Monday, July 23, 2012

Several Book Reviews

Book reviews have been popular blog posts in the past, so here are a few more.

Fool by Christopher Moore
A Jester and his puppet
What is Shakespeare's play, King Lear, like when told from the court jester's point of view?  That was Moore's goal when he wrote this book with dark humor.  As in Shakespeare, the words are often coarse, the jokes quite lewd, and dialogue is exquisitely crafted.  Unlike the tragic play, this book is definitely a comedy.

Readalikes include Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
three keys in different metals
This is Cashore's third book with Graceling characters. These books may be read in any order--each story will enrich the history of other characters, but no need to fear spoilers.  Why am I drawn to Cashore's books?  I believe it is the diversity of characters and their acceptance/tolerance of diversity.  Perhaps it is more to the point that when I have the chance to escape reality in a book, I really want to leave the mundane behind.

Readalikes: Across the Universe or Hunger Games

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
a lightning strike behind the title
If you still doubt the power of a graphic novel, Wonderstruck may convert you.  Brian Selznick presents two separate stories, one in words and another in pictures (referencing the power of silent movies).  But you don't have to take my word for it: see what Abby the Librarian wrote, or read Jeff Kinney's comparison of Wonderstruck and Okay for Now.  Brian Selznick's other novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret became the movie, Hugo, last year.

Neverwhere written and read by Neil Gaiman
Book JacketBefore Gaiman wrote a script for Dr. Who, even before his books, Coraline and Stardust became movies, he wrote about how it feels to disconnect from the world.  Gaiman reads this story himself, and does a wonderful job (though it may not be optimal in a car as the quietest whispers and loudest shouts tend to happen one-after-another).  Neverwhere is a modern fairy-tale, dark, uncomfortable at times, and rich with imagery.  
Read-alikes include: Susanna Clarke, Clive Barker, or Kurt Vonnegut, or Walter Moers

A Crack in the Edge of the World written and read by Simon Winchester
America and the great california earthquake of 1906
Winchester studied geology at Oxford before becoming a journalist and writer.  A Crack in the Edge of the World came about decades later when an editor asked if geology  had any great stories to tell.  This book covers Winchester's road trip across America's geology, the history of San Francisco's growth, and the impact of the San Andreas Fault today (Alaska pipeline, anyone?).  Winchester's elocution is inspiring and soothing, at least to my ears.  The print version has an amazing fold-out cover (no longer possible to view on the library's copy or any paperback) covering all of Winchester's books.

Where do you go for book suggestions?  Are there books you have heard of, but would like to read more about?

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