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May backwib

August 3, 2013

May was a pretty slow month for me, in that I only read seven books.  SEVEN!  No wonder my numbers are down this year.

Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child is an AMAZING book.  I am usually on the fence with magical realism, barring Alice Hoffman, but in this case, the book drew me in with its mystery, tone, and depiction of life in the brand-new state of Alaska.  A childless couple decides to take the government up on their relocation propaganda to get away from the pain of their loss, and find a child who by rights shouldn’t exist.  Is she the magical fulfillment of a wish, or a wild child opting out of real life?  Ivey’s first novel doesn’t feel like a first novel, but rather a novelist at the height of her career, so I’m looking forward to more from her.  Great book club discussion too.  Highly recommended.

I reread Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body, because it was my favorite for so long and I was wondering how well it held up.  As someone who’s now older and (maybe) wiser, the narrator got on my nerves for his/her pretension and narcissism, and I wondered for the first time if Winterson even realizes how obnoxious he or she is.  My guess is no, because I’ve read Winterson’s memoir.  For all that, the book drew me in around the half-way point, and completely drew in a reluctant reader friend immediately.  (I thought it might, with all its drama.)  Interestingly, I see the narrator as a woman, whereas my friend saw him/her as male.  The book is a work of art, that’s for sure, and I still recommend it, but I’m pretty sure I’d default to Oranges as a first Winterson pick now with many people.

Young-Bin Kim’s Stand By Youth Volume 1 was a completely forgettable manhwa.  I can say that because I had to look up the description just to barely remember what it was about.  And I still don’t care enough to write it up.  So.

Speaking of forgettable, the Harlequin Flipside book (possibly the last one I have left from my friend who was like “Eh”) Detour Ahead is about a blogger who hitches a ride with a stuffy guy and makes him smell the roses, or something, except she’s fucking annoying, from what I can remember, and that’s ALL I can remember, other than so-breezy-you’d-never-read-it blog bits.  I’m trying to remember if there were any excellent Flipside books, and I’m coming up with nothing, with this Cindi Myers book heading the pack.  I’m sure someone would call it a great beach book, but I prefer liking my heroines.

Since I knew BEA was coming up, I decided to knock out the Mary Higgins Clark book I had at home, I’ll Be Seeing You.  It’s a fast read, with characters who perhaps have little under the surface, writing-wise, but they’re good people and you root for them.  I can see why people enjoy her books, although this one in particular wasn’t really for me, because I really like to delve into my characters.

On my husband’s recommendation, I read Open Sesame by Tom Holt, a hilarious book about genies, storytelling, puns, and a game that’s about as wacky as Talisman.  (My husband and his friends just played an eight- or nine-hour game of Talisman, and after hearing things like, “I put the jet pack on my donkey” for the second day in a row, you really have to admire the absurdity.  I’m surprised they took a break to sleep.  Talisman is srs business.)  I often avoid “funny” books, as I’ve said before, and this one goes on a bit too long–like watching a movie with its third epilogue, and you’re just like, “Okay, I get it, let’s go, Spider-Man 2”–but it was very enjoyable.  Next, my husband has suggested I read one of Holt’s historical fiction novels.  I wonder how funny it will be…

Finally, I read M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, the June in-person book club selection.  It is, in its premise, similar to The Snow Child: an isolated couple without children of their own find a little girl of unknown origin.  After that, the books are completely different.  Stedman’s book take place in Australia, on a tiny island with only a lighthouse keeper and his wife inhabiting, and the story is completely realistic, with no hints of possible-magic like Snow Child.  It was incredibly fun to contrast them, although part of me wished I’d read Stedman’s book first, because The Snow Child was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but say “I liked it better.”  These two books were excellent right after the other, and created lively discussions.  Highly recommended for book clubs, especially back-to-back.

And that was May.  Next up, some truly wonderful book club selections, and BEA!

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