Reading Roundup: July 2016

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I've heard about this book for several years, but the way it was described didn't really catch my attention. I had focused too much on the 'time travel' aspect and worried that it would feel contrived or gimmicky. Instead, the book pulled me in and I had a hard time letting go (I think I still have a book hangover a month later). The repetitious aspects of the story actually worked to deepen my connection with the characters--I was invested in their choices more and more, each time we reviewed them. One review that I read called this book something like a 'love letter' to early twentieth-century England, and it really is in many ways. It's not always a 'pleasant' book and doesn't shy away from grim details, but it is 'lovely' in the sense that it creates a world and characters that are deeply loved and love each other. It's one of my new favorite books and the one I'm going to be recommending to everyone I know.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

I probably would have liked this book more if I had not picked it up so soon after finishing Life After Life. It's a completely different sort of book, and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. The beginning was a bit slow and it took a while to wrap my brain around the different elements of the world and its conflicts. By the time I got to the last hundred pages, I couldn't put it down. 

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

I loved Olive Kitteridge so much that now I wonder if I will always be disappointed by anything else Strout writes. This book had great character development, but not much in way of conflict. Everything seemed very muted and I kept waiting for things to pick up some steam, or to be clarified. Nothing every really was and the book just ended. I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't love it either.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

I mentioned that I had a bit of a 'hangover' after reading Life After Life and didn't enjoy either of the books I read afterwards. Thankfully Atkinson had written a follow-up (focusing on one of the characters from the other book and his life), so I could get back into the world of the Todd family. It was just as good as the first book, and good in different ways. Without giving anything away, there was a bit of a trick at the end (I think--it's ambiguous), but I'm willing to forgive that because I liked the book so much.

Like No Other by Una LaMarche

This was another book that could have felt gimmicky, but thankfully wasn't. The characters felt very real and so did the conflicts. I particularly liked the ending--without spoiling it, I felt like it was a great ending for the characters given their ages and their circumstances.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

I've seen this book reviewed in two different ways--either as a thriller/horror book about a terrible serial killer, or as a literary true-crime book like In Cold Blood. Sadly, it didn't seem to fulfill either expectation very well. It does talk about a serial killer in Florence, but the storytelling gets bogged down in details and loses momentum. The story is long, and confusing, and involves a number of different people, and to tell it without embellishing is better journalism. However, it makes for a muddled book that is difficult to read because it lacks coherence and real tension. 

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

I've read most of Moriarty's books now and I know what to expect from them--family conflict and social commentary, mixed with some humor and absurdity as well. They're always a fun escape read that gets me laughing and thinking as well. This is Moriarty's first book, and it definitely feels unpolished compared to some of her later books that I've read. That being said, it was still a fun read and I laughed quite a lot while reading it.

Comments

Th. said…
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Wow. I clearly need to start reading Atkinson again. You've set the hook.

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