This post should get me caught up on all 2010 book reviews except for my favorites, which will each get their own blog post.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff – I was initially interested in this young adult novel because it has such cool cover art. The story is set in a town where a child is taken every once in a while and replaced with a changeling. Usually, the changeling dies, but Mackie Doyle lives and is raised by a loving family. This was an interesting coming-of-age story with a lot of heart. I thought the underworld of the city was very well fleshed out. I wasn’t as riveted as I thought I would be by the plot, but I think it would appeal to teens. 3 out of 5 stars.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman – This was our November book club book. I’m always happy to read more Neil Gaiman. I’m really glad I read Neverwhere before this one because American Gods is not quite as accessible. It was nice to already have an appreciation for his writing style before jumping into this story. The premise is that the old gods are all alive and walking around in America and fighting a war against the new gods. I recommend a new reader of Gaiman start with Neverwhere or one of his youth books before taking on this one. 4 out of 5 stars.
Howards End by E. M. Forster – In 2009, I challenged myself to read a list of 10 books, and this was one of them. It was one of the first classics I loaded onto my Nook from Project Gutenberg, and I finished it on a trip to NY for Thanksgiving. This is the first book I’ve read by Forster, and I really enjoyed his treatment of the clash of social classes in pre-World War England. Of course I loved the setting of the English countryside. I would love to go sit beneath the wych elm tree. I have the DVD from Netflix that I’ll watch soon. 4 out of 5 stars.
Fortunes’s Rocks by Anita Shreve – I really, really wanted to like this book. I so loved The Pilot’s Wife and Shreve’s writing style. Fortune’s Rocks takes place in the same house as The Pilot’s Wife, but at the turn of the century. Olympia Biddeford, at 15, has a sexual relationship with a married man 30 years her senior. I could not sympathize with Olympia or find this relationship romantic in the least. Perhaps it is my modern sensibilities about appropriateness of relations between adults and teenagers that marred this story for me, but Olympia was also very selfish and self absorbed. I found her completely unlikable. 3 out of 5 stars only because Shreve has a way with words.
Warrior by Zoe Archer – I heard about Warrior on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and thought I’d give this Adventure Romance a try. It had a very Indiana Jones feel, and I was enthralled at the beginning with the interesting magic of the Blades of the Rose society and the unusual setting in Mongolia. Archer lost her way in the second half, and I became bored with both the adventure and the romance. I did like how Thalia was a very independent woman, but the inner monologues of her and Gabriel about how much they loved each other were tedious. There was too much telling and not enough showing. There are four books in the Blades of the Rose series, and I think I’ll still give the next one a try. 3 out of 5 stars for an interesting concept with flawed execution.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu – I read about this novel on the NPR Books website. I really loved Yu’s creative world-building and humorous writing style. This is the story of a son searching for his father in a universe where time travel is commonplace, and his father has been missing for an indeterminate amount of time. This novel will appeal to fans of both science fiction and literary fiction. Because Yu’s writing is immensely readable, I gobbled this book up in a few sittings. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. 4 out of 5 stars.