Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What Have I Been Reading?

Lots of catching up to do. Turns out, when a person is stressed about something in one's everyday life, one delves into the fantasy world to ease that burden.

Let's get started.

Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda

I won this book in GoodReads' First Reads program (which I love).
The first thing that struck me about this book is its cover art. I could look at it all day. This is a YA book, which usually means dragons and dystopia what have you, but this one is realistic.

Clare's brother Luke has been in jail a lot for "being in the wrong place at the wrong time." Clare adores him, looks forward to his visits. As she gets older, she realizes (mostly through other people's reactions) that Luke might not be such a stand-up guy.

Wonderfully written. Kept me interested, and I never once felt the book was "too young" for me. Why have I not been reading more YA?

Split by Swati Avasthi

Another YA, from the audiobook version. First a word about the narrator: He reminded me of David Sedaris*, but not in a good way. The reading was slow and emotionless (?). I thought about stopping the audio and going to the library to get a paper version, but then I realized I can speed up this guy's reading on my iPod, so I did.

*Don't get me wrong, I love David Sedaris. I won't read one of his books anymore unless it's him reading to me. My favorite is when he does the middle-aged woman's smoking voice ("Doll babies" anyone?), or when he sings like Billie Holliday in "The Santaland Diaries".

But that's way, way off subject.
This book (Split) is about 2 brothers who have been abused by their father. One escapes before the other, and they end up living together and trying to rescue their mother. As anyone who knows anything about abuse can tell you, sometimes it's harder than you might imagine to leave. She still loves him, the good times are really good, he gives me so much, etc. This book does a great job at showing all sides of the story without painting any one person as a big ol' baddie.

I felt the story ran long, though (especially the detailed descriptions of the soccer games -- can we, as a rule, cut sports scenes from books? Or do some people really like that stuff?), and I was happy to start something else.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Wow. This book was told mostly from the prospective of a child, and I felt like the title of the book describes that kid's personality. Always talking right up in your face. But instead of wanting to get far, far away from him, he was interesting and just on paper.

I didn't realize this book would be a mystery, but it kind of was. Oskar's dad died in one of the twin towers, leaving behind a key in his closet. Oskar finds the key and makes it his life's mission to find out what it opens.

The story also follows his grandmother and grandfather through letters, which is confusing at first, but then works really well.

Foer also uses pictures within the text, which isn't usual, but also fit right in with the story. Oskar finds and keeps strange pictures and puts them in a folder, and occasionally flips through them. It's so much like Oskar is talking to us, and then takes a breather, and it's so quiet.

Very nicely done. Touching story.

The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre

I got this book as a free ARC at BookCon. Mostly, I was grabbing anything there that looked vaguely interesting -- and look at this cover! How can you not pick this up? The woman at the table said it was "like 50 Shades of Dexter."

Jessica (or Deanna) is a webcam girl who charges $6.99/minute. (Use your imagination.) She's also a self-imposed shut-in because she may or may not brutally murder the next person she sees.

As I've discovered with books like The Shining, stories about a limited number of characters can work really well. This one does too.

Jessica stays shut in until she figures out one of her clients might be about to kidnap and rape a young girl, and she can't very well not leave her apartment and try to stop this. "Let's put my murder-y powers to good use!" she says (paraphrased).

This book was just enough sexy and just enough scary. I loved every minute.

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