Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Still to read this year

To finish my various challenges, I still have some reading to do.

I need to read a graphic novel.
-- a book in which the protagonist changes forms. (HELP!)
-- two more historical fiction works.
-- at least nine (NINE) books from my TBR pile. I may be reevaluating some of those.
-- four more books from my Friends challenge.
-- a couple more vintage mysteries.
-- three cozy mysteries.
-- two works of Arthurian literature.
-- one more foodie book.

My reading has been lazy this summer. I've read quite a few books, but not much that I've had to think about at all. Time to get back to some challenging reading.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy time travel books, so I grabbed this one when I saw it at the library. This is one of those books that I thought about when I wasn't reading it, and that I hated to see end. It was well-written and the concept of kalachakras--people who are born in the same time and same circumstances over and over again--was well fleshed out. The main character was was compelling, as were the situations that he lived through.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really freaky, disturbing book. Seriously. It is very good, but there were times when I just wanted it to be over, because there really is no option for a happy ending.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Val McDermid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hmmmmmmm. This was an odd book.

I wonder if and how my reaction to this book would have been different if I could remember Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, which I read at least 20 years ago. I wonder how much of the oddness of this book is attributable to the original plot and how much is attributable to Val McDermid's update. I am guessing that it is mostly the latter, although I am not sure.

I'm trying to decide if reading this book made me more or less likely to revisit the original. I'm leaning toward less, although curiosity may force it.

I found the characters universally annoying, which makes me think that it is the update that is at fault.

This wasn't a complete waste of time, but it was close.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the TableComfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In spite of some of the content--including Reichl's extramarital affairs and those of her husband, for example--this was still an enjoyable memoir. This starts where Tender at the Bone left off and covers the beginning of Reichl's career as a restaurant critic. I especially enjoyed the glimpse of the young Wolfgang Puck.
For those who don't know who Reichl is, she has been the restaurant editor, food editor, and critic for the LA Times, critic for the New York Times, and editor of Gourmet magazine. She is a very good writer, bringing the sights and smells of the countries and kitchens that she visited to life, and knowing of the success to come makes reading about her struggles that much more enjoyable.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: My Family and Other Hazards by June Melby

My Family and Other Hazards: A MemoirMy Family and Other Hazards: A Memoir by June Melby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book from the Library Thing Early Reviewers, and was excited when it came.

When June Melby was ten, her school teacher parents decided to buy a miniature golf course in Wisconsin, and to spend their summers living there and running it. This is her memory of those years, looking back as her parents prepare to sell it.

I was a little bit put off by the prologue. Something about the tone and the writing almost made me set it aside. Maybe Melby was channeling a bit too much of her stand-up comic persona. Thank goodness, as she started her hole-by-hole walk through the years and the course, the tone changed. She made us feel the love that she had for her family, even as she let us see how annoying a sister could be. She evoked the beauty of the Wisconsin Chain of Lakes, while letting us feel and smell the damp slime of leaves rotting in a water feature, and of dripping paint in the heat. She described each hole, what it looked like, how to play it, and what aspect of life it evoked for her: time, hope, nostalgia. . . . With each hole she explored a little bit more about the life they led at the course and about herself.

This was a very enjoyable memoir, especially for someone who enjoys Americana, the midwest, and family.

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Review: Perfection by J.L. Spelbring

PerfectionPerfection by J.L. Spelbring
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this book because it was on a couple of alternate history lists and had fairly good ratings. I don't understand the breathless five-star reviews of this book. It is decently written, but not great. The concept-- that Hitler won WWII and that there is a stratified society based on the Aryan ideal along with genetic experimentation attempting to create a superior race--is very interesting. It could have made for a great story. But in this book it was really just the almost unexplored backdrop for a typical dystopian teen romance.

I'm trying to decide if I can really count this as alternate history for a challenge, since that aspect of it was barely more than window dressing.

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