Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Book Review

I am continuing grad school starting at the end of this month, so I decided to have one last hurrah while I was free to read what I chose instead of what the syllabus says I must. I’ve spent the last two months devouring books to complete my goals for the two summer reading programs I signed up for, and I made it! I read 12 books in two months while caring for two children, keeping the romance alive with one husband, cooking seven roasts, running my son to the potty 1800 hundred times so he could pee for 1.4 seconds and then scream “Bye pee-pee”, and sleeping at least six hours a night. This may be my biggest lifetime accomplishment so far. As practice for grad school, I am reviewing these twelve books on the blog. As a Library Science major, I’m going to be forced to do this in three weeks anyway, so might as well give it a shot while I’m not under duress. I’ll review them four at a time and would love to hear other reading recommendations for when I am free to read my own choices again at Christmas break.

While I was Gone bySue Miller

This was my first book by Miller. Part mystery, part a tale of marriage and family, this story explores how your past can land in your present with chaotic results. Very enjoyable, some violence, a good book that keeps you reading to find out what happens.

The Last Nude-Avery Ellis

This book combined with watching Midnight in Paris began our newest obsession: 1920s Paris, the lost generation. I am now reading The Sun Also Rises and The Paris Wife, and am planning on diving into F. Scott Fitzgerald's books next.

Ellis' book centers around 1920s Paris, the artist Tamara de Lempicka and her muse. This book is fiction, but it has a historical fiction feel to it. Several characters from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast appear here as well. Passion, betrayal, and an overall sense of Paris as a paradise and also a kind of hell to exist in during this time period kept me reading. There are highly charged, somewhat intricately described sex scenes, which I wasn’t expecting since I knew nothing about 1920s Paris, but they aren’t what the book is about as much as it is about relationships, trust, and what people will do to survive.  This is not 50 Shades of Grey 1920s style for those of you who are like me and trying to avoid that. 

Gone, Baby, Gone-Dennis Lehane

This book is hard to give an accurate review of because I have mixed feelings. I could not put this book down, which is a warning that you may not want to pick it up in the first place. Lehane creates a mystery involving missing children, corrupt systems, and two private investigators who have not always made the most by-the-book decisions. Combined with his descriptions of Boston and characters you care about a little too much, Gone, Baby, Gone is unforgettable. It’s so unforgettable that I will never read anything by Lehane again.

I have a very sensitive mind, and when an image lands in my brain, it settles. Disturbing images have a special way of doing this. Violence against children, some very unsettling freaks, and Lehane’s amazing ability to describe this until the reader hurts still leave me trying to projectile vomit some of the images from my brain. When you finish this book, you will be left with moral and ethical questions galore, and I love that in a book. However, after a couple of months to reflect, it was not worth the mental anguish I suffered knowing, even though this is fiction, some of the scenes in this book actually happen to people in the world. So, thumbs up if you can handle this kind of stuff or have figured out how to use bleach to clean your brain. If you cried at Gremlins when you were nine and threw your Gizmo doll in the trash can because you got it wet and thought it was going to kill you, maybe not. If you still won’t watch Gremlins(I’m serious, never again) for sure no.

There’s also a movie. I didn’t watch it. Refer to Gremlins above.

Fragile-Lisa Unger

Why I jumped into another missing person book after Gone, Baby, Gone is unknown to me. This one did not cause me tears of anguish or make me run to check on my children every 15 seconds for two weeks while they slept, though it was disturbing in its own way. A teenage girl goes missing in a small town, the past and presents of the townspeople collide, and a missing girl case from long ago is brought back to the surface. Again, really good moral and ethical questions, but I found by the end of Unger tying off the loose ends again and again, I didn’t care about the characters as much as I probably should have, and I think the book could have ended sooner. She made her point, and she had a purpose in what she wrote, but some of it was so interwoven at the end that I just needed it to stop.  Still, strong writing, and I may read another book by her.

Next up to review:
What Alice Forgot-Liane Moriarty
Bossypants-Tina Fey
The Forgotten Waltz-Anne Enright
Fairy Tale Interrupted-Rosemarie Terenzio

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