Reading Roundup: July 2011

The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith

I picked up this book because I wanted to see what a nationally-published YA book by a Mormon author, about Mormon teens, was like. It was pretty good and I thought the religious and cultural elements were worked into the narrative quite well. I was left feeling a little unsatisfied by the fact that the plot was not very strong and there wasn't much of a resolution in the end.

I Don't Want to Kill You
by Dan Wells

This book left me feeling very satisfied and I thought it was a great end to the series. The author thought up some great new twists and I was hooked until the end. Part of me wishes there were more books about John Wayne Cleaver, but part of me is glad there aren't so I don't have to read about any more horrible ways for people to die.

Rescue
by Anita Shreve

I tried this book because the plot sounded interesting. It was, but I thought all the characters were flat and stereotypical, and their motivations were not very clear in the story.

The Memory Palace
by Mira Bartok

This memoir was really fascinating, and as much about Bartok's experience as the child of a schizophrenic as about her mother. I thought that she really exhibited a lot of compassion and understanding towards her mother, despite all of the difficult things she went through in her life.

Alma the Younger
by H.B. Moore

I think that this book has been my favorite out of all the books in this series. I was surprised by how contemporary many of the questions and issues faced by the characters were, despite the ancient setting. I was really impressed by how the author brings out the complexity in a story that often feels fairly straightforward. All of these books have really been enjoyable to read as novels as well as a way to think about stories from the Book of Mormon in a new way.

Blindsight by Robin Cook

I read this book because I needed to read a thriller. I thought I might like Robin Cook because I like medical stuff and forensics, but the writing in this book was terrible and I figured out the entire plot about forty pages into the book. Maybe some of Cook's writing is better, but this is certainly not one of his best.

The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe
by Peter Godwin

This is a book that took me a long time to read because I had to keep putting it down to take a break from the things it describes. I really loved Godwin's memoir from a few years ago, and while this was a good book, it does not flow as easily nor does it have a strong central plot. However, it is still an important book and a well-written one that reports on events that have largely been ignored by the rest of the world so I would still recommend reading it.

Ammon by H.B. Moore

This was just as good as any of Moore's other books, but I felt that this one did not have as many complex questions in it as some of her others. The characterization of Ammon is very interesting and she does explore some new angles in his story, but I felt like the book was more of a romantic suspense story than I like.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

This was the book that I expected to be more suspenseful, when instead it turned out to be more of an exploration in psychology. I thought it was really fascinating, even though I never really understood the motivations of the protagonist even by the end of the book.

Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon

I thought this was a challenging read. The author takes a chance by using really artful prose, fragmented chronology, and vague descriptions in this book about violence and oppression. There were some passages that really struck me as brilliant, but the story overall did not impress me as much as I had wanted it to.

Movies

Undertow

This movie is surprising; it is not a straightforward love story, or a straightforward coming out story either. I thought it was an excellent example of telling a somewhat universal story from within the context of a unique place and culture. The acting was excellent and when it ended I really wanted to see more of the characters and their story.

Comments

brinestone said…
Lots of Mormon fiction this time. Was that on purpose? Also, because I'm curious, how did you hear about the John Wayne Cleaver series? I ask because I knew Dan back in the day and have gotten into the series because of that, but I wasn't sure how many other people know about him. I like his work a lot.
FoxyJ said…
I've been reading a lot of Mormon fiction during the last few years. This month I wanted to read Alma the Younger before Ammon, so I ended up reading them both in the same month.

I heard about Dan Wells' books through Mormon lit blogs and through the Whitney awards. Normally I don't really read much horror, but I really liked them a lot.

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