Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book reviews

So in all that time I wasn't blogging I was doing a lot of traveling, and long flight = lots of reading time.  So here are some very brief summaries of what I've read lately:

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. One of my favorite authors writes a book about a female scientist who travels to the Amazon to investigate the mysterious death of a colleague. Could a plot line be any more up my alley? Unlikley.
The Boy in the Suitcase, by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis. Apparently it takes two authors to write a thriller that's like a low calorie version of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Confusing at first but got more enjoyable when I got used to the Danish names and figured out who was who.
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. An excellent novel about a young boy growing up in South Africa during World War II that chronicles his difficult childhood and the people he met who have a long-lasting impact on his life. So much better than the movie! Highly recommended!  Even though it was a long book, I was sad to come to the end, as I don't think I could ever get tired of Peekay.
The Book of the Night Women, by Marlon James.  The story of Lilith, a slave girl growing up on a sugar plantation in Jamaica in the 18th century. Heartbreaking and brutal as hell. I'll be happy if I never have to read another whipping scene ever again.
The Opposite of Me, by Sarah Pekkanen. After finishing with the night women, I needed some lighter fare to brighten my mood, and this somewhat formulaic chic lit did the trick.  Twin sisters who are opposite in looks and personalities!! 
Straight Man, by Richard Russo.  With this novel about a middle-aged English professor undergoing something of a mid-life crisis, Richard Russo succeeds where Michael Chabon fails, creating a protagonist who is likeable despite his flaws.  Also, serves as a warning to anyone hoping for a career in academia. Recommended!

So I'm currently reading the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey for my book club...let's just say it's terribly written and super porny, but somehow addictive at the same time.  I can't even read it on the train because I'm ashamed to be seen reading it in public.  Although I must admit it will certainly make excellent book club discussion fodder.


danimal said...

Check out 1Q84, blowing my mind!

Danmark said...

In "State of Wonder," Ann Patchett transports us from Eden Prairie, Minnesota to the remote jungles of the Amazon. Forty-two year old Marina Singh is a medical doctor turned pharmacologist who has spent most of her career studying lipids and statins. Her colleague, Anders Eckman, left Minnesota to find seventy-three year old Dr. Annick Swenson, a brilliant, eccentric, brusque, and reclusive researcher who has spent the last ten years in Brazil. Annick's boss, Jim Fox, CEO of Vogel Pharmaceuticals, asked Eckman to find out what progress Swenson has been making in developing a wonder drug that would prolong a woman's fertility beyond her fifties. Since Swenson has always been uncommunicative, Eckman's task will not be easy. Months later, word reaches Fox that Eckman contracted a virulent fever that killed him, and Marina decides, with prodding from both her boss and Eckman's widow, to retrace Eckman's steps.

Suldog said...

I had heard (from MY WIFE, by the way) that "Shades" was not at all well-written. I'm glad to have that verified by an independent source, thus saving me the trouble of reading it.

eileen said...

Well if anyone wants a more detailed summary of State of Wonder, looks like some random commenter has copied and pasted it for you!

Suldog- yeah, the book was in need of some heavy-handed editing. The following phrases were used ad nauseum:

"I bite my lip"
"I gasp"
"My breath hitches"

Dan- thanks for the rec! I forgot to include one other book I read, Super Sad True Love Story, that you had recommended. I enjoyed it- incredibly clever and creative, funny and depressing at the same time. I thought the girl was a much more interesting character than the guy (he annoyed me a bit- reminded me of an ex)