8.02.2016

Books I Read in July

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante 
This had been on my to-be-read list for awhile now. I have been intensely curious about the Neopolitan novels, given their popularity and the mystery that surrounds the anonymous author. It took me awhile to finally give it a go because nothing in the description really grabbed me - a sweeping story of two women's friendship. But what happens?? The book sort of lives up to my expectations, wherein everything AND nothing happens. It is an excruciatingly detailed story of a girl named Elena's childhood and her friendship/rivalry with Lena. It hits all the right emotions of youth and that weird best friend obsession girls can have. There are plenty of dramatic moments, but no real compelling drama throughout. I am a plot driven kind of reader. Although it was sweeping, immersive, and brought to life a time and place wonderfully, it just didn't engage me. 

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid 
I'm glad I chose this book as my first by this author, one of her more popular titles, for a summer read. It has a great hook, with Hannah (our heroine) returning to her hometown after breaking off an affair with a married man and reuniting with her first love. Shortly after the characters are established, we see how things play out in two different realities: if she went home with the high school sweetheart that first night she lands home, or tries to take things slow and goes back home with her girlfriend. The alternate reality is not a new gimmick, usually a sci-fi trope, and many have compared this novel to the film Sliding Doors. But Reid creates excellent tension, even if it's somewhat predictable. I also loved the well fleshed out supporting cast of characters. This was a fun and still thought provoking read. I am definitely going to make my way through her other titles. 

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
I feel like I've been out of the YA game for a few months, so I thought I should catch up on this year's Printz winner and it did not disappoint. It's one of those stories that's hard to describe, and you just have to experience for yourself. There is a small town (Bone Gap), a beautiful stranger who becomes part of the lives of the abandoned Quinn boys and inexplicably disappears. Is it foul play? Did she go back to whence she came? Is evil magic involved...? It's ephemeral, emotional and one of the most interesting takes on an unreliable narrator I've ever read. 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
This was one of my most anticipated books of the summer, and I think my expectations were too high. It was certainly fast paced, with a GREAT story - very cinematic and easy to see how this is Hawley's forte (the creator of Fargo, the TV series). A poor artist gets to hitch a ride on a private jet with a bunch of bigwigs (who all have reasons to be murdered) and saves the only other survivor (a little boy) after it crashes at sea. However, in parts it read like a script and felt disjointed. There were a few scenes of dialogue that had me utterly confused and on the flip side, a number of overly trivial ramblings where I felt as if I was being hit over the head with too much information. One entire page was dedicated to the description of a character's time being on the high school football team, with nary a break for even a new paragraph. Just one big long word wall about how Texas football was their world. There were similar missives on art and it felt like a lot of rambling to make up for the cinematic dialogue. But these philosophical tangents seemed to weigh the already good story down. Just the way it unfolded, how it holds a mirror up to current events and how we perceive them still made it worthwhile reading. "...in the war between common sense and marketing genius, marketing is going to win out." Plus, given that the ousting of Roger Ailes at Fox 'news' most definitely happened after Hawley wrote this is rather eerie... 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Speaking of timely reads... Yes, we all should be feminists and we should all read this, too. Or watch the TED Talk. I have yet to watch it, but I've watched her amazing TED Talk on the danger of a single story. It is also so very worthwhile. Sadly, those who seek her out and hear her brilliance are not necessarily those that SHOULD. Sigh.

Also, for anyone who does Book of the Month and has yet to decide on the August book: I am almost done with my NetGalley ARC of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things and would highly recommend it - with some caveats. It has lots of Language. and Strong. Sexual. Content. It may be downright icky for many people, but if you can deal (I can totally deal), this has been RIVETING material. I'll get the full review up soon!

5 comments:

  1. I enjoyed "Maybe in Another Life" too! Have you read her book from this summer, One True Loves? I liked that one even more!

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    1. I had meant to read that one, but since the hold list was long - I thought I'd check out her most popular. I will definitely read One True Loves!

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  2. I'm about halfway through My Brilliant Friend, and I feel the same way you do ... I can see the appeal, but it's not my favorite. I will probably finish it just before it's due back at the library, but until then, I'm going to stick with books that grab my attention a little better. :)

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    1. Yep, read what you love - life is too short!

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  3. I appreciate your review of Before The Fall. I have heard great things about it and have been wanting to read it but it will be good to know going into the story that the writing sometimes is subpar.

    Here are my July reads: http://elle-alice.blogspot.ca/2016/07/july-book-reviews.html

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