I just got back from a whirlwind tour of North Carolina and wanted to share the great beach (and mountain!) reads I enjoyed.
Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay
At the core, this is a bittersweet love story, set against a stark and unforgiving landscape brought to life by a first time novelist.
Nina Revskaya, known as “The Butterfly” for her prowess as a prima ballerina, defected from Stalinist Russia years ago and has settled in Boston to live out the rest of her life. As she approaches her eightieth year she decides to part with her extensive jewelry collection. As the jewelry is described and researched by the auction house, Nina reflects on her past and learns things about her own life were not quite as they seemed.
The author really has a talent for pulling you in and unfolding the story piece by piece, unraveling the carefully woven story Nina has encased herself in her entire life. The tension of her life living in Stalinist Russia, worrying about who is listening to and watching your every move, really comes through in the writing. The dark tone of the past contrasts nicely with the nostalgic atmosphere of winter in present day Boston, and unlike many novels that take place in the past and present, the reader is never lost or confused about when and where they are.
Ancestor by Scott Sigler
Scott Sigler scared me silly with Infected and Contagious. He’s done it again with Ancestor. This is actually his first book, released for free as an audiobook on the internet years ago, now reworked a bit for release in print form.
Scientists are trying to solve the transplant problem – too much need, not enough organs – so they are looking into xenotransplantation (implanting genetically modified animal organs into humans). This avenue of research comes with a deadly consequence, mutating viruses that put H1N1 to shame. Genada is working on a completely different method of creating safe organs that will be accepted by the human body. They are working on creating the original ancestor – a mammal created using common DNA elements from every mammal they can get their hands on, living or extinct – and impregnating simple milking cows. Of course something goes SERIOUSLY wrong.
If you like fast-paced, violent and bloody action, this is the book for you. It starts out very scientific, thought-provoking even, as the author describes how the ancestors were developed. Once they are born though, the nightmare begins.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Yes, I am a Hunger Games fan and I NEEDED to know how the trilogy ended! If you haven’t tried the series yet, please do. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. I can’t really say anything about this book without giving away parts of the first or second (or even the third!) to those that want to discover this great series for themselves.