Friday, October 5, 2012

The Winter of the World

The Winter of the World - Book 2 of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett

This book takes us from 1933 through 1949.  Once again, we are following five families from Wales, England, America, Germany and Russia.

I have decided that in a book such as this where we know the historical outcomes, a novelization of the scenario becomes that much more tense and anticipatory.  I was just waiting to see which characters would be part of famous scenes and who would survive and who wouldn't.

This is the kind of book that is hard to put down and I would have loved to just been able to read non-stop.  As it was, I had a couple very busy weeks and couldn't read as much as I liked.  It took me 16 days to read the 940 pages of this book.  I feel like starting all over again because it was so engaging.

Follett has created some very rich and real characters in this trilogy.  By having most of his characters placed in a political position in the first book, he was able to keep them in a position of action or knowledge as the First and then the Second World War unfolded.  There was a review on Amazon that someone was complaining that it wasn't plausible that all these people could meet and connect the way they do in the book.  I disagree.  I think that the circle of people in charge is not a very large one and the idea that a Senator and his son could encounter someone in the Red Army Intelligence community during a summit in World War II is completely believable.  Also, this is a work of fiction so there are certain conveniences that the readers just need to go with.

I love this series and I think I'll need to re-read Fall of Giants and then Winter of the World again just before Book 3 is released.

On a side note, October is banned books month so your next book should be one that has been banned.  Tomorrow ends the official Banned Books Week but check out the website for a list of books to choose from.  I found I have read plenty.  How about you?

The Hound of Rowan

The Hound of Rowan: Book 1 of the Tapestry Series by Henry H Neff

According to Amazon, the book is for ages 8 and up.  I'd guess it is for ages 8-11.  It is a little more detailed than I think a younger reader can engage in but it is too simplistic for 12 and up.

Our hero is Max McDaniels.  He is a regular boy living in the suburbs of Chicago with his father who is in advertising.  Max' mother disappeared a few years earlier.

I am going to read this book to my 6 1/2 year old and see how he likes it.

I kept waiting for the author to develop ideas and characters more but it never happened.  The concept of the tapestry was not developed or explained with regard to its importance or even just the impact that it had on Max.  The dreams that Max has of the Hound of Rowan are not well connected to legend so I'm still waiting to see if that resolves itself further.  The connection that Max has with his "best friend" David Menlo is not believable.  Max and David just happen to be roommates but I never got the impression that they were fast friends - just convenient ones.

This book feels like it wants to be Harry Potter but it falls short in many ways.  Unless my son loves the story and wants to continue, I won't be reading any more of the series.