Top Ten Tuesday – Books I DNF’d

I’m going off book this week. I couldn’t figure out enough books to fill the theme this week so I’m coming up with my own. I’m doing a list of books I didn’t finish. I think that’s close enough. If I couldn’t finish it, there was something about it that was hard to read. I just can’t totally define why they were difficult. These aren’t necessarily terrible books. They’re just books that I could not get through. Sometimes, the words just don’t move a girl. But, just cause I didn’t finish them doesn’t mean there’s not a book in here for you. Maybe you’ll be drawn to something.

This week, I’m including a little who I would recommend these books to section.

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The Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Leaner

This book involves midwives, ancient Jewish faith, noblemen, gender swapping, and a chart at the beginning of the novel to explain who everyone is. That should have been my first hint that this probably wasn’t the book for me. I picked it up because of the title and the cover and it was like $3. It’s a super historic novel. It’s just too heavy for me.

Recommended for: fans of history novels with complex plots and a massive number of characters Continue reading

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The Likeness by Tana French (@tanafrench)

This is my third Tana French book since July, but it’s actually the second in the series. I liked this book a lot. Not as much as the other two but it was still very good. I think part of the reason I didn’t like it as much is because I kept getting interrupted while reading it. I was about 100 pages in when I received an advanced copy of French’s newest book. To meet the timeline, I had to put this one aside. Then when I came back to it, it took me a little while to get back in the groove. Then life happened and I wasn’t able to read a lot. And then I was too tired to read at night (which is when I get a lot of my reading done). It was a long process from start to finish. Also, the book is super long.

Once again French’s writing is spot on. If it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have gotten through it. She weaves these complicated relationships in slow, intricate waves. The book picks up some months after the end of In the Woods (as always, if you haven’t read the spoilers tag on the post, it’s your own fault). Cassie has moved to the Domestic Violence unit in the wake of Operation Vestal. She’s deeply unhappy with the work and her new partner. She’s still dating Sam, and although she says she’s happy in the relationship, she doesn’t totally seem to believe it. At the beginning of The Likeness, Cassie is called out to a crime scene. She shows up in a nicely pressed suit looking all business. This is not the Cassie from before. The one who dressed exactly the way she wanted to. Who drove her little Vespa. Who was mistaken for a much younger person and didn’t care. The old Cassie was vibrant and energetic. She left her vibe everywhere she went. Now she’s forced herself to fit the mold. She looks the part. She talks the part. She’s the officer everyone wants her to be. She’s definitely lost her spark. She is dying on the inside. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday – Parenthesis by Julian Barnes

I’ve talked about Barnes before on the blog, and he feels like a good way to return to the throwbacks. I was introduced to his writing in my contemporary British Lit class. Parenthesis is the “half” chapter in A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. It’s given no chapter number and exists near the back of the book.

Published back in 1990, the book is full of short reinterpretations of historic stories and artwork. The very first story is about Noah, his ark, his alcoholism, and the worm that stowed away for the journey. It’s a humorous start to a book that becomes quite bleak. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book in its entirety. The stories after Noah’s Ark were good, but they all kind of melded together. Parenthesis stands out like this beacon. The narrator speaks directly to the reader. No longer are we looking at the world through this grand, global perspective. Now we’re seeing how History is everything, down to these tiny, all-encompassing interactions. This story lives in my brain.

It’s been years since I first read it, but it’s still there. I will just go to the bookcase, pick it up, flip to a random page in Parenthesis and read a paragraph or two. Sometimes, I don’t even plan to do it. Those sentences will always make me feel… more. I don’t know exactly how to put it into words, but this story has weight. The best way is just to show you.

“I love you.” For a start, we’d better put these words on a high shelf; in a square box behind glass which we have to break with our elbow; in a bank. We shouldn’t leave them lying around the house like a tube of vitamin C. If the words come too easily to hand, we’ll use them without thought; we won’t be able to resist. Oh, we say we won’t, but we will. We’ll get drunk, or lonely, or – likeliest of all – plain damn hopeful, and there are the words gone, used up, grubbied. We think we might be in love and we’re trying out the words to see if they’re appropriate? How can we know what we think till we hear what we say? Come off it; that won’t wash. These are grand words; we must make sure we deserve them. Listen to them again: “I love you.”

I am not a reader of grand romance. I don’t like silly, soul mate tropes. But this is the most romantic things I’ve ever read. Love is hard. It is something you have to work at. You shouldn’t throw it around. You can’t force it. You have to recognize it in its truth and its falsehoods. At one point, Barnes compares it to a garage door opener in the suburbs. It looks like it should work on any of them, but there’s only one that will respond. I don’t have the book on hand, and I can’t find that quote online, but the analogy is one I remember.

This story makes me happy. The entire book is worth reading. But Parenthesis is the high point. How have we gotten where we are? Is humanity destined for pain? Is that what we’re made for? Is it worth all the pain?

I will always have this book in my collection. I will always gravitate back to it. It might be months or years between visits, but it will always have a place.

Top Ten Tuesday – Autumn To-Be-Read Pile

I love when the girls over at the B&B make us do TBR lists. These are some of my favourite weeks. I think it’s because it forces me to take a good hard look at the stack and stack and virtual lists of books I keep saying I’m going to read and actually figure out which ones are going to make the cut. Now it’s time to decide what will fit with this lovely autumn season. Time to move away from the fluffy reads and take a turn for the darker. Time to cuddle with a blanket and drink warm beverages and smell that amazing smell and read while surrounded by a world in the middle of a vibrant change. Yeah, yeah, I know the whole white girl thing about fall, but it’s been my favourite season for as long as I can remember, so I make no apologies. This week, I’m sharing a list I’m really excited about reading.

My goal this fall is to focus on the books I own instead of all the library books. I bought these things; I should give them what they’re due and read them. It’s their sole purpose in life.

The Absent One – Jussi Adler –Olsen

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A brother and sister were brutally murdered two decades earlier, and one of the suspects—part of a group of privileged boarding-school students—confessed and was convicted. But once Mørck reopens the files, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Looking into the supposedly solved case leads him to Kimmie, a woman living on the streets, stealing to survive. Kimmie has mastered evading the police, but now they aren’t the only ones looking for her. Because Kimmie has secrets that certain influential individuals would kill to keep buried . . . as well as one of her own that could turn everything on its head

I’ve read more than half of this book, but I kept having to return it to the library. I eventually bought A-O’s books (as you’ll know if you read blog regularly) but I haven’t had a chance to revisit them yet. I’ve reached a point where I feel like I need to restart this series. I’ve just started the first one so can’t wait to get to this book.

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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff (@brennayovanoff)

There’s this weird thing that happens when you start reviewing the books you read. You start to really understand exactly what it is that you like about books and what you don’t. Things I’ve come to realize – I’m not a fan of flowery writing and metaphors and I’ve got a big o’ girly hard-on for books that don’t give me all the answers. Books that leave you hanging. Books where the mystery is simply a tool and not the goal. I fall in love with books that seem to make other people insane. I started to realize this with Tana French but Brenna Yovanoff solidified it. This is the first of her books I’ve read and holy crap, I cannot explain how much this book punched me right in the metaphorical gut (yeah, I see how that contradicts what I just said a few sentences ago). Her writing style is so straightforward. It’s just there. In your face. But there’s something under the surface that’s positively magical. Now I’m going to talk about the book. This is the part where I get cranky about having to warn that I’m going to talk about the book content while I talk about the book.

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