Clearly, this has not been a week that I've felt like writing book reviews, so I just decided I'm going to have to just chatter about the books that I've read in April -- none of which feel like they require a detailed review -- then I'll go back to those I want to write about with a little more depth later, whenever the mood strikes me I guess.
I've only read one ARC in April and I already wrote about that: A Reunion of Ghosts. Otherwise, everything I've read has just happened to be what called to me at the moment -- plus one book I read specifically for the purposes of studying structure.
Elle is a single parent with a child who has seizures. She's got a limited income and has to balance work and medical appointments; she hasn't got the money to cover a caregiver. Elle and Silas had a relationship in the past but it didn't last. Now, they're stationed together and the attraction is still there. Meanwhile, a few unscrupulous smoke jumpers have discovered a gold stash and are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way -- including Elle and Silas. I love the blend of action, mystery and romance in Grady's books and loved the way he wrapped everything up, but Falls Like Lighting was my least favorite of his books. I still gave it 4 stars and I hope he's got another title coming up, soon, since I've read them all.
There are a lot of inconsistencies in The Here and Now that I couldn't make sense of. You learn early on that the blood plague is Dengue Fever, but it's apparently sexually transmitted at some point and then mutates and is spread by a vector (mosquitoes). Since Dengue has been around for a long time and is already mosquito-borne, I couldn't make sense of that. The story probably would have worked better if Brashares had created some unknown disease. AIDS has been eradicated in the future world but they can't get a grip on Dengue? Weird. But, I like time travel and found the story interesting. I just had trouble shutting off my internal editor. I also disliked the fact that the heroine is described as extremely intelligent but the boy she falls for continually has to rescue her. Still, it was a pretty fun read. And, I love the cover.
Back to The Boy on the Wooden Box, though. Leon Leyson was the youngest child in a Polish family who simply did not foresee the horror that awaited them. The people in his village had encountered Germans during WWI and found them cordial, so they didn't fear the Nazis and stayed in Poland, hoping the Nazi thing would blow over. Leon's father moved away from their village when a better-paying job became available and for years the family only saw him occasionally. Eventually, they joined him in the city but, soon after, things deteriorated and then the country was invaded by Nazis. It was only because of their work permits that most of the family survived, toward the end saved from certain death by Schindler more than once. Eventually, they emigrated to the U.S. and I was surprised when a single act of kindness after years of abuse caused me to sob pitifully. After all the bad, it was a woman explaining American coins as they traveled on a train across the country that did me in. Horrifying, beautiful, shocking, uplifting -- so many ways to describe this true story.
But, it occurred to me that structure is where Sparks excels. Simon was right. His writing may be sappy and trite but he knows what he's doing. So, I read The Rescue specifically for the purpose of examining structure. I still found his writing really annoying. The Rescue is about a contractor and volunteer firefighter who comes across a woman who has just had an accident and whose son has gone missing from the wrecked car. He's haunted by his father's death; she's dedicated to spending her non-working hours working with her development-delayed son. They fall in love but he can't commit. What I really dislike is the way Sparks describes his characters. They are too damned perfect. Taylor, the hero, is a manly man who hunts, is super athletic, can do pretty much any repair job, fights fires and throws himself into the path of danger, etc. But, he also cooks, plays with a developmentally delayed child as if the child is his own, holds back sexually to avoid pressuring the woman till she's ready, gives her massages and babysits when needed, blah, blah. I will never love his writing but he took the story from A to Z in Full Sap Mode and still managed to touch me. I do feel like I learned a lot by writing about each scene (or summarizing chapters). But, I'll never go around telling people they must read a Nicholas Sparks book. Not that he needs my help.
So, that's April, so far. Last month, when I was deeply into the Australian Literature course I took via Coursera (still going, but winding down), I began reading For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke and I've returned to that, now. I stalled when I decided I needed to get going on an ARC and chose A Reunion of Ghosts -- which took me a week to slog through -- but I'm having no trouble picking up where I left off. I also just began reading The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey, which came highly recommended by a friend who also loves dystopian reads. It's overdue at the library but we have a noisy storm working its way closer so I'm going to have to shut down and go read. I'm not going out in bad weather. I'd rather pay a fine.
In other news, I need to borrow a goat. It's only April but we've had such a wet spring that our poison ivy level is closer to what's normal in July or August. I just read that goats like poison ivy. Seriously, I need to borrow a goat.
Otherwise, same old, same old around here. What's up in your world?
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