In Cold Blood

I’m back from NYC! Here is one of my favorite pictures that I took while there:

This was the view from the Highline in NYC
During the six day span of traveling and being in New York , I read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It was easily one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
For those who have not read In Cold Blood, it is about the Clutter family murders. Capote did extensive research and interviews to tell the story of the four family members that were brutally murdered and the two men who committed the crime. In brief, Dick and Perry, the criminals, broke into the Clutter home and murdered Mr. and Mrs. Clutter and two of the four children (the other two were married and living elsewhere) for seemingly no reason. The only clues left behind were a couple bloody boot prints, some rope, and the gossip of a small town that was rocked by this tragedy.
Capote captures the event first by introducing the Clutter family – they are widely respected and loved in town and have no enemies. Capote details the events of their lives the day before they were murdered and gets accounts from neighbors and some of the last people to see the family alive. He mixes these accounts with descriptions of the criminals and their activities as they purchased supplies for the crime. Then, Capote alternately tells the story of Dick and Perry, and the detectives that are trying to track them down. In the end, Capote describes the long process of bringing the two murderers to justice and how the town changed because of the Clutter family murders.
 
The flow and organization of this book is impressive. I can only imagine how much work it took to not only collect the information but to arrange it in a logical and compelling way. It’s incredibly informatvie, but reads like a story. In fact, the reader wants to believe it is simply a made-up story, because it all seems so unreal. Capote effectively creates suspense and captures the town and its inhabitants perfectly, weaving in quotations seamlessly and using realistic dialogue.
 
It’s clear that Capote became obsessed with the killers in the process of writing the book. Dick and Perry receive as much attention as the Clutter family does – maybe even more. Capote almost creates sympathy by detailing the circumstances that bred these murderers, but the reader never forgets the horror of the crime they committed. The book ends on a somewhat hopeful note, years later, when the main detective visits the Clutter family graves to find the best friend of the murdered daughter at the grave site too, remembering the family.
 
I read this book mostly on the plane, in coffee shops in NYC, or on the subway. By the end, when Capote describes the incredibly long time it took for Dick and Perry to be condemned to Death Row, I was so impatient that I had to resist skipping ahead. This may have had something to do with the fact that I was waiting for a flight after the snow had canceled my initial one and was antsy to begin with, but Capote created so much tension that it was impossible not to get impatient with the people in power in the book. He described the system, how people fought to save the lives of the criminals despite what they had done, and the torturous process of being held in prison within sight of the gallows before execution. When Dick and Perry finally were punished for their crimes, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. I love when books give me such a strong personal reaction – that’s when you really appreciate the skill of the writer.
 
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery, journalistic writing, nonfiction, or is simply curious.
 
Meanwhile, I’m still reading The Zero Knot by K.Z. Snow.
 
And just a plug – if you’ve never been to New York City…go there. The literary scene is huge, and you can’t walk down a block without stumbling into a densely packed bookstore with great deals. One of the best is The Strand, which has 18 miles of shelving for books!
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Just to let you know…

I probably will not have a new post for about a week. I’m going to New York City to visit some grad schools and enjoy my Fall Break! I will also be starting In Cold Blood by Truman Capote for class, so that book might make an appearance on here as well.

What are you reading for the week?

First Impressions

I have decided that I haven’t quite decided what to think about The Zero Knot by K.Z. Snow yet.

Yes, I know that sounds horribly indecisive.

Taking place in a small town where any sort of sexual activity is frowned upon, teenagers Jess and Mig come out to each other one night after a meeting at a friend’s house. Jess, Mig, and Bran are all leaving for college the next year, but still hang out with each other and 16-year-old Tomby, who thinks she is bisexual. Bran also claims to be bisexual, and the group seems to revolve around all sorts of experiments with each other.  They call themselves the Domino Club, but that night Tomby says they are a zero knot (Here’s what a zero knot is). However, Jess and Mig decide to break free from their immature sexual games and happen to admit to themselves, and each other, on the same night, that they are gay.

Following, I am expecting some sort of claim about society’s view and how Jess and Mig intend to take on the world and change the town’s mind so that they will be able to date and hold hands in public, not having to worry about hiding their sexuality from their families or neighbors.

However, what has followed so far has been a series of quite vividly described encounters between Jess and Mig, and even one between Jess and Bran (yikes!) Jess and Bran will be going to UW-Madison the next year, and Bran is aggressively pursuing Jess. Although Jess wants a relationship with Mig, he gave into his “animalistic instincts” a few times with Bran. Right now, where I stopped, Mig told Jess they shouldn’t spend time alone together anymore – Mig had just caught Jess in a compromising situation with Bran.

I’m hoping this book will shape up a bit and tackle some bigger themes; I’m getting tired of reading about boys ruled exclusively by their hormones and driven by impulse. I also wonder where Tomby will come in next…so far she has only been introduced to prove that none of the other boys are straight. Jess’s brother knows he is gay, but his father does not, and neither of Mig’s parents know either. I’m guessing that the book will veer in that direction next, and maybe it will help me make up my mind about this book.

The Hunger Games / Catching Fire

As I mentioned, I recently finished the second book in the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins.

This is the first book in the series.
This is the second book in the series.

By far, this is my favorite series that I have read in a while. The books, so far, remind me a little of the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale. Since I just finished the second book, I will talk more about Catching Fire than Hunger Games. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ HUNGER GAMES you may not want to read this, or you may anyways – you just might not understand.

Catching Fire seems to be the plateau in which Katniss must decide who she really is and what she stands for. I found myself annoyed with her at multiple times, since she can’t make up her mind about whether she loves Peeta or Gale (or both!). There are also moments where she lapses into immaturity, and I had to remind myself that she is 17, too young to really be dealing with any of these issues.

However, this book was as riveting as the first. It moves quickly, sending Katniss and Peeta back into the arena again for the Quarter Quell, which is not as drawn-out a process as the Hunger Games are. This time, Katniss has really ticked off the Capitol and President Snow and is forced to pay for her actions. The book builds through scenes of the fights as well as news from other districts as a revolution begins. In the end, we are left with an incredible cliff-hanger that makes it impossible to not want to IMMEDIATELY read the third and final book.

(However, since I am experiencing Small-Town-Library Syndrome, I won’t be able to check it out for a few more weeks!)

Ultimately, I think this book was not quite as exciting as Hunger Games in terms of character development, but it is a crucial installment to the series. I can’t wait to read the last book, Mockingjay!

Welcome!

Hello! My name is Liz and I’ve started this blog with the intention of blogging as I read.

I’ll warn you – my forte is not WordPress, so I’m going to be learning as I go. Hopefully my posts will become more visually exciting as I go!

I absolutely love to read, and I think it’s important that everyone can find joy in at least one book they read in life. I know the publishing world is shrinking and books are becoming more available through non-print means… and I don’t mean to protest that. I think it’s important to utilize all the ways to reach readers! However, I will never lose my love of a printed book. I do have a Nook, and I read maybe a quarter of my total books on it. My goal with this blog is that people can experience some of the fun I do when I read.

I also love to write, run, do crafty things, and drink coffee. Some of my favorite books are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue, and of course, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The last book is my favorite.

This blog may have spoiler alerts. I’ll try to preface them beforehand so that if you don’t want to know, you can skip over it. My plan is to blog as I write – my reactions, my opinions, my recommendations.

Currently, I’m reading The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I just finished the second book, Catching Fire,  and I’m hoping to tell you about it! Unfortunately, I have to wait a while until my library gets possession of the third and final book – whoever is reading it better return it, fast!

Hopefully you stay with me, and we’ll see how this turns out!