Thursday, March 31, 2016

What I've Been Reading: March 2016

It's that time again! I wish I had more to share this month, but given that a couple of these were in the 500 page range, I hope you'll give me a little leeway. In any case, here they are!

Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson. Let me share a secret--I spent most of my teens and early twenties reading fantasy novels almost exclusively (pausing only to read horror novels, actually). Jennifer Roberson, Melanie Rawn, David Eddings, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mary Herbert, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Pratchett--I read and re-read their works endlessly. But it has been a good long while since I last picked up a fantasy novel that I could lose myself in completely, a world and people both fascinatingly unique and completely familiar. On a hunch, I picked up this novel, first in Sanderson's Mistborn series (the sixth was published just a couple of months ago, and when I saw how popular it was among our readers, I had to investigate further), and was instantly captivated. Vin is an orphan who runs with a crew of low-caste street thieves, the leader of whom keeps her on because he considers her a lucky charm for tricky jobs. When her path intersects that of another crew, this one hellbent on rebellion against the cruel caste system, her whole world is turned upside down. If you're in the market for a fantasy series to sink your teeth into, I highly recommend it.

The Book of the Dead, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child.  Seventh in the Agent Pendergast series written by this duo, The Book of the Dead begins with a mummy's curse in a newly reopened exhibit at the New York Museum of History, and Agent Pendergast is behind bars in a maximum security prison awaiting trial for crimes committed by his psychopathic brother, Diogenes, who then elaborately framed Pendergast before disappearing into the ether. Now Pendergast's friends must do the impossible and break him out of the impenetrable prison so that he can put a stop to his brother's most diabolical plan yet, one that could drive millions mad... I love this series more with every installment, so my apologies in advance if you're getting bored with reading my reviews of them!

The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin. This is a scintillating tale of the scandalous, headline-making relationship between Truman Capote and socialite Babe Paley. He is the talk of the town, a genius with a desire to make waves and the personality to make it happen. She is the wife of the NBC president and a maven of fashion and lifestyle among the Manhattan elite. What each of them recognizes in the other is a deep loneliness that never seems to fade unless they are together. But Capote is a teller of tales, even if the tales aren't his to tell, and though he's been embraced by Babe and her circle of swans, he will leave devastation in his wake. Benjamin brings the era and her characters to life in a novel so vivid, I found myself needing to swim back to the surface of reality when I was done reading. Excellent.

The Aviator's Wife, by Melanie Benjamin. Yes, there's a theme here. This is my book club's selection for our April meeting, by sheer coincidence. Shy, awkward Anne Morrow travels to Mexico for the Christmas holiday with her family during her father's ambassadorship. Here she meets famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who sees her as a kindred spirit and fellow adventurer. Though she becomes the first female glider pilot among other personal achievements, Anne is ultimately seen as merely Charles Lindbergh's wife, and the kind of life she used to long for ultimately brings its own brand of heartbreak. By turns melancholy and inspiring, this is a story to break your heart even as it gives you hope. Unforgettable.

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