Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I've been away from the blog for quite some time. I've been reading, but back in October and November I wasn't up to doing much in the way of reviewing -- and then since then I've been too busy. Why, you ask? Because there's a future little book reviewer on the way! My husband and I are expecting our first in June, and it's been a (happy and welcome) distraction from a lot of my other responsibilities and plans.

I've been up to my ears in pregnancy and baby books for the past several weeks, but prior to that I did get in a few other books even during the weeks when I was too tired to do much of anything -- read on!

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch -- I received this book as a gift and thought it'd be a fun addition for my class library. It reminded me of The Mysterious Benedict Society in many ways: a story about kids trying to do battle against evil with their wits and cunning as their only defenses. I kept wishing that the book had more riddles and puzzles for me to solve alongside the characters, but the story still had me hooked. The cryptic narrator could be a little much at times, but his (her?) presence also gave the book a very distinctive character. I'm interested in reading more of the series.

A Spectacle of Corruption by David Liss -- this is the second book in the Benjamin Weaver "series" (I hate calling it that, because it seems demeaning somehow) and it was wonderful to return to these characters once again. The mystery here was a complicated one and riddled with political intrigue; just like last time, you'll feel that you learned a great deal about English history when you finish the book.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen -- best book I read this fall, hands down. Larsen chronicles the lives of two Chicagoans who are both consumed by a passionate obsession, one for architecture and one for murder. Larsen weaves the tale of these two men together and, in the process, unveils a picture of 1890s Chicago that makes you wish you had lived then and simultaneously makes you incredibly grateful that you didn't. Some critics argue that the story of the World's Fair -- or the story of the terrifying serial killer -- could have stood alone as the subject of the book. I think that they need each other as foils to bring out what's worth knowing about each. Don't breeze through the first and last chapters as inconsequential or you'll literally miss the boat. One of the great treats of the book is the "name dropping" Larsen includes -- you'll recognize so many famous people who crossed paths during this magical, frightening time in Chicago. And if you've always wondered what happened to that first Ferris wheel, look no further.

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester -- similar in style to Larsen's book, but the writing isn't nearly as high quality. It's a fascinating story, though: the decades-long making of the Oxford English Dictionary is intriguing enough, but even more gripping are the sections about the schizophrenic murderer who becomes one of the largest contributors to the project. Your vocabulary will increase by the time you finish reading.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny -- the second book in her Inspector Gamache series. Probably not as enjoyable if you didn't read the first one, but a good mystery all the same; this time, the town of Three Pines reels from a murder wrapped in yoga, life coaching, memories of the past, and a need for acceptance.

No comments:

Post a Comment