Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

When I first started seeing the summaries of this book, I thought to myself, “That is absolutely a book that I do not need to read.”  Right?  I mean, it’s not an era I’m into and I was put off by the “experimental” aspects of it, and also I didn’t want to read a 350 page book about death.  Then I was listening to Literary Disco and someone said that it reminded them of Spoon River Anthology, which is one of my favorite books of all time, and I had to read it.

I am so glad that I did.

This was nothing like what I expected.  I imagined that it was going to be a difficult read because of the style and that I was going to be confused and that it was probably going to give me panic attacks.  Instead, I flew through this book, managing to read 80 pages in one day which I haven’t done since the newborn became an infant.  I enjoyed reading this book so much that I actually dreamed about reading it in one sitting, like actual night time dreamed.

Somehow Saunders takes all of these dead people and makes each and every one distinct.  It wasn’t long before I didn’t really need to reference who was talking most of the time.  The format just kind of disappeared for me.  Also, I love it when a book builds so well that you just accept what the author is doing.  I never questioned this world that Saunders built because he did it so masterfully.

This is the story of the night of Willie Lincoln’s funeral, when Abraham visits the body twice at the cemetery.  It is told by the spirits residing there, some who have decided to stay because they refuse to believe that they are dead and one who happens to know for a fact that he is dead but is still refusing to go.  These spirits tell about their lives, stories that they have been telling themselves and anyone who will listen over and over again.  When Willie joins them, they see the danger in someone so young staying and begin the job of convincing him to go.

This book was amazing.  I really did love it.  It was funny at times and it was heartbreaking at times.  It was hard to put down and I have a feeling that I will be thinking about it for a long time.


Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

In the last Sookie Stackhouse book, I listened to a twenty minute giggle inducing sex scene. In this book, there was no sex but a lot of, well, snogging. Sookie is like a bug light for supernatural beings. She’s now attracted the attentions of two vampires, a werewolf, a werepanther, a shapeshifter, and a weretiger. I didn’t think there could be so many werecreatures out there but I like it. Again I am in awe of Harris’s subplot work. If I had to pinpoint a weakness in my own writing it would definitely be this. Somehow she manages to make the subplots so well entwined with the rest of the story that I don’t even realize when she’s leading me off and sometimes I forget the main plot altogether until I have one disk left to and I realize something hasn’t been tied off quite yet. In this book the subplots dangle a little bit after the main plot is solved and that was just fine too.

The main plot of Dead as a Doornail revolves around the mysterious shootings of supernatural creatures. The first is a girl who we haven’t heard of before and who Sookie didn’t know was a shape shifter but it isn’t long before the shooter is aiming at people near and dear to Miss Stackhouse. (Honestly, though, for Bon Temps being such a small town and Sookie being all up in the supernatural world, how is it that she doesn’t know everyone who is a supe?) If my memory suites me right, Calvin Norris, head werepanther, is the first to get shot and some of his pack thinks that Jason, now a werepanther himself, is behind the shooting. Next is Sam, shapeshifter and Sookie’s boss, who then sends Sookie to ask Eric to lend him a bartender.

This book is packed with action and story. At book five in the series we are familiar enough with Sookie’s world and the characters and the history that Harris can throw a million little things at us and we just need to keep up. There’s a battle for pack leader in Alcide’s pack. The Fellowship of the Sun comes up. Private detectives are searching for Debbie Pelt. I found that if I was missing something it came back to me if I kept listening or it didn’t really matter that much.

Sookie, if you hadn’t noticed, is not the luckiest woman in the world. In this book she is the victim of arson, a shooting, and an attack. She’s not great at choosing safe friends. Even her human friends get into trouble. I have to give her props, though. She’s no *ahem* Twilight character. She has no interest is becoming a vampire. She is a strong, independent woman who manages to mostly take care of herself, except when things get a little too rough and tumble in the supernatural world. The only time that she’s even seemed remotely interested in getting married is when she’s been dating Bill for a while and even then it’s just in passing. Sometimes she is surprisingly quick on her feet.

This was an interesting one to listen to. Sookie has just too many suitors. Really. I’ve been voting this whole time for Eric (drool) and Alcide (who just seemed like a good kind of guy for Sookie). Alcide lost a lot of his charm in this book and while it’s easy to blame it on the werewolf in him it definitely made him fall in my esteem. And now there’s this new guy, Quinn. I may be a little biased on that one. I mean, he’s a tiger and the name. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. I’m already almost an hour into the next book.