Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer reading for grown-ups, week two

So, yesterday I turned in my second entry to my public library's Summer Reading for Adults program. (Each 3-book reading log gets me another chance to win a drawing for a Nook at the end of the summer.)

Here's what I read over the last week. I think I did a pretty good job on my goal of picking three dissimilar books this time around...

1. A Feast For Crows, by George R.R. Martin
Genre: fantasy
Format/Source: Kindle book, purchased

This is Book Four of the Song of Ice and Fire series, the source material for HBO's Game of Thrones. The series is one of the most compelling things I've read in ages, but also by far the darkest. Trust me, TV viewers, it's just going to get more harrowing. Though I couldn't put this book down, I do think it's the weakest offering in the series to date, largely because three of my favorite characters were wholly absent, one briefly appeared at the very beginning, and two were there, but their scenes were few and far between. I learned only after finishing that Book Five, A Dance With Dragons, which comes out next month, runs parallel to this book instead of being a true sequel about what happens next. If I understand correctly, we'll get to see what was happening with the three wholly absent characters and the one who was barely there...but it means I'll have to wait till Book Six to find out what happens next for the two who WERE kinda there. Who knows how many years away that will be, and one of them got left in what was literally a dark place on her cliffhanger, so...

Don't get me wrong, I love these books. I'll dive into Dance the morning it hits my Kindle. But I wouldn't want all or even most of what I read to be this dark, nor to have such a large cast of major characters in such a baroque plot.

2. Wellington at Waterloo, by Jac Weller
Genre: nonfiction (military history)
Format/Source: trade paperback, purchased

An analysis of the Battle of Waterloo almost entirely from Wellington's perspective--even the maps face south instead of north, which actually made the battle make a lot more sense to me. Somehow having the maps oriented toward the British side enabled me to fully grok why Wellington chose the Waterloo position to make his stand and why the battle fell out as it did.

That said, this shouldn't be your first book on Waterloo. For that I'd recommend Alessandro Barbero's The Battle, a page-turner of a history that gives more or less equal time to all three armies involved. Also, Weller was an unabashed Wellington apologist. I happen to agree with his bias (though I think Weller's man-crush was even bigger than my woman-crush), but if you're an ardent admirer of Napoleon, you may find Weller's work rather head-explodey.

3. Naked Heat, by "Richard Castle"
Genre: mystery
Format/Source: hardcover, library

This is the second tie-in mystery novel to Castle, the ABC series, ostensibly written by the lead character. It's a fun, twisty, frothy mystery, rather like reading an episode of the show.

I had Naked Heat with me on Thursday when I saw my physical therapist for my weekly session to treat my pinched nerve. The techs in the gym turned out to be Castle fans who were surprised and impressed that I'd gotten a book like that from the library. Yep, kids, the library is not just for literature and term paper sources!

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