Friday, November 6, 2009

October Books

CATCHING FIRE/Suzanne Collins/A
I had to pry this sequel to HUNGER GAMES out of my son's hands--it was worth it. Katniss and Peeta are the first joint winners of the Hunger Games ever and now they're on tour to the discontented districts. While playing their lovelorn game for the government, Katniss hurts her best friend and sees how dangerous winning can be. And then the worst happens--she and Peeta are forced back into competition. Who will they betray? Who will they kill? And which one of them will come out alive? Collins really ups the tension and the stakes and I can't wait for the next book.

THE FOUNDING/Cynthia Harrod-Eagles/D
Deadly boring historical about the creation of the Morland family dynasty in Yorkshire in the 1400s. I love a good historical dynasty novel--this wasn't it. I didn't care about any of the characters very much, in spite of all the jumping around in POV, and I especially didn't like the matriarch who held the book together. The time period was the only interesting part--being a Yorkshire family, they had a lot to do with Richard, Duke of York, and his two sons who ruled England, Edward IV and the ill-fated Richard III. But I'll have to find a better story to fully appreciate that background.

Further proof that I am not smart enough for literary fiction. An interesting set-up, about a town on the fringe of a Indian reservation, the murder of a family generations before, the lynching of the innocent, and the tendrils of consequence that are still being felt. But I just could not lose myself in the story because I always felt like I was missing symbolism or not appreciating the language sufficiently. My problem, not the book's.

HERESY/Sharon Newman/B-
I used to devour the Catherine LeVendeur mysteries set in 12th-century France, but I've let them slip over the last few years. This one has to do with the son of Heloise and Abelard (a historically real couple) who does a favor for a friend and ends up accused of murder and, like his famous father, heresy. Catherine is still engaging as an educated and strong-minded woman, but the story felt forced on the framework of historical facts. I liked the first three in this series the best, though I'll probably keep reading them just to see how Newman solves the problem of a Christian noblewoman in love with a Jewish merchant.

I've never read Brooks before, but I enjoyed this trilogy which is a prequel to his famous Shannara books. In a devastated near-future, several groups come together in a race to save a handful of humans before the end of the world. There are Knights of the Word (who control powerful magic) street children who have no one but themselves, Elves who can no longer hide in their corner, demons and once-men who terrorize, and a villain who wants to kill them all off What more do you need?

I loved Enger's debut novel Peace Like a River, and was not disappointed in his second. Set in 1915, failing writer Monte Becket makes friends with Glendon Hale, a former outlaw who decides to set off for Mexico to make amends to the young wife he left long ago. Monte goes with him, but the journey is complicated when a former Pinkerton detective catches Glendon's trail and refuses to let up. Floods, elopement, robbery, and murder leave Monte wondering how he got where he is and whether his disappointing life can be revived. No blurb or review can do this book justice--Enger has the gift of creating characters who walk straight into my heart and make me follow wherever they go. If you haven't read him, read both his novels as quick as you can.

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