Catch-up

Well, I disappeared!  Oops.  I have been too busy to blog (new apt, new kitty, etc etc) but of course, a bookavore is NEVER too busy to read.  So!  The books I’ve been keeping myself sane with.  I am limiting myself to one-sentence reviews, though I will cheat with semicolons and em dashes.  These are in no particular order, not even the order I read them in.

8. Last Dance at the Frosty Queen, Richard Uhlig (Random House/Knopf, 2007).  I’ve been holding onto the ARC for months because I just knew it would be great, and it was; King Dork set in 1988 Kansas.

9.  Gossip of the Starlings, Nina de Gramont (Algonquin, June 2008).  Subtle but underwhelming; I think I am just not the audience (in the least because I am still a little over-full of books about precocious children, due to a binge late last year).

10.  Undone, Brooke Taylor (Walker, August 2008).  Little things about this book bugged me, and I hope some of them will be changed in the final edition, but overall I really liked it, and there were several scenes that really struck me.

11. The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff (Hyperion, 2008).  I picked this up because of all the buzz around it, and the buzz was what drove me through the first few slow-ish chapters, and thank God it did, because I loved this book, both as a well-crafted novel, but also for the boundary-pushing of its structure.

12.  Madness: A Bipolar Life, Marya Hornbacher (Houghton Mifflin, April 2008).  I still don’t know how I feel about this one, and I’ve had a couple of weeks to think about it; I especially had trouble believing that a person could have so many clear memories from very early childhood AND through mental illness and alcoholism, but then on the other hand, books like this remind me just how different everybody’s brains are, so who am I to judge.

13. Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives, Jim Sheeler (Penguin, May 2008).  This important book made me cry; it primarily follows Major Steve Beck, a Marine who has the unenviable duty of informing families in person that they’ve lost a child/spouse, as well as some of the families he informs through their grief.  I’m going to write a second sentence here, because it needs to be written: Major Steve Beck is a remarkable and admirable man.  This book is for pro-war and anti-war people, and it can help, even in a small way, close the gap between Americans whose every day is affected by war, and the bulk of us, who can go days without thinking about it.

14. Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone, Beth Lisick (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2008).  Bookslut opposed this book on principle (sick of all the year-long experiment books, a sentiment with which I agree more every day), but I read it anyway, and I liked it a fair bit, although I’m not sure I can sell it in hardcover.

15. Geek Magnet, Kieran Scott (Penguin, May 2008).  Solid light YA that even manages to have an *issue* at the heart of it without being annoying, but again, not sure about hardcover sales.

16. The Little Prisoner: How a Childhood Was Stolen and a Trust Betrayed, Jane Elliott (Harper, August 2008).   I’m not sure what about this childhood-abuse memoir was scarier: the abuse or the almost calm tone with which it is recounted; either way I wish I hadn’t chosen to read this before bed.

17. An Absolute Scandal, Penny Vincenzi (Doubleday/Random House, June 2008).  Oooo, how I love books about scandals that have multiple family dramas, especially when they’re British–this book hits every mark you expect and want it to, and in that sense is extremely satisfying up to the very end.  This would be a great beach read.

18. A Prisoner of Birth, Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin’s, March 2008).  Continuing in the British plot-driven novel theme, this is probably the best of his I’ve read since I picked up As the Crow Flies at the age of 13 when baby-sitting–again with a book that satisfies because it makes clear promises and follows through.  I don’t know why I find this more palatable in British novels.  Probably because British legal scenes are so much more dignified than American ones.

I think there may be a few more books rattling around the place that need writing up, and I will be posting a through review of Mudbound in the next few days.

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