Finally a nice month with many books a'read. :) I definitely have more free time this summer, even though I'm up to my neck in my summer class (just took my mid-term, and at this point I'm about two weeks ahead in assignments so that's promising!). I find myself in the middle of many series right now, several that are waiting their next installment, or several that I'm waiting on at the library. Lately I've tried reading all my series at once to save on confusion and forgetting, but it's not always possible.
Here's what I read last month:
"Maggie: the sequel to The Dead Don't Dance" by Charles Martin
I'm having a hard time reviewing this for several reasons. 1st, it is no where near as good as "When Crickets Cry" or it's prequel, "The Dead Don't Dance."
2nd, I had a hard time believing that so very much tragedy (coma, loss of baby, car accident, near-drowning, rape, arson, kidnapping, and repeated assault) could happen to the same few characters in such a tiny town, and one man end up the hero in just about every case. I almost think that "The Dead Don't Dance" and "Maggie" should have been two completely separate stories with separate characters.
3rd, even though Charles Martin's writing style is GLORIOUS, beautifully descriptive, and entertaining to read, in this book, there was a lot of nothing as far as plot development, and then pow-bam-boom tragedy. Then a whole lot more of nothing and more pow-bam-boom again. I felt that the author was struggling to make enough plot to keep this second one going.
Essentially it's a story about grieving and loss and dealing with life and healing and moving on, but not to the point of I-Want-To-Kill-Myself-Now-That-I've-Read-This. It was nothing like "The Hours" or "Memory Keeper's Daughter" that way.
Like I said, having a hard time reviewing it. Still loving Charles Martin and his talent; this was beautifully written, however, the plot wasn't as good as his others.
(This is what yesterday's book review was about)
When I started reading "A Jane Austen Education..." by William Deresiewicz my first instinct was that the author was only jumping on what is certainly an All-Things-Austen bandwagon that we have seen as of late...not unlike the All-Things-Vampire phase from the past few years. I felt that he was simply attaching his name to a well-known and well-loved author because he knew her name itself would draw readers in and his book would sell.
As I read his memoirs, I realized that Austen really was a major part of the author's life for many years prior to his writing this book. He took several classes in college and grad-school relating to the writer and the time period and really did come to know her personally, totally "got" her style, and completely understood her intents and talents. He even largely based his grad-school dissertation on her writings. So this was certainly no 'bandwagon-jump' for Deresiewicz. This has been a 15-ish year process for him.
Having said that, I do kind of feel that he purposefully made certain parts of his life coincide nicely and conveniently for the intent of this book. One never knows how accurate these types of autobiographical accounts are. It could be real, it could be fiction. It could just be really good writing. What he did is take 6 Jane Austen books and correlate their meaning, intent, heroine, and moral to different stages of his own past. He related to each story in a specific way, learning morals as Austen's heroines did, growing as a person with the passing of each book.
It was entertaining enough, a short read, and not unenjoyable, but it wasn't my favorite kind of read. My favorite parts were when he delved into the books themselves, reminding me of their characters, plots, and resolutions. One of the books reviewed, "Persuasion", I have not yet read, and so I found that section particularly interesting.
If you are an Austen fan, you will probably enjoy this book--that is if you like memoir-type books. Deresiewicz has definitely done his homework, has a wonderfully in depth view of Austen and her personal life as well as her fictional characters in print.
Oh, and it made me want to pick up "Persuasion" ASAP.
"Fire Study" (book #3 in the "Study" series) by Maria V. Snyder
This book was pretty much my limit as far as science fiction/paranormal/fantasy goes. The first half of the book I was just reading to get through it, because I wanted to finish up this 3rd book in the series. (Reminder, I loved the first, but only thought the second was all right) But the second half of the book was much better with more direction and plot.
There's almost too much action in this...I had to keep reminding myself who the good guys and bad guys were and why certain people were in pursuit of others. There were many different groups of people that I got confused sometimes, and then there was the whole magic side of things which got a bit overwhelming I think. But as I said, when the plot became specific the second half, I started to enjoy it more.
"The Maze Runner" (book #1 in "Maze Runner series") by James Dashner
Warning, major spoilers below because I have major questions, so if you have not read this and don't want to be spoilt (is that a word?) skip this one. . . just know that I really liked it.
I really enjoyed this! I listened to this on audio CD because the wait list for the actual book is ginormous at the library. I was able to listen to it in a period of about 24 hours--got all my dusting and chores done while listening--and recommend it for anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games. Dystopian societies are very 'in' right now in YA fantasy fiction. :) This is a very similar concept to Hunger Games but definitely it's own story. It is quick moving and very suspenseful with lots of great characters. The beginning is a little slow just because you don't know what the heck is going on, but it doesn't take too long to get past that. Very excited to read the next one!
Having said that, I would have given it 5 stars except the last 10% got a little confusing for me. I was left with several questions that either didn't get solved or I missed the answers to. Such as:
Did I miss why Thomas and Theresa were chosen to go into the maze and get their mind swiped even though they helped the creators design the experiment in the first place?
Why did Theresa show up in a coma and what was the point of that?
Why did the creators allow the antidotes of the Grievers' stings to give back some of the kids' memories? Was that just for curiosity as per the experiment?
Did the creators decide to kill everyone off at the end and that's why they started the whole "one boy will die each night" thing?
Why did the Wicked lady get shot at the end?
I dunno...maybe I read/listened to it too fast. Anyone wanna help a sister out?
"Four to Score" (book #4 in "Stephanie Plum" series) by Janet Evanovich
Dan and I get much joy out of reading these out loud. Good thing, cuz there's like 22 of them? This one added some new characters which made it a little fun. Looking forward to the movie of the first book in January starring Katherine Heigl. :)
Dang that girl is hard on cars--Stephanie, not Kat.
"A Discovery of Witches" (book #1 in "All Souls" series) by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches can be summed up as follows: Twilight For Adults.
I was sucked in from the start and thoroughly enjoyed the tale of Diana and her learning about her powers as a witch, even though she'd tried to suppress them all her life. It was so exciting to watch her fall in love with Matthew, the French Vampire. (pardon me, but, Edward Who??) It was full of suspense as the daemons, other vampires, and other witches sought to learn about Diana and her great potential as possibly the world's most powerful witch.
Intertwined in all this was the steamy love story, the fun and fantastical element of magic powers, and lots and lots of history. As the author stated herself, this was a book about books, and thus there were a lot of passages taken directly from old texts, scientists, authors, manuscripts, poems, etc. I have to admit, a lot of the names and history went over my head, as well as most of the discussions about genetics and time travel, but I enjoyed the story all the same.
Very much looking forward to the second book in the series and highly recommend this one!
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (book #1 in the "Traveling Pants" series) by Ann Brashares
This was a little bit hard to get into coming off my "A Discovery of Witches" high, being that 'Witches' was so completely adult and these 'Pants' books are so very juvenile. It is about 15 year olds afterall and very teeny bopperish. But, that's the audience as well.
But about 100 pages in I got into the flow (it changes 3rd person perspective mid-chapter and often) and enjoyed it for a nice light read. It was cute, and now I want to see the movie. :)
"The Second Summer of the Sisterhood" (book #2 in the "Traveling Pants" series) by Ann Brashares
Started reading it literally minutes after finishing the first one, was able to get into it much quicker, understandably.
Fun light read! Bridget's my favorite character, but Lena had some good stuff in this one as well. Will keep reading the series. :)
So, there you have it! Eight books this month. My favorite being "A Discovery of Witches" and "Maze Runner". What have you been reading?