Saturday, August 4, 2012

June & July Book Reviews

Once again I'm behind with my book reviews so here's the books from June and July!

1. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith:  This book takes a few tidbits of the history of Abraham Lincoln and rewrites them to include his efforts to vanquish vampires. It starts from his birth all the way to his assassination. It's an entertaining take on history and a fun way to learn a few facts about that point in US history. After reading the book I took a chance on the movie and was very disappointed to see that only about 5% of the book was in the movie. The book stood well on its own as fast moving and exciting so it's a shame they didn't use more of that premise.

2. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh: This story follows Charles Ryder as he befriends a young aristocrat and his family in the 1920's. Charles becomes ingrained in the family and all his and their trials through divorce, religion, sexuality, love and alcoholism. The writing is smartly done and allows you to fully imagine the era and the eccentricity of the characters. It was enjoyable and I can see why it make the 501 Must Read list.

3. A Secret kept - Tatiana De Rosnay: This is the author of the much beloved Sarah's Key so I thought it was worth a shot. The beginning of the book showed promise but sadly falls short. It is written very much in the same style of Sarah's Key in that you travel back and forth through time but this is achieved through letters from the past. What I found to be an issue with this book is that there are far too many subplots. You follow the story of Antoine and his sister discovering the past of their deceased mother. From there you also follow Antoine's love life, his difficulties with his children/father/ex-wife, and many other little issues. It's just too much to follow and you finally start to lose interest in all his problems. It's still an OK read but don't expect another Sarah's Key.

4. The Forgotten Affairs of Youth - Alexander McCall Smith: This is a typical Isabel Dalhousie novel. It's very formulaic so I won't go into detail as until you've read the first 7 books this one won't mean much to you!

5. King Peggy - Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman: Peggy went from being a secretary in the US to a King in Ghana and this chronicles her journey. Her struggles with being accepted as a female King by her own elders was interesting and informative. It was encouraging to see her prevail and get clean water, better health care and the like to her small village. It's inspirational but at times a little drawn out.


Books 1, 2 and 3 of the Josephine B. Trilogy - Sandra Gulland: These novels follow the life of Josephine Bonaparte and the French Revolution.  It was very interesting to learn about her upbringing, her brushes with poverty, her first marriage, her imprisonment, her children and her relationship with Napoleon. The books are all very well written and super hard to put down one you start them.

4. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection - Alexander McCall Smith: again it's another in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series and it's really predictable. As in most of McCall Smiths books it follows a set formula so it's really much different than all the others in the series. This one follows Precious as she gets to meet her mentor, she helps the matron of the orphanage and a few other side stories.

5. Cosmopolis - Don DeLillo: This is a very odd, disjointed book. I was interested in reading it before the movie comes out and I'm not sure I'm going to be any the wiser when I see it! We get to see a day in the life of Eric, a 28 year old billionaire. His goal in the morning is to go get a haircut but he is waylaid by chance encounters with his new wife, his mistress, a presidential visit, a funeral, a riot and a few other weird scenarios. Throughout the entire day he's conducting business in his limo and trying to assess his impending downfall. The whole book reeks of narcissism and is highly unbelievable. Even with it being that it still offers an element of surprise entertainment like watching a car wreck.

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