Sun Going Down: A Novel
I've had this book around the house for awhile and kind of forgot about it. I picked it up when I was sick over break and started making my way through it. The author turned his own family history and memoirs into an epic saga of life in the 1800s that follows a family across four generations. I loved this book. It was sad and hard to read in some points, but a reminder that life in early America was anything but easy. There is a sequel to it that follows the next generation of his family, which I'll talk about below. What I liked about this book was that although it was a mostly patriarchal society, the stars of the books were the matriarchs of the family, who were all really believable characters.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel
I loved this one! The characters were engaging and entertaining and I loved the style it was written in--mostly emails, phone conversations, faxes, not your typical novel. I also liked that the characters were so human, by which I mean that they weren't that likable. They all had qualities that made them somewhat redeemable, of course, but there were things that made you not like them, just like there are things about people you know that you can't stand, where you wonder why on earth they'd DO such a thing? Pretty much every character in the book was like that. I wasn't overly engaged in the novel's mystery, but I was definitely engaged in the characters and how they would unfold as the novel continued.
The Inquisitor's Key: A Body Farm Novel
I started reading The Body Farm novels after I read Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales I've always been interested in forensics and considered a career in forensic pathology, until I sat through a career day slideshow with a forensic pathologist who showed us slide after slide of dead bodies with a completely monotone voice. The way he was so completely undisturbed by death made me change my mind. Obviously it becomes part of the job, but the absolute lack of inflection in his voice freaked me out enough to make me change my mind. Anyway, I love Dr. Bass's book because although death is certainly a part of his job, he still has a respect for the bodies he works with and the role they lend to forensic science. His memoir was absolutely fascinating. It led me into the Body Farm novels which are fiction but are based on his real life work at the Body Farm. As always, it was a fun, engaging read that required me to think a little but not too much. Like the other Body Farm novels, I learned a lot about the use of skeletons to determine age and cause of death. If you're at all interested in forensics, I'd definitely recommend starting with Death's Acre, then going into the fiction series.
Come Again No More: A Novel This is the sequel to Sun Going Down. Like Sun Going Down, this is historical fiction, but the author based it loosely on his own family history. This book picks up pretty much exactly where the last left off and continues on with American history, through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. As with the previous book, it's not exactly one that you could call happy, but then this period in American history wasn't--there were a lot of hard times, as the title taken from a Stephen Foster song ("Hard times come again no more") alludes. Like the previous book, I loved the chronicles of this family's journey and struggles. This is the second book in a trilogy, so it leaves off abruptly. I'm anxious to read the final chapter!
The Chocolate Money
I checked this one out based off of Becky's recommendation on last week's post. I loved it. Parts of it reminded me a lot of the book Prep, but it was a lot sadder, as a whole. This was one of those books that pulled me in, but it was a tough read. I was drawn into Bettina's story and couldn't put it down, but it's definitely not a book for everyone. Some parts are hard to swallow and you definitely won't love or like or even be able to relate to some of the characters, but it's still a great book.
What are you reading this week?