Reading Roundup: October 2011

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure

I read all of Laura Ingalls' books as a kid, multiple times, so I was the perfect reader for this book. I had a lot of fun reading about the author's experiences trying to learn more about Laura and about life on the frontier. I also thought it was interesting to reflect on how our childhood experiences with reading influence the rest of our lives.

Daughter of Helaman
by Misty Moncur

This book was much better than I had expected it to be (and based on the cover--the design is definitely not my favorite). I did wonder how much of Heather Moore's Book of Mormon books the author had read simply because there seemed to be many similarities between the books; that could be simply due to using the same sources on ancient Meso-America for inspiration. I did like the characters quite a lot but thought the book was lacking strength in plot development. I also dislike books that seem to obviously be setting up a sequel.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

This book was so well-written that it ended up being exhausting to read. I really loved the central idea of the book: a murder mystery retold from the point of view of a woman who is suffering from dementia. The story was well-done and I was surprised by the ending, but I also felt frustrated because I didn't like or understand most of the main characters. I don't know how much of that is due to the fact that they are revealed slowly and in fragments, or if they are just truly incomprehensible.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

After Shanghai Girls ended so abruptly I put this book on hold and endured weeks of endless waiting. This book ups the ante as far as perilous, horrific situations go, and it covers a shorter period of time, but I enjoyed it just as much. The action was compelling and the characters were written in a way that kept me caring about them through to the end. If you are looking for a good, action-packed historical novel (or two), read Shanghai Girls and then this one. And then be very grateful for your life right now.

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings

I had a blast reading this book--I'm sure it helps that I am a 'maphead' too and that I know Ken and his family (man, I really need to take another trip to Seattle to visit my friends), but even if I didn't like either maps or the Jennings' family, I probably still would have loved this book. It is a great combination of fun facts and personal narrative. If you don't love geography before reading this book, you will when you are done.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

This is another book that I read because the plot sounded so interesting to me. The first half is told from the point of view of a girl who is the 'outside' daughter of a bigamist; the second half is told from the point of view of his other daughter. Of course, their worlds inevitably collide and the fallout is brutal. I thought the strength in this book was the characterization, especially since we get to see each of the characters both from within and from the viewpoint of multiple people.

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