Other Vacation Reads

Here's a roundup of reads from my "staycation" late last year. They couldn't be more different, but that's what makes reading fun, no? The chance to dive into completely disparate and engaging lives...

Inferno by Dan Brown...I admit it, I liked The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, so I was interested to see what Brown had Robert Langdon, expert symbologist, get up to this time. Jumping about from Florence to Venice to places further beyond, this novel centers around Dante's Inferno, and of course is full of silliness, way too convenient plot twists, a bad guy, and a beautiful woman. I didn't find this as engaging as his others - but dang, it was longer, I think! - perhaps because I don't have much Dante knowledge, nor of the locales Brown was describing. I had to keep stopping to Google pictures, information or biographies! Plus, can we say far-fetched? I mean, more far-fetched than usual? Not my favorite of his, but still fast-paced, full of great locations, and easy escapism.

Gilt by Katherine Longshore is actually a historical young adult novel, which are actually few and far between, as far as I can tell. This one takes place in the court of Henry VIII, during the marriage and (short) reign of Catherine Howard (wife number five, and definitely the silliest). This novel focuses on the friendship of Catherine and her bestie, Kitty, whom she brings to court when she is made queen. So not historically accurate, I couldn't really get "into" the novel, despite this being one my favorite time periods to read about. Just didn't do it for me - but might be good for a young adult looking for something a bit different. 

The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips was actually an audiobook I listened to before, during and after vacation. Lucy is the daughter of a former president, and on the day of her lavish wedding, she....runs. She jumps on the back of a motorcycle owned by a guy named Panda, and then is on the run. A small island, a romance, new friends, tattoos and more ensue. This was a sweet enough novel, but tended to jump back and forth between Lucy's story - which I wanted to hear - and two side stories that didn't hold my interest nearly as much. Fine enough, but not my favorite of hers...

Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman was...weird. But not bad weird. Good weird, I think. Samuel has joined the staff at a California high school, and must learn to adapt to a new environment with his disabled legs and small stature. Greta, the older formidable gym teacher, does him a favor one evening, and from there, they begin a weird, fumbling, but ultimately sweet romance. The novel is punctuated by the depths of Samuel's physical struggles - which are just wrenchingly written - as well as the strange romance between these two unlikely, and not necessarily likeable, characters. Odd, but good. Really!

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