July 31, 2017

Recent Reads

78. Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah's Scribbles #2)
This is the second collection of comic strips about the author's anxieties and musing. It's a quick light read, and while there were some that I found amusing, for the most part this one didn't work as well for me. Rating: 2 stars.

79. The Weight of Ink
Book blurb: Set in the London of the 1660s and of the early 21st century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city, and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history. As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of 17th-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents' scribe, the elusive "Aleph".

I'm a fan of historical fiction, especially ones that have strong woman characters who buck society's expectations to follow their own hearts. This one also has old documents, recently discovered, which sheds new light on life in the 17th century. The story follows two timelines, one present and one past, and unlike many novels that utilize this device, the author does a superb job of making the two story lines dance and complement one another. I loved the writing, the settings in both timelines, the mystery, and for much of the reading I thought this might be a five star read. I did not however enjoy the Aaron Levy thread, and while I understand why the author might have added him, I could have cared less about his rather predictable story. The book could also have used some tighter editing.

I was fully immersed in these worlds as I was reading, I found myself talking to the characters and pondering their various dilemmas. How could I not thoroughly enjoy a story about unconventional women with a dash of history and old letters, a pinch of mystery, with a teaspoon of philosophical musing thrown in? I'm off to look into her back list.

I listened to the audiobook which is wonderfully narrated by Corrie James, and I'd recommend trying this one on audio. Rating: 4 stars.

80. The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1)
For our family reunion this year my nieces and nephews picked two books for our Myrtle Beach book club. This one, and the next in the series.

I've read and really enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, but have since stalled on finding any of the other books compelling enough to read. The kids on the other hand continue to love these books, so I was curious to see if this latest series was any good. I think this would have worked much better if I was the age of the target audience for this series. It's not a bad book, and I quite enjoyed Apollo's point of view - oh the snark of being a handsome immortal god and then suddenly finding yourself in an acne covered teenage boy with - gasp - flab! I loved that sexuality was simply a spectrum and not a big deal either way, and I really liked how myth and history were intertwined in this tale. However, it is rather plot heavy and if that's your thing you'll probably like it. Still, it's a quick read that made me smile in places, and I really enjoyed our book club. Turns out the entire family loved Peaches. Rating: 2 stars.

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