Bookalicious – 10 October 2011

My shelves are too bookalicious for you, baby. I read a lot. Well, not a lot compared to some people, but way more than is probably normal. Sometimes the books I’m reading from week to week will be the same, but I’ll endeavor to let you know what I’m thinking about them as I make progress (or don’t). I am and always have been a poly-reader – meaning I read multiple books simultaneously – so sorry if I give you whiplash. Here’s what’s on my nightstand these days and how I’m feeling about it!

So, holy cow, you guys – it’s been almost a month since my last Bookalicious post! Sorry about that! This means there will be a LOT of books below so…just be prepared, I guess!

New This Week

  • Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk
    Pages read: 9 of 368
    I had never heard of Orhan Pamuk before last Tuesday night at my book club meeting, but apparently he’s a pretty famous author from Turkey. We had an issue where the book we voted in for the November discussion turned out to be almost 700 pages, and several people were not going to be able to finish it in just one month. So instead, we postponed that book to December to give folks two months to finish it, and we voted on the spot with suggestions from those in attendance to pick the book for November. This is what won. Pamuk’s fiction apparently has gotten high praise from a number of well-known authors. I’ve never read his fiction, so I can’t speak to it. I’ve just barely started this book, which is a memoir of his life growing up in Istanbul. One of our book club members lived in Turkey for a few years, and our company is getting ready to run a conference in Turkey (on the coast, in Antalya, and I don’t get to go, but I’ve had some minimal involvement in preparing for it), so my interest in Turkey is piqued at the moment. Based on the first chapter, I think it’s going to be interesting.
  • The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
    Pages read:
    189 of 373
    This is the third book in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, and I greatly enjoyed the first two. In case you aren’t familiar with the books, they are a combination of science-fiction, literary love, crime/mystery, and silly quirkiness – RIGHT up my alley, to be honest. Thursday Next is the main character, a special operations literary agent in England. She lives in a sort of alternate reality to our own, one where book characters are (almost) as alive and complex as real humans; where some people can move between books and real life (she’s one of them); where literary crimes happen all the time. This book picks up where the last left off, Thursday pregnant but her husband illegally eradicated from time. She can remember him, but no one else can – he never existed beyond age 2 as far as the rest of the world is concerned. In order to regroup and try to figure out how to bring Landen back while convalescing during her pregnancy, Thursday applies for a transfer to a badly written, never-published novel in the Well of Lost Plots where she can rest, away from the real world for a while. In order to get permission to go on vacation in this book, however, she has to promise to become a Jurisfiction agent, the force that polices the book world for literary crimes much as Literary SpecOps polices the real world. I’m greatly enjoying the frolic through the book world and love escaping into such a fun book before I go to sleep at night.

In Progress

Note on in-progress books: I’m only posting the book cover the very first time I add the book to the list on the blog, but you can see the covers by following the links in the titles.

Finished This Week*

If you want to read my full reviews, see the Goodreads links below; for books I’ve finished, I’m planning to give just a five-sentence review on the blog. *Also, not necessarily finished this week this time…just finished since the last Bookalicious post. Which is why some of these have cover photos, too – some of them have not been mentioned on a previous Bookalicious post.

  • If You Loved Me, You’d Think This Was Cute by Nick Galifianakis
    Read my review on Goodreads
    This is a book of single-panel cartoons from Nick Galifianakis, cousin to the more famous comedian and actor Zach Galifianakis. The subject of all the cartoons seems to be the differences between men and women and how that complicates relationships. I found most of the cartoons somewhat amusing, and a handful actually made me chuckle out loud. For the most part, though, the subject matter and punchlines seemed kind of tired and trite. It took me about an hour to read the whole book, so if you’re looking for something to provide a little mild humor on the classic man-vs-woman debate, it’s a small time commitment for a few chuckles.
  • In the Breeze of Passing Things by Nicole Louise Reid
    Read my review on Goodreads
    This is a novel told from the perspective of Iva, an almost-12-year-old who travels with her little sister and mother between several increasingly smaller and more dreadful residences. The present-day story is interspersed with Iva’s memories of better times when their family was intact and lived in the same house for years at a time. Because Iva believes she has a very special bond with her father, and that she was his favorite, she spends a lot of time pining for him and plotting ways that she can re-unite her family, or – if that’s not possible – at least for her to go live with her dad instead of her mom. We see Iva experience disappointment after disappointment, disillusionment after disillusionment at the hands of her parents, until she decides to just rely on herself forevermore. I think the book was supposed to make you feel like Iva would be okay after she ultimately breaks away from her irresponsible parents, but all I could think of was what awful things a 12-year-old would meet while trying to make her way on her own, which made me find the book bleak and depressing in the end.
  • Moon Women by Pamela Duncan
    Read my review on Goodreads
    Finally finished this one on the plane home from Atlanta a couple of weeks ago! I enjoyed the story, which was about three generations of women in the Moon family in North Carolina learning about themselves and each other and loving and helping one another. The last 100 pages or so in particular flew by as the action increased considerably. I’m a sucker for a good Southern women and family story, so it was almost a foregone conclusion that I was going to have fun reading this. I did find it a bit slow in parts, though, and probably would have cut 100-150 pages from the book – 500 pages is just too long for this kind of book, in my opinion. The author studied her MFA under Lee Smith, the well-known Southern author, and the influence is clear, so I’d say if you enjoy Lee Smith a lot and are okay with the fact that Duncan is not as practiced or polished (or possibly as talented) as Smith, you’ll probably enjoy this book as well.
  • The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
    Read my review on Goodreads
    Three sisters – Rose (Rosalind), Bean (Bianca), and Cordy (Cordelia) – re-unite at their parents’ house after their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. They are all secretly fleeing from other problems they have, and ultimately returning to each other helps each of them resolve the problem they’re facing. This was a pretty stereotypical story of sisters who are very different (but not so different as they’d like to believe) rediscovering one another and learning to rely on one another as adults. As a bibliophile, I enjoyed the many, many Shakespearean (and library) references throughout the book, and I liked the characters, but I didn’t feel the book was terribly original. Still, it was well-written and a fun, quick read, especially for those who enjoy the books-about-books vibe.
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
    Read my review on Goodreads
    Camille Preaker is a second-rate crime journalist for a fourth-rate paper in the Chicago suburbs. She drinks too much, works too much, keeps to herself, and has issues with her family. When her editor sends her back to her hometown to investigate a possible serial killer story, her life and her carefully-constructed shell begin to fall apart around her as she gets closer and closer to the truth of the crimes…and the truth of her own childhood horrors. I absolutely loved this book and cannot wait to read Flynn’s second novel – her writing was good, showing a lot of promise, and I could not put this book down, it was that compelling in both character and plot. Highly recommended if you love a good crime/mystery novel, especially if you enjoy a heaping side of multiple psychoses!

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