Reading Roundup: August 2011

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

At first I didn't like the fact that this book was told by the two main characters in alternating chapters. The voice of one, in particular, bothered me and I didn't like the way she was written. However, after a while I got used to it and I liked this book after all. The story was interesting but I thought the writing could have been a little tighter and created more of a plot, rather than just retelling historic events.

The Nightingale by Morgana Gallaway

I have a read a number of books about the Middle East, but I think this is the first I've read that is set in contemporary Iraq. The plot really kept me reading and I thought the writing was pretty decent. It felt like it had a lot going on (action, romance, social commentary, political issues), but I would read a follow-up if the author writes one.

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

This book had a lot of information in it and took a long time to read, but I loved every page. This is the kind of book that makes you want to stop and share all the new things you've learned with everyone around you. I had so much fun reading it and I now know much more about the elements than I ever did before.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
by Tom Franklin

From reviews I had read, I expected this book to be a bit more 'literary' in style, but instead it was written more like a conventional mystery. I still enjoyed it quite a lot, despite figuring out some of the plot twists well in advance of the characters.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

This is a book I was reluctant to read because I was disappointed by the last book I read by Lisa See. Despite my efforts to not like it, I think this book is her best that I've read yet and I look forward to reading the sequel soon. I love historical fiction that draws me in to a time and place I'm unfamiliar with, and this book really does the job well.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

This book was the one that made me realize that I have been reading too many crime-based books and I need to take a break. The premise of the plot is really interesting, but the writing totally turned me off. The book is written as a series of monologues by the main character to her therapist, recounting her kidnapping and imprisonment by a madman. This creates the problem of having too much dialogue that veers towards telling more than showing, and a thoroughly unlikable character for the first part of the book when she is still angry, bitter, and foul-mouthed. I think it is really interesting to imagine this story told in a different way. It might be better.

All that was Promised
by Vickie Hall

The strength of this book was the characterization. The main characters were all really well-written, but the plot seemed to lack a lot a central organizing thread and felt like it was just progressing along a line of events that were pre-determined. I wondered how much of the story was historical fact that was just being 'checked off a list'. I also really don't like books that are obviously setting up for a sequel in the end, rather than having a clear resolution (this was particularly annoying because it was the second such book I read in the space of a few weeks).

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson

I keep trying to like Larson's books, because I like history and the cover blurbs always promise some kind of action or suspense. But, the writing style never manages to live up to that promise and I sometimes feel as though I am missing something when I finish. I did like this one much more than the last one of his that I read, but it still felt fairly anti-climatic when it was over.



Yes, I'm embarrassed that this is the only movie we watched this month. We don't have much time for movies any more. It really was as bad as I thought it was going to be, not only in the storyline but also in the production quality. It was a good movie to laugh at.


Earth Sign Mama said…
I read a middle school book this summer for my college class that was set in contemporary Afghanistan that you might like. I couldn't put it down. "Thunder Over Kandahar"--one interesting part about the author is that she visited in Afghanistan recently as part of a Candadian author's group attached to a military unit and so the story is quite realistic.

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