Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2022

Book 31 of 52: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

And still we read on. I'm not going to pretend it's not shit right now, and that I'm not incandescent with rage. But I know that reading is one of the ways that I have become a better person, and that books can bring about a lot of good. They can impart information and education, build empathy towards other people, or just be a means of escape. We're need those things. We're going to need them, maybe even more in the future. And so, we read on. And I review on. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel is the follow up to wildly successful - and also reviewed here - Station Eleven . It's another overlapping, interweaving story, this time with a young woman named Vincent, whose mother disappeared while canoeing, at the center. Everyone in the book is linked to her in some way: her half brother who struggles with addiction; a Bernie Madoff-esque villain who uses Vincent as a prop when retaining and attracting investors; and the victims of his crimes. It's mor

Book 30 of 52: Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life by Alan Cumming

I'm a big fan of taking long road trips. Since I flew to Texas to buy my 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ and drove it home to New Jersey without really knowing how to drive stick - and didn't die in the process - I've found the appeal of taking a very long drive.  But those long drives are often boring. Music alone doesn't cut it for me, and NPR repeats itself after a while. In 2014, when I took that long Texas drive home, we didn't have as many podcasts as we do now. So before my flight, I went to my library and checked out a "book on tape," which was then a CD.  I was so intensely focused on trying to drive a new to me car in a new to me way that I didn't think I could concentrate on whatever the book was about (something historical, probably about English royalty). So I opted for whatever I could find on the radio to accompany me through my white knuckle driving. By the time I took a road trip to Asheville, N.C. a year later, I could (mostly) drive the car, a

Book 29 of 52: The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian

As I've written (many times) before, romance novels have a bad rap. Opinions are based on books from the 1970s, of bodice rippers with virginal heroines who find sinuous pleasure. That not all romance now, and wasn't even then. Instead, looking at the entire genre, there's everything from from "sweet" romances that don't even involve kisses to those that are all about kink and/or multiple partners. And of course there's queer romance. I can't say I'm an expert on this subgenre, but I have enjoyed the books of Cat Sebastian. The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes is the second in her "Queer Principles of Kit Webb" series, about a group of Robin Hood-esque thieves in Georgian London. In this entry, we have Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, who just shot her husband. Our hero is Rob Brooks, a highwayman and con-artist who had previously tried to blackmail Hayes because he knows that her (now dead) husband was a bigamist. After a series of let

Book 28 of 52: The Duke Goes Down by Sophie Jordan

I'm going to start a new category of book: aggressively fine. These are books you read even if you know they're not going to be the pinnacle of your literary experience. I read so many books, and am used to always having a book, that sometimes I want something I know is going to be OK and won't make me consider throwing my consciousness into a river. It's something to read to pass the time, not unlike falling into the familiar patterns of a cozy British mystery series, or Dateline . The Duke Goes Down by Sophie Jordan is aggressively fine. It's fine! It was small enough to toss into my backpack while hiking in Maine (hence this picture), and something I could read in snippets while I finished vacation, then came home from vacation, and then pouted that vacation was over. It does have some choice quotes though:  "Perry...had been in such a low state this last year, convinced a marriage of convenience was the only way to salvage his life. What a fool he had been

Book 27 of 52: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio was not chosen by me, per se. It's on the  Vandegrift High School Banned Book Club  reading list. The group formed in response to the Leander Independent School District banning a whole bunch of books for ridiculous reasons. These students wanted to read the books and discuss them anyway.  None of the Above  was yanked by the school district because it features "sensitive topics" and "concepts of sex and anatomy," according to the Washington Post .  Yes, this book does such horrible things as recognizing that 18 year old ADULTS, who in Texas can buy assault rifles, might have sex. It's also cognizant of the very real fact that gender is not a pink/blue binary. The protagonist here is track star and homecoming queen Kristin Lattimer. After experiencing incredible pain when having sex, she's diagnosed as intersex . In Kristin's case, she has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), which means she looks traditionally f

Book 26 of 52: The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown

I'm not going to write a long review of Tina Brown's The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil  for two reasons. First, it's been hashed to death already, as anything about the royals is, by people who are far more invested in this whole thing than I am. And second, I'm in the frantic "do I really need a jean jacket AND a windbreaker" level of packing before a long trip. I can say that I didn't mind listening to this nearly 18 hour audiobook while the rest of the world is on fire, although of course they are not insulated. We can pretend that the Royal Family lives in a bubble, but they are enormously influential; touched by the same issues of race, class and gender; and Queen Elizabeth II is one of most influential politicians of modern times — and she is a politician, no matter what anyone says. Her death will be a global, cultural moment. Same thing with the Pope, on both fronts. I listened to Brown's  The Diana Chro