I have been away from home since March 10th and haven't had a whole lot of unfettered access to the internet outside of work so blog pickin's have been fairly slim. My site visit stats reflect that and I'm going to work to be more active here! Anyway, here is my reading report from March!
Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
I picked this up in search of readalikes for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelley and was stunned by how much I hated it. It has all 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon but I did not have that reading experience. For me, it was dull, repetitive, and dry. All the exact opposite of Kelley's EoCT and I will not be mentioning it despite the Darwin connection.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Tahir Shah
My book group was reading travel writing last month and I picked this one up, I admit, simply because I liked the cover. It features an Indian (as in the country of India, not a Native American) mystic dressed as the Hindu goddess Kali. An unusual childhood encounter with magic and conjuring "miracles" leads author Shah on a quest to study under the most celebrated practitioner of magic in India, Hakim Feroze. This is not the usual tourist fare, and it is not for the faint of heart or stomach.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
This compulsively readable tale is based on the author's grandfather's stories of surviving WWII in Russia. Lev Beniov is placed in the undesirable position of having to find a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of a colonel's daughter in a city full of people starving in the face of German advancement. If that sounds lighthearted, don't be fooled. Another book not for the faint of heart or stomach.
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
Kostova's second novel after The Historian showcases what I believe to be a phenomenal budding talent! This story ranges across decades from 19th century France to modern day Washington D.C. Murder, art, love, obsession, hate, and joy. The pace is leisurely and the wording beautiful, though the ending may be too abrupt for some.
Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party by Max Blumenthal
I read this in January but it slipped by me, as far as I can tell, in terms of putting it on my sidebar list and posting to J. Kaye's site. If you want gossipy, not terribly politically correct dirt on many Republican scandals...this is the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Impact by Douglas Preston
Douglas, Douglas, Douglas...where did the books like Relic and Blasphemy go? I gutted this one out because I've always liked this author in the past but this was a complete dud. Waitress spots unusual comet on her new telescope. Scientist spots something unusual in images being returned from the Mars mission. Scientist later found decapitated by concertina wire garrot, which the police rule as a home invasion and burglary. Weird found in Cambodia, out of which radioactive gemstones are being mined. New scientist takes dead scientist's job and finds something unusual in images being returned from the Mars mission. Chaos ensues.
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
This is the April book for my sci-fi/fan bookgroup and I can hardly wait for the discussion. Excellent writing! Cayce Pollard is a cool hunter (read: freelance advertising consultant) with the unique ability to sense what will be the next hot thing, just by looking. Unfortunately, she has some "allergies" to certain logos, chief among them the Michelin Man. She wears/uses nothing with logos on them, removing them whenever possible. The hot new thing lately is a series of short videos being uploaded to the web anonymously, around which a cult following has developed. She is hired by a corporate bigwig to discover the identity and whereabouts of the footage's mysterious creator. Loved it!
Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini
I downloaded this mainly because it was only about 5 hours long and I figured I could finish it on the plane ride to Portland (motion sickness + reading printed matter = not usually possible). The narrator was good and the premise as well, pretty hilarious really. Average dorky high schooler Jeremy Heere gets word of a little pill you can swallow that contains a quantum supercomputer which will then do all in its power to make you cool. Several nefarious deeds result in him raising the $500 necessary for the device. He has to learn the hard way, as do we all, that you'd best be careful what you wish for. Cursing, graphic sexual discussion, and teen drinking abound. Just so you know.
The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
I picked up this ARC at the PLA conference in Portland, Oregon and took enough Dramamine so that I could read it on the plane on the way back! :-) This is the excellent, dark, Gothic tale of the mental deterioration of nature poet John Clare, who entered the care of Dr. Matthew Allen's High Beach asylum. Alfred Tennyson, along with his brother Septimus, also under the care of D. Allen, makes an appearance at High Beach as well. This is a short book but not a light one by any means. All the stories ever told of the depravity of 18th and 19th century insane asylums show up here. This book will be published in June here in the U.S. and was shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize in Britain.
What are you reading?