Looking Back: April

Margaret Atwood, David Levine

April showered down some quantity, even if the quality was a bit lacking. I only gave two books out of eleven more than three stars. How did I manage 11 books? It must have been my cold, rainy, Spring Break.

Total: 11 books
9 fiction                          82%
2 nonfiction                   18%
6 female authors           55%
1 work in translation     9%

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin**
I never read this as a kid, and I heard it was great, that Turtle (the main character) was brilliant, yada yada. I just found it kind of annoying.

Chaka, Thomas Mofolo**
This is a retelling of the mythic leader Shaka Zulu. Violent, disturbing, not my thing.

A Respectable Trade, Philippa Gregory*
I had read another Gregory book, The Queen’s Fool, and thought is was a fun, light piece of historical fiction. This, on the other hand, was AWFUL. I just can’t even explain how wrong it was on so many levels. I threw this book down twice while reading it (into a laundry basket full of clothes, but still. Literally threw the book across the room.) But hey – I bet if you liked The Help you’ll like this, too. Something for everyone.

The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman***
I wanted to compare this series with Harry Potter. Although I rated them  the same, the edge went to Pullman. I think that just may be that he had a more sophisticated storyline.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling.***
Yes, this was my first time reading this. It was a fun book, and I can see why it is so popular. Action packed story, lots of great imagery, and who doesn’t want to believe that they’re secretly a wizard?

The Gangster We are All Looking ForLê Thi Diem Thúy***A family of Vietnamese immigrants tries to make life work in California.

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, Xiaolu Guo****
Story of a modern young girl growing up in China, told in twenty fleeting fragments.

Stiff, Mary Roach***
Quirky, respectful, and straightforward look at what happens to our bodies after we leave them.

The Surrendered, Chang-Rae Lee**
I’ve blocked out a lot of this book, because it contained some of the most brutal scenes I’ve ever read. Deals with the Korean War and its aftermath.

King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild***
I had been wanting to read this for years, and finally got around to it. I thought it was pretty good, but the author has romanticized Joseph Conrad a bit too much for my tastes. Most people probably wouldn’t be bothered by this, but it distracted me.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood*****
Oh, wow. This was so good. Margaret Atwood at her best.

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