Saturday, June 12, 2010

In Cold Blood

"In Cold Blood"
By: Truman Capote, 1966

"In Cold Blood" takes you deep into the brutal 1959 murders of the Clutter Family, a by all accounts all-American, picture perfect farming family from the small town of Holcomb, Kansas. Truman Capote left no stone unturned in his research for this book where you get to know and hear accounts from everyone in the town from Nancy Clutter's best friend, who found the family bound (each with a gunshot wound to the head) in their own home, to the lady working the counter at the local diner. A mass murder would make any town afraid but Holcomb was absolutely turned inside out. A town that had always been known as a quiet, friendly community soon became a place where just about everyone was under suspicion. It was no random murder, they thought. No stranger would just come through their town and murder an entire family in cold blood.....or would they?

Let me just say that I have read a lot...A LOT....of true crime books. The true crime genre is and has always been one of my absolute favorites. With that being said, this book is the best true crime book that I have ever read and is different from ANY other that I have ever read. Most true crime books are written almost like reports for school. Full of facts and dates and just straight to the point. Not Capote. His book is told as a story. He takes you on a journey through his descriptions of not only the town and the farm itself but the people. Capote makes sure that you KNEW the family. He also makes sure that you know the killers inside and out. I have never read another true crime book where the research was as exhausted as it was in "In Cold Blood". The smallest details of the crime are documented in this heart wrenching, unfathomable story of a real account of true evil. Everything about the crime itself, from the events leading up to it all the way through the bitter end, already made for an unbelievable, amazing story. If anyone else but Capote had gotten a hold of it, they never could have done it the justice that he did. It's poetic and haunting....mesmerizing and heartbreaking.....This book will give you chills....I easily give it 5 out of 5 hearts. I look forward to reading more of Capote's works in the future.

For more information on the Clutter Family murders including pictures of the family, investigators from the case, pictures of the killers, as well as pictures of the inside of the Clutter family home as it looks today, please visit

Friday, June 11, 2010

Of Mice and Men

"Of Mice and Men"
By: John Steinbeck, 1937

In this story we follow George and his mentally challenged friend, Lennie, through a journey of friendship, commitment, loneliness, hope, and loss. Several questions are raised throughout this journey. One question that was raised for me is 'Is it really worth it to sacrifice your dreams for someone who needs you?'. We find George, a man full of hopes and dreams of his own, feeling as if he is being held back by his friend, Lennie, who travels with him from place to place. If it were not for Lennie getting them kicked out of every town that they went to (due to his peculiar, misinterpreted behavior) then George would be able to settle somewhere and live the good life. This is how George sees things anyway. At least until that day....when in a split second everything changed....

This is another fast read. I read this easily in no time seeing as how it's only about 100 pages. I really enjoy John Steinbeck's writing style, particularly in this story because it is written mainly in southern dialect, which I enjoy due to being raised in the south. I wonder, however, if it is difficult sometimes for a northerner, being not familiar with southern dialects, to interpret exactly what is being said at times in stories like this. I would enjoy hearing a northern perspective on this ;)

I thought that this story was well written and flowed wonderfully throughout. I was never left bored. Lennie is one of the sweetest, most loving characters I've ever encountered. I fell in love with him instantly. Reading this story just makes me want to be a better person overall. It makes me want to treat others better and try to be more understanding and patient.

The ending was terrific and unexpected! It tied the whole story together so well. Everything just seemed to go full circle. I will say, however, that I feel as if the last two sentences in the story really should have been left out. I felt that by adding them it almost left some loose ends and unnecessary questions as to "What exactly did that mean?". I do know, however, that what was said was there for a reason. I just must not have caught exactly what that reason was....But I mean really...who am I to question John Steinbeck's writing? He is AMAZING. Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 hearts. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas
By: John Boyne, 2006

Naive innocence meets one of the greatest evils in history in this amazing, heart wrenching story told from the unique perspective of a nine year old boy, Bruno, whose father is a Nazi Commandant during WWII. We follow Bruno from his home in Berlin (where he has "three best friends for life" and is happy) to his new home where he must move with his family as his father is being promoted to a new position by "the Fury". We continue to follow Bruno through his every day life of adjusting to his new surroundings. An explorer at heart, Bruno takes to wandering the grounds. It is his love of exploration that led him to the fence in the first place where he found something truly worth finding.

This book is an amazing work. Not only is it well written and flows perfectly but it also has a simple, yet deep and meaningful, storyline. I love how not everything is explained in great detail, leaving some things to the imagination. There is one instance in particular that was touched upon in the book (I'll let you read it for yourself) but was never made a big deal over or devoted much writing was written as a passing instance when really it was quite important to the story....but it is still something that you understood fully. I respect the lack of much detail in certain areas of the book because the author is not insulting your intelligence by feeling the need to be wordy in explaining everything. The book is not overly descriptive rather straight forward and to the point which also makes it a very fast read. It is a little over 200 pages and can easily be read in a day or so. Just when you think that you know where the book is heading it takes you in a whole other direction that you may not expect at all...I know that I didn't. This is a new favorite of mine and I am giving it an overall rating of 5 out of 5 hearts. Not only is it well written and told from a unique perspective but I believe it to be a very important story that I hope to see read throughout generations to come.