Book Review

So. Many. Books.

Not. Enough. Time.

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve got a pile of good books stacking up, and there’s just not enough hours in the day. But I’m not writing to tell you what’s on my “to-read” shelf. This is a review.

I’ve read 10 books in the last five months. I’m going to group them into three categories: Highly recommend, Comfort Reads and Just Meh.

About a year ago, Garrett started reading the Harry Potter series, and so I am too. I’m reading at a pace much faster than Garrett, which is alternately inspiring and frustrating for him. In the last five months I plowed through Book 5 (Order of the Phoenix) and Book 6 (Half Blood Prince). These were my comfort reads.

I consider myself a fairly selective reader. I generally do a bit of research before spending time with a book with the exception of my book club reads, independently chosen by my wonderful fellow book club members. Still, if I’m not hooked right away, I most likely won’t continue a book. Life is too short to read bad books. So I feel a bit frustrated that I would even haveĀ  “Just Meh” category. In fact, 30% of my reads from this past stretch of time fall into that category.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple was just okay. It takes place in Seattle, centers around a well-to-do family (with some crazy issues), and is meant to be light-hearted and funny, but I just could not relate.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, by Allison Hoover Bartlett sounded like a great book. And in the beginning, I really did love it. It’s based on a true story of a book thief – a man who regularly steals books from rare book sellers, not to re-sell them for profit (which is a common thing), but to keep them for his own eclectic collection – a collection he can never show anyone because, you know, the books are stolen. It chronicles the efforts amongst the rare book dealers to catch him. The author follows the thief for more than a year and details his efforts. He knows she’s doing this to write a book, which feeds his ego (and psychosis). Still, you think that she’s going to do the right thing and turn him in, especially once she discovers that he’s doing more than stealing books. But no – she doesn’t. She just writes a book about a thief and a con. And in the ended, I felt conned.

And finally, it’s with great sadness that I list The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness – in the “Just Meh” category. I was so looking forward to this final book in the All Souls Trilogy. I highly recommend the first two books. If you’re looking for smart and sexy, grown up vampire (and witches and daemons) adventures, this is the series for you. I found myself wondering if Ms. Harkness had new editors (or any editors, for that matter) in this final book. The writing was sloppy and the transitions were horrible. I found myself re-reading much more often than I normally have patience for. The storyline was pretty good but the writing, unfortunately, ruined the experience.

Now, on to the good stuff – recommendations!

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. Beautiful, moving, funny, tragic – she always knows how to pack a punch in her novels.

The Sweetest Hallelujah, by Elaine Hussey. If you liked The Help, by Kathryn Stockett you might really like The Sweetest Hallelujah. It’s not nearly as polished as The Help, but the story is immensely powerful.

After reading a positive review of Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy #1), I took a chance on this small sci-fi, dystopian novel. It’s odd and interesting. I’m not sure I understood what was going on, but it was captivating. I plan to read the rest of the Trilogy as well.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton is all things I love in a book. It’s a big, fat book. It starts with an unopened, handwritten letter that is 50 years old. There’s a mystery centered around an ancient castle in the English countryside. What’s not to love? Her novel, The Forgotten Garden was really great too.

And finally, with great fanfare, I recommend The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld. This book is not for everyone. It centers on death row in an old prison. While it’s fiction, the author worked on death row for some years, and her “fictional” characters and situations are tragically well-informed. The stories and characters are dark, violent, evil and redemptive. There’s nothing pretty or light about this book. But it’s remarkable and simply unforgettable.

Much of what I read is inspired by you, my fellow readers. So please share your recommendations (or your “Just Meh” books, so I can avoid them). Now, back to reading!


Posted in Reading, Recreation

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