Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Icebergs by Rebecca Johns

In WWII, a plane goes down on the icy, desolate coast of Canada. Two of the Canadian airmen aboard survive. They begin a trek to make it back to safety, only one will make it.
This book follows the families of the two men from that time until current day. The two wives had become friends while the men were missing and the survivor was recuperating. They both of children, move to America and their lives continue to intermingle. A lot of questions are raised as to how all their lives would have been different if the other man had also survived or if their fates had reversed.
This book was good and the writing is similar to her other book The Countess (which I preferred). Her style is a bit heavy and drags a bit. Of course, I have said that a lot lately so it may be more my state of mind than the author's writing style.

the Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark

In the 17th century, there were two views on the cause of birth defects. One, that the child was a monster cursed by God, the other, that the mother of the child had suffered a shock that imprinted itself on the unborn child.
A doctor who has a large birth mark on his face is determined to prove that it was his mothers fault that he is marked. She apparently witnessed a massive fire while pregnant.
The doctor's method of proving himself correct is to torment pregnant women and then study their children. Brought under his control is Eliza, a 16 year old sent to him as a maid after becoming pregnant with the child of a wealthy merchant who is paying to keep her out of the way.
This book is dark and mysterious and drags a bit. I liked it more for the background than for the actual story. I think I would have preferred a non-fiction book concerning the same subject matter. It was good though. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this type of book as it is a bit heavy.

As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs

Susie B Anthony Rabinowitz Gersten is married to a doctor, has 4 year old triplet boys, uninvolved parents and snobbish in-laws. One morning she realizes that her husband never made it home from work. After a week or so, his body is discovered in the apartment of a prostitute. But Susie is convinced that her husband would never have gone to a prostitute and does some sluething to figure out what happened.
I might have liked this book if I didn't HATE the main character. She is shallow and annoying and annoying. You might like this book. I skimmed to the end just to see what happened.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Countess by Rebecca Johns

Based on the true history of Erszebet Bathory, this book is so good. It reminded me a bit of Serena by Ron Rash (will have to check if I blogged that one). The book starts as the Countess is being walled into a room in her tower as punishment for the multiple murders she has committed. It then flashes back in time to recount her life and how she ended up where she did. At its core it is the life of a psychopath and endlessly fascinating. Liked it a lot and will definitely be checking out her first novel Icebergs.

The Queen of Hereafter by Susan Fraser King

Did you know that Queen Mary of Scotland is a Saint? She was married to King Malcolm who killed Macbeth. This book was really interesting. In it, Mary becomes a friend to her Lady in Waiting Eva who is sent to court as a hostage, a bard and a spy to the Queen. The story follows life at the court, Eva's conflicted loyalty to her family and to the Queen, and Mary's struggles. Mary would have rather been a nun than a queen. It is a good history lesson and I learned a ton about a period of time I know virtually nothing about. It did want me to go re-read some Shakespeare though.

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum

Emily is in trouble. She just broke up with her doctor boyfriend, she hates her job, her dad is a mess, her grandpa who is her best friend is physically ailing. Everything is falling apart and she is trying to put some kind of life back together again.
I got this book after reading After You by the same author and LOVING it. This book is so different from After You and the author (who has commented on my blog before, btw :)) does such a great job of speaking in Emily's voice that it doesn't at all seem like her other book.
I did really like this one too. I think it was less personally appealing to me than After You because I am somewhat past this stage of life. I did relate to many of the themes in this book and really enjoyed it. Definitely worth your time. But I would read this one BEFORE After You.

Saving Ceecee Honeycutt

I love a good, southern, chick-lit book. This one does not disappoint. CeeCee is rescued from a cold, scary home and transported to the lovely south to live with her Great Aunt Tootie and Tootie's maid and best friend Oletta. She is surrounded by crazy southern ladies who are lovely and sweet and who you would love to sit on a porch and drink tea with.
There are,however, real issues in this book. Mental illness and how it is handled. The importance of community. The strength of women and the very real difference between the north and the south. I really liked this book.

Heidegger's Glasses

This book is best described as surreal. In fact, it reminded me of another book I blogged that I am going to have to go look up under the 'surreal' tag.

This is the story of a group of people, saved from the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, in order to translate. They were supposed to respond to letters sent to those who had been killed, displaced and disappeared in the Holocaust. (As far as I can research online, this was a creation of the author's imagination, but the Nazi's did do a bunch of really bizarre (and horrific) things).

The 'Scribes' live in a abandoned mine that has weirdly been remodeled into a Disneyland-like fake village. Also at the village are their Nazi guards and a woman, Elie who is the one who forages out into the world for food, supplies, orders from Nazi headquarters, etc. Elie also happens to be a member of the Resistance who saves those bound for the death camps. This book was fascinating and heartbreaking and you should read it. Being obsessive, like I am, I will no doubt pick up a million other books that relate to this.

Touching the Clouds

This book is considered "Christian fiction" because God is mentioned as is prayer. I never get that. Anyway, it's a cute book about a female pilot in the 1930s who leaves her home and potential fiance in Washington to go to Alaska and become a bush pilot. It is fluffy and sweet and it is not necessary for you to read. It is the first in a series. Good book for non-readers.

The God Hater by Bill Myers

This book is really, really thought-provoking. As a stay-at-home mom for the past 10 years, my brain is slowly withering away and I can use some provoking of my thoughts. Here's the story: A computer programming has set up a virtual civilization that mimics ours. The point? To be a market predictor of everything from goods and services, outcomes of elections, catastrophes and anything else you might need or want to predict. The problem? 1. He is having to steal computer memory in order to keep it up and running so the government isn't thrilled. 2. He has created artificial intelligence and a lot of nebulous bad guys would like to steal the technology 3. The civilization keeps killing itself off.
It seems that without order and law they just can't survive. And so, the law must be introduced from an outside source. It is and it helps, until the inhabitants decide that the law is all-powerful and once again start killing each other off. And so an itermediary arrives, to interpret and apply the law. Sound familiar? It is an allegory of Christianity and a very interesting one. And while all of THAT is happening in the virtual world, in our world, their are explosions, gun battles, kidnappings, and killings.
I will think about this book for a long time coming. If you end up reading this book and like it, check out the VERY dark The Sparrow, one of my favorite all-time books.