Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Books 2009 -- #23-25

Resurrection Resurrection by Tucker Malarkey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Several reviewers on the cover called this book "the thinking person's Da Vinci Code". I guess I can see the similarities, but I prefer not to even go near the Da Vinci Code. I couldn't stand that book.

Resurrection deals with an archeological find of several "lost gospels" from the New Testament time period and the ensuing chase to possess them. Museums and private collectors are in hot pursuit and several people are murdered. While Resurrection has a lot of subject matter I disagree with, it was still compelling enough for me to finish. I found the characters to be interesting, if not always likable. Gemma is a nice strong female protagonist, intelligent, courageous, independent, but not hardened. How many women would go traipsing around Egypt (in the '40s, no less)? The two brothers she alternately falls in love with are by turns annoying, frustrating, and endearing.

3.5 stars.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really want to give this 4.5 stars. Sometimes (a lot of times, really) I just want something in-between the full stars, you know?

Before picking up this book, I had no idea that there were islands in the English Channel. Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands, and was occupied by Germany during WWII.

Juliet is a plucky writer living in London after the war who serendipitously begins a correspondence with several Guernsey residents. She is so taken with them that she decides to go to Guernsey and meet them in person. And then she stays there, taking up residence herself.

I loved all of the characters (well, except Mark). The epistolary style worked really well here. I didn't want it to end!

Jill has my copy so I don't have access to my quotes, but one that stayed with me is something to the effect that reading good books ruins one for reading bad books. Amen.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I can't deny that this book is interesting, it just was not a page-turner for me. It seemed to take forever to finish, and I don't really enjoy that feeling. Maybe if I had had more time to devote to reading it in big chunks, rather than small bites, I don't know.

Two quotes I love, however:

"In all great works of fiction, regardless of the grim reality they present, there is an affirmation of life against the transience of that life, an essential defiance. This affirmation lies in the way the author takes control of reality by retelling it in his own way, thus creating a new world. Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors and infidelities of life. The perfection and beauty of form rebels against the ugliness and shabbiness of the subject matter. This is why we love Madame Bovary and cry for Emma, why we greedily read Lolita as our heart breaks for its small, vulgar, poetic and defiant orphaned heroine."

"A novel is not an allegory, I said as the period was about to come to an end. It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing. I just want you to remember this. That is all; class dismissed."

View all my reviews >>


jenn said...

Reading Lolita in Tehran has come up many times so it is nice to finally hear a review from someone who I trust.

I LOVED the Guernsey book. Though the topic is not related at all- the letters made me excited for Dracula again (with my Lehi book group).

TX Girl said...

I'm so sad you didn't love Reading Lolita. This is honestly the book I give or recommend to everyone. I even re-read it every couple of years. The imagine of her friend running across campus while trying to evade the security guard. Such a sad and funny commentary on life in Iran. I also loved the history of Iran told simultaneously with a piece of "western" literature.

I agree with you that you have to read it in chunks. I know several people that have felt the same thing you did, but for me it really demonstrated how ridiculously lucky we are. I cry every time I read about her buying as many books as she can, because she knows they will be banned. I'm also a political scientist freak.

I still feel incredibly lucky that I got to see her speak!

I loved Guernsey. I especially loved the letter format.

Natasha said...

I sent Guernsey to my Kindle but haven't read it yet. I have so many books waiting on my night stand!
Thank you for suggesting the Roll Pat for Griffin. I ordered one online today and am stashing it away to give Griffin at Christmas. Another reason why I love blogging!

Petey said...

I really like that last quote about inhaling the experience of a novel! Bravo!

shannon said...

Everytime you post one of these book review lists, I realize how behind I am on my "to read" list...I'm so envious of the amount of books you manage to crank out! Maybe that's why you have the best vocabulary of anyone I've ever known!

Jill said...

I want you to start saying who recommended these books or how you came about reading them, because I'm often surprised that I don't know what you're reading.

I'm surprised you gave Resurrection a chance after the Da Vinci Code comparison!

I'm sorry I've got your copy of Guernsey, thanks though.

I started Reading Lolita when we were in Nantucket, but then never finished. I need to get back to it.

Susan said...

I agree with Shannon about the serious amount of reading you do! I'm jealous and can only say that this activity is on my "to do" list when I retire!!

I think I'll have a long list of recommendations from you!

charlotte said...

I agree with "Reading Lolita in Tehran." It was good and thought provoking, but it did seem to take forever to finish.

everything pink! said...

i admire how smart you are.

rebekah said...

How do you read so much? I think if I had carpet in my room, I'd want to read more. As it is, my floors are tiled and it just doesn't lend to a cozy atmosphere.

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