Books Read June 2009

City of Thieves by David Benioff
Growing up has always had its challenges, but usually that doesn’t include dodging bullets and wondering where your next meal will come from. During the infamous siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov and Kolya meet in prison where it appears they will surely die. Instead, they’re given a single chance to gain their freedom if they can successfully complete a secret mission: find a dozen eggs for the colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. Their adventures through the war-torn city and devastated countryside not only create a bond between the two, but tell the story of how boys become men. A beautifully written novel. ♥ ♥

Dakota by Martha Grimes
Martha Grimes fans have waited something like nine years for the return of Andi Oliver, the amnesiac heroine of Biting Moon. In this latest installment Andi finds herself in North Dakota and hires on with a pig-farm factory. Two mysterious people are on her trail, but of course she has no recollection of who they are or why they want to kill her. The only worthwhile part of this book is the eye opening education about inhumane animal treatment in factory farming, but even that doesn’t save this book. I will gladly wait another ten years to hear from Andi Oliver again.

First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria
by Eve Brown-Waite
Brown-Waite interviews for the Peace Corp after college, and falls in love with her recruiter -- just in time to be shipped off to Ecuador for two years. Eventually, married to said recruiter, Brown-Waite moves with her husband to Uganda, where she not only catches malaria when she was pregnant, but has to deal with rebel bombings. Lucky for readers who want the Peace Corp experience without actually going somewhere, Brown-Waite wrote a memoir that is insightful, inspirational and at times very funny.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
In 1937, Shanghai is the place to be – lots of fun-loving millionaires, gangsters, revolutionaries, and artists. Twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, daughters of a wealthy rickshaw business owner, and part-time models, take full advantage of everything the city has to offer. That is, until they learn their father has sold them to pay off gambling debts. As the Japanese bomb Shanghai, Pearl and May leave for California, and the husbands they’ve met just once. They must struggle to get out of the country and eventually end up in an American detention center, with a mysterious baby. Ultimately they meet the strangers they’ve married, rub shoulders with tinsel town, and try to embrace American life. Pretty darn good historical fiction.

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
You may recognize the author – she was chosen as is the next Ann Landers, by the Chicago Tribune a few years ago. Her column, "Ask Amy," appears in more than 150 newspapers nationwide, seen by more than 22 million readers. The Mighty Queens of Freeville, is the story the women in her family and how they rallied around Dickinson and her young daughter after her husband does a no-show. Freeville, NY (pop, 458) is a village where Dickinson’s family has lived for over 200 years, and a community not many people get to experience. The insight, love and “dorkitude” that resides there is a testament that bigger is not necessarily better, and a life of great consequence does not automatically equate to leaving your hometown. A nicely written book full of humor, heartbreak and great advice. One line in the book still resonates: “We are not our best intentions. We are what we do.”

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Balram Halwal is a poor, tea pouring villager who dreams of living a rich life. Sounds strangely familiar. Things begin to look up when a rich village landlord hires him as a chauffeur for his son who has returned from the United States. They move to the Indian capital New Delhi and Balram sees his chance to become a self-made man. The plot construction unfolds as a series of emails Balram writes a foreign head-of-state with tips on the make-up of rural and metropolitan India after he has become “The White Tiger.”

No comments: