Let's do this a bit differently this month. Instead of separating my books by type, I'm going to list them in order from least favorite to the best of the bunch.
6. I Think I Love You, Allison Pearson (audio): Confession, I only listened to about an hour of this book. Honestly, it is not the sort of book I would normally pick up, but it had come with stellar reviews and I had really enjoyed a Fresh Air interview with the author. Less than 30 minutes in I realized that I couldn't relate to anything at all in the book. The world of a 'typical' teen girl deep in a crush on a pop star is not one I ever inhabited - or wanted to inhabit. The main character was therefor more alien to me than actual aliens in science fictions books.
5. Swamplandia!, Karen Russell (eBook): Hmm, what to say, what to say.... OK, this is Russell's first novel and it was basically an expansion of a story from her brilliant short story collection, St Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves. It was not my favorite story (St. Lucy's was....it's phenomenal.) but I do love Russell's writing style...and I can honestly say that I loved the first half of the book. For me it disintegrated after that for two big reasons. First, I saw one of the major plot points coming from a mile away and it annoyed me. Second, there was little to no resolution in the end as it wrapped up in a very quick manner which contradicted the slow, leisurely pace of the rest of the book. It was ultimately a huge disappointment.
4. Little Bee, A Novel, Chris Cleaver (audio): The bad news is that this end also disappointed me, leaving more questions than answers. The good news is that the rest of the book made up for it. The characters alone are so unique that they make the ride more than worthwhile. Besides, I am fully willing to admit that my own preference for nicely wrapped up endings flies in the face of a broad literary tradition of making people imagine their own ever afters.
3. American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life And Times Of Gypsy Rose Lee, Karen Abbott (eBook), It was fun to learn more about such a colorful character. Abbott's back and forth storytelling style was a bit disjointed sometimes, and occasionally I had to work harder than I would have liked to figure out what she was saying (A case of style taking precedence over substance when it should have been the other way around). All in all, though, an enjoyable book....and definitely worth reading in print form because of the incredible photos!
2. The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer (audio): Thoroughly satisfying. If I had one wee complaint it would be that the main character seems possessed by incredibly good luck which gets him both in and out of situations in a slightly incredulous way. Having said that, I adored the characters and was swept up in a WWII story that was both familiar and unfamiliar. I couldn't put it down...and wound up staying up way too late more than once to find out what would happen next.
1. Blackout and All Clear, Connie Willis (audio for both): I practically turned cartwheels when I discovered that my library had acquired the audio versions of all of Willis's books. She's a brilliant writer, and I love her time travel books. Fortunately I managed to check out both of these books - which are really parts one and two of a bigger story - at the same time so that I could listen to them back to back. I fully recognize that 42 hours of audio is a daunting task, but my oh my am I glad it worked out that way! England in the Blitz, Dickensian names/characters, beautifully researched detail, stories of ordinary people in extraordinary times, and a thrilling plot....I laughed AND cried my way through both books, and was sorry when they actually came to an end because it meant I had to say good bye for now. In all honesty, these were the best books I've read in a very long time.