Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Killing Sea by Richard Lewis

After starting and stopping two books (A Prayer for Owen Meany and Alice's Tulips), I finally finished a book!
The Killing Sea is "a novel about the tsunami that stunned the world" (from the cover). The author, Richard Lewis, is the son of American missionaries who lives in Bali, Indonesia and helped out in Aceh after the 2004 tsunami. His firsthand experience really shows in this novel.
This book is intended for readers ages 12 and up, and the difficulty level reflects that. It is not a challenging book in that way, but Lewis doesn't hold back on the subject matter. Emotionally, there are some challenges in this book, but they were handled with care. The book is a very quick read and short, at just under 200 pages. The story is gripping and characterization is well done.
Oh yes. The story. Ruslan is an Indonesian teenager whose father is the local mechanic. On Christmas Day in 2004, a Western family approaches him for help fixing their yacht. Ruslan is immediately fascinated with Sarah, the blond-haired, blue-eyed American girl. Fast forward to the next morning, when an earthquake shakes the area, and, minutes later, the land is swept by a monstrous wave. Sarah's family was anchored on an island off shore, and, while trying to get away, her father breaks his leg. Sarah's mother tells her to run for high ground with her brother, and, Sarah and Peter are separated from their parents. Meanwhile, Ruslan's father was meant to be repairing a tanker offshore, and Ruslan assumes he was lost, until he finds a note from his father saying that he had gone to Ie Mameh to talk with Ruslan's late mother's rebel family, and he hadn't wanted to tell him. Ruslan is relieved to learn that his father could still be safe and sets out towards the other village. Naturally, along the way Ruslan's and Sarah's paths cross and they travel together. I won't say anymore, except (and this could be considered a small spoiler) the ending was one of the most satisfying endings I've read in a long time. Very well done!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Secret Santa

I'm so behind on my blog reading, and I'm so glad I caught this post from Dewey before the deadline!

This Secret Santa swap sounds like a lot of fun! I'm in!

John Irving is not for me

Several years ago, I started The Cider House Rules, and I just couldn't get into it. I had hoped it was just that book, and, having heard rave reviews, I picked up A Prayer for Owen Meany. Couldn't get into it, either. I recognize both as having good stories, but Irving's writing just plods along. I enjoyed the movie of The Cider House Rules, and I would really like to know the full story of A Prayer for Owen Meany, but I just can't find it in me to finish it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Thousand Veils by D. J Murphy

A fellow Library Thing user passed this book, which she received from the author, on to me. I really appreciate the opportunity to read this book!

Fatima Shihabi had a happy childhood in Kassim, Iraq. She was educated in the same way her brothers were, and she was encouraged by her father to indulge in her love of writing. As an adult, after her abusive husband divorced her for not bearing him sons, Fatima is hired as a journalist for Babel, an Iraqi newspaper directed by Uday Hussein, son of Saddam Hussein. When Fatima's writing begins to disclose too much about the plights of her fellow Iraqis after 9/11, she becomes a target of Saddam's Mukhabarat (secret police) and must escape from Iraq if she is to survive.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Charles Sherman, a corporate lawyer with former dealings with Saudi Arabia, gets drafted to assist Fatima in her quest to get to America and her older brother, a professor at Columbia. In the midst of a major deal with important clients, this is the last thing Charles needs, but the humanitarian side of him wins out and he tries to help Fatima.

A Thousand Veils is fast-paced and exciting, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The only beef I have with it is that the dialogue just didn't seem realistic. I thought the narrative portions of the book were very well written, but the conversational parts seemed stilted.

A Thousand Veils is the first book for D. J. Murphy, a former international lawyer, and he is obviously quite talented. I definitely recommend this one and look forward to future books.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Library Thing Early Reviewers

I finally got matched with another LT Early Review copy, after several dry months! I'll be getting Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield. You can read the first chapter via the link. This sounds like it could be really good or supremely bad!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Truckers by Terry Pratchett

Truckers is the first book in Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad Trilogy, which is geared towards a children's/YA audience. This was only the 2nd Pratchett book I've read, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did Going Postal. 

The book begins with a group of nomes who decide to abandon their Outside habitat in favor of something safer. They hitch a ride on one of the trucks that they have watched and end up inside the Store (Arnold Bros. (est 1905)). What ensues is basically a parody of the early Church, and it is delightful. I need to obtain a copy of Diggers, the next in the trilogy. Perhaps I'll luck out on my trip to Half Price Books this morning.

This will fulfill my "P" author in the A-Z challenge (the completion of which is looking quite grim...)