Holy Cow by David Duchovny

Cow

A cow, a pig, and a turkey walk onto a plane.  Seriously, they walk onto a plane and fly to the middle east where theythe-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015 inadvertently unite the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Elsie Bovary is a cow who was happy with her grass chewing life.  One day, she ends up peering into the window of the farm-house and finds out there’s something called an “industrial meat farm.”  This shakes her world to the core and Elsie is determined to leave farm life and her bleak future far behind.  Shalom (f/k/a Jerry),  the pig, and Tom, the turkey, get wind of Elsie’s plan and decide to join her on her quest to find a better life.  Together they find their way to an airport, fly to foreign lands, and come to the realization that what is imagined doesn’t always work out.

Holy Cow by David Duchovny is a dry, witty book full of humor, self-realization, and apparent unintentional peace making.  I have to admit my initial draw to this book was based on the author alone.  I’m a big Duchovny fan and have always liked his sense of humor.  I read the book description and it was a no brainer for me since I enjoy books written in this tone.  Duchovny peppers in pop culture and rock music references, along with words on how to live in harmony with the world and one another, throughout the book.  Elsie even slips in names of who should play whom for any script writers that may be reading.  Admittedly this book won’t be for everyone – Elsie’s and her cow friend Mallory use “cray cray” and other slang terms – and the target audience seems a bit jumbled.  This isn’t exactly a kids book since the humor is far more on the adult side, though there are several references on how to read certain things to your kids within the story.  Tom and Shalom are good counterparts to Elsie and provide the extra comic relief, even when not needed.

If you enjoy slightly off books that are witty and humorous, this book is for you.  Even if you are just a David Duchovny fan, this one is for you.  The book read as I imagined one written by Duchovny would.  I found it thoroughly enjoyable and laughed out loud several times.  Elise and her fellow travelers are a good-hearted lot and make for a fun read.

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Descent by Tim Johnston

Descent

The Courtland family is on their last family vacation in Colorado before their oldest, daughter Caitlin heads off to college. Caitlin, who is the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015a runner and Sean, on his bike, head out for a run/bike ride together.  Caitlin, impatient at times runs ahead of her brother and waits for him to catch up. Sean, while out of sight of his sister, gets hit by a truck and is seriously injured. Caitlin, desperate to get help since cell service is a no go so high in the mountains, hops in the truck of the driver who hit Sean. Caitlin never returns with help for Sean and the Courtland family begin their agonizing search to find Caitlin.  What lies ahead of them is years of pain, loneliness, and a losing struggle to stay connected as a family.

In Descent Tim Johnston does a good job of portraying a family’s agony of a lost child.  The family is fractured to begin with but the events on the mountain cause the fracture to become a gaping hole.  The parts told from the mother’s point of view were at first confusing and give the reader a sense this person is on the brink of losing her grip with reality.  I was initially a bit put off by these parts but then came to think of it as an effective way to show how the mom was dealing (or not dealing) with what happened.  I imagine it would be pure torture not knowing what happened to a child or knowing the whereabouts of that child. Later in the book the mom’s point of  view gets a little more clear given the passage of time, though she is still a tortured soul.  After the loss of Caitlin, the family stays in Colorado for a few months while the search for her progresses.  After a while, it’s time for Sean and his mom to return home so he can return to school and the father stays in Colorado, never giving up hope to find Caitlin.

The loss of Caitlin seems to have taken Sean off track and, a few years later, he is wandering the country, doing little jobs when he can find the work.  A series of events unfolds that cause Sean to eventually gets back together with his dad in Colorado and it’s at this point the book picks up steam. I don’t want to give too much away since I enjoyed how things played out in the second half of the book.  I’ll just say the pace picks up and the book becomes fairly suspenseful.  An overall enjoyable read.  A bit start/stop at the beginning but after the first part the story becomes a bit more cohesive and draws to a satisfying conclusion.