Oh my goodness! SO many great books this month!
Here are some of them…
Eleanor by Jason Gurley: Lovely kind-of-time-travel story, but I would have edited it down a bit more. I read the kindle version, so I don’t know exactly what page, but the first 15% or so of the book should have been cut out and redistributed as flashbacks or exposition delivered in another way. It was all beautiful writing, it is just not where the story really began. I enjoyed the writing itself (I especially liked some of the water descriptive passages), but overall the book just not quite tight enough for me. There was a whole character that kept showing up that I didn’t really understand the point. It was not clear at all and if Gurley thought he was planting little hints at all, I didn’t pick them up. I just trusted it would all tie together (it did. Mostly. Eventually).
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: I really loved Cuckoo’s Calling (and want to add a bunch of mysteries to my to-read), so I checked out this one from the library as soon as I could. I read it in 2 days — and I probably could have read it faster if it hadn’t also been the weekend before #30Lists registration opened. It turns out I really like Rowling’s writing style. I spent much of the reading vacillating between making notes to myself about how to improve my own writing and wondering who the hell the killer was. (sidenote: I have a seed of an idea for a mystery series to write, so I’m going to use that as an excuse to buy every Galbraith novel and re-read them)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: I love books like this with very distinctive, unapologetic voices (The Magicians and Jonathan Strange and Jonathan Safran Foer’s books come to mind). It’s a fantastic combination of slang/street plus untranslated Spanish plus nerdy allusions plus Dominican history. Ex: “Don’t misunderstand: our boy wasn’t no ringwraith, but he wasn’t no orc either” (p 119). The book is written from the P.O.V of a family friend, but you don’t actually learn that specifically until about halfway through the book. It’s not really about this friend — it’s more a coming of age about this adorably nerdy Oscar and how all of his family for generations kind of came together to make up who he is. Reminded me a little bit of The House of the Spirits in that way. I really liked it.
Crash by David Wright and Sean Platt: Another from the guys at Sterling and Stone, but this is just a simple stand-alone novel so more my style. It’s a heart-breaking ghost story. Rather short; I think it is more of a novella, but I can’t be sure. One of the best 5-star reviews on Amazon says something like ‘This book will ruin your life’, but it is also the best I’ve read from this author so far so there’s that. I wasn’t able to guess the ending. I got it on kindle for $1 during launch week – deal and a half.
Random by Tom Leveen: I love Tom (knew him when we lived in Phoenix) and I will buy every single one of his books (contemporary Y.A.). That said, Random was a bit too spot-on-after-school-special for me. It’s about a girl who is being accused of cyber-bulling and gets a random call from someone about to kill themselves. You can probably see where this is going. Maybe I’m just used to “YA” books that are plenty complex for adults, or maybe I’m just cynical, but this was not my favorite (even though I read the whole thing in 2 hours). Start with Party or Sick if you’re just checking out Tom’s books.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: I adore books like this. Ensemble cast, lives interwoven over years, very subtle details and observations realizations. Wonderfully real and complex characters. Feels a bit meandering until it all ties in together. GAH! I want to write books like this. Loved it (reminded me of The Art of Fielding and The Marriage Plot). It’s just beautiful.
The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman: The final book in this trilogy. I LOVED them all. I can’t wait to make Andrew read them. From the first chapter: “It didn’t matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.” I mean, really. I’ve heard people describe these books as ‘Harry Potter for grownups’ … but they are not exactly. They’re much to close to literary fiction to be Harry Potter-y. But I love them. Literary fiction through a filter of fantasy.
(and others… )
This is a note for a totally different post, but if you are a voracious reader try following/making friends with self-published writers. SO many of them give away books in exchange for reviews (like here and here and here and Brush with Darkness in June). Eleanor was sent to everyone on Gurley’s email list. For free. OR at the very least, you can get on their mailing list and learn when sales are going, since indie authors have way more control over that stuff. Just sayin.
I also spent a lot of time this month editing short stories for an anthology I am part of! It should be free on kindle when it gets release so I’ll tell you all about it.
Read anything good lately?
P.S. I’ve added all of your recommendations to my To-Read list. But since there’s 1800+ books on there, please forgive me if I don’t get to them all right away.
P.P.S. I recently tried out Overdrive App at the recommendation of my friend Jessica and HOLY COW! I can now borrow ebooks from my local library so I may never do anything productive ever again! The 1 deterrent is I don’t have a kindle, just a laptop and it’s not exactly snuggly.