Wednesday, August 17, 2011

May Books

Sigh. Woefully behind. So much so that I'm typing this on my iPhone as penance. Just try to remember that I'm moving across country in three days and promise to become more prolific once I am in Boston and have no friends.

Edited to Add: I've now been in Boston for nearly a week. 'Behind' doesn't begin to cover it.

ICE PRINCESS/Camilla Lackberg/B+
Murder and mystery in a Swedish journalist's hometown. A bit disjointed in places, but overall I liked the setting in a seaside town and the combination of old secrets and current threats.

MAP OF TRUE PLACES/Brunonia Barry/A-
Strong story of a psychiatrist having her own breakdown and returning to Salem, Massachusetts to care for her father as his dementia worsens. Why did her mother die years ago? Who is the man she's beginning to love? And what really drove her patient to suicide

THE WAY OF KINGS/Brandon Sanderson/A+
I adore everything of Sandersons's, but this first novel in a planned ten-book epic is more than stunning. Every POV is interesting and every character is complex. And nobody can beat Sanderson at plotting and twists. The only downside is having to wait for more.

Long, but not so long if you skip all the extra info. The actual words of Twain are fabulous and made me laugh at nearly every turn. But also at times unexpectedly poignant, as when he shares pieces of the biography his daughter wrote about him when she was young. I will definitely read the next part when it's released and recommend it for fans of Twain's fiction.

The subtitle to this book is A Biography of Cancer and that pretty much sums it up. An outstanding account of cancer and the shadows it has cast for so many years. Covers topics from the pioneers of chemotherapy and radical surgery to the nature of a cancer cell in general as well as the astonishingly complex mutations that define cancer as perhaps medicine's greatest challenge ever. Fabulous.

A brief but powerful account of the writer's descent into deep depression and subsequent treatment. Recommended for those who suffer and/or those who love those who suffer from depression if only to know that you are not alone.

Eliza Benedict is living a picture perfect life in suburban Washington D.C. with her husband and two children when a letter from her past shatters the image. The summer Eliza was fifteen, she was kidnapped and held captive for several weeks by a  man who is now about to be executed as a serial killer. Why was Eliza the only girl he left alive? Why did he let her go? And what does he want from her now that he's about to die? Intriguing, unexpected, and Eliza is a strong character beneath her initial fear.

Connie Goodwin is supposed to be spending the summer doing research for her dissertation, but finds herself clearing out her grandmother's ancient New England cottage instead. But could the perfect topic be right under her nose? When Connie finds a key hidden in a family Bible, she also finds a name--Deliverance Dane. And the race is on to find a rare book that others would kill to possess. A little underwritten for my taste, and the paranormal elements didn't seem to fit, but otherwise a strong story.

HOW WE DIE/Sherwin Nuland/A
Sounds depressing, I know, but I am rather morbid. And I enjoyed this doctor's matter-of-fact account of the different ways in which our bodies age and die. From heart failure to cancer, strokes to Alzheimer's, I perversely found comfort in the knowledge that our bodies are created in order to age and break down. Very interesting.

RUN/Ann Patchett/A
Patchett is an amazing writer and by that I mean I liked this one even better than Bel Canto which is no mean feat. Bernard Doyle lost his wife years ago, but on this snowy night in Boston he's enjoying a lecture with his two younger boys, Tip and Teddy. They think they know all about their lives, but when Tip is injured in a car crash in the snow, family secrets are up for grabs. The most compelling character in the book is young Kenya, a girl with a gift for running who will change the Doyle family forever.

THE HELP/Kathryn Stockett/A-
Loved this book; can't wait to see the film. Skeeter has come back to Mississippi from college and wants to write. But the 1960s' South isn't kind to women with ambition, and Skeeter is uncomfortable with the now-married friends she grew up with. Aibileen is a black housekeeper who is growing tired of caring for white children who will be taught to think less of her as they grow older. And Minnie is a spitfire who has a hard time keeping her mouth shut to her employers and winds up keeping house for the strangest backcountry white woman who no one will accept. When Skeeter hits on the idea of writing a book about what it's like for the black help in white households, unexpected friendships emerge as well as a compelling book.

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