Thursday, August 06, 2009

More July Reading

A Single Shard - Linda Sue Park. This 2002 winner of the Newbery Award was my favorite read for the month of July. The story of Tree-Ear the orphan who goes to work for Min the master potter and helps to enhance his reputation is as exquisite as the celadon pottery Min creates during the story. Park evokes the feeling of 12th-century Korea so well that it's practically a character in the book. I loved the depiction of Tree-Ear's relationships with Crane-man, the old man who befriends him as a small child, and Ajima, Min's wife. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a treat. This is my new favorite work of children's literature, and it's an added bonus that I was fortunate enough to read this novel with the Korean countryside right outside my window.
Fun fact: Linda Sue Park was on Jeopardy! back in 2006. Apparently she didn't do very well, but I wish I could have been watching and cheering her on.

Winter At Valley Forge - Matt Doeden, Ron Frenz. A perfect read for blossoming American history buffs. Ron Frenz, the illustrator of this graphic novel, is apparently very well-known and respected for his illustrations of superheroes Superman and Spiderman. In Winter At Valley Forge George Washington has the look of a superhero as well, and considering what he accomplished in those few months in Pennsylvania, it definitely fits.

Public Enemies - Bryan Burrough. I discussed this diligently researched look at the early days of the FBI here.

Barack Obama: United States President - Roberta Edwards, Ken Call. Originally published as Barack Obama: An American Story last year, this juvenile biography was recently rewritten and now tells Obama's story up to his inauguration.

The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff. There are two stories going on here: One is a murder mystery in which a polygamist in Utah is supposedly killed by his 19th wife and their son, who was excommunicated from this splintered-off sect of the Mormon church, comes back and is determined to find answers. The other story is an "autobiography" of Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young's 19th wife, who is divorcing the Mormon leader and going around the country on tour to tell her story and open people's eyes of the "evils" of polygamy. Ebershoff's pacing is taut, and while I wanted to find out if BeckyLyn was guilty of murder, I couldn't help being more interested in Ann Eliza's story, which covered a number of years. Ebershoff does a great job of showing how the stories interconnect at certain points and he doesn't overdo it to the point of implausibility. Many thanks to Talya for choosing this book. Now I want to read Under The Banner Of Heaven.

Not a high reading count for July, but there was a lot of variety and what I read was engrossing. Whew, I hope I never get that far behind again with my reviews.

8 comments:

Heather J. said...

I really enjoyed THE 19th WIFE as well, and like you I was more interested in Ann Eliza's story.

I'm sure you're glad to be caught up on all those reviews!

Bybee said...

Heather,
Yeah, I never really did warm up to the 21st century characters although I was anxious about the outcome of their story.

Carrie K said...

The 19th Wife does look intriguing.

Gentle Reader said...

Great variety for your July reading :) I enjoyed The 19th Wife, too.

Sam Sattler said...

I attended a presentation on The 19h Wife by David Ebershoff at the Texas Book Festival and met him briefly after. He is a good speaker with a nice sense of humor and I enjoyed hearing him speak about how he researched the book and how the locals reacted to his presence.

booklineandsinker said...

i read the single shard a few years ago and really emjoyed it. the story is great and the characters are well-developed for a younger reader novel. glad you liked it! i'm still trying to get my paws on the 19th wife...

Susan said...

Far behind in your reviews - that's all??? I think I'm 20 + books behind! Bad me. I'm supposed to be blogging about books and convincing people to try them!

I haven't read the 19th Wife, but I can't say that I'm that interested in it. I think it's the idea that all these women let him pick them - 19 wives? Sorry, I want to slap them all awake and ship him off to a desert island where he is marooned for life. I think this story raises my hackles!

Stephanie said...

Under the Banner of Heaven is amazing. Still one of my favorite books. You'll be fascinated!