Tag Archives: Agatha Christie

July 2017 Reading Wrapup: Part II

5 Aug

I just realized how inconsistently I have been titling my wrapups. Hmm, at least I’m not late this month? In fact, I am totally on time! Because the Man Booker longlist just came out and I will be devoting a few weeks to reading all of those back-to-back, and they’ll be getting their own post (I read 2 in July). I already have 11 books in this wrapup though so it’s definitely long enough!

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I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, by Barbara Bourland. Finished July 17th. This book was such a pleasant surprise. I was definitely expecting a light, fluffy read based on the premise (a peek into the life of rich, fashionable women working at a magazine and also maybe there’s murder). Instead it’s a pretty toothy satire of modern life, sexism, social media, and consumerism.

In many ways, it reminds me of We Could Be Beautiful. Both of them follow a rather vapid protagonist but uses them as a lens for cultural criticism while also being over-the-top hilarious. I’ll Eat When I’m Dead is slightly more serious though, especially after a big event halfway through that totally changes the plot and tone. It gets quite dark, and deals realistically with eating disorders and drug addiction. There’s still a fluffy, frivolous layer of fashion and glamour overlaying the whole thing, but it’s not enough to mask this novel’s dark heart.

If you like books that focus a lot on clothing (for example, historical fiction that is like 15% dress descriptions) and satires of the rich & famous, you’ll probably like this. I really don’t think it is for everyone, though: it’s a very niche book but it accomplishes exactly what it set out to. If you want a fluffy contemporary and/or a murder mystery definitely stay away: while it is marketed as being both of those things, it’s neither.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips. Finished July 18th. Fierce Kingdom is a hard book to review, because it relies so hard on the unknown. It is not a spoiler to say that it is about a woman and her son at the zoo who hear gunshots, and end up running (and hiding) for their lives.

This is a thriller in the truest sense: there is no mystery, no stretched-out narrative (it takes place over only 3 hours). It’s just a woman and child trying to survive in very tough and complex circumstances. There is an edge of terror to the whole thing: it really skirts the border between the two genres: horror and thriller (though personally I think a LOT of thrillers & horror overlap).

While this is a very fast read and really gripped me, I didn’t find it very memorable after. There are thrillers that get under your bones, and ones that are just a fast fun read that satisfy that “I want a fun read” itch. Fierce Kingdom was the latter, for me. The setting was great, the characters were decent, the plot was cool, the writing was crisp. I enjoyed this but didn’t love it, and I’m not quite sure why.

Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half

 

 

 

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The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel. Finished July 19th. I have a lot of feelings about this book, and none of them are positive. I was expecting a “dark” thriller in that whole “YA masquerading as adult fiction” genre we’ve been getting recently. What can I say: it’s summer, it’s brutally hot, way too hot to actually think complex thoughts while reading. I thought this would be light and breezy. It’s… well, it is those things, very simply written with short, binge-able chapters, but the content made me want to smash my head into a wall.

Let me start off by saying that I have no issue with dark content. I tend to gravitate towards books that deal with heavier topics, so I knew going into this that incest is a theme (that is not really a spoiler, it’s revealed on like page 20), and for some reason I thought it would be handled well. Oh no, my friends, this novel is a slap in the face to real victims of incest.

This is the story of a man who rapes his sisters, his daughters (that he had with his sisters), and then his granddaughters (who are also still kind of technically his daughters). Not ONCE in the ENTIRE BOOK where we learn about the THREE GENERATIONS OF WOMEN he has abused is the word rape used. Nor even is it called abuse. This book ROMANTICIZES INCEST. I’m not shitting you. In every scenario aside for one (out of 6+ girls) it’s shown as voluntary. Like, the fall in love (with their brother/father/grandfather) and sleep with him of their own free will. Sure, the phrase grooming is thrown around, but it’s more “he sets them up to to fall in love with him” rather than “he grooms them for sexual abuse at a young age.” Also, despite what this author thinks, children in this scenario in real life do not think it is “normal.” A child being abused will generally know it is wrong, even if their contact with the outside world is limited. No 14-year-old wants to be raped by her elderly grandfather. I just… I was SO ANGRY with this book.

Oh, and there’s the fact that the plot (aside from, you know, the generational abuse) is ripped straight from Sharp Objects, even including a troubled girl who needs to carve words on things to let out her emotions. Though remember this is pretend-adult-fiction, so she carves them into the wood not her flesh. So, you know, if you really want to read a YA version of Sharp Objects that has no conception of how human relationships work (let me tell you, people do not spend their whole lives agonizing over 6-month-long teenage love affairs, sight) that makes a gross mockery of real-life abuse, boy oh boy is this the book for you.

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All That’s Left To Tell, by Daniel Lowe. Finished July 19th. What a wonderful surprise this novel was. I had little expectations going into it: in fact, I barely knew what the plot was about (aside from “man in Middle East has a weird relationship with kidnapper”). I honestly don’t even remember why this was on my TBR. Probably saw it recommended somewhere, but I have no memory of this at all.

I think that this being marketed as a thriller is going to hurt it. I say that a lot recently, but I think it’s really true. So many novels with any layer of mystery are shoved in the “thriller” genre when they really don’t belong. Sure, there is suspense here, there’s mystery and intrigue, but it’s a slow burn and 100% character driven. In fact, there is little in the way of plot at all. A man, Marc, is kidnapped in Pakistan and spends all of the book talking to Josephine, one of his captors. But Josephine is not interrogating him, she simply wants to know about Marc’s relationship with his recently deceased teenage daughter, Claire.

Marc tells Josephine stories about Claire’s childhood, and Josephine weaves for him a story of future-Claire that will never be. In this story, 35-year-oldClaire is on a road trip to visit Marc on his deathbead, and picks up a traveler named Genevieve. At some point along the way, Genevieve starts telling Claire stories… about Marc. Sounds a little confusing? It’s meant to. There are so many layers to the tales that Josephine and Marc (and Genevieve) start weaving that they being to overlap for the reader in unexpected ways. At times, it’s hard to know who is really telling the story and who is simply listening to it.

There is a layer of the surreal here, of course, because why would Josephine even care about Marc’s child? Why was he kidnapped in the first place, if he is not rich enough to ransom and not famous enough to draw attention? Why did Marc not travel home for his daughter’s funeral? Half of the time I expected magical realism elements to come into play, but the story is mostly grounded in reality. It reminded me of In Pinelight: A Novel, another beautiful book about memory and the power of stories. But don’t come into this expecting a final chapter that gives you all the answers: the ending is very open-ended, and I think there are a lot of different ways to interpret this story (which really fits the themes).

This was a beautiful, powerful reading experience and definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

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You Should Have Left, by Daniel Kehlmann. Finished July 19th. The best description of this book I can come up with is condensed House of Leaves. Imagine the core narrative of HoL in novella form: a family in a strange, dangerous house trying to escape.

I absolutely adored this slim little book. It’s so unsettling, so creepy, so downright “I need to check behind the shower curtains before I go to sleep” scary. A writer takes a vacation in a house that turns out to be… more than meets the eye. That’s all you need to know. I just loved every inch of this, and it had me nervous and anxious by the end (a mark of really good horror).

But this is also quite a literary piece of terror. The writing is deft and strong (even in translation) and the plot allows for multiple interpretations of the events. There are so many layers here, which is amazing because it is barely over 100 pages. I really want to re-read this, because I think it would be very rewarding.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half

 

 

 

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If We Were Villains, by M.L Rio. I am such a sucker for any book that’s marketed as being like The Secret History. Funnily enough, TSH isn’t one of my favorite books or anything, I just really love that “close, pretentious group of college-age friends with secrets and possibly murder” vibe. So when I saw If We Were Villains I knew we’d be getting along well. Incredibly pretentious college for Shakespearean actors and a group of kids who get maybe a little too into their roles? Sign me up.

IWWV (which, for some reason, I thought was called When We Were Villains the entire time I read it: imagine my disappointment) is very conscious of its Secret History roots. We have many of the same tropes here (including tangled sexual relations, a member of the group on the outskirts, a main character who feels like he doesn’t fit in and has way less money, etc) but goes right off the familiar rails about halfway through. It makes for an uneasy reading experience, because you feel like you know what is going to happen next but then the rug is pulled out and there’s a sudden sense of being in unfamiliar territory.

This was a solid 4-star read for me until the end, when I burst into tears upon reading the last chapter. I really didn’t think I was that invested until I got so emotionally overwhelmed I had to put the book down. And this is, I think, a strength Villains has that Secret History is missing: characters you actually care about. I’m not saying it’s a better book (I enjoyed it more, but I think History is better written by far), but M.L. Rio really made me care about all these lil acting assholes.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half

 

 

 

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Crooked House, by Agatha Christie. Finished July 22nd. I have read 3 Agatha Christie books previously, and I loved my first two (And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express) but found the third (Murder on the Nile) just okay. And this one was another step down. I wonder if it’s that I read her two “best” books first, or if her allure only held for two books for me.

My issue here was the mystery: for me it was paper-thin, and I guessed the twist the second we were introduced to the character who ended up being the murderer. The writing was solid and it had an interesting cast, but as a mystery novel it fell really flat for me. I think I’ll give Christie one more try, because I really did love None/Murder.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

 

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My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne su Maurier. Finished July 22nd. True story: I read this book as a buddy read with my mom. I have a very reading-heavy family, but my parents fall into opposite sides of the reading spectrum (my dad enjoys scifi and fantasy, my mom literary fiction and mystery/thriller). I fall firmly into the middle (aka I read all the genres), so I often end up reading a book along with one of them. Sometimes, we all read the same book and it’s super fun (Raw Shark Texts and Into The Woods are a few we have enjoyed together).

Anyway, my mom told me she was reading this book (and we have a shared Kindle account) so I decided to hop right on that. After all, I really enjoyed Rebecca! And I think I might actually like Rachel more. There is just something so sinister going on here: the reader spends a LOT of time with Rachel, but it feels like we never really know her. It’s quite clever: you never feel like the narrative is lying to you, but it’s so easy to accept that a bunch of shit is going on behind the scenes that you will never know about.

Is Rachel innocent and trapped in terrible circumstances? Is she a black widow looking for her next victim? Is she something in between: a woman in stuck in a shitty life who knows how to manipulate men? Did she love anyone, ever? Is she vulnerable and sweet and constantly taken advantage of, or is it all an act? Is she manipulated by outside forces, or is she in charge of her own destiny?

I think many readers will be unsatisfied by this novel. Rachel is at the core, but we never truly see into her soul. She is an enigma to us, as she is to the narrator. I really, really loved this aspect: figuring her out was a real joy. If you like Gothic fiction with complex characters and uneasy, unclear endings I would definitely recommend this. But if you want your endings neat and wrapped in a bow, stay far away.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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The Break Down, by B.A. Paris. Finished July 25th. I really enjoyed B.A. Paris’ first novel, Behind Closed Doors, which was a tense piece of psychological horror. It was marketed as a thriller but had no true mystery elements, so I was really hoping The Breakdown would be similar. Because the blurb makes it seem like a Agatha Christie-style mystery, whereas I think Paris’ strength lies in suspense and horror. Sadly it’s more the former than the latter.

This was… okay. Nowhere near as good as Behind Closed Doors, but I also think it’s a lot more marketable since it’s more firmly in the domestic thriller genre. Cass is having memory issues that seem to be triggered by a traumatic event: on a stormy night, she drove by a woman in a broken down car and didn’t stop. Less than an hour later, that woman was murdered. Plagued by guilt and doubting everything she remembers, Cass spirals into darkness.

The mystery element is played pretty straight. I wanted a lot more from this than what I got: all the scenes of Cass forgetting things, acting crazy, having breakdowns, etc were fantastic and very tense (I also liked the interplay of the murder victim’s car break down and Cass’ mental break down–cleverly done). She is also getting mysterious phone calls that she thinks are from the killer, so there’s a hint of a horror element. But the story ends up wrapped in a bow, with a solid conclusion that ties up all the loose ends. That may seem like an odd complaint, but I prefer a bit of ambiguity when it comes to the mystery/thriller genre. And the reveal is written like it’s supposed to be a big twist/wow-moment when it’s honestly pretty predictable: there are only two options for what could be happening, after all (either Cass is crazy or she isn’t crazy).

I will definitely be reading Paris’ next book but I hope it is more like her debut and this is just a second-novel slump.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

 

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Tales from Shadowhunter Academy, by Cassandra Clare. Finished July 25th. Ah, more trash. I thought I was free of the Shadowhunter world but here I am again. While I have absolutely no desire to finish The Mortal Instruments, I like basically all the rest of the world.

This was so much fun, just a really enjoyable read. It features one of my favorite of Clare’s characters, but it also delves into SO much of the world. We get backstory for a lot of the Dark Artifices characters, a closer look at Magnus & Alec’s relationship, a lot about Faerie and the Cold Peace… just so much worldbuilding goes on here. I really think it should be labeled as part of the main series because a lot of this is really indispensable and I wish I’d read it before Lady Midnight.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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Tokyo Vice, by Jake Adelstein. Finished July 27th. Tokyo Vice is the memoir/nonfiction account of the first American reporter to work on a major Tokyo newspaper. It’s is a really interesting look at how Japanese society works (something I am always fascinated by), but I think the writing does leave something to be desired.

While the case details are fascinating, Adelstein leaves a LOT to the imagination. The narrative will suddenly skip over 2-5 years with no warning, and we are often given cases without personal context. The writing is also clipped and abrupt, which I suppose makes sense for a newspaper reporter. Often huge periods of time are skipped over (Adelstein goes from single to married for years in a chapter: it’s a little confusing, and I wish we had more personal backstory).

Overall I did really enjoy this despite the writing flaws. It reads like fiction (so smooth & quick), but you learn a LOT while reading it. I also enjoyed Jake as a protagonist: most reviews mention what a terrible person he is, but I think that is totally missing the point. The book clearly lays out how Japan expects its reporters to behave in a terrible matter: it’s either lie and cheat and be a dick, or get fired. Adelstein HAD to act the way he did, and his contribution to journalism was incredibly important. I feel like simplifying this book to “author is kind of a jerk” misses the entire point. It’s not Adelstein who is awful: it’s the entire system.

Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half

 

 

 

Reading Challenge Goals

Books Read: 128/200

Goal Books: 121

Impulse Reads: 7

February 2016 Wrapup: Part II

5 Mar

The first half of February was an absolutely amazing stretch of reading for me, but things slowed down towards the second half. This is probably because I put off my series reading and had to squeeze in a lot of big books in the last two weeks of the month (and didn’t even finish one of them until March!). So let’s dive right in.

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The Dumb House, by John Burnside. Finished February 17th. This is a super hyped book that it took me ages to read, mostly because I had to get a physical copy (I read mainly ebooks), and I wanted the UK cover because I’m picky. But finally! I can’t say that it was everything I expected because it was so much more than I expected. It’s billed as a story about a man obsessed with language who decides to raise children in absolute silence to see if they develop speech. Creepy, right? But that doesn’t actually happen until the last third of the book, and the first two might actually be more unsettling and disturbing. It’s like Lolita x Oedipus Rex x American Psycho. Just chilling, beautifully written, and disturbing in the best way. I loved this even more than I was expecting, which was surprising cause my expectations were already sky-high.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

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Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie. Finished February 17th. I read And Then There Were None and Murder On The Orient Express last year, my first Christies. And I enjoyed them thoroughly. So why not read another? Sadly, I just didn’t feel the same way about this one. It’s kind of hard to get past the rampant racism, but even so I just didn’t find it very compelling. The mystery was neat, and I love how it was wrapped up (clever as always), but it took SO long to get to the murder and I felt like a lot of the buildup was unnecessary. There was a lot of interaction between characters but not much character development: I didn’t feel like I really knew anyone. Okay, but nothing special.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

 

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The Supernatural Enhancements, by Edgard Cantero. Finished February 19th. Another book I’ve been wanting for ages but had to get in a physical copy because of the strange formatting. This book is told in letters, notes, film footage, telegrams, cryptograms, and more. It’s about a ~spooky house~ which is, like, my #1 book buzzword because of House of Leaves. This actually is less about a haunted house (though trust me, there’s a haunted house) and more about secret societies. It’s like a really creepy National Treasure–secrets upon secrets and clues that lead to nothing but dozens of other clues. It’s a very inventive, clever book that’s told in the kind of quirky way that I love.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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Royal Assassin, by Robin Hobb. Finished February 20th. Book 2 of the Farseer Trilogy, and by far my favorite! I just love these books. There’s something magical about them. They’re slow, character-driven fantasy and if that’s your jam, read them! Right now! The characters are so rich and complex, the world is really great, the worldbuilding is so subtle and fantastic, it’s dark without being ~wow grimdark so edgy.~ This was my favorite of the three probably because of Nighteyes, the world’s best wolf. Plus, so much happens! These books have a strange quality where they feel slow and meandering but at the same time a TON of stuff happens. So it’s both slow and fast paced? Hard to explain, but executed so well. Hobb is really a master of the craft.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

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Girls on Fire, by Robin Wasserman . Finished February 22nd. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I found lacking in this book. On the surface, it was great. I love the “destructive, consuming female friendship” trope, the writing is really gorgeous at places (though not consistently so), the plot was definitely a page-turner, I loved how complex all the characters were. But. I’m not sure how real they felt. On the one hand, they’re wonderfully fleshed out and feel like real people when we’re in their heads. On the other, they do things that make no sense with what we know about them. I felt a big dissonance between their inner monologues/personalities and actions, with Hannah/Dex in particular (but towards the end this happened with Lacey and Nikki too). It’s a little *too* unbelievable, and verges on Lifetime movie drama when you get to the climax. It really took me out of the book: I was like, “really? There’s no way this is happening.” But not at all in a good, surprised kind of way.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

 

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Felines of New York, by Jim Tews. Finished February 23rd. This was a total impulse purchase. I was at B&N, I saw cats, I saw New York, I was sold. This is, of course, a riff on Humans of New York. But with cats. Basically hilarious quotes with pictures of amazing cats. What more could I want? It was really funny, much funnier than I was expecting, and of course there were so many cute kitties. A+ cat humor.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half

 

 

 

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Bats of the Republic, by  Zachary Thomas Dodson. Finished February 25th. THIS BOOK. I have so many emotions, guys. So. Many. Emotions. This might be my favorite book of the year so far. It’s so hard to describe: it takes place in two timelines, one in frontier-era America and one in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic (? maybe) America 300 years later. Both storylines revolve around an unopened letter (which is actually in the physical book, but you can’t open it until the end). It’s told through letters, illustrations, phone conversations, and actual narrative. It’s an “illuminated novel” and in full color, which means basically every page is gorgeous. It’s so meta and recursive and weird. There’s literally a book in the book that looks like it was just scanned in. It’s… it’s perfect. If you like weird, quirky, meta, clever reads, PICK THIS UP. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

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Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff. Finished February 25th. Lovecraft is one of my favorite authors, and I have struggled for years with his rampant racism. On one hand, he was a product of his times. On the other, racism of that level is never excusable. But at the same time, his incredible xenophobia is what crafted his amazing world: the fear of the other drives almost every one of his stories. So how to come to terms with this? Enter Lovecraft Country, a book that takes Lovecraftian elements and mixes them with a cast of black characters in Jim Crow-era America. What’s scarier than Cthulhu? Cops who want to shoot you because of your skin color, that’s what. This is a really clever, inventive book that takes two very different kind of horrors and melds them together perfectly. I do think it was a little light on the horror aspects, and I wish there was more of a focus on crazy monsters (it was more Lovecraft’s cults and weird houses), but I really enjoyed this. A very different and important take on Lovecraftian fiction.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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Excession, by Iain Banks. Finished February 27th. I decided to take a brief break from Farseer to tackle the 5th Culture book. And, finally, it gave me what I had been wanting from the beginning! A truly varied, large cast of characters. Strong horror elements. Philosophical questions. Twists and turns. A detailed look at weird aliens. Main female characters. Space mystery. Plus we got so much of what is, to me, the heart of the Culture novels: the droids and Minds. Who are just… oh my god, I never thought I’d love robots so much. This was so close to 5 stars for me (I felt the two different plot “strands” didn’t meet up neatly enough at the end, which knocked it to 4 1/2) but this made me very excited to read the remaining 5 books.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half

 

 

 

I also got 90% into the last Farseer book, but alas, I couldn’t actually wrap it up until March!

Reading Challenge Progress

50/175 Books

7/33 Series Books

15/50 TBR Books

12/15 Different Countries

August 2015 Wrapup: Weeks 3 & 4

1 Sep

Well, August has come and gone, and though I was sure I’d screw up my reading goals for it after the first two incredibly slow weeks, I actually had a decently satisfying reading month! I read a series, I read one of my favorite books of the year (A Little Life), what more could you want? Well, more than 14 books finished, but we can’t always get what we want.

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In The Woods, by Tana French: Finished August 20th. This was a re-read, and a pretty recent one at that. I first read it last year and loved it. Yet it’s part of a series, and I never thought of continuing on? Crazy. Why. So I decided it’d be my series for August, even though I finished it on the 20th and there are 5 books in total. I’m not going to say much about this here because I’m planning a post on just this book, and then one on the series. I’m just obsessed. Crime fiction isn’t usually my thing, but I will always make an exception for Tana French.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

 

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The Likeness, by Tana French: Finished August 22nd. This book has such mixed reviews, but I adored it. I loved Cassie in ITW, so following her story almost directly after that was magical. The premise (that a detective is the doppelganger of a murdered girl and sinks into her life) is indeed far-fetched, and I think if you like really hardboiled crime fiction that might be an issue, but my usual jam is speculative fiction and magical realism. So, yeah, not so much an issue for me.

The atmosphere is hands-down the best part of Tana’s books. I mean, okay, the characters are great, the thematic overlap is amazing, but she is so killer at setting up a unique and amazing set that just pulls you in. I felt like I was living at Whitethorn house while reading this. More importantly, I wanted to live at Whitethorn house, even with all of its messed up and insidious happenings.

Lipstick Rating 4 And 1 Half

 

 

 

 

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The Faithful Place, by Tana French: Finished August 24th. This is many people’s favorite book in the series, but it ended up being my least-favorite. Don’t get me wrong–I still really enjoyed it, but I found it the least compelling. I guess the whole “close-knit messed up family in poverty” just wasn’t my favorite theme. The protagonist, Frank, was actually one of my favorites, but between my kind of meh feelings about the rest of the characters and the fact that I guessed the culprit the first time we met them, it was just a little lackluster compared to the other 4 books.

Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half

 

 

 

 

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Broken Harbor, by Tana French: finished August 26th. My second-favorite book in the series, definitely. Each book has its own distinct mood, but I think Broken Harbor has the same creepy, eerie vibe as ITW. There’s something almost surreal about the way events unfold here: what seems like a normal (if gruesome) murder turns into an absolutely bizarre and twisted story about insanity and family. I mean, all of her books are about family way down in the core. But this one touched some cord within me. I loved all the characters, the plot, the mystery, the twists… this was almost as perfect as In The Woods. Almost.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

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Secret Place, by Tana French: Finished August 29th. The last book in the series! So far, because I’m sure there will be more. The format, where the main characters are only loosely connected and each case is essentially a stand-alone, makes it so it never gets old. With a lot of detective/crime series you get SO tired of the main detective, which is obviously not an issue here. So Tana French, please write a million more. I WANT SO MANY MORE.

Ahem. Secret Place is a bit different than the rest of the series: it takes place in one day, to start, and many of the ongoing themes (duality of characters & past/present, which I’ll be talking about in the full post) are subverted. Also, every single suspect is a teenager, which makes for a twisted web of girl subterfuge to dig through. It’s also nice proof that not every book with teenage girls in it has to fall into the tropes & pitfalls of young adult. This is actually my 4th-favorite book in the series, but I love them all so much.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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Working For Bigfoot, by Jim Butcher: Finished August 29th. When I finish a series I really love, I get kind of a book hangover. Once I read that last page of Secret Place, my immediate reaction was “great, now where’s the next one?!” And I tend to dislike the book I read right after, so I thought long and hard about what to read after the Dublin Murder Squad series. And really, what’s better than another entry in another series that I love? Yeah, more Dresden Files for me. I have the comics left, too, but now I’m trying to stretch it out as much as possible.

This is a collection of 3 novellas about, well, working with a Bigfoot. Who is actually mentioned in Skin Game, so it was exciting to go back and get the backstory on that. Since these were so short they were lacking in the signature character development of the Dresden world, but they were still fun reads that just make me want the next book so bad.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

 

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Murder On The Orient Express, by Agatha Christie: Finished August 30th. I wanted a really fast read, and I enjoyed And Then There Were None a lot, so this seemed like the obvious next choice for me. This was an interesting reading experience. Up until the end I was convinced it was a 3-star read for me: I found the strange sexism/racism (Italians kill people with knives cause they’re passionate, what) offputting, and all of the coincidences were just too much.

And then. You get to the end. Oh Christie, you got me! The resolution was absolutely amazing: in plain sight the whole time, but not something you would ever get. The clues are all there, though, and this was just such a masterful mystery. While I’m not a huge fan of Christie’s characters, she sure as hell can weave together a mystery.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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Rule, by C.D Reiss: Finished August 31st. I’m reading the Malazan series in September, so I wanted to end August on something fun and easy. C.D Reiss is such a guilty pleasure author for me, and I devour her Drazen books like candy. This is the last of Theresa’s books, so it was kind of a bittersweet read. I love her (even though Fiona is my favorite Drazen, gotta be honest), and having to see her story end was so sad. Plus Reiss rips our hearts out several times… I just want Theresa and Antonio to be happy! Why are you torturing me! And why do I love it so much!!

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

August 2015 Wrapup: Week 2

17 Aug

The second week of August was yet another slow reading week for me, with only 3 books read just like last week. At least last week I had the excuse of “but they were so long!!” This week? I don’t even know, guys. Just slow, stagnant reading. The middle book basically took me the entire week and was a huge drag to finish. Plus, I’ve totally neglected my series challenge this month! I was honestly thinking of just skipping August since once September hits I’m tackling the Malazan series, but I don’t want to “give up” on a challenge even though it’s something I made up and I’ve read so many that I could certainly take a break. But my brain is absolutely convinced that I HAVE to finish a series this month, so I feel kind of stressed about that since I’m not in a fantasy/scifi mood really… maybe I’ll pick up the Dublin Murder Squad books, I never did get around to finishing those.

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The Narrow Road To The Deep North, by Richard Flanagan: Finished August 12th. After A Little Life, I was really in the mood for more literary fiction–so why not try last year’s Man Booker winner, which is about the Burma Death Railroad! Because what I need is MORE depressing reads. I really wanted to like this more than I did. The scenes on the railway, which surprisingly was only about half the book, were amazing and shocking. I loved a lot of the side characters. And I especially loved the last third, where we got to see many of the camp leaders after the war–I’ll admit, up until then the book practically felt like anti-Japanese propaganda because there was SO much vitriol from the main character. But it ends up humanizing both sides nicely.

However… I hated the main character. Dorrigo is just awful. He goes on an on about how he is “not a good person” during the war when he does literally everything a good person would do. He goes above and beyond, sacrificing his own health for the health of others. It felt like the “I’m not a good person!!” line was just a way to justify cheating. Which honestly was never really explained. I was expecting the side story with Amy, the woman he has an affair with, (who I also hated) to somehow tie into the main one? Or explain his behavior with women after the war? But it didn’t really. Most of the side plots felt really disjointed, and while the writing was beautiful I just… I didn’t connect to anything.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

 

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Stallo, by Stefan Spjut: Finished August 15th. Once again I am sucked in by a creepy woods cover! For some reason (the cover, the friggin description) I expected horror from this. Spooky troll supernatural horror. And I think I’d be less annoyed if the first chapter wasn’t an amazing, perfect, creepy, atmospheric horror scene in the woods. It was great. And then… the tone totally shifts, and it goes from horror to supernatural mystery/thriller. I mean, I’m fine with that, and I actually enjoyed the first half of this book. But it just has this dry, monotonous tone that drags on and on–I think this book is generally too long, and I found myself skimming the last 20% because I just wanted it to be over. Which is a shame, because there’s definitely potential here (the scenes in the troll house!) but the “mystery” aspect is totally weak and I hated how ill-defined the mythology was. There are several different creatures–or several different kinds of the same creature? They have different powers, different personalities, totally inconsistent morals. I LOVE mythology and folklore, so the weak way it was handled here drove me insane. This was just a really disappointing book.

Lipstick Rating 2 Full

 

 

 

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And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie: Finished August 16th. This is really the perfect murder mystery. The plot is tightly paced, the characters are morally ambiguous, the mystery is intriguing and unusual. I don’t think there is a single wasted scene–it’s a short novel, with all the fat trimmed off.

I think this would be 5 stars for me if I hadn’t guessed the ending. Of course this was the first time this premise and twist were executed, but they are both so common in pop culture now that I feel like I’ve seen this plot over and over and over (with my favorite version being the Dark Brotherhood “murder house” quest in Oblivion). Which, of course, is not at all the fault of the book: but it’s weird to come back and read the origins of a trope after being so familiar with them.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full