Monday, June 03, 2013

May Book Wrap-up Part I

Every year I challenge myself to read 50 books.  I usually read more books than that, but that way if I'm stuck on a book for a couple of weeks or longer, I won't feel guilty about reading something longer or slower than my usual pace.  Because I was sick for much of January and February, I was something like 6 books behind in the middle of April.  I'm now several books ahead.  Why?  I read 11 books this month.  So, let me tell you about them.

"Going Underground," is the story of a seventeen year-old convicted felon.  Del, the protagonist of the story works at a private cemetery because its the only business in town that will hire him.  He was convicted because of "sexting" charges with his consenting (but slightly younger) girlfriend when he was 14.  The story talks about his future as a felon and Del grappling with life and his sentence.  I think I gave the book 3 or 4 stars because it was well-written.

"The White Queen" tells the tale of Elizabeth Woodville, who was the spouse to the King of England in the 15th Century.  She's a widow but ends up marrying the King of England.  However, although they have quite a few little heirs, the validity of their marriage and the heirs is called into question.  Her husband dies quite suddenly, her young boys go missing and another King of England is named.  I really thought the first third of the historical fiction read like a poorly written romance novel, but the story picked up once Elizabeth went to London when she was revealed to be the Queen.  Three Stars.  Book Club Novel.

"The Shoemaker's Wife" is a fictionalized account of the author's grandparents.  Her Grandparents hail from villages in the Italian Alps just a few miles from each other.  When both are in their early twenties they both move to New York separately.  They are reunited in New York and eventually get married.  The first two thirds of the book is fascinating.  The author is able to create a world that leaves you wanting to turn pages rapidly.  However, I thought the last 1/3 was clunky.  The author is too close to the characters and the writing is off.  Three Stars. Book Club Selection.

"Salvage the Bones" takes place a week before Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana and Mississippi.  The protagonist, a young, pregnant black girl, and her brothers live with their disinterested, alcoholic father in the bayou.  The kids pretty much take care of themselves, but the father is interested in Hurricane preparation.  I enjoyed this novel a lot except for the heavy handed use of symbolism.  4 Stars.

"Ham on Rye" is a semi-autobiographical novel by the author.  The book follows the main character from a three year old to adult life.  The story isn't for everyone.  There's no love ever shown between anyone and many of the stories told are both humorous and horrific. The novel is written by a (beat) poet and when you read it, you find that there's a rhythm to the novel that is missing in most prose.  Five Stars.

"Fever 1793" is not the story of a jaundiced vampire, as that cover would lead you to believe.  No, the story is about a teenage girl in Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever plague of that year.  The book is based on true events, and really starts moving after a slow 1/3 of the story.  I found myself enjoying the novel and the historical details, but only gave this book 3 stars because of the clunky 1/3 of the book.

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