Just wanted to point out that author Sarah Bird (or at least someone who claimed to be her) left a comment on my review of The Yokota Officers Club. Ms. Bird was in town this past weekend for the Texas Book Festival. I wish I had met her.
I just read The Geographer’s Library by Jon Fasman. It was an enjoyable read. But one thing puzzles me. The book was full of colorful characters, except one: the protagonist. He was a young man with a bland personality who had not seen much of the world and who was not familiar with many of the cultural and historical references that are so important to the plot. I think the author did this so that the other characters would have an opportunity to explain the cultural references for the readers’ sake. But it makes for an odd protagonist who is so so passive and unmemorable compared to the other characters.
I just completed the unabridged audio edition of The Yokota Officers Club by Sarah Bird. This novel is the coming-of-age story of a young woman who grew up as the daughter of an Air Force pilot after the second World War. I highly recommend the novel. The characters have depth, the story has unexpected convergences. All in all, it’s an exceptionally well written novel.
I just completed the unabridged audio edition of Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I avoided checking out this audio book for quite some time, assuming that it was a chick book, not particulary my thing: more about feelings and/or relationships than actions. Well, now that I’ve read it, I can firmly say that it is indeed a chick book, but it’s also the best book I’ve read in some time. The characters and their relationships are subtle, complex and quite compelling. I highly recommend this book.
I just completed the audio edition of Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman. The more of Hillerman’s books I read (well, listen to), the more I come to appreciate the quality of his writing. In addition, this novel passed my mystery novel test: I had no idea about the solution to the mystery before the protagonist, Jim Leaphorn, figured it out.
I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this week. I lost interest in the middle, but it picked back up again toward the end. Well written as usual, but I found it a little contrived in places. It’s really hard to say whether J. K. Rowling’s writing has changed or whether my interest in the series waned. Enjoyable nonetheless.
I just completed the unabridged audio edition of Waiting by Frank M. Robinson. This thriller explores an interesting premise, but the execution is lacking. The motivations and thought processes of the characters are particularly inconsistent: the protagonist completely misses some obvious connections, yet makes other connections long before they are clear. But, as a thriller, I guess it fulfilled its most basic function: I was eager to get to the end to see how everthing was resolved, even though I was not too thrilled about getting through to the end.
Oh, and an additional minor annoyance: the reader of the audio book frequently emphasized what I thought was the wrong word in the sentence.
I just completed the abridged audio edition of That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx. It was just okay, nothing special.
The thing that bothered the about the book was the feeling that Ms. Proulx either had little direct experience with the type of people about whom she was writing (Texas panhandle farmers and ranchers), or that she held those people in subtle contempt. It felt like at some level, she was making fun of them or portraying them as caricatures.
I just completed the unabridged audio edition of The Season of Lillian Dawes by Katherine Mosby, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The language used in the novel is really over the top sophisticated, but since it’s written in the voice of a young privileged American man, the language fits him and his world perfectly.
I also realized that this novel shares many themes with another book I read and enjoyed recently: The Absence of Nectar. Both books have a main character who has obscured his or her identity and history, and both books are a kind of coming-of-age story, though the details differ radically between the two books.