Sunday, July 01, 2007

June Reads

I'm fell a little short of my quota in my June reading. Although I got off to a strong start, wading through a weak book slowed me down. Also, I started three books that I ended up not finishing. One was a Kathy Reichs' novel, set in Montreal. I have a tolerate-hate relationship with Reichs anyway and dealing with French names and the occassional French line was just too much for me to bear. The second book was "Fluke" by James Herbert, about a man who is reincarnated as a dog. Peter recommended it and it wasn't bad, it's just that it was a library book and even with a renewal, I wasn't compelled to get myself past the fifth chapter.

The last book I abandoned in June was Lionel Shriver's "We Need to Talk About Kevin". Yes, we probably do, but if the beginning letters were more accessible and less abstruse, I might have been more willing to stick with it. As it was, I just jumped ahead to the gory bits, which were well-written and very evocative. Almost enough to make me return to the beginning to see how she got to the end, but I'd promised the book to a fellow moocher and didn't have time to read any more than isolated chunks. The funny thing was that even just randomly opening the book, the pages I read were more interesting, easier to read, and more curiosity inducing than the first 20 or 30 pages in which the narrator gives an incomplete picture of her current life and spends way to much time in the beginning before the beginning - the period of time in which she and her husband were trying to decide whether or not to have children.

So, now that you know too much about the books I didn't read this month, here are the books that I did.

"Gone" - Lisa Gardiner

Summary: When Lainie's car is discovered on the side of the road in the middle of the night, its door open and engine running, the local sherriff's departments suspicions are immediately aroused. Lainie's estranged husband, his FBI daughter, and her law-enforcement boyfriend work (sometimes at cross purposes) with local authorities to try to unravel the mystery.

Grade: A

Reason: Using the likeable and familiar cast of characters from "The Killing Hour," Gardiner tells a strong tale and manages to provide a realistic and satisfying ending.

"Kill the Messenger"

Summary: Jace, a bicycle messenger, has one last delivery to make, to an isolated parking lot in LA. When the intended recipient tries to kill him, Jace returns to the sender of the package, only to find him murdered and Jace is now the primary suspect. He must work hard to figure out what's going on, before the killer or the cops find him.

Grade: A

Reason: Great characters in a well-constructed plot. I was disappointed when the story was over because I'd grown to like Jace and his brother and wanted to spend more time with them.

"Night Sins" - Tami Hoag

Summary: When 9-year-old Josh Kirkwood is abducted, the town's police chief and the new Minnesota Bureau of Investigations field agent, the first woman to obtain the position, must overcome their suspicions, and their romantic attractions, to find the boy before it's too late.

Grade: D

Reason: I think this was one of Hoag's early books. At least I hope it was. The book is full of annoying and sanctimonious over-telling. Yes, I'm sure it's difficult to be a woman in a male-dominated environment, to be a trail blazer into an old boys' network. But really, I got that the first three time you mentioned it. I didn't need to hear it every other page. I think the book probably could have been shortened by removing 30% of all references to sexism and the difficult life of a female field agent.

"Trouble" - Jessie Kellerman

Summary: Medical student Jonah Stem steps in to assist a young woman who is being attacked in a dark alley in NYC. The assailant is accidentally murdered in the course of his rescue. Jonah's a hero for his intervention. Or were things really as they seemed.

Grade: B

Reason: I might be grading too harshly here, since "Sunstroke" was such an extraordinary debut novel. The book builds slowly, which wasn't a bad thing. It felt sort of like a Hitchcock movie, like "Vertigo" or "Rear Window", but unlike those classic films, the payoff just wasn't strong enough. Partly, I think that was due to some of the characters not being strong or well-developed enough, but I don't know if even the best characters could have rescued the anti-climax at the end.

"Forever in Blue - The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" by Ann Brashares

Summary: The last installment in the series, the Traveling Pants are a pair of blue jeans with the magical power to look good on the four differently shaped friends and to keep these friends connected when they are apart. Like the other books in the series, this book follows Carmen, Tibby, Bridget and Lena as they grow up, together and apart, in the summer after their first year in college.

Grade: A+

Reason: Every time I have finished one of the Traveling Pants books, I have thought to myself "This is the book I wish I'd written." The writing is fantastic, the characters are amazing, and the plots are well-put together. One of the most amazing things to me is how Brashares manages to write in 4 distinct, authentic voices. Most writers struggle with just one but she is able to interweave four stories and have each girl's story sound distinctly different.

3 Comments:

At 1 July 2007 at 16:08, Blogger laurie said...

my niece loves the traveling pants books.

if you're interested, i belong to a "book club" of sorts--we tally up what we've read every month and my nephew posts it online. we write a five-word review. whoever reads the most books wins a gift certificate at the end of the year.

here's where we all were at the end of may. it'll take him a couple of weeks for him to tally june.

online book club

 
At 2 July 2007 at 13:37, Blogger Dave P. said...

You've been tagged!

http://www.pike27.net/rfn/?p=842

 
At 10 July 2007 at 07:18, Blogger -Ann said...

Laurie - I like the five-word review idea. I did look at the site - boy, you guys read some smarty-pants books. :) I am SUCH a lazy reader. Also, you better focus if you're going to beat Mikey. :)

Dave - Thanks. I think.

 

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