It’s been an odd month, with a lot going on but I’ve managed to get through some good books (mostly on the way to work) and they were ALL pretty good, which, as you readers know, almost never happens.
Sycamore Row, by John Grisham
Genre: Legal Thriller
Logline: A sequel to A Time To Kill, this time our lawyer must protect the estate of a very wealthy man who killed himself and left everything to his housekeeper, which makes his money grabbing children very unhappy.
The main reason to read this, I think, is if you liked A Time to Kill. It’s what drew me to it, and also that John Grisham books deliver. Ok, so the court room drama was a staple in the 90’s, it might seem a little dated, but the book reads well and Grisham’s powers are not fading. The characters are good, and there are enough twists and last minute surprises to keep you turning pages.
Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant, by Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Logline: In a dystopian future, society is divided by aptitude into five factions, which are considered stronger than blood. When Tris’s test suggests that she has aptitude for more than one faction, she is warned to hide her ability and chooses a new path for her life but also starts to understand that some people see her adaptability as being threatening to the very fabric of society.
There’s such a trend at the moment for young adult fiction with female protagonists in dystopian futures who have to kick ass, you’d be forgiven for rolling your eyes and avoiding this trilogy (they’re always trilogies, aren’t they?). But don’t be fooled. OK, this isn’t the Hunger Games, and they are kind of similar, in a way, but if you think of it as more like a new genre, then this set of books is a really good new addition to the craze. It’s not derivative, it’s fast paced, violent, sad, passionate, well written and vibrant. I liked them enough to not stop at the first one and read all three. And don’t be fooled by the movie, the books are way better.
How To Make an American Quilt, by Whitney Otto
Logline: The diverse lives and loves of the members of a quilting circle are explored while they work together to make a quilt.
This little book was a bit of a change of pace this month, and it was a welcome one. It’s only thin but it’s full of life and history, meaning and nostalgia. I am happily passing my copy on to people around me, pressing them to read it. It was genuinely moving. Each chapter delves into the past and tells the story of the women who are all so human and imperfect: beautiful. It’s about living and dealing with the real life and how the passage of time can wear you down or make you into someone you never thought you’d become, and about how every woman has her history and her story. Its a lovely book.
Gone by Michael Grant
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Logline: Suddenly, half way through a school day, everyone over the age of 15 disappear, and the ones left behind must learn to live, finding that some of them have strange powers and there’s a mysterious barrier keeping them inside the town.
A friend lent me this, because we had been talking about young adult fiction. It’s a good premise and comes highly recommended by Stephen King, no less. As much as it’s intriguing, dark and violent, I didn’t feel entirely drawn in. It’s well written, the characters are clearly drawn, the bad guys are really bad, and yet… well, maybe it was only well written. I didn’t fall in love with it, it’s not literature, it’s not deeply felt or moving. It’s not bad, but there are also better books out there.
It by Stephen King
Logline: Seven adults return to their home town to face an evil they thought they’d killed when they were children, but IT has returned and is killing more of the towns youngest inhabitants.
Mr King, why is this book so LONG? I’ve actually been meaning to read this one for years, and like a lot of Stephen King, as you’re reading you realise the reasons why he’s one of the best selling authors of our time. I avoided reading his books when I was a kid (because they were too scary), but my brother loved them, and it’s been great discovering them as adults. It is clearly a classic for a reason. It’s a bloody good book, with all the weirdness and violence that you’d expect, with interesting characters and of course set in Maine. I think I might be past the age when this stuff scares me, but I really got in to the mystery and all the stories of the characters of the town, and the kids who had grown up and moved away being called back. I do recommend this book highly, but it’s one for the long haul: it is really long so even though it’s worth it, maybe not an entry level Stephen King. Something else that kind of tickled me, the female character was clearly written by a man. It didn’t spoil it or anything, it just gave me a laugh at one or two points. There’s also a bit near the end, no spoilers, that is just… a bit wrong. You’ll know what I mean when you get to it.