Since Thanksgiving, I've been on a bit of a book binge. I realize that I haven't reviewed any of the books here though. So here goes!
First up we have Grass for His Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn. These are books 2 & 3 in a series I've been reading by him. (I reviewed Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Book 1) in October.) These books were as exciting and wonderful as the first book. A kind of fantasy fiction set in feudal Japan -- there are elements of the supernatural that come into play, but it is mostly a love story set in a time of war. (Sounds kind of cheesy, but it's really good!) And I'm very excited to see that there is now a fourth book called The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori which came out in September!
2006 was the year that I got to know Haruki Murakami. I read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore but by far, my favorite was Norwegian Wood. This is the book that put Murakami on the map and it's feel is quite a bit different from his current (more surrealist feeling) novels. It's basically a coming of age novel (groan, I know!) with the feel of an autobiography. But of course it's a bit weirder than that (this is Murakami, after all!)
Basically this guy is caught between the past and future in the form of two women. One that connects him to his youth, and a friend of his who committed suicide, and the other that is full of life (she is quite vivacious!) It was really a compelling read. If you want to give Murakami a try -- start here. And if you are already a fan, but haven't read it -- please do!
A Spot of Bother was funny and witty and really rang true. The characters were human and engaging and I sped through this book. Basically it's about a family struggling as the father retires and has a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile his daughter is getting remarried and his son, who happens to be homosexual, is trying to get his life straightened out. The mother/wife starts an affair and it just gets crazier and crazier from there!
I just finished Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (the author of Housekeeping which I just loved.) This book was good, but not great for me. It's written as a sort of diary -- an aging preacher is writing to his young son because he thinks he may die soon. This style leads to the inevitable rambling that you would expect from a diary -- which annoyed me in places. The voice of the preacher rang true, however -- and there was a bit of a story that came into play more as the book went on. If you loved Housekeeping -- pick this one up.
I think that's everything, although it seems that I'm missing something. I'm sure Pete will let me know if he remembers something I forgot. And what am I reading now? I'm speeding through Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem -- really excellent book!