Some of My Favorite Books

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

Last night I finished reading The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian. I somehow missed this book when it came out in 2011. Have you read it? Did it scare you? It scared me! I guess I'm getting soft because man, this book creeped me out.

A pilot has to make an emergency landing putting his plane down in a lake, and it doesn't go well. He survives, but is traumatized and stops flying. To make a fresh start, he moves with his wife and twin daughters from Pennsylvania to a small town in New Hampshire that has an inordinate number of greenhouses and women who call themselves herbalists. Herbalists, my foot.

When some of the passengers begin visiting the pilot (called the captain by the herbalists), his grip on sanity starts slipping. The happenings are just too creepy and bizarre for my liking, but I kept reading it. It was really good, just scary!

Book Read: The Night Strangers
Author:  Chris Bohjalian
ISBN:   978-0-307-39499-6

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

I finished Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd this morning. Yes, it was a good book and with really good ones, I like to read the end during the day while I'm alert. This one was good but the ending left me wondering. It seems like Boyd was messing with me (the reader, not just me) a little with the ending. But I still liked it. A lot.

I had heard of William Boyd but never read any of his books. One of my favorite movies Any Human Heart is based on his book by the same name. I think I'll have to read it now. I like his writing style and have read reviews saying Any Human Heart is one of his best books. I know the movie is fabulous!

This book began in Vienna and ended in England, and chronicles the life of Lysander Rief, an actor turned soldier turned spy. 

Like I said, the ending left me wondering though.

Book Read: Waiting for Sunrise
Author:  William Boyd
ISBN:   978-0-06-187676-9

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Girl Giant by Kristen den Hartog

The Girl Giant
was originally published in Canada under the title And Me Among Them. That title would have worked too. Ruth, the girl giant, looks at her life as being totally separate from everyone around her. After all, she is more than 7 feet tall.

I loved this book. It's short (in length) but long in compassion about a terrible condition that Ruth had to endure.

I've also read The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken about a man who is a giant. Both den Hartog and McCracken are such good writers who show how this fluke of nature affected the "giant's" lives.

Check out my Squidoo article for more books about giants.

Book Read: The Girl Giant
Author:  Kristen den Hartog
ISBN:   978-1-4516-5617-6

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

I love Chris Bohjalian's books, usually. This one, The Sandcastle Girls, was good but I didn't love it. For some reason, I had trouble relating to it and getting into the story. It seemed more like a history lesson in places than a novel. 

This book deals with the little-known (at least to me) Armenian genocide during World War I. Shoot, I didn't even know where Armenia is. (It's a tiny country in Eastern Europe nestled next to Turkey and Iran and Asia). The book mainly takes place in Syria.

The history portion of this book was interesting but like I said, it was totally unknown to me. The terrible killing and marching through the desert of more than 1 million Armenians is horrible to read about but of course necessary for the story.

His writing as women (the two main characters are Elizabeth Endicott in 1915 and Laura Petrosian in 2012) seems a bit off to me. Some of the language in the narrative seems more like what a man would think or say.

I did love this passage near the end of the book:

"In any case, the short answer to that first question--How do a million and a half people die with nobody knowing?--is really very simple. You kill them in the middle of nowhere."
Chris Bohjalian has written 15 books and most are wonderful. I loved Skeletons at the Feast and most all of his other novels. I know that writing this book was a labor of love for him since he is Armenian and he used many facts from his own life story to set the stage. It is a powerful book, just not my favorite of his.
Book Read: The Sandcastle Girls
Author:  Chris Bohjalian
ISBN:   978-0-385-53479-6


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