A Books Review

Posted on September 21, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies |

One of my sorority sisters invited a few of us to join her book club that meets monthly for wine, goodies, and discussion. I love books – always have. I find it so refreshing to be able to talk about them with my closest friends. You can learn even more about your friends by their reactions and insights.

 I attended my first book club meeting at the end of August where we discussed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

The Paris Wife is historical fiction about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hattie, and the years they spent in Paris together. Not everyone in my book club liked it. Some people said they just couldn’t get into it and it started pretty slow. I had a fair understanding of Ernest Hemingway, his life, and his death. So I knew going in that this book wasn’t going to be a happy story.

I really appreciate how the author wove in her own story through factual events and relationships. She did her research. I have always viewed historical fiction with awe. It’s intriguing to me because if it’s done well, the reader cannot separate what was true or what was a creation of the author. Historical fiction brings real people to life with scenes and dialogue even if it isn’t completely factual.  And props to the author again. Even though I knew how this story would end, the way McClain delivered the ending brought tears to my eyes.

If you like Americana and books written by authors from the 1920s and 30s, you’ll enjoy this peek into Hemingway’s first marriage.

For September/October, we are reading S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep.

This psychological thriller has a similar concept as Momento. Because of an accident, a woman wakes up everyday and cannot remember much about her life. She re-sets. At the recommendation of her doctor, she starts journaling everyday and hides the journal from her husband in an effort to gain some of her memories back. What follows is a horrific discovery of clues and deceit.

This book is such a page turner and you don’t know which characters to trust, even the lead protagonist. The author is genius in his placement of quasi-clues. I say quasi because you don’t even realize they are clues until you get near the end or finish the book entirely. The main character has some serious flaws, but you cannot help but feel pain for her and her situation. Yes, this book was dark. But it was more suspenseful than disturbing.

If you like suspense or psychological thrillers, you will like this.

For the holidays, we decided to pick lighter fare since we’ll all be preoccupied with family and holiday parties. We are reading The Hunger Games trilogy.

 I know, I know. I’m way behind on this craze. I think I was planning this little shindig wedding of mine at the height of Hunger pandemonium. I just started the final book of the trilogy today. I can already tell you that The Hunger Games are right up there in the world of Harry Potter for me. That’s saying something. Of course, nothing could match Harry, but they come closer than any other book I’ve read. Sorry Twilight peeps.

I can’t offer a full review yet since I haven’t finished, but they’re amazing and so difficult to put down. The series is based in post-apocalyptic America, a communist nation known as Panem divided into 12 districts that have a specific industry – manufacturing, coal, agriculture, etc. I found this handy map of Panem created by Maria Rizzoni:

Because District 13 revolted against the Capitol (the capital district of communist leaders) hundreds of years ago, Panem holds the annual Hunger Games to remind its citizens who is still in control. Each district sends 2 representatives, one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death. Whoever wins will win wealth for themselves and lifetime of security. They will also win food for their district for an entire year. I can’t get into it too much without giving it away, but the plot is thicker than the Hunger Games itself. Strong themes are politics, survival, loyalty, humanity, power, society, and sacrifice.

The books are a quick read because they were written for a young adult audience. However, the themes translate to adults and are probably better appreciated by a more mature audience. I recommend these for anyone who likes a good book. It’s got love. It’s got sentimental backstory. It has a survival of the fittest theme. And it’s great for anyone interested in social or political science.

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