Saturday, May 29, 2010

Goodreads is awesome, btw.

Book review time! I read a bunch of books this time out.

Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It, Michael J. Trinklein
My brother told me about this book and I added it to my wishlist. He had a copy and I read it in an hour because it's a quick piece. A lot of the stories I already knew but there were some that were surprising and new to me. Definitely an interesting book to check out, and the maps are awesome.

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver.

This was a book that Ash had read a few months back and raved about how good it was. I was walking through Barnes & Noble one day and it jumped out at me from a random shelf, so I bought it. And I am very glad I did. This is the story of a mother whose child becomes a school shooter. She tells the story through letters to her estranged husband, and it's completely mesmerizing. This is the book that The Unprofessionals tried to be -- a story about an upper middle class woman who doesn't know what to do with her life, and how she interacts with a young man, a teenager really. It brings up nature vs nurture,and asks all the important questions. This is superbly written and increasingly captivating as you get to the quiet climax.

Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival, Anderson Cooper.

CNN's Anderson Cooper became a household name for his work during Hurricane Katrina, but my mom and I had been fans for a long time before that. She was the one who told me that his mother is Gloria Vanderbilt, and that his brother killed himself from jumping out a window. This book is a window into his mind and thoughts and the rationale behind why he chose to jump from war to disaster, from country to country. While it was a good and quick read, I don't know if I would recommend it for people who aren't fans of Coper.

The White Queen, Philippa Gregory.

Continuing the trend of writing trilogies based on the turbulent past of England's Tudor dynasty, Gregory starts her new one based on the life of Elizabeth Woodville. A young widow catches the eye of a king, and marries him out of love, allegedly. His life cut short, she has to fight for every inch to save her children and their claim to the throne of England.

I liked this book, and then I didn't. The witchcraft she uses as a deus ex machina is good in parts, but overused and preachy in others. Elizabeth herself comes off as incredibly needy and clingy, but the story is enjoyable in parts.

English, Wang Gang.
This is a book translated from Mandarin Chinese to English, about a young boy in the extreme rural parts of China, a place so remote that we never hear or know anything about the region. It's an interesting character study, and an intriguing look into a part of history and a country that is so rarely understood by westerners.

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett.

I was out at I believe Troy Night Out, where all the shops and restaurants and such are open later on Fridays or what have you, and we wandered into this new consignment shop. The woman had books for sale, and a granddaughter who was named Journey. She said it was for the band, but her daughter had chosen it for other reasons. The kid was cute and the book was cheap.

Based remotely on true events, Patchett writes a story that relies heavily on Stockholm Syndrome. A group of hoi palloi in an unnamed Latin American country (Peru) gathers at the Vice President's residence to see a concert by a famous American opera star. The opera star had been lured there to entertain a rich Japanese business man who the country wanted to invest in infrastructure. A rebel group had other ideas and takes the group hostage.

For several months the wildly comedic group lives together, and become BFFs. And while it's not entirely realistic and a little bizarre, it is entertaining. And that's all I asked out of this book.

That's Not in My American History Book, Thomas Ayres.
This was slightly annoying. I couldn't remember if I had read this book or not, because I knew almost all the stories in it from either that book or other similar texts. Not worth buying.

No comments: