Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Vacation Reads: Italy Edition

I just got back from two glorious weeks in Italy, and I read lots of books! (I also watched the entire miniseries of Big Little Lies on the flight home. Good, but the book is better.) Here are my brief reviews:

The Woman in Cabin 10 (by Ruth Ware) 

I had heard mixed reviews of this one, but took a chance on it since it was (you guessed it) a library book. I actually really enjoyed it, especially the setting (a mini-cruise ship). A fun page-turner!

Aurora (by Kim Stanley Robinson) 

After Six Wakes, I was looking for good generation ship stories, and I found this one on some recommendation lists. Thought-provoking and rich with detail; the ship itself was one of my favorite characters. I didn't love it, but I liked it.

The Dinner Party and Other Stories (by Joshua Ferris) 

Very male and white and heteronormative, but enjoyable nonetheless. There are some standout stories (like the title story, which was first published in the New Yorker and is findeable online) and some that didn't quite mesh for me thematically (like the one set in a trailer park).  A good read nonetheless.

The Animators (by Kayla Rae Whittaker) 

Really good, assured, impressive debut that I plucked off the Tournament of Books longlist and into my Kindle. It is a skoch MFA-ey. The character of Mel is a bit unrealistic, particularly her dialogue. But compulsively readable.

Sharp Objects (by Gillian Flynn) 

I feel like Flynn is an underrated writer. It's a good suspense thriller, but also has some excellent turns of phrase and some really solid writing. I enjoyed the creepy plot and the unreliable narrator. I did not enjoy the various swipes at fat people throughout.

Holding Up the Universe (by Jennifer Niven)

Speaking of fat people, this was my favorite of all these reads. It's a young adult novel about a boy with prosopagnosia (face-blindness) and a girl who once had to be cut out of her house; she has lost hundreds of pounds but is still obese.  It's painfully relatable and so well-written. This may be one I actually purchase so I can re-read it as much as I want to.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies (by Michael Ausiello)

A moving and affectionate memoir of his late husband, written with raw honesty and humor. Includes am enjoyable dash of pop culture (I know Ausiello as a pop culture writer for Entertainment Weekly and online). I had been really looking forward to this one and it didn't disappoint.

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