Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting a whole lotta reading done!

Well, I no longer regard that once monsterous book stack in the corner of the bedroom with fear and trepidation. In the last 3 months, I have miraculously managed to whittle it down, and then build it back up into something I could look upon with pleasure and excitement. Now I actually look forward to the next book to read.

Separating the fiction from the non-fiction helps, so does a bit of purging; into the used book box went The Night Circus and Boneshaker. The Hubs actually likes Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and says it's worth having in our collection, so I rescued it and gave it back to him. I also rescued The Dancing Floor by Barbara Michaels, a book that I actually had on my Goodreads to-read list but after a handful of pages into it, I bemoaned the slow pace and threw it into the used box.. Even now I still don't know how I feel about it, but I just finished another Barbara Michaels novel, The Crying Child (the romance is non-cheesy, subtle and slow-building) and I liked it, so it warrants a second chance.

Two notable books I've finished in the last couple of weeks:

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos: Probably the thickest book in the stack and the most intimidating, it took me a week to read, and at the end I was sorry to see it end. It's a family drama about three estranged siblings whom as children lose their mother in a tornado. As adults, it seems that each one of them has some issue(s) that stem from the tragedy of her loss. Larken, the eldest daughter is a compulsive eater and has a fear of flying; Gaelen, the middle brother, is a charming weatherman obsessed with bodybuilding, and engages in meaningless sexual relationships with women; Bonnie, the youngest, a sort of free-spirit and an 'archivist' who still lives in their childhood small town, collecting seemingly random things that may have blown away with their mother in the storm. When their father is killed suddenly (struck by lightning on a golf course), the Jones siblings come together, and very slowly find themselves confronting the memories and loss that has shaped their lives. I like an author who really makes you care about the characters, even the minor ones. There's just a little bit of magic realism, but it doesn't destract from how 'grounded' the story. At the conclusion, I was ridonkulously estatic, because I was satisfied with the conclusion, and because I had finished off the thickest book in the stack. Also, I love the book so much, I'm keeping it in my collection, right beside Kallos' other novel, her first, Broken For You. I highly recommend both books

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King: Okay, I had my reservations on this one, and with good reason. The book is the first in a series about Mary Russell, an orphaned teen living with her aunt in Sussex during the Great War. She's terribly clever for her age-and in the male mind of that era, her sex. While taking a walk one day, she literally stumbles over a peculiar older man observing bees, and discovers that he is none other than Sherlock Holmes, The Great Detective now in Great Retirement. In that first meeting, we find out just how clever Miss Russell is, and that her brainpower may just be the perfect match for the Great Mr. Holmes. Ugh, I know. How the hell did I get through this book, with my mind practically bleating at me every other page, "SUE! MARY SUE!!"? Actually, the book wasn't half-bad, once I got out of that indignant, angry fangirl mindset. After Holmes takes on Mary as an apprentice and eventually starts having her involved in the cases that come his way, the story becomes more engaging and interesting. I found myself enjoying their developing partnership, although she still came off at times as too perfect. Most annoying is how she initially regards Dr. Watson, whom she has supplanted, but later on affectionately calls, "Uncle John". *makes a face* I do like how Sherlock Holmes was written though. with his mind still sharp even with the onset of middle age. I couldn't help but imagine the late, great Jeremy Brett in this incarnation of Holmes. Kudos to King for keeping it nearly almost true to form, and for not making me want to kill Mary Russell with holy fire. I have the next book in the series on my other Kindle, but I'm saving it for another time. I still have an actual book stack to read through.

I've read four other books since The Beekeeper's Apprentice, all of them quick reads lasting no more than 300 pages. Among them, Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City, and an old high school favorite, Joan Lowery Nixon's A Deadly Game of Magic.

I've been playing along with Books on the Nightstand's Summer Book Bingo. I'm trying to go for a full blackout, but if I can find a really good book published this year (Hollow City doesn't count because I read that before summer began!) then...

..."and BINGO was his name-o."

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