Monday, March 09, 2009

Books 2009 -- #9-10

The Historian The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova


rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea a book about vampires could be so compelling to me, but I found this 600+ page book to be a real page-turner. The story is told in three different time periods -- the 1930s, 1950s, and 1970s, as different characters use academic research to pursue Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula, whom they believe still walks the earth. There is plenty of medieval Eastern European history, mystery, tension, and some of the macabre. While the characters are not developed in depth (the focus is definitely more on the plot), they are still likeable. Recommended for anyone who enjoys history, mystery, and long epic books!



Duplicate Keys Duplicate Keys by Jane Smiley


rating: 2 of 5 stars

I listened to this book, which may have largely contributed to my not really liking it. I didn't know anything about it and just picked it up at the library because I like Jane Smiley.

The premise was somewhat interesting -- two musicians were found murdered in their NY apartment, and the list of people who had keys to the apartment was so long as to make it nearly impossible to reconstruct, and thus the list of possible suspects was equally long.

The narrator, Alice, found the bodies of her friends, and the story was told from her p.o.v. The problem was that I just didn't find her character compelling, or even all that likeable. Worse still, the reader of this audiobook was singularly annoying. The voice she used only for Alice sounded like an elderly woman (possibly her attempt at making her sound shy and vulnerable?). In addition, she said grimace with a long A. The first time she said it, I thought I heard her wrong, but she went on to say it several more times. (I looked it up to see if that was an alternate pronunciation, and it turns out it is, but I still found it highly distracting.)

As I progressed in the story, the CDs became more and more prone to skipping, which ultimately made the decision to stop listening halfway through an easy one.

The highlight for me was learning two new words:

sybaritic (adj.)

1. (usually lowercase) pertaining to or characteristic of a sybarite; characterized by or loving luxury or sensuous pleasure: to wallow in sybaritic splendor.

2. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Sybaris or its inhabitants.

adamantine (adj.)

1. utterly unyielding or firm in attitude or opinion.

2. too hard to cut, break, or pierce.

3. like a diamond in luster.


I like learning new words, but that's not enough to recommend this one.


View all my reviews.

7 comments:

Barb said...

Hmmmm, my YW seem to like vampire books - perhaps here is one for the adults?

Jill said...

I'm glad you're recommending The Historian (and loaning it to me) because I wouldn't ever choose to read a Hardback 600 pager without a recommendation!

The readers of audiobooks can seriously make or break the book. I am still scarred from the woman who read "Home".

CJ Sime said...

I can't wait to check out the Historian. I am always looking for good recommendations!

Amy said...

Your Goodreads review made me want to read The Historian. It sounds good!

Susan said...

Adamantine....interesting! I think I might have adamantine traits at time.

Is that the proper useage?!

April said...

I read the Historian for book club once and surprisingly loved it. I was terrified to be by myself for a week afterwards though.

I still think about that line when his wife dies and he can see the grief coming like a wave. Is that right? I need to go reread it now.

shannon said...

I've never enjoyed a book that I've heard on tape...

The historian sounds interesting...
The last book I read that was a long epic book was Pillars of the Earth--I can't even believe I'm admitting to reading that!--it was disturbing in parts--did you read that one? Yikes!

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