a very good place in his life right now. He has just found his wife in bed with his boss, a radio shock jock, whose show Judd produces. The whole affair ends as Judd says “the way these things do, with paramedics and cheesecake”. Seriously, it really does end this way. To make matters worse, Judd’s father has just died and his final request was that the entire Foxman family sit shiva for a week. Honoring this request will mean that the totally dysfunctional Foxman family who can’t stand spending even a few hours with each other, will be forced to tolerate being together continuously for the next seven days.
It is what ensues amongst family members during that eventful week that makes This Is Where I Leave You such a terrific book. Jonathon Tropper is a master of dialogue capable of producing sentences that will have you laughing or crying throughout the novel. Let’s meet the remaining Foxman’s: Mom is a renown shrink with a reputation as an expert in parenting despite the poor advertisement her own family gives during this week of mourning; Judd’s brothers, Paul the Older and his wife, Phillip the Younger (single and a ladies man), his sister Wendy, and her husband, all of them taking turns sharing the absurdities of their individual lives. The Rabbi conducting the services is a boyhood pal of the Foxman’s who, since their youth has been affectionately nicknamed “Boner”. It’s quite a cast and there is something for the reader to enjoy immensely in each of them.
I loved this book and everyone I have recommended it to has loved it just as much. I had a slight fear that it might be too much of a guy’s book, but thus far women have liked it just as much as the men.
This Is Where I Leave You will stay with you long after the final page. Reading it will make you a Jonathon Tropper fan. Mostly though, it’s finding books like this that makes reading the wonderful pastime that it is. Thank you, Mr. Tropper for this ***** five star work of art.