Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

I read a lot this week. It was awesome.

The Vacationers: A Novel
I was pretty ambivalent about this novel. On the one hand, it was an easy turn off your mind book to read. On the other hand, I kept thinking… what is the point? The Post family vacations to Mallorca in the midst of a lot going on in their lives. Jim was recently fired from his job for an office affair. Franny is struggling to deal with whether or not she still loves him. Bobby is going through a financially tough time and brings with him an older girlfriend who no one likes. Sylvia has a slightly illicit goal to reach before she goes to college. Beyond this, it was a fairly predictable and slow novel. It started out grabbing me, then just kind of unfurled slowly. An easy beach read but not the most engaging.

Ruin and Rising (Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone))
This is the last book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. I previously reviewed the other two books. The trilogy follows a magical world where people can summon the wind or the sun or heal and where an entire area is shrouded in impenetrable darkness filled with monsters who used to be human--and like any magical world, you have light forces and dark forces. The third book was an excellent conclusion. I enjoyed this series!

Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals
This book is a must-read for anyone who loves food and literature. Featuring fifty meals from literary classics, I loved this book because it not only had a selection from the book where the meal came from, but it also went over the types of food, how they related to the book, the book's contribution to the literary world and other interesting footnotes. Some of my favorites were the Mad Hatter's tea party from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, a beach fruit meal from Robinson Crusoe, the chicken breakfast from To Kill a Mockingbird and a cocktail from Lolita. There were a few nitpicks, like Holden Caufield's sandwich lunch, which clearly states has swiss cheese, but in the photo, it's bright yellow American cheese. Still, despite those few minor consistency errors, I loved seeing some of the books I love come to life a little more.

I Am Pilgrim: A Thriller
Pilgrim is an upper-echelon intelligence officer--not the FBI, not the CIA, more than that. He thinks he's finally left the life, until he gets pulled back in after investigating a murder that shadows a book he wrote. Quickly, he gets pulled back into the life and ends up in Turkey where he's chasing a bio-terrorist. I loved this book. It was suspenseful, a little gritty and the author did a great job of humanizing even the bad guys. It was a longer book, at 600 pages, but I read it pretty quickly, anxious to follow the thread of the story to the (excellent) conclusion.

The Fever: A Novel
In a town where the biggest attraction seems to be a "dead" lake, a health epidemic is sweeping through the high school. First one girl falls in the middle of class, seizing and foaming at the mouth, then other girls follow. The first girl lies in a coma while the others recover quickly, but the town is up in arms over what could be the cause. Is it the lake? Is it the HPV vaccines all the girls just received? Or is it something far more sinister?
This story is clearly meant to shadow the Salem Witch trials and the hysteria that swept Salem, but I enjoyed it. It definitely seemed more like a young adult read, but it kept my attention to the very end.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel
I've been wanting to read this ever since Barb and Sarah both gave it glowing reviews. AJ Fikry, owner of Island Books on Alice Island, is a fairly unhappy man. Widowed at a fairly young age, he mostly spends his night drinking himself into a stupor. After one such night, he wakes to find his apartment cleaned… but also missing his collector's copy of Tamerlane by EA Poe. Then he finds a two year old left in his store, with a note from her mom asking him to take good care of her. As the story evolves, AJ starts to see the beauty in life. He makes friends. He learns to love again, in more ways than one. I kind of sensed the ending of this story shortly after I started reading it, but it didn't diminish my love for AJ and his story any. This is a good one.

The Wolf of Wall Street
I don't usually watch a movie, then read the book, but when I watched this movie I wasn't aware that it was a book. After watching the movie, I was pretty well-versed in the life and times of Jordan Belfort. I thought this would be more of a story on his rise and fall in Wall Street, but alas, it was basically 500 pages of Jordan Belfort waxing poetic about his constant drug use and other illicit activities. I'm not offended easily so those parts didn't bother me so much as the fact that it got old, especially when he had his first kid. Then his second kid. And still didn't stop. And when he finally did, he still doesn't seem to echo much remorse about all that he did and the potential damage caused. Definitely not the best memoir I've ever read.

What are you reading?


InTheFastLane said...

I've only read one book this week. Astoria. It is a non-fiction, historical account of John Astor's attempt to colonize the west coast, near the Columbia River. Non-fiction is a slower read for me because I want to make sure that I am getting all the facts straight. Last night I was almost done and fell asleep with just a few pages left. boo!!! finishing it this morning.

I am glad you got to read AJ was a must read.

Wolf of Wall Street, however?? I think I will pass because I only think of one thing when I think of the wolf....

Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

Ooh- just requested AJ Fikry! I keep seeing people talk about The Fever but not sure I can go there. Was there a lot about seizures in it? I just finished The Dinner (did not enjoy it- slow at the start but later on it did pick up. Still didn't like the story.) Currently reading Never Let Me Go for book club!


Barb Ruess said...

You DID read a lot last week - hooray! I'm still in the haze of "too busy to read" but I see a light at the end of the tunnel!

I'm glad you enjoyed AJ Fikry! Even with its slightly sappy predictability, I enjoyed it. Adding a few of your reads this week to my list.

I'm hoping to finish Frog Music soon and then on to a few books a certain 13yo has piled on my nightstand.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Last week I read gods in Alabama, The Burgess Boys and I'll Be Seeing you. I just started The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

Theresa Mahoney said...

Wow, you really were on a reading roll this week! I am so jealous!

I just finished up Duma Key by Stephen King. It's been a while since I've picked up a King book, and I forgot how much I really love them!

One crazed mommy said...

I read Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty and The Rosie Project by...can't remember. Enjoyed both of them - especially Three Wishes.

I don't know what's next - I have a lot on my wish list...