My husband and I decided to quit watching television in the evenings, which has given us both more time to read. What have I been reading this month? I’ve been all over the board: a memoir of a childhood in India, several fantasies, and a novel described as “gentle fiction.” Here are my reviews of five that I’ve enjoyed.
The Selection/The Elite
At first I thought The Selection was a tame spin on The Hunger Games’ concept, but the more I read, the more it grew on me. In this fantasy, the prince’s bride is chosen through a competition. Unlike The Hunger Games, which used Survivor as the reality show it used as a backdrop, The Selection uses The Bachelor. This could have been hokey and lame, but I ended up so interested in what would happen that I bought the second in the series.
The Elite picks up the story, now that the contestants vying for the prince’s hand have been whittled down to six finalists. The Elite brought out more of the prince’s personality, and makes him a bit more believable than he was in the first book. The political troubles facing the realm add to the drama. The problem with this book is the love triangle gets a bit tedious, especially how the main character handles it. I have to say I enjoyed The Selection more, but there is enough substance in this second book to make me want to read the third, when I’m in the mood for some fluffy reading.
Climbing the Mango Trees
Written by a food writer, Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India paints a vivid picture of growing up in India. I could almost smell the food cooking. Unlike many other memoirs, there doesn’t seem to be an overall theme. Rather, the book just covers the author’s memories. However, the vivid writing brought back my own memories of India and gave a wonderful look at everyday life.
In the Company of Others
Sometimes I just get in the mood to read a book where nothing really bad happens, the so-called gentle fiction. Jan Karon’s Father Tim novels are my favorites in this genre. In the Company of Others: A Father Tim Novel takes Father Tim and his wife to Ireland to trace his roots. They get caught up in the lives of the innkeepers and their extended family, leading them to experience reconciliation and restoration with them. Just enough drama to keep it interesting, but not too much that I don’t find the quiet escape I’m looking for.
Dreamlander tells the story of Chris Redston, who wakes up on day to find that he is in a world he’s only seen before in dreams. His ignorance of what’s happening in that world leads him to make mistakes that threaten the existence of not only the dream world, but our own. I got so caught up in what was happening to the characters, I had to put the book down for a day or two, because I couldn’t see any good outcome for them and I didn’t want to see them go down. What I especially appreciated about this book is how most of the major characters were depicted as flawed people, with mixed motives and their own sets of fears and weaknesses. Even the villain of the story is given a moment of sympathy. This was an entertaining and satisfying read, and I’ll be looking for more from KM Weiland.
Disclaimer: I was given a free download in exchange for a review, but that did not influence my opinion of the book.