Thursday, January 2, 2014

Winter Break

Nothing goes better with softly falling snow and a crackling fire than a good book! Granted, this winter break busier than past years, filled with winter wonderland activities in breathtaking Whistler, British Columbia. Still, I was able to read Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Unbroken: A World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, and The Chaos Code by Justin Richards. These titles cover a range of incredibly different genres, including both adult and young adult, fiction and nonfiction.

I was pulled into Bad Monkeys by happy accident. With a riveting story about a young woman who is an assassin for a secret organization that fights evil, Matt Ruff offers a refreshingly different book. Throughout the entire read, I couldn't decide if Jane Charlotte was really an assassin or just plain crazy. Even with these predictable options, the story took unexpected twists and was a very satisfying book.

Sharp Objects, like other titles by Gillian Flynn, was immediately engaging, impossible to put down, and horrifying to read. As a relatively short book, Flynn packs in the not-stop action with detailed (tormented) character development. The story follows Camille Preaker, a reporter sent from Chicago to return to her small town, and her troubled past, to cover a series of grotesque murders. The more she uncovers in this dead-end case, the more she learns about herself and her family. While the end wasn't entirely predictable, it was one of the many guesses I had made along the way.

Shifting gears to Unbroken was surprisingly easy. Hillenbrand provides a riveting account of the unbelievable life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track runner who was a POW in WWII. With every struggle, it seemed impossible that Zamperini's situation could worsen - and yet it did! Despite every challenge, Zamperini's story is one of not just surviving daunting odds, but of faith and rising above worldly strife. As a history lover, I was familiar with the terrifying situation in the Pacific theater of WWII, but the personal details were both shocking and educational.

The lightest of all the titles was Chaos Code, which reads like a junior version of Indiana Jones. It was a fun book, albeit a quirky storyline with strange characters that were never really developed. Still, perfect for a cozy winter break read!

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