November 28, 2016

Recent Reads

166. The Fair Fight
Someone described this book as Fight Club meets Jane Austen. I concur.

This story has lots of characters, but is told through three main narrators: two women and one man. I think many of the reviews and blurbs give away half the fun of discovering who these narrators are and how they will connect in the story, so all I'll say is that if you are a fan of historical fiction with a wonderful sense of place and gusty women move this to the top of your TBR pile. The writing is really good, one can almost smell and taste the place, the characters are fully fleshed out, the story compelling, and you'll want to read just one more chapter to see what happens next.

The only reason I docked a star is that for the first third of the book the same incidents are described from various points of view, so there is a bit too much repetition. This gets much better as the characters age, so maybe this was intentional on the author's part, but still it's a tad annoying.

I listened to the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Fiona Hardingham, Justine Eyre, Steve West. Their accents and dramatization added to the ambiance of the story, and I'd highly recommend you try the audiobook as well. Rating: 4 stars.

167. 5,000 km Per Second
Sometimes people come into your life, and you can't seem to shake them. Piero and Lucy meet as teens, go their separate ways, and then reconnect years later. This is a strange and melancholy story about people who are unhappy on some fundamental level, the years continue to pass, and roads taken and not are not what they would seem. I liked the watercolor settings in the various locations, particularly the backgrounds, but am not a fan of the how the people were sketched. Overall, I'm left with a moody feeling that seems to have no cause - and maybe that's the point of the book. Rating: 2 stars.

168. The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man
The Vision is a superhero, and not human, but he wants what most humans have - a family and to be ordinary - and as you'd expect him to do, he goes back to the lab and creates a wife, and twin children, and moves his family to the suburbs. What could possibly go wrong?

The art in this volume is quite fun and creepy, but the story line is rather weak. I liked the exploration of what differentiates humans from robots - much of Vision's theories are hilarious - and watching his family try to be normal was amusing. Still, not enough of a story to warrant a higher rating from me. Rating: 3 stars.

169. Saudade
I picked this one up to read in preparation for a recent trip to the Azores. In some ways it was exactly what I was looking for, and in other ways it missed the mark completely.

Ann Parker's life is falling apart, so she decides to spend an indeterminate amount of time in Pico, licking her wounds while continuing her genealogical search into her family's connection to the Azores.

What I really liked about this novel is the setting - place, history, traditions, the people, natural history, etc. Learning about the islands and the migrations of vast numbers of people to the US, including the Boston area, was fascinating. But then, about halfway or so through the book things started to get strange, and a fantasy element seeped in that had me shaking my head in disbelief. What was the point of that angle? I'll never know. Still, if you find yourself looking for a fictional story set in the Azores, I'd recommend the first half to two thirds of this one. Rating: 3 stars.

170. Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2)
At 15.0%: Oh Danny boy.
At 61.0%: Oh my goodness, but this is a page turner, so why do people insist on talking to me?

The end of sailing season means it's time to dive into another King tome, but I had such trepidation going into this one. How the heck does he top The Shining, and why even go back and re-visit those characters? I gingerly plugged in my headphones, took a deep breath, and set out for a long walk. It did not take King long to spin his magical yarn, and I was hooked.

There are loads of plot summaries out there, so all I'll say is that as usual King develops wonderfully creepy and/or deeply flawed characters, and while quite disturbing, this story is not as scary as The Shining. The plot and pacing are both really good in this one, and there are so many little touches that really help flesh out the story. However, as is my usual gripe with King, the girl/women characters in this one are not very well developed. Rose, the Hat, in particular, is rather two dimensional in a story otherwise peopled with interesting characters. After reading this one, you feel like you are all caught up on little Dan Torrance, and you'll never look at those old timers in their RVs quite the same way again.

I listened to the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Will Patton. If you've ever wondered whatever happened to young Danny T, get your hands on this one, buckle in, and enjoy the ride. Rating: 4 stars.

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