Last week I was on my annual summer vacation! I spent seven days in the woods, without cell phone service, in Northern Wisconsin. It’s the time each year that I can binge read, sit outside, and do plenty of kayaking. This year, the weather was damn near perfect, and I tackled some great reads.
The first book I finished was I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I had started this book about two weeks ago, and devoured most of it, but due to some work things, hadn’t had the chance to finish it. I started hearing about the case of the Golden State Killer from a friend, and we watched some shows about the case together. When Joseph DeAngelo was arrested, my phone blew up! My mom and some friends were all texting me, the CNN alerts were coming through, and I knew that I needed to read McNamara’s book.
Her writing is incredible. I appreciated that McNamara’s husband and researchers did not try to finish the book after her death – instead, they pieced together what she had already written to finish the book. The story of McNamara’s process was just as fascinating as the story of how one man got away with such horrific crimes for so long.
Right before bed last night I finished An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. After a bit of a reading slump prior to picking up Circe, I wanted to read something quickly, so I dusted this pick off the shelf.
I do not read a lot of YA. However, I did read (and cry) and watch (and cry) The Fault in our Stars when it was all the rage a few years ago. After reading that I picked up Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines.
I knew the basic premise of the book before I picked it up (a teen who only dates girls named Katherine), but nothing more. And I have to be honest, I was not a big fan of this book. Like, I only gave it a 2 on Goodreads.
I did not really connect with any of the characters (teenage boys and rich people problems). Repeatedly I tried to channel myself as a teenager to see if I would have liked it more/connected better then, but I couldn’t make the leap.
Overall, I see what Green is doing and how his stories can connect to the YA audience. They swear a little, they talk about sex, Colin and his best friend have been through a lot together and actually tell each other how they feel, etc.
While this book wasn’t for me, I see why people enjoy it, and it really is pretty cool that the Theorum Colin works on is legitimate. I can certainly appreciate the time and energy that goes into a project like this.
I loved Circe.
I saw the beautiful cover all over Instagram, and heard all about the pricing snafu on a Book Riot podcast, so I ordered it in my Book of the Month box. Typically, a book about mythology is not in my wheelhouse, but maybe I need to change my tune. Or, maybe I am just a big Madeline Miller fan.
This book is follows the life of Circe, daughter of a god and a nypmh. Her father is Helios, god of the sun. She is her parent’s first child, and is considered strange from the beginning of her life. She is dedicated to her father as a child, but also has a will of her own. You are introduced to many of the Greek gods and mythological characters, but their power and the lure of their stories does not overpower the story of Circe.
I spent most of my time with this book outside, enjoying the spring/early summer weather and a drink. It was hard to put this book down, and I couldn’t wait to get back to it each time.
Pick this one up if you haven’t!
This is my first blog post from my new house. This weekend I moved to Houghton, Michigan, and tomorrow I start my new job at Michigan Technological University. I am simultaneously excited and nervous. I spent today doing a few things around the house, reading, and thinking about how I should do this damn blog post that I have been saying I will do for weeks!
A few weeks ago I finished Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral by Jessie Redmon Fauset. This book was originally assigned for a class I took in college, but was cut from the book list when we ran out of time. In my American Lit class in graduate school, we had the opportunity to create our own book list to study any era of American Literature that appealed to us. I chose the Harlem Renaissance and loved it. I originally picked up Plum Bun back in February because I wanted to read something for Black History Month, and this is where I landed.
This book is about Angela Murray. As a young girl, she discovers she has the ability to pass as white. She learns this from her mother, who can also pass. Angela makes the decision to move to New York as a white woman. She believes that if she can get to New York she can start her life as a white woman with a certain level of privilege, find a white husband, and be set for life. She thinks that removing her blackness from the world will also remove her problems. This story follows Angela through her time in New York and examines her relationship with her sister, Jinny, who is not able to pass. Angela desperately desires to become and artists, and the characters she meets along the way are enjoyable and provide insight into her circumstances.
I liked this book, even though it took me forever to finish! It wasn’t one that I could fly through, and I found myself reading in small chunks. I did like Nella Larsen’s Passing better in terms of a text about passing. I enjoyed how long I was with Angela and how I got to see her live her daily life, not just a snippet of her experience.
I just finished Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna. It was my January pick for Book of the Month. I was having some remorse about not picking The Woman in the Window because I am seeing it allllllll over Instagram, but once I started Two Girls Down, I was hooked. Initially, I thought it would take me a bit of time to get through because of how fast my last few books went, but I read it in only a few sittings. I stayed up late, read before work, and thought all day about how I couldn’t wait to get home to wrap up this read!
Two Girls Down is about a pair of sisters who disappear from a parking lot when their mother runs an errand. The police start to search, but find nothing, so the family of the girls hires Alice Vega. Alice is known to find missing kids. She teams up with an ex-cop to find the girls before it’s too late.
I’ve talked before about how I really enjoy mystery/thriller shows and movies, but do not tend to read many books in the same genre. This book may have turned me into a mystery/thriller fanatic. I loved Luna’s writing, I thought the story was great, and the book avoided two components of this genre that bother me. Both of those things would be spoilers, though, so I’m choosing not to elaborate!
This was the best book that I have read in a while, and I will be keeping my eye out for a similar read.
I spent the last two days reading Forward: A Memoir by Abby Wambach. Like much of the world, I really got into women’s soccer for the past few World Cups and Summer Olympics. Part of the reason was watching Abby play. It was always so amazing to see her score goals with her face.
I did not know a ton about her personally, but remember hearing a few things when she got married (then, where did her wife go?, wait, now she’s married to Glennon Doyle?…this was my chain of thoughts when I was trying to figure this all out). My best friend read this book, and she never reads, so I thought I should get my hands on it.
My best friend and I both agreed – this book made us sad. It was sad that, while the entire world watched, Abby was not in love with the sport like we all thought she was – she was in love with the attention and the love of others that came to her through the sport. I did not know about her addiction struggles, or why her wife disappeared one day. This book was an interesting insight into how Abby felt in the highs and lows of her career, and how she, like all of us, had to come to terms with who she was and what she needed in order to continue moving forward (ha! see what I did there).
I did wish that there was some more reflection on events and why she behaved how she did instead of pushing along to the next story. I do recommend this book, though. It was an easy read that held my attention, and lead to some personal reflection.
This week I finished Artemis by Andy Weir. It was my first Book of the Month Club book. I did not read The Martian, but I did enjoy the movie. I spent most of my time reading this book buried under covers and animals, all of us trying to stay warm! It’s been a cold and snowy Northern Michigan winter so far.
This book is about a young woman named Jazz who has grown up in Artemis, a settlement on the moon. Jazz struggles financially and makes extra money by smuggling goods into Artemis from Earth. She is recruited to commit a major, complex crime for an extremely large amount of money, and accepts the offer. The rest of the book follows Jazz as she works to follow through on her promises, and uncovers the truth about how Artemis really functions.
This book was a page turner for me. I found it funny and unique. However, I did not like how Weir wrote Jazz. I understand that she is supposed to be unlikeable, she’s rough, she’s a criminal, she has issues, she likes to drink, etc. I am fine with all of that. However, I think Weir was off the mark with her internal thoughts. She talked and thought like a teenage boy. It was like Weir only tapped the surface of her as a character. Essentially, Weir wrote Jazz as Mark from The Martian, with a vagina. I think that he should not try to write female characters again in the future – not his forte!