Friday, June 4, 2010

My last three books

Jenna Blum's first novel, Those Who Save Us, is one of my favorite books over the recent years so I was very excited to read her new novel as soon as it came out.  The Stormchasers is a very different story, but her ability to create amazing characters is consistent.  Here is the book description:

As a teenager, Karena Jorge had always been the one to look out for her twin brother Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder. But as Charles begins to refuse medication and his manic tendencies worsen, Karena finds herself caught between her loyalty to her brother and her fear for his life. Always obsessed with the weather-enraptured by its magical unpredictability that seemed to mirror his own impulses- Charles starts chasing storms, and his behavior grows increasingly erratic . . . until a terrifying storm chase with Karena ends with deadly consequences, tearing the twins apart and changing both of their lives forever.

Two decades later, Karena gets a call from a psychiatric ward in Wichita, Kansas, to come pick up her brother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to for twenty years. She soon discovers that Charles has lied to the doctors, taken medication that could make him dangerously manic, and disappeared again. Having exhausted every resource to try and track him down, Karena realizes she has only one last chance of finding him: the storms. Wherever the tornadoes are, that's where he'll be. Karena joins a team of professional stormchasers-passionate adventurers who will transform her life and give her a chance at love and redemption- and embarks on an odyssey to find her brother before he reveals the violent secret from their past and does more damage to himself . . . or to someone else.

I love the character of Karena.  She struggles with her commitment to Charles and how it is preventing her from having a life of her own.  The connections the author has made between the cycling patterns of tornadoes and the rapid-cycling of bipolar disorder are fascinating.  It was hard to like the character of Charles, but I felt for him. 

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin is a series of connected short stories. The characters are linked together by their employment with K. K. Harouni, a powerful landowner, or by their familial relationships with him. It takes place in Islamabad and rural Pakistan.  Much of the focus is on several of Harouni's house servants.  Each character is coping with some circumstances that are out of their control, while social status, wealth, and gender all play into their struggles. 

I was easily pulled into this book.  It was interesting to see how one story may impact another.  I was somewhat disappointed at the message of hopelessness.  I wanted more happy endings for some of the characters.  However, I would still say that it's a very good read.  It would be a great choice for readers who like the genre.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama caught my eye as a possible light break.  It was actually perfect for a fun comfort read about a culture that I love reading about.  In the story Mr. Ali, a retired civil service worker, opens a matchmaking business on the veranda of his house in an attempt to keep himself busy and out of his wife's hair. Success comes quickly, and we are introduced to his assistant, Aruna.  Aruna comes from a poor family that has fallen on bad times, and as her story develops we find out how these things have made it difficult for her to hope for marriage.  Mr. and Mrs. Ali also have a grown son who is an activist and is placing himself in danger while leading protests. The story itself is charming and has an easy pace.  It would be best described as a comfort read in my opinion.


Literary Feline said...

I remember the high praise you gave Those Who Save Us. The Stormchasers sounds like a good one too. The other two books sound good as well. You always read the best books, Christine!

Christine said...

You just have to read Those Who Save Us. Drop whatever you are holding and run quickly to the bookstore!