Monday, August 14, 2017

2017 book 142

Jodi Lynn Anderson's Midnight at the Electric
Well, here is an interesting and engaging book, the story of three women all tied to a farmhouse in Kansas* across different time periods. Starting things off is young Adri in the 2060s, training for a mission to Mars and recently come to stay with a distant relative in Kansas, when she discovers the diaries and letters of the other two--a girl growing up in the house during the Dust Bowl, and a friend of that girl's mother in post-WWI England--and longs to discover how their stories turned out. And all three stories are really interesting! And there is a Galapagos tortoise! I liked this very much. A-.


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*The description says "Oklahoma" for the section set during the 1930s, but that is annoyingly incorrect. I think the person who wrote the description just didn't know the Dust Bowl was a thing in the entire Midwest, and clearly they didn't read this book. I mean, the characters specifically say they get called Okies despite not being from Oklahoma.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

2017 book 141

Ashley Weaver's The Essence of Malice
The fourth book in the Amory Ames series has an intriguing plot--someone has murdered a famous and wealthy French parfumier, and pretty much all of his relatives are suspects, so Amory and her husband befriend them under the guise of creating a custom scent for Amory. I am here for all the perfume talk, but I am not here for the continual marriage problems between Amory and her husband. For four books she has mistrusted him and he has been keeping dumb secrets. I am tired of them going in circles in every single book. Just leave him and go solve mysteries with your sassy maid! Otherwise, this was entertaining, and I liked the end quite a bit. B+.


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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on September 5th.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

2017 book 140

Joanna Scott's Careers for Women
This novel starts off really promisingly, focusing on a young woman in New York in the 1950s working at the Port Authority under an interesting woman mentor, the head of PR. But then it just starts jumping around all over the place--New York in the 60s-70s; planning and building the World Trade Center; a young single mother who is befriended by the protagonist, and her little girl; the head of some sort of aluminum company (the father of the aforementioned little girl) and the environmental problems it causes in upstate New York across a couple of decades, and his wife and son and his son's fiancee and the son's fiancee's dead father, etc etc. It is just a lot and it takes too long to come together. I wanted to read the book that was described, about a young career woman in New York, and this was just doing too much. I mean it is interesting from a literary standpoint, but was a bit of a slow read. B.

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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book is available now.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

2017 book 139

Keris Stainton's If You Could See Me Now
Rainbow Rowell was recommending this on Twitter the other day, which makes a book like must-read for me. And this was super cute and very silly and just what I needed. It centers on a woman in England with a crappy boyfriend and job stress and an awesome best friend--and then something totally unexpected happens. And I won't tell you what bc I was awesomely surprised. Anyway, this has a cute romance, some really great woman empowerment (seriously, this book echoes a lot of conversations I have had and seen other women having about like cat-callers and other indignities suffered upon us by jackass men), and is generally just a lot of fun. An honestly feel-good read. A-.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

2017 book 138

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
I remembered thinking this was not that great, but actually it is okay! The bones of an interesting story are there, but the play format doesn't give much to work with--like it's hard to build narrative tension and have good character development with just dialogue, I guess. Is it just my everlasting fondness for (most*) of the characters that makes me like it? Or my love of time travel and alternate universes? I guess it is interesting to read a story that is primarily about someone trying to learn to be a good father, and also magic. Would this be more satisfying if I were seeing it performed, and not just moderately entertaining? I mean, it does read almost like fan fiction, but pretty good fan fiction. Heteronormative fan fiction though.


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*Dumbledore remains The Worst even in painted form.

2017 book 137

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The thing about trying to redeem Snape at this late date is that he never ever once showed any kind of kindness or a softer side throughout all these books. Like, even if you excuse his cruelty to Harry by blaming it on his grudge against Harry's father--how can you write off the way he treats Neville? Or Hermione? Fine, maybe he doesn't work for the most evil wizard of all time, but he is still an awful person. And for his only sign of goodness to be "I was in love with your mom for my whole life in a kind of creepy way and then was bummed when she died"--it's not really enough. There needed to be more than a shred of decency. Also Dumbledore is annoying and I am still not sure the wand stuff holds up. Of course, those are minor quibbles to a book that I have read and enjoyed and thought about many, many times. Snape is terrible though.

Monday, August 07, 2017

2017 book 136

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
You know I have read these books too many times and spent way too much time thinking about them, but I still can't puzzle out how the detection of underage magic works. So in past books, the Ministry could tell when anyone (Harry or Dobby) did magic in Privet Drive, and in this one they say that the ministry doesn't track this (as far as I can tell) in wizard homes, because they rely on parents to monitor children's behavior. And then there is the whole thing with the Trace in book 7, which implies that the Ministry CAN detect specific underage wizarding magic. My point is: how can Dumbledore do a whole bunch of magic in Privet Drive in this book and no one says a thing? (Similarly, we don't SEE Arthur Weasley use magic there in the beginning of book 4 but it is implied that he used magic to repair the living room.) Is it like a proximity thing, and it's just that Dobby was closer to Harry than Dumbledore was? Am I (definitely) spending more time trying to figure this out than JK Rowling did? Anyway, I like this book, Harry is kind of a doof but backstory and teen hijinks are entertaining and the end packs a wallop.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

2017 book 135

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I feel like on past reads of this book, I have been like "ugh, Harry, you're so whiny and angsty, get your act together!" but this time was more like, man if Dumbledore had been willing to have an honest conversation or if Snape could get his head out of his own butt for five minutes (like, he must see that Harry is nothing like James Potter when they have their occlumency lessons, but he is still a grade-A jerkface to Harry)--well, let's just say I am much more sympathetic to Harry now and maintain that Dumbledore is kind of the worst. Him and his dumb trickling tear. Meanwhile, I really just want like one scene of Hermione having a conversation with her parents. They seem so supportive and nice but they never get one line in these books! Not really relevant, just so,etching I was thinking about.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

2017 book 134

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I went to see Belle and Sebastian on Monday, when I had just started rereading this, and at one point they has a backdrop of old album covers and I had a very vivid memory of a college summer in the attic room of a rented yellow house, listening to Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, and rushing home from my summer job to read this for the very first time. And rereading it now is still just as thrilling and heartbreaking.