Mystery was my first genre love (I had an early reader crush on Encyclopedia Brown), but I’ve read much less in the past few years. And I’ve burned out on some favorite series–they may still be going strong, but after 12 or 15 books, I’ve had enough.
I’d like a new series or two to love, but recent attempts at finding one by library browsing were not effective. When I mentioned this on Twitter, I started getting recommendations, but they are hard to track there. Hence, this post, in which I will describe my recent DNFs, list some favorites to give you a sense of my taste, and ask for your help finding good stuff! Continue reading
Rosie Thomas’ Sun at Midnight was recommended somewhere (maybe a thread on books with unusual settings?) and I added it to my library list because its protagonist is a female scientist working at an Antarctic research station.
An epic love story and adventure set against the stunning backdrop of Antarctica.
Alice Peel is a geologist. She believes in observation and proof. But now she stands alone on the deck of a rickety Chilean ship as a stark landscape reveals itself. Instead of the familiar measurable world, everything that lies ahead of her is unknown and unpredictable.
Six weeks earlier her life was comfortably unfolding in an Oxford summer. Then, with her relationship suddenly in pieces, she accepted an invitation to join a group working at the end of the earth: Antarctica.
James Rooker is a man on the run. He’s been running since his childhood in New Zealand. Now, there is nowhere further to go. He has taken a job working on the same small Antarctic research station.
Alice discovers an ice-blue and silver world, lit by sunlight. Nothing has prepared her for the beauty of it, or the claustrophobia of a tiny base shared with eight men and one other woman. The isolation wipes out everyone’s past, and tension crackles in the air. But there is a jolt of recognition between Alice and Rooker that is like nothing she has ever known. And it is in Antarctica that she discovers something else that will change her life forever … if she survives.
I loved the first half or so of this book. Thomas takes her time in developing her characters and there’s a lot going on: romantic relationships and their discontents, friendships, parent-child relationships. I really liked the quiet, reflective, pragmatic Alice, a geologist who’s always felt herself in the shadow of her famous mother (who worked in the Antarctic) and is closer to her father, who has always been with her when her mother goes off on adventures.
When I read a book like James Salter’s All That Is that no-one else I know is reading, I wonder whether to blog about it. I blog to have a conversation; in this case, will I just be talking to myself? So I’ve tried to connect my review to some online conversations that were on my mind as I read, to give you a way in to discussion even if the book itself is of no interest to you. Also this is going to be kind of a mess, because I’m really tired but I want to post something.
All That Is covers 40 years in the life of Philip Bowman, from his WWII naval service through a career in publishing, into late middle age. Despite the grand title and the historical scope, it’s not a long book (it’s just shy of 300 pages). But it is a big book, thematically, and as I read I thought of a recent Twitter discussion about whether any book needed to be over 1000 pages, because Salter’s book has many of the qualities (to me they aren’t faults) that people criticized big books for: there isn’t a clear plot arc; there all kinds of episodes and characters that don’t lead anywhere, or anywhere obvious. Bowman may be the central character (he’s certainly not a hero, and I hesitate even to describe him as a protagonist), but the point of view shifts among many characters, including some who appear only briefly. Arguably, most of the novel is composed of meandering byways. Lisa Zeidner describes it as “a plaintive, impressionistic look at how we live in time, how little we ever understand about the amorphous shape of our own lives,” and I think that sums it up well. I can see how the episodic, open-ended nature of the book and the lack of a coherent character arc would drive some readers crazy, but it’s purposeful and for me was powerful. Continue reading
This was a slightly different post when I started planning it yesterday. As some of you know, last Saturday one of our cats (a cat we’ve had since his birth) went missing. It was an awful week of guilt, grief, hope disappointed. And then this morning, grumbling, I got up at 5:30 to let the dog out and there was Jinx at the back door. A moment I’d imagined over and over again, a moment I’d try to stop myself from imagining because hoping hurt too much. As I write this he’s curled up under my legs, and I can still hardly believe it.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking about (and seeking out) comfort reading. Like many people I know, I usually turn to romance fiction as comfort reading. Life may not have a happy ending, but a romance novel does! Optimism, emotional justice, true love–what could be better when life is hard? This week, for me, romance was no comfort. Continue reading
Pen: Sailor Clear Candy
I am, kind of. When I ditched Goodreads, I still wanted to keep track of my reading. I tried using Evernote, but found it too cumbersome for making a note if I’m reading a paper book. So I got a notebook (this one in periwinkle, for my stationery fetishizing friends). I love notebooks, I love a chance to use my fountain pens, it’s a good system for me. It’s not social like Goodreads, but that’s what the blog is for, right?
So I know that I read 4 1/2 books in January, and listened to 6. Normally, I would hope to read more, but I read some longer books this month. Also, I really loved some of my recent audio choices, and sometimes chose to listen when I might have been reading. Here are the January/early February books I haven’t already written about:
Posted in fantasy, fiction, review, romance
Tagged Barbara Demick, Daphne du Maurier, Heavenly Pleasures, Jamaica Inn, Kerry Greenwood, Nothing to Envy, Stella Gibbons, The Dangerous Edge of Things, The Matchmaker, Tina Whittle