twitterature: november

It’s been awhile since my last twitterature post.  Be sure to check out Anne’s reading at Modern Mrs. Darcy— I can always find something great on her list.

The Good Lord Bird (James McBride): Hands down, this was the best book I’ve read in awhile. It’s a fictionalized account of John Brown, and both Brown and the book’s narrator (Henry/Onion) were vivid and remarkable. Even as the story marched toward the inevitable historical conclusion, I waited for a last-minute miracle to save them… and somehow McBride pulled that off.

Gene Card (E.E. Giorgi) is a sci-fi thriller heavy on the science, which is realistic and compelling.  Gene Card occurs in a disastrous future in which all the characters are complicated and no one’s motives are pure.

The Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown).  I loved this book and even regretted loaning Sam my kindle while I was reading it. Brown tells the story of the US 1936 Olympic crew from childhood through their brush with the Nazis, and I couldn’t put it down.

The Watch that Ends the Night (Alan Wolff). This was a reread for me, and I did a test read with the children, who keep asking for it.  It’s the story of the Titanic from many perspectives. In free verse.  Longer review here.

Peace and Bread: The Story of Jane Adams (Stephanie Sammartino McPherson). This biography of Jane Adams was a surprise hit with the under-13 crowd, and I found myself reading ahead.  Free from sentimentality. Inspiring.

Finding Calcutta (Mary Poplin): Another reread, and absolutely worth coming back to. Poplin’s observations about her time with the Missionaries of Charity are incisive and compelling.  I’m glad I found it again.

From This Day Forward (Elswyth Thane): A Thane romance between a famous singer and a scientist in the 1930’s. Last time I read it I hadn’t been to Guatemala yet, and I enjoyed her descriptions of Central America.   I see how reading this book as a teenager shaped my ideas of marriage.

Okay for Nor (Gary Schmidt): I was skeptical that any book would live up to The Wednesday Wars, but Schmidt did it again.  This family is in grave distress, but the painful beginning is powerfully redeemed by the end.

Twitterature June 2014

Me Before You (JoJo Moyes)
By page three, Lou had me hooked. She’s a quirky, funny narrator with a great story to tell. By halfway I was skipping meals to keep reading. Every character was well-drawn. Add this to your summer reading list.

Regency Buck (Georgette Heyer)
Judith Tavener, a headstrong young heiress, finds her new guardian to be as implacable as she is. Their antagonism rides the waves of her brother’s folly, fortune-hunting suitors and her own foolishness. This one is fun.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Amy Bender)
Bender’s depiction of a family with special talents takes place within a perfectly ordinary house on an ordinary street. The details of the narrator’s world are so clear you think you are sitting in their living room. As the magic in this story developed, I was reminded of two other amazing books: When You Reach Me and The Bee Season.

Sprig Muslin (Georgette Heyer)
Heyer perfectly depicts the self-absorption of a teenager and how it affects everyone around her in a tumble of unintended fallout. The love story here is quiet and sweet.

What’s the Worst that Could Happen? (Donald Westlake)
John Dortmunder’s luck changes for the better, though he can’t see it. Luck appears in many forms in this hilarious caper.

Heist Society (Ally Carter)
I love heists, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Katarina has a full back story, though we only glimpse pieces of it, and while her world is fully crafted I felt sometimes like it peopled only by teenagers.

For more Twitterature, check out Anne’s site!

Twitterature: May 2014

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Forgiveness (Lauren Hillenbrand)

Amazing!  This book kept me up nights both reading and imagining.  Both the research and the storytelling are impeccable.

Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)

Another WWII story, this one set in Europe, but YA.  I hate to say “another” though, because this book is a stand-alone thriller that has me rethinking my life goals. (Don’t worry, I’m not planning on becoming a WWII pilot.)

The Mermaids of Bodega Bay (Mary Birk)

This mystery/thriller unfolds from many points of view.  Birk manages to portray many characters with a few strokes, and though I hadn’t met these people before, I felt like I knew them.  She had me fooled almost till the end (which is rare).

Shadows (Robin McKinley)

I was a little disappointed in this new book from one of my favorite authors, who is a master world-builder. The world never fully had me.

Expedition to the Pole (Annie Dillard)

This is my all-time favorite essay (I have it in Teaching a Stone to Talk and in The Annie Dillard Reader.)  I revisit it periodically, and it never ceases to speak to me.  This read-though has me thinking about the hindrances I hold dear, and what they cost me.

Ever After (Elswyth Thane)

Set at the turn of the 19th->20th centuries and in the Spanish-American War, this book has it all: history, love, adventure… The third in the Williamsburg series.

The Foundling (Georgette Heyer)

This is a Regency romp, similar to her Charity Girl, which I find funnier.

Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey 1), Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey 2), and Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey 6) (my continuing Dorothy Sayers jag)

Reading these is like watching someone learn to paint– not their first strokes, but watching them find their style.  Like the Van Gogh exhibit at the DAM last year: you followed along, painting by painting, as he became who we think of as Van Gogh.  I’m not saying our image of him is who he really was, but it’s who he wanted us to see.  Sayers makes a similar transformation in these books.

What are you reading?

For more Twitterature, check out Anne.
twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

Twitterature: April 2014

April was a good month for reading. A bad month for housework. Or cooking. But good for reading. Here are a few short reviews of what I’ve been reading:

Dept. of Speculation (Jenny Offill)
The story of a woman, a man, a colicky baby, and a marriage. This book was funny enough that Sam and I took turns reading each other quotes. Funny and tragic. I still wish I could be an art monster.

Promised (Caragh O’Brien)
This conclusion to the Birthmarked Trilogy left me a little flat- it didn’t capture me the way the first two did.

The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
I howled (in a good way, not a pass-me-the-Kleenex or a creepy werewolf way) all the way through it. I wrote a slightly longer review here.

D.A. (Connie Willis and J.K. Potter)
This novella about a high school senior who doesn’t want to become an astronaut cracked me up. Wish it had been longer.

Uncharted Territory (Connie Willis)
An older Connie Willis Sci Fi love story did what Willis does best: took my assumptions and used them against me. Loved it.

The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare)
What a weird play. I still can’t figure out exactly WHY Antonio was so sad in the beginning. And why was Shakespeare so into cross dressing?

What are you reading?

For more Twitterature, check out Anne.
twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews