John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

Book dump: July

These are the books I read in July:
Christopher's Ghosts by Charles McCarry
The latest novel featuring Paul Christopher, the CIA spook McCarry has been writing about, on and off, for the last twenty-five years or so. Christopher's story was effectively wrapped up in McCarry's last novel, the excellent Old Boys, so this one by necessity is a look back at his teen years in pre-World War II Germany and early days of his spy career. While it was well written (as his books always are) I didn't find it as compelling as his other Christopher novels, possibly because the bad guy is a Nazi, and let's face it, Nazi novels are kind of played out at this point.
 
The Assault on Reason by Al Gore
A decent read, but it didn't blow me away as I was reading it, and looking back at it now I have only vague memories of reading it at all.
 
Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
This is not a title I normally would have picked up, but 1) it's a featured title at the store this month, and 2) I told the author, who lives in the DC area and stopped at the store a couple months ago to sign all our copies of the book, that I would. So I did, and I liked it. The story is a pretty standard teen romance plot, but the characterizations shine. I particularly liked the nuanced portrait of the main character's dad: he's consistently described by his daughter via her first-person narration as distant and obsessed with his work to the point of being somewhat neglectful, but Scott makes it clear that he is aware that something is troubling his daughter and that he is trying to reach out to her, even if she doesn't recognize it. I know I have a lot of YA readers here, and I would definitely recommend this book to them.
 
Bridge to Terabithia: The Official Movie Companion by David Paterson
A kid-oriented look at the production process for the recent film adaptation of one of my favorite books, Bridge to Terabithia. Paterson wrote the screenplay and was a producer of the film, so it's a bit more personal than other books of this type. The best part was a relatively lengthy tribute to his childhood friend Lisa Hill, whose untimely death provided the inspiration for the book. I had previously read Katherine Paterson's memories of Lisa and David's friendship, but I don't recall ever having read about the relationship from David's perspective.
 
Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew, and Marc Hempel
My second book this month aimed at teen girls, and this time I can't claim it as a work obligation or a rash promise to a stranger. Ah well, it's like told me once: I'm kind of a girl. Anyway, I loved this. It was pretty clear early one where it was heading, but the way it got there was a lot of fun, and the payoff is thoroughly satisfying.
 
...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, on love, marriage, and life on the campaign trail by Connie Schultz
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, but when her husband (Sherrod Brown, then a member of the U.S. House representing northeastern Ohio) ran for the U.S. Senate, she found herself in the unfamiliar position of being known not for her own accomplishments but as Sherrod Brown's wife. I picked this up because Brown ran for the U.S. Senate seat then held by now-former Sen. Mike DeWine, who I've always thought was a putz. I was delighted when Brown beat him like a rented mule, so I thought an insider's look at the campaign would be pretty interesting. I was right!
 
The Lost Constitution by William Martin
I was momentarily stymied when I looked at my book list earlier this evening: I had forgotten reading this, and I couldn't remember what it was about. It eventually came to me: it's what I've come to call a "cultural thriller" or, less kindly, a "Da Vinci Code knockoff." In this case, the maguffin is an early annotated draft of the Constitution, which is believed will clarify the thoughts of the Founders on various issues. Forgettable, obviously.
 
Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America by Andrew Ferguson
Another thoroughly enjoyable book. Ferguson travels around the country exploring the Lincoln myth and studying how our 16th President is viewed by various groups. In one chapter, he visits a convention of Lincoln detractors; in another, a convention of "Lincoln presenters," i.e. people who impersonate Lincoln for a living. The highlight of the book is his attempt to recreate with his wife and kids a cherished childhood vacation along the Lincoln Heritage Trail, which used to wind through Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, linking up various Lincoln shrines. His account of his meeting with the man who developed the Lincoln Heritage Trail got me laughing uncontrollably for almost a full minute.
 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
I liked it when I first plowed through it last week, and after a more leisurely re-read I like it even more. And it turns out that what I wrote about my Harry/Susan theory in the last paragraph of this 2004 post was absolutely correct.
 
Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin
Brian K. Vaughn is one of my favorite comics writers, and one of a tiny handful of writers who could get me interested in reading a book featuring Doctor Strange, a character I've never particularly cared for. This was a good comic, with an imaginative story and appealing art. Plus: Night Nurse!
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