04 June 2011

May Book Report

Well, May was not my best month.   It started out well but didn't end on the best note.  And my knitting and reading were not too steady as a result.  But I did enjoy the few books I did finish, so it wasn't a total loss!

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I never read this book as a child, but of course had heard about Long John Silver, "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum," and other parts that were part of popular culture and vernacular. I'm not exactly what led me to decide read it, but I'm glad I finally did.

The story is mainly narrated by Jim Hawkins, a young boy whose father has died early in the book, and whose family's pub/inn is later ransacked by pirates, looking for a former guest at the inn, or at least the things he may have had with him. Jim and his mother are lucky enough to be taken in by the town doctor, and when the doctor hears Jim's tale, and sees that he actually has possession of a map that appears to show where a treasure is buried, becomes interested in recovering the treasure. With the help of a local official, the three - as well as a crew they have assembled - take off on an adventure to Treasure Island.

John Silver, the ship's cook, at first seems like a likable, and loyal crew member. But soon things begin to fall apart, and by the time they reach the island, there has been a mutiny. The bulk of the story tells of the time on the island, and has enough adventure, intrigue, and action to satisfy just about anyone.

I enjoyed this book because the story was written in a way that made it believable, but also made you feel that you were witnessing the events unfold yourself. I really enjoyed going along on this wild adventure.

The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde.  I received this book as a gift. I had heard of Jasper Fforde, but had never read any of his books, so I was curious about this one.

The heroine of the book is Thursday Next, who is a LiteraTec - a group of people who work for the English government making sure that works of literature are not tampered with or changed. In this universe, England is still fighting the Crimean War, Wales is its own republic trying to block English influence, and time and space more or less move and twist around as needed. The story begins when the original manuscript of Dickens' "Martin Chuzzlewit" is reported stolen. The suspected thief is Acheron Hades, a master criminal and shape-shifter, who happens to have been one of Thursday Next's professors back when she was in college and before he took on a life of crime. Because of this, Thursday is made a SpecOps (Special Operations) agent to assist with Hades' capture.

From there, so many weird and interesting and funny things happen, it would be impossible to go into detail. Towards the end of the book, Hades - who has managed to elude capture - steals the manuscript of "Jane Eyre," and also Jane herself! Thursday becomes involved in this as well, and once again, it's not worth trying to describe things - you'll have to read the book yourself.

There is a LOT going on in this universe. Great wordplay, and literary references (some that I'm sure I didn't appreciate, not being extremely well-versed). Dodos have been brought back to life via cloning, and are pets (Thursday has one - a Version 2.1); characters have names like Jack Schitt and Braxton Hicks; Thursday's father travels through time and occasionally stops in for a quick visit. If you just decide you are going to read the story and not think too much about it, the book is a lot of fun. But it is also well-written enough that you want to keep reading to see what happens! I will definitely give another in this series a try.

The Likeness, by Tana French.  This book is Tana French's next after In the Woods, which I really liked. I was hoping I would like this book at least as well. I had a hard time putting it down!

Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred from the Murder Squad to Domestic Violence after an undercover assignment ends with her being stabbed. Her boyfriend Sam, also a detective, calls her to a crime scene one day, about an hour outside of Dublin. When she arrives, he is there with her former partner, Frank Mackey, and she sees the reason that Sam sounded so shaken on the phone - the murder victim they have found is a dead ringer for Cassie. To complicate matters further, her name is Lexie Madison - a name Maddox used for an undercover assignment a few years back.

This Lexie was a student at Trinity, and lived with four others in a large ancestral home called Whitethorn Hall. The group is very self-contained, and Frank Mackey talks Cassie into taking on Lexie's identity as part of an undercover assignment to try and find out who killed her. The housemates are told that she is in a coma, and when she goes to live with them, they have been told that she doesn't remember a lot of things, including how she was attacked.

This leads to a riveting story, with very intriguing characters. Cassie finds herself being more and more drawn in to being Lexie, and starts to feel safe and at home with the others. She learns about the history of the house and the surrounding community, where there is still a lot of anger about the treatment of the locals by the original residents. For a while it appears that the person who attacked Lexie must have been one of the locals. But as we learn more about Lexie's background, and the housemates, things become more complicated. And Cassie Maddox begins to feel protective of the others and the house.

This was a fascinating psychological study and thriller. I found the characters to be well-drawn and enigmatic, and started to understand Cassie's feelings about them. I also liked how the story didn't take a turn to become a sappy love story, but rather an adult relationship story, with people who were less than perfect, and resolutions that did not tie up into a nice, clean, predictable ending. I don't want to say much more, because if you are inclined to read the book, I want you to be able to enjoy it just like I did.

I'm afraid that this round, I don't have any books to offer.  The Tim wants to try The Eyre Affair, and the other two are books I read on my Nook.  (Though I think I can loan Nook books ... I'll have to investigate.)  But stay tuned, you never know what might show up in June!


mary said...

So happy to see you are feeling well enough to post book reports. Hope you continue to get better.

SissySees said...

You can loan Nook books with the Lend me! logo once, for 10 days... FYI. ;)

Kathleen Dames said...

Glad to see your book report - Treasure Island is going on my to-read list, and I've enjoyed Fforde's books, which are very clever. Keep getting better!

Carrie#K said...

I recently (more or less) read all three of those books myself. Jasper Fforde was really fun, identifying the literary references. The Likeness was so good - her latest is good too - she never tells the story I'm expecting.

Anonymous said...

I loved The Likeness too... Tana's one of those authors I'll be keeping a close eye on.

In fact, her third book was why I bought my Nook. Couldn't stand the idea of waiting for the paperback...

knitseashore said...

So glad you are feeling better. It doesn't seem fair, when you can finally use sick days, that you are too sick to do anything like read or knit.

A professor friend recommended The Eyre Affair to me; I haven't read it yet but I'm so glad to read that you give it a good recommendation.