Starting over…. I’m going to be positive. I just bought a very expensive vacuum and gloated about it (and doing it again). Officially a grown-up. Weird. My TBR is sort of out of control, but I am trying to fix that. Unfortunately, I keep going for the books on my kindle instead of the actual books piled in stacks in my apartment. My mother was sort of horrified the last time she was here. At the same time, I bet she has even more books in her house. They are just not all in one place. Week 31 covers July 31 – August 6. Feedback will be cherished if you leave any. I’m going to try a new format. Let me know if you hate it.
The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee – I borrowed this as an e-book from the Boston Public Library. This was a book club pick. I loved it. No one else was able to follow it at all. I get that most people aren’t into opera and that the story does bounce back and forth between the past and the present. So this is about an opera star and it tells all about how she got there. It is set mostly in Paris during the Second Empire (Napoleon III for those of you that aren’t quite so nerdy about French history as I am). Lilliet is presented with a new opera, an original role, but when she reads it, realizes that it is based on her actual past and she needs to find out who revealed her secrets, ultimately leading her to find someone she assumed was dead. I loved it no matter what anyone else thought about it. I’m giving it 4 stars.
Backstrap by Johnnie Dun – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. I love shipping containers. It’s just one of those things. It’s all about math. They are pretty little boxes that you fill with other boxes and then you fit them all together on a boat and send them places. It’s like Legos with velocity as an actual grown up job. Someone actually pays me to do Geometry all day long. I love it. I requested this book on NetGalley because it had a shipping container on the cover. And then it turned out to be about a smuggling ring. The story was exciting and intriguing. Callie goes to Guatemala to find her friend Rachel and ends up in the middle of a drug and human smuggling operation (though it made the novel more exciting and allowed it to flow better, I’m pretty sure I’d never send both of these things together on one boat but I’m not actually a criminal, so who knows), which may cause harm to her family. It was really different from most of the books I read and I really liked it. You don’t have to be a logistics or shipping nut to enjoy it either, so don’t be put off by the geekiness of my review. There is little to no actual math in the book itself.
An aside, Hapag-Lloyd is mentioned (I hope the spelling was fixed in edit) and I happened to read that part on a day that I had spoken to someone from Hapag-Lloyd (my favorite steamship line) twice on the phone, and that almost never happens. It made me laugh.
I’m giving this one 4 stars.
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore – I borrowed this as an e-book from the BPL. This is another book club pick. Different book club. I thought this was very informative and really well written, but also sort of dull. The only character that I really liked was Tesla. This is a novelization of the patent war between Edison and Westinghouse over the light bulb patent. Tesla and Bell are also characters in the novel as well as Westinghouse’s young lawyer and a young stage performer. I’m not entirely sure if those last 2 were real people or if the author made them up. I would Google it, except I don’t actually care. One thing I thought was excessively weird was that the author used quotes from modern technology innovators as the chapter headings. Quotes from Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and the like seemed out of place to me. But I get why the author did it. I’m giving it 3 stars.
Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen – I borrowed this as an audiobook from the BPL. This is a full play and it has a full cast reading. This author was totally creepy. His plays, probably not the actual author. This was a guy before his time. In this, a mother is trying to make amends for her sexually depraved, deceased husband. She has spent the money intended for their son on building an orphanage. Which then burns to the ground after the local pastor (parson? minister? whatever) advises against insuring it, and may have actually set it on fire himself after hearing the depravities of the man it was named for. And that is just the surface of all of the things that happen in the play. It was good. It was a bit disturbing. I’m giving it 3 stars.
Genevieve’s War by Patricia Reilly Giff – I received this as an actual book in a Goodreads giveaway. This is supposedly a children’s book, middle grade or something of the sort. I loved this author when I was a child, so I requested it in a Goodreads giveaway. It is a wonderfully well written book with a great story and definitely the sort of book that children should be reading. It tells the story of Genevieve who gets trapped in Alsace with her grandmother as World War II is beginning and the Germans are about to reclaim Alsace as their own. Had I known this was about Alsace, I would have started this much earlier, as that was where I did study abroad in college. Gene helps her grandmother to take care of the farm and she helps her friends in the resistance, all under the nose of a German staying in their house. Gene makes some mistakes along the way but her bravery and perseverance are her best assets. I basically read this in one sitting. I definitely recommend this one, even to adults. I’m giving it 5 stars.
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman – I received this as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley. This book is absolutely stunning. This author just keeps getting better. This tells the story of Lilly who spent the first 10 years of her life locked in her parents’ attic. Her deeply religious mother calls her an abomination and there are no mirrors allowed in the attic, so Lilly doesn’t understand why this is the case. I was having flashbacks to reading Flowers in the Attic, which the author admits to being a fan of. One night, when her father is away, the mother sells Lilly to the circus. And you’ll have to read the book to find out what else happens. It also tells the story of Julia who has run away from Blackwood Manor (same house with the attic) and is struggling to make ends meet until a lawyer tracks her down and informs her that she has inherited Blackwood Manor upon the death of her mother. Julia returns to her childhood home and starts unraveling the mysteries contained within. There is also a strong theme about cruelty to animals which adds an extra layer to the novel, sort of filling it out. I thought this was truly wonderful and I cannot wait to see what this author comes up with next. I’m giving this 5 stars.
And that is it for Week 31. A couple of these were impossible to put down. Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions as to what I should be reading next.