Stephen P. Kiernan
This is a super fun read. It’s got an awesome premise in the reawakening of a man who froze nearly a hundred years earlier and is reintroduced to American life a century later. Written from four very different perspectives, the opportunity to see the players from all sides is entertaining and cool. My one complaint is that I had the sense of the novel having been rushed out the door before it was fully baked. Besides the errors in the text, there are numerous potentials that weren’t fully realized and some rather glaring holes in the plot. Mostly I quibble about the main woman character, who’s characterized as a “true scientific genius” but fails to ask even the most basic scientific questions—and mostly does whatever the plot needs her to do. I won’t say any more than that, but will unreservedly recommend this for a fun read that’s nearly impossible to put down
Laurie R. King
I wasn’t sure about this one at first but I then came to really savor it. Rae Newborn is a super vivid protagonist and the setting on an island in the
San Juan’s is almost equally vivid.
The Poisonwood Bible
I’m not as much a dedicated fan of Barbara Kingsolver as many people I know, but I did completely love this book. It reads like a classic magnum opus, every word sure-footed and solid, flowing along as if unfolding. I plan to read it again.
The Bookman’s Tale
As with Shadow of the Wind, this is a story about a book and I love little better than a good one of these.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
The scope of detail in this novel is staggering. Truly impressive and staggering. The depth of the detail sweeps you away to the world of late eighteenth century
Japan for a dose of a feudal
society still closed tight like an oyster but on the brink of being pried open
by Dutch and English traders. It’s a
smart book in many ways, sophisticated and richly flavored. The characters and
plot are good if not great, but certainly it’s the setting and the history that
are absolutely worth reading this for. It’s like a fine old cabernet for lovers
of historical fiction.
The Secret KeeperKate Morton is a seriously good story weaver. This one is chock full of characters and time periods and she keeps it all unfolding one small piece at a time so you're left guessing the whole way. For me her books are pure candy. Almost all her settings feel mysterious and remote, full of magic possibility. Her characters are mostly smart and thoughtful, though some of them are hard to get a grasp on because they either change too much from one time period to another or else they are being kept at arms length to serve the machinations of the plot. But overall her books are a treat for those of us who love a good little mystery in a wonderfully gothic setting!
The Forgotten Garden
Howard Frank Mosher
I chose Northern Borders to highlight here because I think it's my favorite of his books and it hasn't received the attention that some of his others have received. Several of them - including Where the Rivers Flow North and Disappearances - have been made into movies. Northern Borders, though, to me captures the essence of the place more deftly than any others. It's set largely on a dairy farm in the 50's, where a young boy goes to live with his grandparents and joins their life of ridiculously hard work blended with numerous small joys and deep pleasures. The story follows Austin Kittredge through his young adulthood as it simultaneously follows a tiny Vermont town that belatedly joins the mechanized world of modern America. (Though always at least a decade behind, as Vermonters have to be pried away from anything they're used to.)
And like any good story, it holds a central mystery that comes at you sideways and makes the whole story resonate with hidden meaning. This is a fine sweet read that is worth savoring.