Archive for September, 2019

The History of Bees

by Maja Lunde

This is my book for #Readharder prompt 10 – written by and/or translated by a woman. This book is both.

This was an odd read for me – I alternated between absolutely loving it and slogging through it.
I do like the basic premise of the book and I loved separate stories that are ultimately woven together so I am not sure why I wasn’t completely gripped by this book.

I am left feeling oddly out of sorts by this book.

I loved the three time periods included and how bees are experienced, or not. I loved the environmental relevance. I even really liked the characters in the stories and was invested in all three stories when each presented itself.
So I should really have loved this book but just found it okay.

Murder has a Sweet Tooth

by Miranda Bliss

I read this book for #Popsugar prompt 22 – a book with SWEET in the title
and it was fine.
Cosy mysteries are generally nothing much more than fine – they are simple and easy and a relaxed read that requires very little from the reader.
And as an example of that, this book is above average.
The characters are likeable and the sub plot is sweet and believable

What this genre lacks, and that may its value to many readers, is any involvement by the reader in the move towards solving the crime. No clues are provided or red herrings thrown at the reader – there is no way we can work out what has happened before the protagonist does.
For me, that’s the thrill of reading the old classic who dunnits, and what is always missing in cozies.

But I still read them for a break from heavier stuff – and I’d read another Bliss for the same reason.

by Margot Lee Shetterly

I am using this book for the #ReadHarder prompt 6: A book by an AOC set in or about space.
While space is not much of a character is this book it is the story that made any space travel possible.

This is an incredible story well written and wonderfully narrated.
These human computers were amazing women with crazy smarts who did unbelievable work – all behind the scenes while the white male engineers stood front and centre stage.

Not only did these women overcome sexism and racism, they were also brilliant minds. There is so much in this story – these women were literally computers before computers existed. Just amazing.
And considering the position they were in in society at the time – what they achieved is mind blowing.

Fabulous book and now I want to watch the movie immediately
We need more of these books; books that tell the other stories, the stories hidden behind the straight white man version of the past.

Hidden Bodies (You #2)

by Caroline Kepnes
After being absolutely riveted, absorbed and horrified by You I found this book wishy washy and unconvincing.
So much of it was just ridiculously unbelievable and Joe became ordinary and nasty rather than dark, creepy and, in some way, understandable.
He used, for me, to be commentary on society, on men’s sense of their own rights, on the slewed way those in power see society
In Hidden Bodies he is a stroppy little teenager acting without thought – his creepy has been replaced by pedestrian ideas and actions
He used to be everyman – this is what made You so terrifying – on every street we women knew Joe lurked, watching one of us, wanting to control some of us
The Joe of Hidden Bodies is someone from some slightly ridiculous American true crime adaptation
(and I’ve just been submerged in Ted Bundy and still Joe was not believable).
The book ends with a perfect start to book 3 but I doubt I will ever be interested enough to bother with it
On its own maybe Hidden Bodies would have been better than just okay but following You it, for me, just crashed and burned

by Ann Rule

I am counting this for #Popsugar prompt 17 – set on a campus, because so much of what Bundy did was centred around various college campuses.
What a horrifying 15 hours of audiobook this was; and impossible to put down.
The starting point of this book is astounding on its own – Ann Rule was contracted to write a book about the as yet unidentified serial killer while close friends with a young man called Ted. That they were the same person was inconceivable to her – until it wasn’t.

Bundy’s story is so horrifying because he seemed so ordinary – or even better than ordinary. A good looking, smart, seemingly caring man who murdered and murdered and murdered.
He could be anyone any of us know! And that’s scary.

Rules takes the reader along in an almost conversational way making the content of what she is saying even worse.
This book was well worth the time it took to consume

by Anne Tyler

This is my book for #Popsugar prompt 15 – retelling of a classic. This is Tyler’s retelling of The Taming of the Shrew.
To start with, The Taming of the Shrew is an awful story, and then add to that the fact that Tyler writes with such connection about middle class America and this was always going to be a challenge.
The book is perfectly well written but it is hard to connect with the characters and their rather odd decisions and actions.
A father getting rid his wayward daughter to a man who wants to tame her – how the hell do you modernise that story?
Tyler does it by bringing immigration laws into it, making it at least plausible.
I found Pyotr, the husband and ‘tamer’ the character easiest to relate to, and his incredible loneliness in a foreign country was beautifully captured.

On it’s own this was a bit meh for me, but as a retelling and therefore within quite strict confines, it was better than meh.
I have loved other books by Tyler so my 21/2 star rounded up to a 3 star meh rating is for this book only, not the author in any way.

A Woman Is No Man

by Etaf Rum

I loved this book. It made me cry more than once and left me feeling wrung out and bleary eyed.
I hated some of the characters and felt great empathy for them at the same time. I raged against what they did and the decisions they made at the same time as understanding the pressure on them to do exactly what they did.

Powerful, beautiful, and scary this book tells the story of three generations of Muslim women dealing with moving to America from Palestine as refugees, violent husbands, cultural pushback from the younger women – and family family family.

Just amazing – and a debut novel! wow

The only bit that snagged for me was very near the end when it felt like we were being told Deya’s story in summary format – and it sounded like a self-help book. I am not sure how it changed or why, but suddenly I remembered I was reading a book and not actually experiencing along with the family.
This does show how very good the rest of the book was though, but still means 4 and not 5 stars from me

I hope Rum writes and writes and writes, because in exchange I will read and read and read

by Scaachi Koul

I really liked this collection of pieces looking at being brown in Canada, about growing up with Indian culture in a western country, about being a woman, about how cultures differ and are similar, and about love and family.

It looks at Koul’s experience only and as such can only be one story.
I think so often these sorts of books are in some way assumed to be THE story, to tell the truth of a group of people as though there is a single truth.
Koul very clearly is telling only her story and that of her family.

As such this book is powerful, raw, authentic and delightful. and funny. Koul is funny!

Traitor’s Kiss

by Pauline Francis
I read this for #Popsugar prompt 38 – a novel based on a true story
This book was the ideal mix of historical drama and very real characters, some of whom feel thoroughly modern.
We see a snippet of history through the eyes of the young future Elizabeth I as she may well have experienced it.
The basic facts of the story are accurate and Francis has added personality and details which are not proven but seem quite likely. As such the book is a perfect mix of fact and fiction. The made up bits work to highlight and contextualise what actually happened without bogging the reader down with streams of facts. As this book is described as YA, this is ideal.
This kind of well written personalised history will ignite an interest in enough people to go and investigate what happened on a larger scale. And even if it doesn’t, it is a worth while standalone story.
I am certainly going to go and read more about Elizabeth after this – I have always known, to some extent (and possibly because of Black Adder) that was she a formidable woman, but now my feminist interest has been piqued. So job done Francis 🙂
I will certainly be back to the shelf in my library where these books lurk to pick another. I think the Lady Grey one is calling me next.