Friday, February 4, 2011

What I'm Reading Now-The Jumbo 2010 Catch-Up Edition, Part I

In an effort to cross some things off my aging to-do list, here is a wrap-up of my 2010 reading.  At some point, it all just got away from me.  I am going to try to keep this short and sweet, so here goes a giant exercise in brevity and creativity.

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1)The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1) by James Dashner-A boy wakes up in an elevator that dumps him out into a maze.  There are lots of other boys there.  Nobody remembers anything before the maze.  *Gasp*  A girl appears!  What does it all mean?  Don't go out into the maze after dark or you'll likely be killed by giant armored amoeba-y things.  Action ensues.  I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads, but I might downgrade it to 3.  Not sure if I'm interested in the follow-up.

The Sweetheart Season: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)The Sweetheart Season by Karen Joy Fowler-I picked this up because my favorite author, Mary Doria Russell, lists it on her  "Recommendations" page; and, by golly, if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me!  It's about a women's wartime baseball (softball?) league.  The problem with that is that it immediately makes me think of A League of Their Own, which this was nothing like.  Not that that's a bad thing in and of itself but I went into it expecting it to be something it wasn't.  I think this is one that I need to reread, this time with no expectations.  Although I didn't walk away loving this, I did take copious notes on things that I liked within it, so...that's gotta count for something, right?  Give it a read, just don't expect it to be very much about baseball.

The Ask and the Answer: Chaos Walking: Book TwoThe Ask and the Answer:  Chaos Walking:  Book Two by Patrick Ness-Still dark and depressing, but not quite as bad as The Knife of Never Letting Go.  Don't get me wrong, it's still dark, just in a different way. It's been a while since I read this, but if I remember correctly, there might have been a tiny bit of hope at the end of this one.

A Canticle for LeibowitzA Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller-This is another book that I was inspired to read after I found it on Mary Doria Russell's list of recommendations.  And now I am going to cut and paste from my Goodreads review: Although I didn't love this book from beginning to end, the ending affected me deeply and in a way that I totally did not expect, and that's what pushed it from 4 stars to 5 for me...even though I knew how the book was going to end since I read Norman Spinrad's Introduction in the 1975 Gregg Press edition. Thanks a lot for the giant spolier, Norman! (Note to writers: If you are ever asked to write an Introduction for a book, please don't include any version of, "the book ends with [insert final climactic event here:]..."  I'm just sayin'.)...I originally checked this out from the library. Time was up, but I knew I wanted to keep reading it and that I would want to refer to it later, so I returned my giant spoiler-filled copy to the library and bought a new copy. What do you know-I opened it up to find a new (spoiler-free) Introduction by Mary Doria Russell! [Which shouldn't have been a surprise, seeing as how she mentions it on her web site, but I guess I forgot about that part].  I enjoyed the book on its own merits, but I can also definitely see where it influenced her book, The Sparrow, which, I admit, makes me love it just a little bit more.  One more note:  There is a lot of latin in this book, and I finally went on line and found a study guide from Washington State University that turned out to be most helpful.

Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese-Ann has raved about this again and again on Books on the Nightstand (in 6 different podcasts and one blog post (the link takes you to a page where you can search for podcasts and posts by book title, but I can only get the two most recent podcasts to play-you might have to get the others from iTunes if you want to listen to them)), so I finally picked it up.  Again, from my Goodreads review:  Great depth of story here and I loved all the medical detail-enough to be fascinating but not so much as to lose the average reader. Also, when I started reading, I didn't realize that part of this story revolves around live-donor liver transplants. My husband's side of the family went through this process, all except the actual transplant itself-at the last minute it was determined that the vasculature of the intended donor did not line up with the recipient's and the surgery had to be called off. (In the end, a cadavar donor was found, and hubby's family is doing well and we are all very grateful.) With this family history, the story resonated for me in a way that I hadn't been expecting when I picked up this book about twin boys living in Ethiopia. A lilve-donor liver transplant is not something that most people have any familiarity with at all, so to randomly run across it in a work of fiction was kind of cool. 

The Magicians: A NovelThe Magicians by Lev Grossman-Part Harry Potter, part Chronicles of Narnia, but then it finally gets its own legs under it and goes off in a darker direction.  Thanks to Jeanne's review at Necromancy Never Pays for finally convincing me to read it.

People of the Book: A NovelPeople of the Book by Geraldine Brooks-This is a fictionalized account of the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated Jewish manuscript from the 1300s, that was thought to have been destroyed in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Thanks to the brave efforts of the director of the National Museum, the Haggadah was safe, contrary to rumors that it had been destroyed or sold for arms.  The Haggadah faced a similar threat in the '40s when the Nazis came looking for it; again, it was saved, this time by the director and the curator of the National Museaum, both of whom risked their lives to save it.  People of the Book traces the Haggadah's history through various stories of narrow escape all the way back to its creation.  I started reading this on my Kindle months (years?) ago, and I finally picked it back up on the plane, on the way home from our trip to France, which included a side trip to Venice.  Turns out that part of this book takes place in Venice during the 1600s!  Imagine how psyched I was to recognize the places in this story that would have meant nothing to me one week earlier!  Heather J. gave the audio version a rave review, along with a better plot summary.


Care said...

There are SO MANY books you list here that I am very eager to read, I don't even know what to comment on! Enjoy your reading and I hope to cross many off this list myself some day.

Florinda said...

I'll be reading A Canticle for Liebowitz later this year for a book group, and your mention of the Mary Doria Russell/Sparrow connection definitely piques my interest.

Dreamybee said...

Care-If you were on teh fence about anything, I hope I've helped you make some decisions. :) Either way, enjoy your reading too, and good luck crossing stuff off your list. Is it just me, or do the lists grow much more quickly than we can cross stuff off of them??

Florinda-I hope you enjoy it-I think a book group setting would be beneficial for a book like this. I have to admit, there were a few parts where I really didn't know what the heck was going on, but I still appreciated it overall.