Saturday, April 28, 2007

Latest Reading

The book I'm currently reading, Childe Morgan, is part of a fantasy series, by Katherine Kurtz, that I've read several times about a race of people with magic powers in a kingdom similar to medieval England. It's a new one and I didn't even know this one was out -- I stumbled across it accidentally in the library. Here's what I've finished, three books and two audio books. I've also included the Friday shuffle a day late.

The Ruins by Scott Smith: Two American couples vacation in Cancun, meet some people, go to find the German character's missing brother and stumble on a Mayan village. Although the characters aren't that well developed -- it's often hard to distinguish between them except through very stereotypical traits (this is especially true of the women) -- the plot is tight. The novel also provides that one thing that almost every horror reader is looking for and doesn't often get -- that little frisson of dread. Since I finished this book, it's often been hard for me to look out at the vines in my back yard.

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf: I loved this story of an Muslim girl, Khadra Shamy, growing up in a strict Muslim family in 1970s Indianapolis. The characters are interesting and believable. Khadra, herself, is a compelling, if occasionally whiny and self-involved, character. Her journey from a strict interpretation of Islamic law to one that feels more organic and true to her is paralleled by her journey from feeling an outsider in America to her realization that she is indeed American.

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier: I picked up this book because I love William Blake and was interested to see how he'd be portrayed fictionally. I did know that he wouldn't be the main character -- that place falls to a young boy named Jem, who having moved from Dorsetshire to London with his family, falls in love with a poor girl, Maggie. It's the interaction of these two characters with the Blakes and with the circus owner, Philip Astley, that the novel centers on. Unfortunately, Blake is too shadowy of a character and his reasons for his actions are unclear. I haven't read Tracy Chevalier's novels before but I suspect this is not one of her best works.

The Murder Room by P.D. James: I generally like P.D. James but I didn't like this book, and I cannot blame it on the person reading it. I suspect I'd find this book just as boring if I'd read it instead of listened to it. For Pete's sake, I had listened to 11 chapters before I even got to the first body! And this is a murder mystery. Adam Dalgliesh, the Scotland Yard commander in charge of solving the murders which are made to look like historical murders showcased in the murder room of the Dupayne Museum, is boring in this novel and so is the subplot of his romance. The characters in this novel are pretty much stock characters and some other subplots -- like why British intelligence in the form of MI-5 would be interested in the Dupayne murders -- don't even make sense. Even more unforgivable to me is the fact that I knew who the murderer was the minute the character showed up and that was long before the body appeared.

Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani: This is mostly a fluffy, light listen but it was a fun, fluffy listen that brought up serious issues -- the death of a child, mountain top removal mining, how secrets can affect friendships, and a spouse's health problems. How Ave Maria panics and eventually solves and handles these problems was fun. And even though I was never in doubt that Ave Maria would solve her problems, I liked being introduced to Cracker's Neck Holler and its inhabitants through this novel read, with great affection, by its author. The only thing I hated was her attempt at a Scottish accent -- she should have left that alone.

Friday Shuffle -- The Day Late Again Edition
  1. Bell Bottom Blues: Eric Clapton from The Cream of Clapton
  2. E-Bow the Letter: R.E.M. from In Time
  3. Ces Petits Reins: Angelique Kidjo from Black Ivory Soul
  4. Bold as Love: John Mayer from Continuum
  5. Are You Having Any Fun Yet?: Tony Bennett and Elvis Costello from Duets
  6. Wicked Man: Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama from There Will Be A Light
  7. Long As I Can See the Light: Creedence Clearwater Revival from Chronicle v. 1
  8. Don't Ask: Michelle Shocked from Don't Ask Don't Tell
  9. Four Winds: Bright Eyes from Cassadaga
  10. Sit Down Young Stranger: Gordon Lightfoot from If You Could Read My Mind


nutmeg said...

I read Tracey Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring and I really enjoyed it - quite an excellent historical novel. I then picked up something else by her and it was way below the standard of Pearl Earring. I think I then gave that other novel away and haven't attempted any Chevalier since.

And I saw that Tony Bennett duets CD the other day for $10 (around US$8) do you think I should go back and snap it up?

Katya said...

Oh yeah -- I would snap it up right away. I love Tony Bennett.

I might read Girl With a Pearl Earring since everyone tells me how good it is but I don't think I'll read anything else by her.

Kristina said...

I've been wanting to read the Ruins, and I was just thinking about this book the other day. I couldn't remember the title or who wrote it. So thanks for refreshing my memory!

P.S. Does it get any better than Bell Bottom Blues or Long As I Can See The Light?

Katya said...

Kristina: Bell Bottom Blues and Long as I Can See the Light are practically perfect. What would have made this a really perfect shuffle is Van Morrison's Moondance.

BabelBabe said...

i didn't even really like Pearl Earring, to tell you the truth. but the Blake intrigued me as well - thx for reviewing so I don't waste reading time on it : )