Wednesday, July 19, 2017

DNF's, Summer Reading Update, and a Couple Quick Fly-By Reviews

Oh July. The gateway to August, back to school, and that short skip into the holidays.  Yes. I said it.  👻💀

Another summer galloping by and my book stacks remain teetering with no inroads made.  Yes, I've been reading.  Library books and ARCs and not actually anything I own!  Funny how that happens.  

I thought I'd combine a whole bunch of book business into one post.  It's helping me clear my head and create some space for new reads. One glaring omission in my reading pattern lately: science fiction/fantasy.  I'm missing it terribly, so I hope to dip into a few titles in a few weeks to relax and reconnect to a genre I really do enjoy.

Onto business!  First, a couple of DNF's:

A novel about a young woman who sees the deceased, and an unsolved murder that puts her in danger?  Sign me up!  But I checked it out of the library, started reading it, and lost interest.  Subject matter is just a bit too dark for me right now.  Maybe I'll return to it again in the future. My duh moment was realizing the front cover shows a young woman...for some reason I kept seeing a tropical flower.  Call me clueless.  Not a good sign of my attention span for this book.  

This book.  Dang it.  I was so excited to read this, especially after visiting Italy last October.  I got about 100 pages in, and the overarching sense of doom finally got to me.  A slave known for his culinary skills becomes the secret weapon of Apicius, a wealthy Roman man determined to become the Emperor's favorite noble.  But lord, the schemes, murders, plotting, and complete disregard for life got a bit old!  I loved the culinary aspect (I can say I wouldn't have eaten most of what they put together--meat and fruit: argh!!) but the political machinations and cruelty just wore on me.  I'll try again in the future, because I'm fascinated by the idea of this novel.  

Now, onto a few quick reviews:

I've had this hardcover on my bookshelf at home for a year.  I've wanted to read it, but just didn't squeeze it in until I saw it was available as an audio book through my library.  Took me two weeks to listen to this incredible memoir of Mary Hamilton, a woman who lived from 1866-1936 and had an extraordinarily tough, tragic, and what many might see as a poor life.  But listening to Mary's memoir, I was awed by her grit, her determination to make a home wherever she was, and her efforts to raise her children as good, descent, and kind people.  She was a force to be reckoned with, and withstood more tragedy than any one person should ever be expected to live through.  I highly recommend this book--either the paperback, or the audio.  No pictures in the book, however.  Her memoirs were first printed in the 1930's.  Rating: 5/6 because pioneer women rock!!

On a completely different track, this book is unusual in its narrator.  You never know his name, but you get to know him very well.  He's an unborn baby (about 3 weeks shy of his due date) who hears, in utero, his mother and her lover plot to murder his father for his inheritance.  Yes, a baby.  One smart, scarily brilliant baby with a taste for wine (his mother drinks a lot of white wine) and podcasts. 

It sounds amusing, and on the surface it is, until you read this short tale and are disturbed by his helplessness in stopping what will happen to his father, and his pondering on living life in jail with his mother.  There are many philosophical moments, and Ian McEwan is a high-caliber writer. However, the little twists make this a very interesting read. It makes you wonder just what babies do hear, feel, and think inside the womb.  A friend recommended this novel, and I'm glad I plugged away at it.  It's not long at all in terms of pages, but can be a bit gloomy in the subject matter.  This made it a book to read in chunks, rather than in a rush.  Rating:  4/6 for a uniquely narrated thriller.  What harm do we do to the most innocent?  Available in hardcover and e-book. 

So, I've been busy. This summer most of my books haven't hit that sweet spot of satisfaction I was hoping for, but I haven't lost hope. I've got many more to go before September hits.  I've over halfway to my reading goal for 2017 and it helps keep me on track.  

What books are you reading this summer?  Anything out of the ordinary for you?

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