Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Orchids and Rye?

Two very different books to comment on.  First I read Wild Orchids, by Jude Deveraux.  I wasn't really impressed.  The book started out OK, but moved very slowly for my taste.  I really like a plot-driven novel, and there was lots of character in this book.  Also, the last 75 pages got really quirky -- no longer realistic.  I won't give any details because I don't want to give anything away, but the ending was unsatisfying to me.  I also really don't like a "romance" that is inevitable the entire book, but never comes to fruition because the two people will not communicate!!  They misread signs and words and it's just very frustrating the whole time and not very realistic.

The second book for this post is Catcher in the Rye. I read this book in high school (which was more than a few years ago, I must admit) but I really didn't remember much about it.  With Salinger's death, I thought I should read it again.  It was OK.  Easy to read, but disturbing, but I guess that's the point.  A lot has been published about this classic, so I don't think I need to say anything more.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Alex Cross, one of my favorites

I finished Cross Country, by James Patterson.  As I've said before, I really like these books -- I find them exciting and interesting.  I'm not sure Patterson was trying to make a political statement, but I learned a lot (of bad stuff) about Nigeria, Darfur, Somalia, and other places in Africa.  Once again I am so thankful I live in the USA!  But, nevertheless, it is heartbreaking what some people on this planet go through on a daily basis.  Some of his books don't have a very satisfying ending (that's why he can keep writing them) but I liked this ending.  It's a quick read, and even though he's written a lot of Alex Cross novels, you don't have to read them in order, so you can read this one any time!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two Books

The first book today is Hail to the Chef, by Julie Hyzy.  This is the second book in the White House Chef Mystery Series, and I really enjoyed it.  I love to cook, and I thought it was very interesting to read about the behind-the-scenes operations at the White House.  Not just the cooking, but the butlers, florists, electricians, and of course the Secret Service.  The situations were hokey and far-fetched, but a very entertaining read.

The second book I read was Firehouse, by David Halberstam.  This is a true story of Firehouse 40/35 in New York City, that lost 12 of the 13 firemen who responded to the 9/11 disaster.  The book describes each fireman, their families, their path to becoming a fireman, and their strengths and weaknesses. It describes what they know about the fate of these men and talks about their memorial services, the recovery of their bodies and how their families handled their loss.

One of the best things about the book is the description of the life of a fireman.  They really are an extended family, and many of them are 2nd or 3rd generation firemen.  It was a quick read, very informative and not too morbid.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monsters

Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey was on of the most sickeningly gory novels I've ever read.  A very good story, but I really had to put it down a couple of times because I was sick to my stomach.

The monsters are Anthropophagi -- monsters with no heads, and have eyes and mouths in their chest.  They are extremely aggressive and feed only on humans.  Sound interesting?  Exciting? You bet.  These monsters attack, and then a team of monstrumologists and others take them on.  The narrator is a 12-year-old boy who is the assistant to the monstrumologist.  You won't be able to stop reading until you finish this book.  But it's not for the faint of heart.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mudbound

OK, I've been stuck in a historical fiction rut.  However, all the recent books I've read have sort of meshed together nicely.  Mudbound as well as Shanghai Girls and Flygirl all are about minorities and all have something to do with WWII and the period after.

Mudbound  is an excellent novel about racial segregation in the south, particularly after WWII.  It deals with share cropping, which is very unfair, and the difficulties of farming for not only the sharecroppers but also the property owners.  It was such a struggle, and it's easy to feel the frustration of the characters in the book.  There is also the post traumatic stress disorder issue, and of course, there was no therapy at that time other than a whiskey bottle. The book is narrated by several different characters, so the reader gets the story from several perspectives.  This book is highly recommended.

I'm going to read something completely different now!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flygirl

I finished Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith.  This is a young adult historical novel about WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during WWII.  The extra twist is that the main character is an African American who is light-skinned enough to "pass" and is able to make it through the training and become a WASP, but this adds much risk to her position.

The story does a good job of depicting the feelings on the home front during the war.  People really felt like they were doing their part by saving bacon grease, turning in their silk stockings, and using rationing coupons.  The WASP life seemed somewhat glamorized, but usually pilots are seen as romantic characters (i.e. "Top Gun") so I guess that was to be expected.  I think young adults, both girls and boys, will find this novel interesting and easy to read.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Shanghai Girls

This was a wonderful book.  A bit long, but very enjoyable.  This story follows the lives of two sisters born in China.  We begin in the late 1930s in Shanghai when the sisters are teenagers.  The story follows the lives of these two girls through the Japanese invasion of China, their escape to the U.S., World War II, the Korean War, China's fall to communism, and everything in between.  I didn't realize how oppressed the Chinese were in this country.  They were very segregated and hated -- just like African Americans -- possibly even worse, because the Chinese could not become citizens and had to live in constant fear of being deported back to China.

The Chinese culture is fascinating, and these sisters, as most Chinese people, tried to keep as much of their heritage and traditions alive in this country while trying to fit in and be loyal Americans.  It was a difficult life, and became more difficult with each passing generation.  I loved Lisa See's Snowflower and the Secret Fan, and this book did not disapoint.  I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in historical fiction, and especially the Chinese culture.

I've decided I'm not going to post about what I'm reading -- I will only post about books when I am finished with them.  So you will have to wait to see what I've decided to read next.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My summer library

I brought the library home.  I'm going to try to read a lot this summer, and I chose a wide variety of books and brought them all home, so I can just choose what I'm in the mood for.  Just like when I browse the library deciding what to read.  I've already read 3 books since school is out, so I've got a good start.  I'll keep you posted on the good, the bad, and the ugly books as I go along.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shanghai Girls

I finished True Colors and absolutely loved it.  What an epic tale, following three sisters, basically for about 25 years.  The setting was beautifully told -- a ranch in Washington State.  The characters each had such distinct personalities, and through many tough trials, continued to return to each other.  I really had a hard time putting this one down, and it was a little bit longer than an average novel.  Well worth it.  I cried several times, but not uncomfortably (I quit reading Nicholas Sparks because I couldn't stop crying all the way through his novels -- ruining contacts and giving me a headache.)  The emotional journey through good times and bad with this family was a very satisfying experience.

Now I'm reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.  I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan a few years ago, and really loved that book, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A reading weekend . . .

I finished Drowning Ruth and it was very satisfying.  It was a little slow, not much action, but that's not the kind of book it is.  The characters were very well developed and you could feel the heartbreak.  I'm always frustrated by situations that cause extreme discomfort and are based on misunderstandings.  If only people would talk to each other, ask questions, and explain their actions.  But that wouldn't make for a very entertaining novel, and that's what this was.

I then read Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods.  I have read books by him before, but it's been a while.  It just amazes me how every woman that Stone Barrington (the main character) meets ends up falling into bed with him!  He must be irresistible.  Anyway, a good story happens between all that sex, and it was a fun, suspenseful read.

Now I am reading True Colors by Kristin Hannah.  Her books are just feel-good entertaining reads.  Well, the entire book isn't "feel good."  I'm about half way through, and things have pretty much fallen apart around the three sisters that are the main characters in this book.  I have to hurry and finish this post so I can get back to the book to find out what happens!

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