Reading roundup! May 2018
I AM A READING JUGGERNAUT HEAR ME ROAR
Lots of great books this month, as well as a few… uhh duds. Standouts for the month definitely being Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara’s obsessive and tragically unfinished profile of the Golden State Killer. Scroll down for the summary!
Sam Bungey, Jennifer Forde
|(4 / 5)|
Disclaimer: This is not a book. I am aware of this. But Amazon/Goodreads count it as one, so I will too FIGHT ME.
West Cork is a gripping and well produced true crime piece about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, an unsolved crime that’s been cold since 1996. I binge listened to this at every opportunity for the two days. (Produced by Audible)
False eye-witnesses, a guy you’re pretty sure DEFINITELY DID IT (maybe?), small town prejudices, inept and manipulative police – the investigative journalists, Sam Bungey and Jennifer Ford, do a fantastic job of weaving a compelling story. (Produced by Audible) I appreciated their impartial investigation into the crime, and how they handled delicate topics like a woman who won’t leave her abusive husband. (Produced by Audible)
As it’s an unsolved crime, the ending was predictably frustrating. (Produced by Audible) Will we ever know what really happened? Despite this, West Cork serves as a fantastic character study into the faces of a small Irish town. Highly recommend – especially for its zero dollar price tag. (Produced by Audible)
OKAY BUT LET ME BE REAL HERE. I’m being cheeky with all the Audible plugs, because they say it a billion times through the thing and everybody complains about it.
What is wrong with me? I just can’t get over a proper English voice saying, with great gravity, “And this…….. is Audible.”
|(2 / 5)|
I think (???) I first heard Lisa Cron speak on a podcast some months ago. Whatever it was, her philosophy that we’re naturally wired for story immediately came back to me, so I accepted my sighting of the book as a serendipitous moment and seized it up.
Eh. Sometimes we’re wrong about serendipity.
There were some fascinating anecdotes regarding head-scratching bestsellers, but the “science” wasn’t very well backed up and scarcely mentioned. A few nuggets of wisdom to be saved and used for later, but overall repetitive and not really for me.
The Obelisk Gate (Broken Earth #2)
|(5 / 5)|
I absolutely love how Jemisin weaves her world building into the narrative as a point of mystery, something that slowly unravels as characters discover how the frequent apocalypses and magic works on their own. The world building is so deeply rooted in good hard science, that it’s difficult to decide whether it should be categorized as science fiction or fantasy.
Couldn’t put this down.
Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
|DID NOT FINISH|
This was my second Mary Roach book. I don’t know what my deal was, but I was just bored out of my mind with this thing.
Maybe it’s because I already know science can’t prove an afterlife? Maybe I didn’t think it was that funny? Maybe I didn’t like the narrator?
I don’t know, but I dropped it at 33% sorry about it.
The Stone Sky (Broken Earth #3)
|(4 / 5)|
Can you believe this?
Did I really annihilate two epic fantasy novels in a series in a single month? I don’t even know who I am any more.
Broken Earth is that good.
There were a few halting moments that kept it from being a full five-star book for me, but this was overall a solid and emotional finale. Highly recommend this trilogy to basically anyone – get it now!
Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice #1)
John Morgan Wilson
|(2 / 5)|
I was super excited to find a gay mystery series that made it mainstream in the 90’s, and rather surprised that this slipped my radar.
About halfway through the book, I remembered that I don’t actually like procedural mysteries, and I really don’t like “Hollywood Gay”. Oops.
This book is very much a product of its times and I’m afraid doesn’t hold up well. It deserves credit for breaking mainstream pre-Queer as Folk, but if you’ve seen Queer as Folk, you know what to expect here. Everyone’s a piece of meat, everybody is on drugs and promiscuous. We just have the added mystery of a murder here.
There’s certainly an audience for this sort of story. Unfortunately, it’s not me.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
|(5 / 5)|
Worth reading for the legacy alone. The author tragically passed away before the manuscript was completed, and this was pieced together out of sections she’d finished, notes, and blog posts. Mere months after it was published, the killer was found.
Just as was the case it covered at the time, the victims left without justice, and McNamara’s unsated obsession with it, this work is suitably incomplete. You may worry that this detracts from the work, but it ends up being its greatest strength. It serves as a perfect metaphor for what this case was to so many people who were involved over the years and never reached an ending.
The narrative is absolutely chilling, and I found myself more frightened by this than most horror novels I’ve read in recent years. Jumping at noises in the house, never quite feeling comfortable even after I’ve turned on all the lights to check. Could he still be here? Waiting to see the relief wash over me before he strikes?