31 August 2008

book reviews

Okay. So it's been a while. I could blame it on the obsession with the DNC on television. But the truth is, I have been reading. I hadn't read a book in so long. Months, really. What with the move and all.

But I read The Pillars of the Earth for a Denver book club that is meeting in September. And realized how terribly I have missed the company a good book.

So here are the books I have just read:

The Pillars of the Earth

I was so surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I don't tend to read much fiction written by men. Call me sexist, but most men just have such a different narrative voice than women, and I find that their female characters are a bit unbelievable. And that applies to this book. I felt that the book was definitely a man's book, full of incredibly bad guys, oversexed, mysterious women and lots of unwarranted violence.

And yet. I really enjoyed the story! I must admit I am still a bit surprised that it was an Oprah pick, because like The Da Vinci Code, it's not an overly literary novel, but it is a really fun, engrossing read. Maybe Oprah is lightening up.

Alias Grace

I really enjoyed this book! It's only the second Margaret Atwood I've read, but I am definitely going to read more. It is based on the true story of 2 servants accused of murdering their master and his lover, the housekeeper, in mid-19th century Canada. Sort of the Lizzie Borden of Canada, the book was a fascinating read and leaves you with more questions than answers. Mainly, did she or didn't she?

Innocent Traitor

I have read many of Alison Weir's biographies of the kings and queens of England so I was eager to check out her foray into fiction. Plus, this is sort-of an Other Boleyn Girl (right down to the cover of the book, depicting an elegantly dressed Tudor woman turning her face away) about Lady Jane Grey, who I have always been fascinated by. Probably since I saw the movie Lady Jane when I was like 12. Anyway, this book was pretty bad. Just uber-melodramatic and a lot of the characterizations matched the movie Lady Jane (up until Jane and Guilford are married, where it finally veers from the perspective of the movie) but that bugged me. It's like the author just watched the movie and wrote a book about it. So, no, I do not recommend this book and I will not be reading any more of Alison Weir's fiction, but I do still recommend her biographies.

Daughter of York

Blecch, is all I can say about this. Terrible, horrible writing. It seriously made me think of some sappy, romantic crap I would have written when I was 12 and forever trying to write stories. I think I got about 15 pages into it and tossed it aside. Very, very bad.

Hattie Big Sky

This one is a young adult novel. What? I like young adult. And judging by the craze over the Twilight series, I am not the only one.

I loved this book. It is about an orphaned teenage girl during World War 1 who is bequeathed a claim in Montana by an uncle she's never met. She travels out to Montana, alone, to try and prove up on the claim so it can become her home. This book is beautiful. And unpredictable.

Nineteen Minutes

I like Jodi Picoult but I had been kind of avoiding this one. It's about a kid who shoots a bunch of students in his high school. But it's his story, not the victims'. It shows how this kid has been bullied and terrorized his whole life. I thought, who would want to read something so painful?

But maybe it's living so near Littleton, but I wanted to give this book a try. And I read it--skimming a lot because it was just so sad and predictable. I mean, this kid just could not catch a break his whole life!

I have to say, this is not one of her better novels, in my opinion. Or maybe I'm just getting too familiar with her style. But how ironic that the bullied killer's father studies happiness for a living? And his mother is a midwife--her whole job is about motherhood? And the judge's daughter, who is the key witness that cannot remember anything about the shooting had an abusive boyfriend, an unwanted pregnancy, possible eating issues and contemplates suicide? Are there any teen issues left untapped? I guess she could have been a cutter on top of everything else, but I thought it was a bit of over-kill. (Pardon the pun.)

The River Wife
I am in the middle of this one and so far I'm lovin' it. That's all I'm going to say for now.


Amy Heiman said...

I love Margaret Atwood--she's one of my favorite writers. I'll have to check out the one you listed.

Glad you've found some time to read. I've been thinking about getting a Kindle but I think that I would end up spending too much $$ on books.

Retainer Girl said...

I'm definitely looking forward to reading "Alias Grace." I've heard "Pillars of the Earth" is really good too, and that many people who didn't think they would like it did. As for "Nineteen Minutes," I loved it. I thought it was so good. True, the father's job as a "happiness economist" was lame, but I thought she aptly captured how loving and well-intentioned parents can still have no idea what goes on in their children's lives. That said, don't read Picoult's latest, "Change of Heart." It was pretty lame.

diana.daniel said...

If you enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, try the "sequel" (sort of) World Without End.

Not great literature by any stretch, but a fun, smart-ish page turner.

I really enjoyed both of them