The Compulsive Reader: Reading Rants: Adult Books I've Enjoyed Recently

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Reading Rants: Adult Books I've Enjoyed Recently

I'm all about YA, but I've run across these great adult books in the past few weeks, and they definitely deserve a mention!

First off, Jennifer Donnelly. One of my favorite authors for A Northern Light and her latest (out in October), Revolution. So while I was on my post-Revolution high, I took myself down to the library and found myself wandering the 'D' section until I found her two adult books, also historical fiction, and the first two books in a trilogy called the Rose Saga. The Tea Rose is about a young woman named Fiona Finnegan who lives on London's east side in 1888 and dreams of opening up a tea shop and marrying her longtime love Joe Bristow. But when her father's involvement with the union at his job on the docks and Jack the Ripper destroy her life, she flees to New York City, where she unexpectedly makes a name for herself in the tea business, rising straight to the top. Only then does she return to London, determined to get her revenge.

It was one of those deliciously gigantic and thick books (over 500 pages with nice, tiny print) that also has the potential to be very confusing because there are SO MANY elements, so many characters, so much happening. But it isn't confusing...it's beautiful and engaging and so, so fascinating! And of course, Donnelly throws in a major twist in the last chapters that open the way for the next book, The Winter Rose.

I had The Winter Rose checked out from the library, and my mom read it ahead of me and told me she thought it was even better than The Tea Rose, but then school and life in general got in the way, and the next thing I knew the library was sending me all sorts of emails demanding it back, and I grudgingly relinquished it, but plan on snatching it back sometime later in the week!

While wandering the stacks, I also grabbed a few books I thought would suit my mother, and one of them was Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors. He is also the author of Beneath a Marble Sky, which was sort of a big deal in my town because our bookstore and library discussed and dissected it over the summer, and basically half the town was going, "Ohh emmm geeeee, have you read it???"

But being the rebel I am, I picked his other book up instead. Grabbing books for my mom can be kind of hit and miss at times, but not only was choosing Beside a Burning Sea serving as my Rebellious Act of the Day, it also fulfilled the mental checklist of requirements I have about what sort of books my mother is certain to enjoy. Is there a nurse in it? Check. (My mother is a nurse.) Is it historical fiction? Check. (Historical fiction being one of the few genres my mother and I seem to agree on.) And...that's about it. She's an easy woman to please, thank goodness.

So, long story short, she loved it. And I went back for Beneath a Marble Sky (I admit, it sounds really good) and she also loved that, and now I have to teach her how to use Amazon.com to look up the author's next book and see when that one comes out.

So, I started reading Beside a Burning Sea, and I am again in love! Then I must read Beneath a Marble Sky because I am sure I will love it, and I am tired of covering my ears and yelling, "Tra lalalala! Don't tell me what happens!!" every time I walk into the library and a fellow patron or librarian wants to discuss it because they all assume everyone has already read it.

And...a few weeks ago, I won a contest on Twitter held by the lovely Jaclyn Dolamore, who wrote Magic Under Glass, and who has a MERMAID book coming out soon-ish! I adore mermaids. And I adore Jaclyn Dolamore for writing a book about them, and for sending me a box of books as a prize, which contained not only my FAVORITE out of print mermaid book from when I a little bookworm whose title I couldn't remember for the life of me, but....Soulless.

I feel like I am rather late to the whole Soulless/Gail Carriger/Alexia Tarabotti love fest, but better late than never, right? Basically, I read the back cover of Soulless, snorted my tea through my nose because I laughed so hard, and began the first chapter within the minute. The tagline says it all: Of vampires, werewolves, and parasols. What's not to love? I have gleefully purchased the next book, Changeless, and am having to force myself to go slowly and not buy book three, Blameless!

That's what I've been reading recently, but here is a list of adult books I've read in the past that I've also really enjoyed:

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, takes place in Barcelona, post-World War II, and has mystery and love and lots and lots of books! It's a must-read if you love books and historical fiction. Plus, Zafon is an award-winning YA author in Spain. Currently, only one of his YA books has been translated into English (that I know of), and it's The Prince of Mist, which came out recently from Little, Brown. It's also on my TBR pile!

The Outlander by Gil Adamson, not to be confused with the book Outlander by Diana Gabaldon about the time traveling nurse (yep, my mom loved it). It's a darker tale, also historical fiction, about a woman who is on the run from her brothers-in-law, who are bent on avenging their brother's death. Yeah. You read that correctly. Read it, it's a fascinating book, and the way Adamson writes leaves you with a lot to think about.

In Country by Bobbi Ann Mason is technically an adult book, but it's narrated by an eighteen-year-old protagonist who lives with her uncle, a Vietnam veteran, her own father was killed in the Vietnam War before she was born, and in the summer after she graduates from high school, she is confronted with the past and grapples with what the war means to those she loves and to herself, even ten years after it ended.

Have you ever been forced to read Shakespeare's King Lear? Yeah, me too. I won't say it was my absolute favorite experience, but it was interesting. However, what I liked a lot more was the assignment I received after Lear: to read A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (a Pulitzer Prize winner), a modern (well, modern when it was written twenty-some years ago) re-telling of King Lear, set in the farmlands of the Midwest and narrated by "Lear's" oldest daughter Ginny (Goneril).

And finally, my last recommendation for the day is A Garden of Earthly Delights by Joyce Carol Oates. It's the first in her Wonderland Quartet, and the book is about one woman, Clara Walpole. It chronicles her life, from birth to old age, but it is broken up into four parts and told from the points of view of four men in her life: her father, the man she loves, the man she married, and her son. It's harsh and not always easy to read, but it's also a very fascinating look at life during the Depression and afterwards.

That's all for today, my lovely readers! Enjoy your long weekend (if you are an American, anyway). I'm going to go bake some pies for our annual Labor Day pig roast! Next time, I'll talk about MERMAIDS!


Anonymous said...

LOVE Soulless! <3

Anonymous said...

I still got my copy of Tea Rose somewhere up in my shelf. I'm going to get to it! Before Christmas, I swear!

Jordyn said...

If you don't mind me asking, how do you post the "reactions" bit to the end of your posts?

Madeleine said...

If you enjoyed Shadow of the Wind, read the prequel, The Angel's Game. It really builds on the story in Shadow.

Jackie Dolamore said...

So glad you enjoyed the prize! And glad you are a mermaid book fan. Have you ever read Mermaid's Song by Alida Van Gores? It was an adult book and an interesting read...I didn't love it as much as the Amazon reviews because I really enjoy the relationship between mermaids and humans (or winged guys, in my book's case...) but it was still interesting. It's out of print too of course... Poor mermaid books!

Lauren said...

You should add Patricia Briggs to your list. She writes werewolves/shapshifters, and I LOVE her world!!

Sarah said...

I've been looking for some new adult books to read so I'm really glad to see this post. I will have to try a few titles out.

agirlandherbooks said...

Ah, yes! Gail Carriger's Alexia Tarabotti novels are so great! I'm currently reading Blameless... trying really hard to take is slow, I don't want it to be over! I love your blog, by the way.

Kaethe said...

My mother was a lab tech, rather than a nurse, but historical fiction is her cup of tea, too. I got her hooked with Allende's Zorro.