SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #23-24

Book #23 was "The Hum and the Shiver" by Alex Bledsoe, on audiobook. I didn't know what to expect from this aside from it being sort of in the "urban fantasy" genre and that my husband really enjoyed it. I liked the story very much, more than I expected. I think Bledsoe is really talented. I liked both the male and female reader on the audiobook, as well. The book is set in Tennessee and tells of the Tufa people, who were living on the land before white European settlers showed up. They are brown skinned and dark haired but of an unidentifiable ethnic background and they have their own somewhat in-grown culture. One of their young women, Bronwyn, goes off to war, gets hurt and comes back home a hero, though I physically broken one. She comes home for comfort and healing only to find that ill omens suggest that her mother might be about to die. Meanwhile, a part-Tufa newspaper reporter from the next town tries to get an exclusive with Bronwyn and learns more about his Tufa heritage while trying to get the story. And a new Methodist minister in the next town becomes fascinated with the Tufa generally and Bronwyn specifically. Complicating things, Bronwyn's old boyfriend Duane is up to no good. I found this book really engaging and the ending very satisfying. Bronwyn, whose wild childhood inspired the nickname "The Bronwynator," is a great character, but I also related to the small-town reporter and thought the depictions of his editor and their paper to be spot on - this is something I know a lot about since I was a reporter and editor for a weekly in a small town for five and a half years. Loved this book, highly recommended. It's the first in a series - the next book looks like it follows different main characters but in the same setting.

Book #24 was "Skinny Legs and All" by Tom Robbins. This is a re-read for me, but the first read would have been about 20 years ago. I had forgotten probably the first 3/4 of the book and really only remembered most of the stuff that happens toward the end, but the entire book is a fun romp. It follows the adventures of five inanimate objects - a spoon, a bean can, a dirty purple sock, a conch shell and a painted stick - and several humans, primarily newlyweds Ellen Cherry Charles and Boomer Petaway. Ellen is an aspiring artist who takes her welder husband Boomer with her to New York, only to have him turn into the star of the art world while she ends up waitressing. This takes a toll on their marriage. It also follows the lives of Ellen's employers, a Jew and an Arab who open up a Middle Eastern restaurant across from the UN as a statement about peace in the Middle East. The book is silly in the way Robbins' books always are, but also examines some serious issues, from the ongoing strife in the Middle East to the illusions that underpin our society to the damage that dogma does. I got different things out of it reading this as a 40-something than I did as a 20-something, but I'm glad I re-read it. I've read most of Robbins' stuff, and this is my second favorite ("Jitterbug Perfume" is my favorite). The novel does feel a bit stuck in the 80s but it mostly stands the test of time. Highly recommended if you like a book that makes you think AND makes you laugh.

1. Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection Paperback [fiction/graphic short story collection]- Matt Dembicki -Ed.
2. Light Music [fiction]- Kathleen Ann Goonan
3. The Indian Clerk [fiction]- David Leavitt
4. The Diving Bell & the Butterfly [non-fiction/memoir]- Jean-Dominique Bauby
5. Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast [non-fiction]- Andrew E. Kersten
6. Blue Champagne [fiction/short stories]- John Varley
7. A Person of Interest [fiction]- Susan Choi
8. Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country [non-fiction]- Louise Erdrich
9. Nobody Nowhere [non-fiction]- Donna Williams
10. The Three Musketeers [fiction]- Alexandre Dumas (unabridged audiobook)
11. The Narrative of John Tanner [non-fiction/biography]- as told by John Tanner, edited by Edwin James
12. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell [fiction]- Susanna Clarke
13. I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist's Eyes [non-fiction]- Hemant Mehta
14. Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft [non-fiction]- Natalie Goldberg
15. No Name in the Streets [non-fiction/essay]- James Baldwin
16. The Hunger Games [fiction]- Suzanne Collins (unabridged audiobook)
17. Permanence [fiction]- Karl Schroeder
18. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf [poetry]- Ntozake Shange
19. An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President [non-fiction]- Randall Robinson
20. The Delikon [fiction]- by H.M. Hoover
21. Catching Fire (#2 in the Hunger Games trilogy) [fiction]- Suzanne Collins (unabridged audiobook)
22. Codex Born (#2 in the Magic Ex Libris series) [fiction]- Jim Hines

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