Mini-reviews: Going Bovine by Libba Bray, Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Game by Laurie R. King

goingbovineTitle: Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: YA speculative fiction
Publisher: Delacourte Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Erik Davies
First line: The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.

Cameron Smith is dying of Mad Cow disease. Instead of wasting away in the hospital, he heads out on a road trip with his new dwarf friend Gonzo to find the mysterious Dr. X, save the world, and find a cure. This book defies description. Coming-of age, road trip, paranormal fantasy, buddy story, ode to Don Quixote, celebration of life. This book made me both laugh harder and cry harder than any book has done in a long time. I LOVED the characters, loved the writing style – and Erik Davies, the actor who read the audiobook edition, does a perfect job. I could have done with a little less of the main character describing the reactions of “Mr. Happy” to the girls he meets, but I suppose that was realistic for a seventeen-year-old boy. Highly recommended. (Definitely on the upper age spectrum of YA)

downthelonghillsTitle: Down the Long Hills
Author: Louis L’Amour
Genre: Western fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Bantam
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy borrowed from my dad.
First line: When Hardy Collins woke up, Big Red was gone.

My dad is a huge Louis L’Amour fan. I mean huge – he owns all of his works in the expensive leather-bound editions. When the boys and I started studying westward expansion, I asked him for a read-aloud idea that would give the boys a good idea of what life was like during the days of the wagon trains. He suggested the absolute perfect book: the story of a seven-year-old boy and four-year-old girl who are the only survivors when their wagon train is attacked by Indians. Hardy and Betty Sue set out on Big Red, Hardy’s father’s stallion, heading toward Fort Bridger, where Hardy’s father is waiting. Relying on the wilderness and survival training he has learned from his father, Hardy must protect Betty Sue from the wildlife and the Indian tracking them. I admit that the western isn’t my favorite genre to read, but any book that keeps the boys engrossed and teaches them a bit about stepping up to responsibility is a positive.

wivesdaughtersTitle: Wives and Daughters
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Genre: Classic fiction
Publisher: Various
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Read online through DailyLit
First line: To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood.

I’ve been wanting to read a Gaskell for a while now, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Molly Gibson is perfectly happy being raised by her widowed doctor father, but as she reaches her teens, he is convinced she needs a woman’s touch. He marries the thoroughly selfish and manipulative Widow Kirkpatrick. The new Mrs. Gibson comes with a daughter, Cynthia. The story tells of Molly’s adjustment to her stepmother, her friendship with Cynthia, and the two girls’ experiences with courtship and romance. Gaskell is a bit like a wordier Austen, and I enjoyed the characters in this book. It was not finished before she died, but is only missing a few chapters. Her editor had her notes for how the book would end, and so he wrote an epilogue that filled the rest of us in on her plans, none of which were surprises to me – it ended the way I thought it would, and the way I wanted it to. This will definitely not be my last Gaskell.

thegameTitle: The Game
Author: Laurie R. King
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Publisher: Bantam
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Jenny Sterlin
First line: Travel broadens, they say.

This is the seventh novel in Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes series, and the series shows no signs of slowing down. King is a master of writing not only an intriguing mystery, but is a fantastic painter of setting and character as well. This time the setting is India, as Holmes and Mary head out to find Kimball O’Hara, the famed Kim of Rudyard Kipling’s novel. O’Hara was working as a member of the British Survey in India, which is a polite way of saying he is a spy. When he goes missing, Holmes’ brother Mycroft tasks the couple with locating O’Hara. Along the way, Mary and Holmes pose as itinerant magicians, meet up with an American marxist, and get held captive by a mad Maharaja. This Russell novel is the first one I’ve listened to on audio since the first, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and it reminded me how much I loved Jenny Sterlin’s reading. I wish our library had the rest of the series on audio!

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22 Responses to Mini-reviews: Going Bovine by Libba Bray, Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Game by Laurie R. King

  1. Going Bovine sounds excellent. I like Bray’s other work.
    .-= Amanda (A Bookshelf Monstrosity)´s last blog ..Books by Theme: Nonfiction Art Reads =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Amanda – I haven’t read any of Bray’s other work, but I’m definitely looking forward to it!

  2. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    It has been so long since I’ve heard anyone reference Louis L’Amour. I have never read a book of his, but I remember my grandpa reading him all the time when I was younger. Maybe I’ll pick one up sometime. Thanks for the flashback to my childhood!
    .-= Trisha´s last blog ..Book Review: Black Juice =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Trisha – If you decide to give L’Amour a try and you’re not a big fan of westerns, The Walking Drum is fantastic – it’s an adventure story set around the time of the library of Alexandria. It’s fantastic.

  3. Kim
    Twitter: BookstoreK
    says:

    We are huge Laurie King fans around here! Love her take on Holmes. We thought this one was pushing the story a bit, it wasn’t our favorite, but still enjoyable. Having said that, we’ll still get the next one as soon as it come out.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Literary March Madness! =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kim – it wasn’t my favorite, either, but I still enjoyed it. I like the ones where they travel outside England the least, for some reason – I love the mood she evokes when they’re in London and on the moors.

  4. You’ve been busy! Going Bovine has been on my radar for a while – you just made me ad it to my wish list.

  5. Gwen says:

    I read The Game and was so thrilled. More Sherlock with a strong woman!
    .-= Gwen´s last blog ..Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith =-.

  6. heidenkind says:

    That Louis L’Amour sounds like a great book for boys. I’ve only tried to read one L’Amour, and I didn’t get very far with it.
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..Novels & Gender =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Tasha – he’s really mostly known for his westerns, but his memoir, Education of a Wandering Man, is like a love letter to reading.

  7. softdrink says:

    That Going Bovine cover cracks me up every time I see it.
    .-= softdrink´s last blog ..The Disappeared =-.

  8. amy s. says:

    Varied selection! I’m curious about “speculative fiction.” I like Gaskell but haven’t read her in a while.
    .-= amy s.´s last blog ..Corey Haim: RIP [1971-2010] =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Amy – I was thinking that myself – you’ve got YA, western, classic, and mystery! Speculative fiction is kind of a genre umbrella that encompasses fantasy and sci fi and magical realism and anything paranormal. :)

  9. My dad has an entire book shelf dedicated to Louis L’Amour books. I’m pretty sure he has all of them. I haven’t actually ever read any of them though, sad to say. Maybe one of these days.

    I’m looking forward to reading something by Gaskell myself this year. I have a short story collection by her as well as one of her novels. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of her until a few months ago.
    .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..Review: A Deadly Paradise by Grace Brophy =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – I actually read many of L’Amour’s books when I was in high school. If you want to read one of the better westerns, try The Lonesome Gods or Comstock Lode. If you want a great adventure novel that’s not a western, try The Walking Drum, set in the 13th century. And if you want a wonderful memoir of a reading life, try Education of a Wandering Man. And don’t be ashamed – I had no idea who Gaskell was until a year ago, either!

  10. Jennifer says:

    When I saw you mention Gaskell I was a little surprised. I don’t usually come across her name. But I recognized it because I read a few short stories by her in my Victorian Lit class. I really enjoyed them.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Review: Alice in Wonderland =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Jennifer – I can’t remember why I decided to give her a try – it might have been a recommendation from my best friend. :)

  11. Pingback: BOOKS AND MOVIES » The Sunday Salon – April 4, 2010 (the “March reading wrap-up” edition)

  12. Pingback: Libba Bray’s Going Bovine « Jorie's Reads