Saturday, April 3, 2010

10 Books I Read in March

I read. A lot.

Reading has never been something that I had to make time for--I usually read in the evening before I go to sleep and I usually have a book in my purse. I grew up sneaking novels behind my math text book. I've always been good in school because I read fast and remember what I read. I have seven large bookcases of novels alphabetized by author and one arranged by subject for nonfiction.

I'd go broke if not for libraries and my stepmom's reading habits (we read the same authors).

It takes me about three days to read a new book. If I really like it or if I've read it before, one day. If it takes me a week, I'm either incredibly busy or not really getting into the story.

Here's a quick round-up of ten books that I read in the month of March.

1) Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb writes fantasy novels with flawed main characters and intricate and rich historical/political/social background. They're not the typical "quest" style fantasy book with one dimensional characters or cookie-cutter settings. This is the first book of the Wild Rain Chronicles Trilogy but would best be read after the three Liveship Traders books--there's too many characters and too much background information mentioned for it to really stand alone. It's much more upbeat than her recent Soldier Son series. It follows the same pattern of multiple characters, multiple stories as the Liveship Trader series. Rather short for one of her books, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one. Basic plot: after making a deal with a dragon to help save the last batch of dragon eggs, humans must decide what to do with the stunted, deformed and dangerous baby dragons that resulted.

2) Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I like Jodi Picoult's books. Her characters are usually interesting, have an interesting "twist", and they almost always make me cry. This one was a disappointment. The main female teen character doesn't ring true. It's repetitive and just a rehash of high school stereotypes. You really don't find yourself rooting for anyone. I much preferred "My Sister's Keeper" or "The Tenth Circle". Basic plot: after a school shooting, all of the participants' stories are told flashback style and the line between victim and perpetrator blur.

3) The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

This book tries too hard to contain too much. A teacher's life wrecked by the Columbine school shooting, a druggie wife going to jail, a complex family secret--after a while it's not interesting anymore. It has too much going on to really do any one thing well. "She's Come Undone" and "I Know This Much is True" are much better. This isn't an awful book by any means, just not a fantastic one.

4) The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

This book is beautifully written but the pace dragged a bit. I love Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible", "Prodigal Summer"...wait, I love all of her books. But one of the things I like most is their strong female characters. This one was written from the point of view of a homosexual male Mexican-American author and it doesn't quite ring true. The historical details are fascinating--the character works for Kahlo, Rivera, and Leon Trotsky and it made me want to read a biography of Frida Kahlo. But when the character moves to the US and gets caught up in the anti-communist movement, the book just becomes rather boring. I like the repeated imagery of the lacuna and Kingsolver's prose is always beautiful, but if you've never read any of her books I'd pick a different one.

5) Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell

This book could have been amazing. Instead, it was just pretty good. I love the offbeat and quirky characters but there are just a couple too many of them--she should have had a couple less and fleshed them out better. The romantic problems of the main character seems forced just for the point of having a resolvable conflict. The main character's sister returns home after everyone assumed she was dead, pursued by a housewife, a lawyer, and a Russian mobster.

6) Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Book 9 of the Rachel Morgan series. It's series about a witch who does demon magic and has a pixie and a vampire roommate--so it's definitely a guilty pleasure book. I enjoyed this one because the plot is actually moving along instead of just another string of people trying to kill Morgan and her barely getting out alive. Totally trashy but fun.

7) Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy

This is one of my stepmom's favorite books and I've had it sitting on my bookshelf for borrowed books for almost a year. It was fun--a fantasy novel set in the real world about a dragon in human form who resides at a hotel and a woman searching for her daughter. It was written in the 80's and I think the dated references to cutting edge computer technology are hilarious.

8) Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth

This is the only "reread" book I'm including on the list. This has no relation to the god-awful recent movie with the same name. It's a memoir written by two of the children of Frank and Lily Gilbreth--efficiency experts of the 1910's with twelve children. "Belles on their Toes" is the second memoir, written about how the family held up after the death of their father. Interesting, quick read and a fun bit of history.

9) Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Harris also writes the Sookie Stackhouse series (which the TV show True Blood is based on). This is the fourth book in the Harper Connelly series. The main character can sense dead bodies and tell what they died from, and so works for private investors and the police when she can. I've been unimpressed with this series so far because Harper is spineless and her romantic involvement with her stepbrother gives me the heebie-jeebies, but this book is pretty good. The character shows a bit of backbone and the story is interesting.

10) Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

Why do I keep reading Laurell K. Hamilton's books? They're awful. After I read this one, my review of it to Batman was, "I could write a better book with my butt." I adored the first six or so Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels. Set in St. Louis, Anita Blake was a gutsy zombie re-animator who was licensed to kill vampires. Now she's just a ho. Who has sex with anything and everything. The last ten novels have been all about sex and incredibly explicit but not even in an interesting sort of way.

Wow. I just reread this entry and it seems as if I hate everything I read. I will admit that March was kind of a downer in terms of books not living up to expectations--but there's always April. And May. And I love books enough that I'll never stop reading.

1 comment:

  1. The WU Freshman class this year is reading "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid. A very interesting fiction from a Pakastani living in America before, during and after 9/11. It's one of the few books that has stayed with me weeks after I've read it. The author should be on campus in the fall for a Speaker's Series and I plan to attend. You're welcome to borrow it if interested!