Sunday, April 17, 2011

Catch Up - 6 books

An inarticulate summary of the books I've read in the last month or so...

Russian Winter - This is a book from my Mom's book club that she loaned me. Lots of ballet and Russian cold war drama. It's been a while since I finished it, so my memory isn't very specific, but I loved all the ballet and the story is engaging. That said, I remember finding something a bit lacking overall - like the plot was missing a piece that would make it all a bit more sophisticated. A little less obvious which way the plot was going...

Peace like a River - This book surprised me. Another freebie from my Christmas haul, I didn't expect to feel very engaged. Namely because it sounded a bit wild west to me and I'm not a fan of cowboys and horses. That said, I remember finding the writing to be pretty top notch, surprising me occasionally with such smart prose that I was caught off guard. The story is narrated by a young boy (12ish?) in the 60's, who along with his clever little sister named Swede and his quirky Father go on a cross country adventure, looking for his older brother Davey who is accused of killing two of his peers and has escaped jail on a horse.

You Remind me of Me - My latest book club pick, which we meet about tomorrow. This book was beautifully written and sadder than sad. The characters are fascinating and real and the plot captivating, but given the sadness of it, I have to recommend it with a caveat. The book starts out with a few different stories - a 6 year old boy is attacked by his Mother's doberman, a young girl living in a house for pregnant teens in the 70's, and a teenage boy contemplating becoming a drug dealer. Eventually the author connects the dots until all the characters are sharing a story.

The Last Child - I plowed through this mystery in one weekend. My friend Jessie who always gets me hooked on the most addictive books (The Hunger Games, The Outlander series) gave me this book for my birthday last month and while there are definite flaws to the book, it sucks you in like nobodies business. The narration is a bit "cowboy" for my liking in the beginning, filled with swaggery sentences that when added up are a bit eye rolly. The characters aren't exactly original, but the plot is! The story follows Johnny Merrimon, a 13 year old boy who's twin sister was abducted the year prior. He's determined to track her down himself and will stop at nothing to find her (swaggery sentence anyone?). Then there's Clyde Hunt, the rule breaking detective who's lost everything trying to solve the case and is worried about Johnny and his beautiful and fragile Mother. But don't let my mockery sway you - it's not on the NYTimes Bestseller list for nothing! And I'm totally going to check out his other books. If you're looking for an engrossing mystery - this is a good one. It would be the perfect vacation read.

The Binding Chair - Foot binding is creepy! And gross! This was another freebie book and while it's not bad, it's not great either. I'm finding it hard to summarize this plot, so I peeked at the back of the book's description and it's vague - "Set in alluring Shanghai at the turn of the century, The Binding Chair intertwines the destinies of a Chinese woman determined to forget her past and A western girl focused on the promises of the future." I found this to be kind of a frustrating read. It's interesting and well written, but missing a solid plot to tie it all together.

The Historian - Creepy vampire book! And not in an Edward and Bella way, more of a Vlad Dracula in the middle ages way. The woman narrating this book is supposedly telling the story of her Father and his search for the story of the real Dracula - Vlad Teppes Dracula from the 1400's. It's creepy and jumps around in time and is full of weird and interesting facts. I read the whole thing wondering how much of it was real and how much of it made up. It's all conspiracy theoryrific - teasing you with the idea that there is a modern group of men and women (typically historians) who anonymously receive a creepy book with Dracula's seal on it that sends them into a spiraling search for Dracula. Is he still alive/undead? Are there really vampires? Follow the unlucky historians over time that track down the origins of the book to Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and other mysterious countries. I don't want to sell this too hard, because the truth is that it gets a bit tedious at times, but I still found it creepily fascinating.