Tag Archives: reading challenge 2018

The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket

When the kids were young and, in my opinion, reading books too easy for them, I tricked them into reading the Lemony Snicket books by telling them they were too hard for them to read and maybe they could read them in a few years time.

They fell for it and both of them ended up reading the entire series while I only read up to The Carnivorous Carnival.

I binged on the Netflix versions of the books (oh wow! Neil Patrick Harris!!!) and since season 2 ends with the book I last read, I decided to go ahead and read the rest of the series but it would seem that our copies of the books have mysteriously disappeared, a phrase that here means “someone absconded with them but are not admitting it,” so I was forced to use the Libby app on my phone and put it on hold.

I liked it, just fine, but I am ashamed to say that I like the series better. The repetition in the book got to me (which is why I stopped reading the series after The Carnivorous Carnival (which I may or may not have finished).

I will still read The Grim Grotto, and The Penultimate Peril and The End, but I am pretty sure I will feel the same about them.

The kids gave me a couple of Snicket’s other books (or rather Daniel Handler — the real name of the author) and I do need to get to those, which I will, hopefully this year.

Where’d You go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Very enjoyable book, fun in many ways, easy to read. I was a little put off, however, about the mean-spirited things the author had to say about most people, especially those who were Canadian, Midwestern, from Seattle or even just “nice.” I would have attributed it to the characters in the book, but Semple said that she wrote the book based on her difficult transition from LA to Seattle.

That said, I suppose it was a satire, so I suppose I will let it pass. Looking forward to the film due out in October — although Cate Blanchett is not who I pictured as Bernadette.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Another bookgroup book, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, was interesting and enjoyable.

The book opens with Elena Richardson walking through her burning house wondering where her children are, then realizing they are all accounted for goes outside to watch her home in Shaker Heights, Ohio burn down.

The book then goes back a few months when Elena first meets Mia and her daughter, Pearl,  who are renting an apartment from Elna.

The book then goes on to describe the various relationships her family creates with the new tenants.

While I enjoyed this book, it was sometimes hard to read because Ng is so open with the characters’ faults.

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

While C. S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite authors, I’ve actually read very little of his work beyond the Chronicles of Narnia. I chose The Great Divorce because it was on the top left shelf of a bookcase in the basement.

When I started reading it my first thought was “The Good Place!” and sure enough at least one other person had that thought.

The book starts out in what we find out later is Hell. A group of denizens in Hell are boarding a bus to what we found out later is an outpost of Heaven. During the bus ride the narrator (Lewis himself, apparently) mostly listens to others talk, complain, or fight.

Once in the other place Lewis meets up with George McDonald who shows him around and when not eavesdropping on other conversations, tries to convince Lewis to follow him to Heaven.

It is a small book, but very heavy and it took me at least a week to read. I am glad I finally read something of Lewis’ that was not hiding religion inside fairy tales.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I was excited to see that Robin Sloan was writing a new novel. I enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and Ajax Penumbra 1969. I put Soudough on hold at the library and when it arrived I opened it right away and was consumed by it immediately. I read it morning and night and the middle of the night and during breaks from work.

Let me just say now, before I forget, Robin Sloan is one of the best writers I have read. His stories (he’s only written two novels, a novella and a prequel to one novel) are charming, but not cloying. He writes humorously at times — but not overtly so. I guess you’d say he has a “dry” sense of humor, which — to me — is the best kind.

Sourdough is about Lois, a young programmer who moves to San Francisco to work for an automation company as a coder of software for robotic arms. One evening she orders take out and her life changes dramatically.

I think my life might be changing dramatically because of this book. While I am not a coder, I do work long hours in front of my computer. On Thursday I made pizza dough for our out-of-town guests. I alternated between working at my computer and making the dough, letting it rest (time for work), kneading the dough, letting it rest (more work). It was such a productive day on both counts that I want to do that again — except with bread instead of pizza dough.

I have some questions for Mr. Sloan though:

In Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore Google is named. However, even though Google is probably used in Sourdough, Sloan calls it “the expedient search engine.” He also calls other obvious Internet entities “the expedient [insert their purpose]” and I wonder why.

Okay maybe that is the only question I have for Mr. Sloan.

 

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I, along with multitudes, found The Girl on a Train an enjoyable read. We read it for book group and it was a pleasant change from some of the difficult books some members prefer.

I’d seen Into the Water by the same author mentioned on Good Reads and Amazon so I put it on hold at the library. I finished it yesterday morning, after a fortnight of slogging through a town-full of characters telling first-person stories about suicides, inappropriate love affairs, witches, abuse and misunderstandings.

I rated it 3-stars on Good Reads because I liked some parts of the book, but I think Ms. Hawkins could have told this story better without so many unreliable narrators getting in the way.

After You by Jojo Moyes

This is the second in a three-part series that starts with Me Before You. After You was readable, not as good as Me Before You though.

The first book was more believable. The second had some less believable bits and the timeline seemed weird.

For instance Lily’s mother is so angry and unsupported of her 16 year-old daughter that it seems like Lily has been difficult for years when it has only been a few months.

I have Still Me, the last book in the series, on hold at the library and will most likely read it but this might be a case where the series went on too long.