Friday, April 20, 2012

Books I've Read So Far This Year- Part 2

Back in January, I posted here about some of the books I'd read so far this year.  I've finished quite a few that are at least worth mentioning since then, so I thought I'd post again!  These obviously aren't *all* the books I've read since that post, just the ones I felt like babbling on about. You can click on any book image to go to its Amazon page for more info.

Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Lafitte at the Battle of New Orleans

I've learned that my enjoyment of visiting a place is directly linked to how much I know about it, so I grabbed this book about the Battle of New Orleans in anticipation of my future trip. I'm so glad I did!  It was interesting to read names I recognized as street names there now, or about buildings that are still standing. It made me even more excited to visit Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar. It also made me super bummed that the tomb of Dominique You (Lafitte's brother) is in St. Louis Cemetery #2, which is in a not-so-safe part of town.

This book did add to my total frustration about President Jackson, though. I've never been really able to wrap my mind around him.  On one hand, the Trail of Tears is pretty much totally his fault, which I kinda take personal offense at since I'm 1/4 Cherokee. Both in this book and throughout his presidency, Jackson did some pretty horrible things. He also did some pretty impressive things. If the US had lost the Battle of New Orleans, chances are good we would have lost the Louisiana Purchase to the British, and who knows what country we'd even BE now.

One of the best examples of how confusing Jackson is was in this book. He pretty much slaughtered a whole village of Creek Indians who had been at war with the settlers. There was a little boy left a live, and he asked some of the remaining women of the village what to do with him, and they reportedly told him they should just kill the boy too, since his whole family and most of his people were gone. Instead, Jackson adopted him and raised him as a son till he died at 17. It's almost like the "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic" quote applied to an actual situation. Bleh.

Midnight in the Garden of Good And Evil

I just finished this one, and it was SO different from what I expected. Most of the book (at least the first half) was MUCH lighter than I expected. Going into it, all I knew about it was a) it had an awesome book cover, b) it was about the city of Savannah, GA and c) I remembered hearing good reviews. It's actually the nonfiction work of a writer who spent some time living in Savannah, about the people he met there and the crazy things he found himself in the middle of. I don't want to give anything away, but you can check the Amazon page for more info, obviously. Still, from the cover I was expecting something very dark, possibly a bit spooky, but much of it is light, funny even, although it does have a fair share of mystery and darker elements thrown in. It reads almost like a novel, I had to keep reminding myself that these events and people were real.

One thing I love about nonfiction is that you can actually, at least a little bit, throw yourself into the world of the book. You know how when you read Harry Potter, you wish you could wander the grounds of Hogwarts?  I love that I could actually go to Savannah, and actually tour the house where much of the story takes place, walk through the graveyard that's mentioned many times, possibly even run into some of the people mentioned.

The Hunger Games

I finally got around to reading this last month. I know I'm in the minority here, but I didn't love it. The story itself was interesting, but I found the writing style to be really lacking. There were also a few plot points that were just WAY too convenient and contrived. It's a quick read, though, so you're only out four or five hours of your life if you end up hating it. I might pick up the 2nd in the series eventually, just to see if it gets any better, but it's not the type of series where I'm excited to return to the world and the characters.

My Name is Grace

I won this one on GoodReads, which was awesome, but just judging from the blurb and the cover, I wasn't THAT excited to read it. It's the split story of a young girl in Scotland during WWII, and the teenage girl who finds her diary in the 70s. I ended up being really pleasantly surprised, I liked it a lot more than I expected to. I actually loved the first 80% or so of the book, but the last few chapters let me down.

Loving Frank

I picked this up at the thrift store, vaguely remembering having heard good things about it. It's the story of Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress, and the ups and downs of their relationship. It was an interesting read, but I think this might be the first time in ages that I found myself really wishing I'd read spoilers before reading it, because the ending seriously screwed with my head.

What's been your favorite read so far this year? Any suggestions?

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