Reading list 2019

Anatomy of a ScandalAnatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took the first half of the book to get what it was supposed to be all about, and then when I found myself skimming lines to get the gist of each chapter (and to the end), I knew it would disappoint. Sorry.

The Iron King (The Accursed Kings, #1)The Iron King by Maurice Druon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up after reading George R. R. Martin’s blurb on the front cover, and also as a a sort of interim until season 8 of GoT. Will I continue with the rest of the novels? Probably not, for while it is entertaining historical fiction in its own right, it certainly has nothing on the Game of Thrones (the television series, not the books) that I have come to be a fan of.

When All is SaidWhen All is Said by Anne Griffin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Despite having to stop occasionally to look up terms/phrases unknown to my American vocabulary – hoolie? yoke? on the blower?! – the main character, a crotchety old man, grew on me as evening wore on. A heartwarming and beautifully written gem of a book to the very end.

The Land Before AvocadoThe Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting and funny look at Australia of the 60’s and 70’s. As an American I could identify with a few things during the same period in my home state of Hawaii (telephone party lines, dinners out of a can, roaming the neighborhood until dusk), but we did not have Spicy Meat Ring and I aim to make it!

The Psychology of Time TravelThe Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Two parts time travel mumbo-jumbo, 1 part lesbian love story, 2 parts nonsense. Definitely not your average time travel read. I get that this is all science fiction and fantasy, but the characters were so one-dimensional that I had already stopped giving a hoot about any of them by the end.

The Wolf in the WhaleThe Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve always found tv documentaries on Inuit culture very interesting, so to couple that with Norse mythology in an epic tale (that kinda felt like Narnia nearing the end) was a definite draw for me. It has everything going for it: magic, myths, ancient spirits, beasts, gods, and so much more; all fatefully bound together in a vast and unforgiving environment.

This book is not for the squeamish (several bloody, violent scenes) or persnickety. There are those who have criticized some parts as either too slow or boring. Let me offer some insight: winter is looooong and dark. Enjoy this highly imaginative whale of a tale during the cold season, preferably with a cup of hot tea and some cookies at your side.

The Name of the RoseThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having seen the film (with Sean Connery) years ago, and now following the tv series (with John Turturro), I read the book to find out which parts were altered, glossed over, or altogether left out in the screen versions. As an author and keen intellectual, Umberto Eco doesn’t mince words here; I just wish I knew beforehand what I was getting myself into! That said, this is what I didn’t like about reading The Name of the Rose.

1. The looooong passages of theological debate regarding poverty and laughter in the church. Honestly, it took up 50% of the book, mostly in the first half of the read, so I quickly skimmed over them.
2. The long descriptions of objects or events, like the door of the church, or what went on in Adso’s head when he was getting laid. I would rather have an illustration (of the door).
3. The parts written in Latin. As a reviewer pointed out, the Latin was explained in context either before or after, but I found that to be not always.

In short, if you’re looking for a cookie-cutter medieval mystery, watch the film or tv series instead. I don’t know if other readers like to imagine voices for a character in a book, but I didn’t mind having Sean Connery in my head at all.

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