Weeks 20 and 21 – 2017

As noted in the last post, Week 20 only has 1 entry, so I’m doing these together. Week 20 covers one sad little book I read in May 15 – 21 and Week 21 covers May 22 – 28. Let me know what you think.

Week 20

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. One of the reasons I love book club is that sometimes you end up reading books that are outside of the genres you typically flock toward. This is an excellent example of a book I would probably never have chosen on my own, but ended up enjoying immensely. He hooked me in the first chapter, talking about trying new foods on a vacation with his family in France. The vichyssoise was cold and he slurped an oyster straight out of the sea. This is the type of eater I try to be. Don’t stick your nose up at anything until you actually try it. The same goes for this book. I’m giving this 4 stars.

Week 21

Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. It’s a great follow up to The Devil Wears Prada. The characters have the same flow as they did in the original. In this, it is 10 years later and Andy and Emily have become friends and started a successful high end wedding magazine. So of course, Miranda wants to buy it. Which puts Andy in a total spin. There’s romance and babies and all that other normal stuff too. I liked it. It totally sucked me in. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit – I borrowed this from the BPL. It’s non-fiction about why men often treat women as if they don’t know anything. Even when they are experts in their particular fields. It’s feminist, but it’s also about our culture and how this came to be the norm. I know not every man is like this, but I think we can all relate to this topic, or have had similar experiences. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. It’s hard to compare this book to others. This author set the bar incredibly high by writing The Historian. I have read that multiple times and it is without a doubt one of my absolute favorites. Does this book live up to that? Not exactly. Does it blow other books in the genre away? It absolutely does. This is a wonderful work of historical fiction set in Bulgaria after the revolution. Not many contemporary authors write about this topic, probably because the information available to the west has been limited. I find literature about that part of the world highly intriguing. I feel compelled to visit the places that were described in the book. I thought this was a wonderful story and it’s beautifully written. If you haven’t read The Historian, read this first and then absolutely read that. I’m giving it 5 stars.

And that’s it. Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.

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Week 19 – 2017

Hi All! I’m starting to make a dent in all of the things that I am behind in doing. Aren’t you excited for me? That being said, I’m just going to jump into this post. Week 19 covers May 8 – 14. As always, feedback is encouraged and appreciated.

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is Queen of the Tearling #2. This series is excellent. In this, the saga continues as the Red Queen prepares to invade. This is sort of a go between novel in that while the story continues and the characters develop further, nothing really earth shattering happens. I’m still giving it 4 stars.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. It is Sleeping Beauty #1. People love this and it’s rated pretty highly. This was just not my thing. I’m really not a prude, but it lost me when the prince makes her parade around in the nude in front of other people, including her parents. 1 star. Hated it.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. I’m going to point out that the author of this is female and it was published when she was still a teen. I think this is a stunning accomplishment and the book itself is highly entertaining and I can see why it turned into a YA classic, part of the school standard, and a pretty well known movie. It’s almost like Romeo and Juliet without the love story (without Juliet, actually). I definitely recommend reading this. Somehow it was left out of my high school education (shocking though that is). I’m giving it 3 stars.

And I guess that’s it for Week 19. Week 20 only has 1 book on it, so my next post may be a combo. I don’t really understand how I went 11 days without finishing anything, but I probably just started a lot of really long ones. Or my kindle may be a jerk. That’s always a possibility.

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Week 18 – 2017

It’s a hot and muggy day here in Boston. Best to stay indoors and get some stuff done, right? I hope this is a short one because I have book club today. I love my book club. Anyway, Week 18 covers May 1 – 7. Let me know what you think.

Every Tongue Got to Confess by Zora Neale Hurston – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is a collection of tales told to the author. It is not a novel. The author does not involve herself in the book. I thought it was pretty disappointing, actually because Their Eyes Were Watching God is so good. I’m giving it 2 stars.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. It’s good and I liked it, but I think I’ve seen too many of the movies or something. This just wasn’t suspenseful for me. I knew exactly how everything was going to go down. And I kept picturing that weird actress from the remake as the main character. I’m still giving it 3 stars.

Spring Cleaning Murders by Dorothy Cannell – I received this from the publisher via NetGalley. It is Ellie Haskell #7. This is a cute cozy mystery. I have read another in this series and they are quite good. They are entertaining and somewhat complicated without being confusing. I really like the main characters. I listened to this as text to speech on my kindle on my way to New Jersey from New Hampshire and was so engaged that I continued to read it once I arrived. I had started it earlier in the week, but I got to that point where you just have to know how it all wraps up. I definitely didn’t predict the ending, which always speaks highly of a good mystery. If you like to be entertained with a fun mystery, I definitely recommend this. I’m giving it 3 stars.

And that is it for Week 18. Let me know what you think or if you have anything to recommend.

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Week 17 – 2017

Greetings from Boston! It’s been raining here, so everything in my apartment is damp. Fun, right? But it’s almost technically summer, so that’s good news. I’m going to pitch into this head first. Week 17 covers April 24 – 30. As always, feedback is encouraged.

Who Killed Zebedee? by Wilkie Collins – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the Boston Public Library. I’ve always meant to read some of this guy’s books. He is supposedly the forefather of the modern crime mystery. This was really short and actually quite good. It is told from the POV of the detective investigating the mystery. The detective tells the story of the murder and the investigation, ultimately leading up to the reason that the murder was never “solved.” Again, this is really short, so definitely worth the time investment. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Heartless by Gail Carriger – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Parasol Protectorate #4. I love these. Have I mentioned that a few times. In this one, Alexia is hugely pregnant and she is trying to stop a plot to assassinate the queen. Unfortunately, she is working with second hand information originating from an unreliable witness, a ghost that is about the poltergeist. Anything else I want to say right now is a huge spoiler. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This book is so incredibly weird. In an Ikea knock-off, weird things are happening and the store is basically trashed every morning when the employees arrive. So one of the managers enlists the help of some of the workers to stay overnight and find out what is happening. And then they all die. Just kidding. But some weird ass shit definitely goes down. I’m giving it 2 stars. I think it’s just not my thing.

Timeless by Gail Carriger – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. It is Parasol Protectorate #5. This is the last one, but there is a spin-off that follows the daughter, so all is not totally lost. In this one, Alexia and her daughter are summoned to Alexandria but the oldest vampire queen. And how do you not answer that summons? So obviously the entire crew trots off to Egypt. Also, the toddler runs completely amok and is only neutralized by her mother. But that’s just the first chapter. You’ll have to read this to find out the whole story and why they were summoned in the first place. I’m giving it 4 stars.

And that is it for Week 17. Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions as to what I should read next. I’m sad to be done with the Parasol Protectorate series, but I couldn’t help devouring them at the same time. Let me know if you know of any others that are similar or just as engaging.

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Week 16 – 2017

I almost didn’t start another post today, but I have an hour left of enforced productivity and this is one of the tasks on the acceptable list. It’s possible, also, that the other items on the list were somewhat less appealing, like laundry and reading an impossibly long non-fiction book (obviously to be blogged about later, so I won’t give away any spoilers yet). Week 16 covers April 17 – 23. As always, feedback is encouraged.

The Bookseller by Mark Pryor – I actually borrowed this from my mother. She really liked it and wanted to know what I thought. I think she brought it with her at Thanksgiving (but it may have been last April, like 2016). This is Hugo Marston #1. It took me a while to get into this and it doesn’t help that those darn library books are on a timer. Once this gets rolling, it’s really very good. In this first installment in the series, Hugo’s friend Max (the title bookseller) is abducted right in front of him. The police are not investigating because eye witnesses are claiming that Max went willingly, so Hugo (who works for the American embassy) must use his own resources to try to recover his friend and solve the mystery of what is happening to the bouquinistes (I really like this word). I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys a mystery. I’m giving it 4 stars.

The Hand of Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This is Fu Manchu #3. I never would have tried this except one of the characters in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History reads these ironically and I was curious as to what they are like. It reminds me of a poorly made black and white film from the era before television. If you’re still curious, give it a whirl. Otherwise, I recommend a pass. I’m giving it 2 stars.

Beyond Lies the Wub by Philip K. Dick – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is a short story, and well worth your time if you can find it. As with all PKD stories, this is a sort of moral commentary on society. Basically, the wub isn’t hurting anyone, so only bad things will happen if you are mean to it. It’s totally weird. It’s really short. Have I mentioned that? I’m giving it 3 stars.

Blameless by Gail Carringer – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Parasol Protectorate #3. I told you in the last post that I like this series. This contains spoilers about the other books, but you’d get the same info from the blurbs, so I’m going with it anyway. In this one, Alexia has been banished by her werewolf husband. And everyone knows she is pregnant, though with what sort of child, no one seems to know. So obviously the vampires are trying to kill her. Alexia and her squad travel to France in order to find out more about keeping her child safe and what sort of child she may be expecting. I love these. I’m giving this one 4 stars.

Read the Parasol Protectorate series. That’s what I’m going with for my finishing thought. If you have any books to recommend, let me know. I enjoy hearing from people.

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Week 15 – 2017

I hope you are all enjoying a lovely weekend! I’m having a great day here in Boston. I’ve been catching up on some reading and just generally enjoying myself. Week 15 cover April 10 – 16. As always, your feedback is encouraged. So, let’s get started.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the Boston Public Library. The reader of this was amazing. It is told in the first person by the main character and she did an outstanding job. This novel is not for the faint of heart. It tells the story of a female pedophile with a predilection for prepubescent boys. It is an extremely mature topic and the way it is written, you may even find yourself liking the narrator and hoping that she will not get herself caught. I might not recommend this for the mothers of young boys, but if you can accept the topic for what it is and give it a chance, I highly recommend it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

Changeless by Gail Carringer – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Parasol Protectorate #2. These are so much fun. In this one, Alexia’s husband has gone off to Scotland on pack business and upon learning information that he will need, Alexia takes off to Scotland with her pals via dirigible. This is steampunk with supernaturals at its best. I’m not quite sure how it took me so long to find these, but I absolutely love them. This one is getting 4 stars and I definitely recommend the entire series.

The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is Quincy and Rainie #1, though only Quincy was in this and I don’t think he played much of a role. The thing I like best about this author is that the victims are the main characters and the detectives are sort of minor, even though they repeat along a series. In this, a woman’s husband has escaped from prison and now she must prepare herself for when he finds her and tries to kill her. Of course, she puts herself up as bait in order to stop him from killing others in his wake. I’m giving this 4 stars.

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. Twice. It is Red Queen #2. I hate when I don’t finish something that I’m really into and then I have to go back on the wait list and wait several months to finish the last few chapters. It is the worst. I really like this series. Mare is a red with special abilities and the silvers fear her. She is on the run and she is trying to find the others that are like her before the silvers find them and either kill them or lock them in a fortress like prison. This was really good. I’m looking forward to reading the next one. This is getting 4 stars.

And that’s all for Week 15. As always, let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions about books I should read next.

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Week 14 – 2017

Greetings! I’m going to jump right in because I think this will be a long one. Week 14 covers April 3 – 9. As always, feedback is encouraged. I love hearing from all of you, even if you just hit the like button. I mean, how easy is that?

Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson – I received this as an e-book via Penguin First to Read. I really liked this. It is really well written. It’s entertaining. The only criticism I have is that there are no chapter breaks to speak of, only when it changes between narrators, which does not happen as often as you might think. It’s an interesting concept and I felt really engaged. I also enjoyed the characters. I really didn’t use the word really enough. Apparently I need a new adverb. I’m giving this 3 stars.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. It is Temeraire #1. This is Napoleonic Wars + dragons. Because why not? When his ship captures a French vessel and acquires their cargo, Sea Captain Will Laurence finds himself in possession of a dragon egg, which is about to hatch. The new dragon picks Will as his partner and so he must change careers and become an aerialist. The whole book is exciting. The dragons are pretty cool. It’s well written and highly entertaining. I’m giving it 4 stars.

To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. Actually, this was something I recommended and they decided to buy. This is set in a time and place that I love reading novels and history books about. It takes place in Paris (mostly) while they are building the Eiffel Tour in preparation for the World’s Fair. In this, a widowed chaperone from Scotland meets one of the architects while taking a hot air balloon ride. These are actual, real people and this love affair is a fictionalized version of events that happened. The author really pulls this off well. I definitely recommend it. I’m giving it 4 stars.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – I received this as an actual book in a Goodreads giveaway. This is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. This is a retelling of Othello, set on a 6th grade playground in a white suburb of DC during the 1970s. I think this was a good choice for a discussion about racism, which is the underlying theme to the tale. Obviously, this is a tragedy so it does not end on a happy note. I have not read Othello, but I feel compelled to do so. I am also curious to read other titles in the series which is basically famous authors retelling Shakespeare plays. It is interesting. I definitely recommend it. It is also really short, so definitely worth the time commitment. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This tells the story of a teenage girl and her family who are taken from their home in Lithuania and sent to a work camp in Siberia by the Russians, accused of being political dissidents (or some such excuse). It is the story of survival. It is well written and the characters will grab your heart. I recommend it to anyone. If you prefer a movie, it was renamed Ashes in the Snow to separate it from those other ridiculous movies with titles similar to the novel’s. I have not seen the movie, but it the previews look pretty good. I’m giving the book 4 stars.

Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. It is Java Jive Mystery #4. These are cute mysteries. I’ve become quite attached to the characters in this series. In this one, Juliet is finally an official PI, so her investigations are now a bit more above board. People are now paying her to investigate things on their behalf. Her first client wants to catch her husband cheating and ends with Juliet being accused of stabbing him. And that’s just the first chapter (or maybe the second).This character has a way of finding trouble that is endlessly entertaining. Of course, if this was my friend IRL, I would probably avoid her. People have a way of turning up dead when she’s around. These books are perfectly entertaining and great for when you just need a break. I’m giving it 4 stars.

And that’s it for Week 14. I told you it would be long. Let me know what you think or if you have any books that you would like to recommend.

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