Friday, March 1, 2013

What I read in February (2013)

This is my monthly recap of the books I've read and reviewed on my book blog. For full reviews of these books, click on the title to go to Marie's Book Garden. 

Author Spotlight: Ruth Ozeki

The other day I happily discovered that one of my favorite authors has a new book coming out, after nearly 10 years! Read my raves about Ruth Ozeki and her upcoming novel, A Tale for the Time Being, which I will be reviewing very soon.

Fiction



The Burning, by Jane Casey

The Burning felt similar to BBC's "Prime Suspect" (with Helen Mirren), which I loved, but with a young Irish detective named Maeve. 
Maeve has to put up with her English colleagues' misogyny and crap about her Irish ancestry, but she is a strong and complex character. She's working on a case to catch a London serial killer who likes to beat his female victims to a pulp and then set their bodies ablaze. The publisher didn't dumb it down for Americans. I will keep reading Casey's books (she has three more Maeve Kerrigan books published with another one on the way).



The Very Thought of You, by Rosie Alison

Eight-year-old Anna is evacuated from London and sent to a stately home in Yorkshire in 1939. Wise beyond her years, she soon becomes aware of the adult secrets around her (infidelity abounds). Every adult in this book is unhappy and unfaithful....even Anna herself when she grows up. Unfortunately, none of the characters are sympathetic with perhaps the exception of Thomas. Anna was more likable as a child, but when she grew up I found myself getting irritated with her choices and the way she let her life fall to ruin. This book, unfortunately, does a great deal of telling rather than showing. In fact there's little dialogue. The plot had promise, but I feel let down.


Nonfiction

Bruce, by Peter Ames Carlin

This is what I spent most of my time reading in February, as it's a big, dense book. Peter Ames Carlin interviewed Bruce and his colleagues and pored over the albums, articles, and interviews to create this exhaustive (and some say, exhausting) biography. Reading about his friend and bandmate Clarence's death brought me to tears, as did the poignant description of how Bruce's dad asked him to sit on his lap one night (as an adult) after a lifetime of conflict and tense silence between the two of them. 

From representing the common American working person to singing a song for the movie "Philadelphia," before most of Hollywood became gay friendly, from engaging with and advocating for Vietnam vets and Amnesty International, to continuing to sing about the underprivileged even after he hit it big, and for showcasing a local charity at each of his concerts...Bruce is a strong voice of social justice. Carlin's book does not paint him as a perfect man...he can be narcissistic, demanding and selfish. But he is clearly a musical genius, prolific in his song writing and creative in his musical arrangements, and a true poet of the people. Read my full review for photos, more detail, and a link to a fun video with Jimmy Kimmel.

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