Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Host

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

This book is touted as Science Fiction for people who don't like Science Fiction. It's really only Sci-Fi because there are aliens. This is a romance novel. A chick flick with aliens - kind of like her other books that are chick flicks with vampires and werewolves.

This is an updated version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It is primarily told from the perspective of one particular "body snatcher" named Wanderer. She has now entered her "host" body, formerly known as Melanie, on her 10th planet. Melanie is reluctant to give up her body, however, and Wanderer has to put up with having another voice in her new head that doesn't want to stop talking.

After Wanderer sees enough replays of Melanie's happy life with her true love, Wanderer falls in love with him as well. She decides she no longer wants to do her civic duty and rat out Melanie's family because she loves them. She (and Melanie) ditch the alien police and try to hook up with Melanie's family.

It's not a bad book, it's just not really science fiction (except a couple of parts). It's a very romantic drama in which most all the bad guys either get what's coming to them or change their evil ways. Also, only a few token good guys die which, considering the circumstances, is a very romantic look at this possible reality. It's a good sized book but it only took me 3 or 4 days to read.

Apparently this is being made into a movie so you should for sure read the book first so you and I can both be annoyed by whatever changes they decide to make in order to get this into standard movie format and length.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

This book is set in two times, 1942 and today. The author states that she did not set out to write historical fiction. All the characters and specific stories are fictional but the main scenario in July 1942 in Paris really did happen.

In 1942 our fictional family are Jews living in Paris. The parents have immigrated from Poland and the two children were born in France. The French police go door to door and round up all the Jews still left living in Paris and take them to the Velodrome d'Hiver (an indoor cycling arena). There, with 4,000 some odd other Jews they are held for several days with no food or water and unsanitary conditions. From there they are bussed to the train station and taken to camps. From these camps, they are taken to Auschwitz. None of the children and few adults ever return.

The modern story is told from the voice of an American woman living in France and married to a French architect. He is preparing to renovate the family apartment and then they will move in and live there with their daughter. The American is a journalist working for an English-speaking magazine in Paris. She is given the assignment of writing a story about the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv as it has become known. She has no idea what the Vel d'Hiv is about and her research shocks her and takes her back to 1942 in a way she never imagined.

The families become connected and as best as can be, the present comes to terms with the past and people begin to heal and move on but never forget.

This book was very engaging. So much so that I read it in 5 hours staying up way too late to finish the book. I highly recommend the book although keep in mind there are some saddening and horrifying details of the treatment of the Jews in 1942.

In the Woods

In the Woods by Tana French

This is a psychological thriller and a pretty creepy one at that. It's about child abduction and murder so if that is not your bag, don't read this.

There are two different situations twenty years apart. In the first, three friends go off to play in the woods and when they don't come home, police and search parties comb the woods. They find one of the kids gripping a tree trunk in terror wearing blood-filled shoes and with no memory of what has happened.

Fast forward twenty years and the kid is now a police detective with the murder squad. He and his partner are given a case in which the body of a young girl is found in the location of the woods, now an archeological dig. The police detective is trying to keep his past both buried in his mind and a secret to his boss and the rest of the world while trying to discover the truth behind this murder.

The book is set in Ireland so there's a bit of Irish slang to get used to but otherwise it's a pretty easy read even with the harsh subject matter. I liked the book and I've heard the author's second book, The Likeness, is a better book and not so creepy. I'll have to put it on my list of books to read.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

I admit it. I read all the "Twilight" saga books. They each took about a day to read. This one took 3 hours. They are like junk food. Think of this book like a package of powdered sugar donettes and a Dr. Pepper - sweet, easy and fast.

I enjoyed the Twilight books as young adult chick-flick books with vampires and werewolves. This book was much the same.

Honestly, I did not remember Bree Tanner from Eclipse, the third novel. As it turns out, her role was fleeting but apparently Stephenie Meyer took a liking to her character and decided to pound out a novella sketching Bree's brief life as a vampire.

It was an interesting look at the life and hunger of a "newborn" vampire. In the Twilight books, the Cullens are all very self-disciplined and even Bella (SPOILER ALERT) is remarkably controlled when she finally gets her wish in Breaking Dawn and "gets" to become a vampire. Bree's young life has very little control, if any, from her or any of the other "newborns".

It's a good appetizer before going to see Eclipse in the theater which I know I'll do but I have no idea when.

The Bastard of Istanbul

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

This is the book that my book club is reading this month. I think it's a good book club book because there is plenty to discuss.

This is the story of a Turkish family living in Istanbul and an Armenian American living between Arizona and San Francisco. There is a Turk living in America, Armenians living in America, an Armenian living in Istanbul and a woman from Kentucky who was married to an Armenian and then a Turk.

The story intertwines all their lives in our modern world but also shows how the past affects us all.

It was interesting to see the difference in attitude between the Armenian in Istanbul and the Armenians in the diaspora a.k.a. America. It was also interesting to see how modern Turks sympathized with the plight of the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide cir.1915-1923 but they felt no link between themselves and the Turkish perpetrators.

This was an entertaining novel and it brought to life issues of ethnicity in America, feelings of disconnect that children of immigrants can have in America as well as personifying the Genocide.

I would recommend this book.