Saturday, June 22, 2019

Austin Trip Reads

Time to spend a week in Austin for our team offsite, and thus time to read on airplanes! Here are the four books I finished this week plus one I read the day I came home:

Trust Exercise (by Susan Choi)

Part of Camp ToB. It's narratively playful and postmodern, with point of view changes and so much to discover between the lines. Still pondering the hidden meanings and looking forward to the discussion later this summer.

Eliza and Her Monsters (by Francesca Zappia)

Young adult novel about fandom and anxiety, which treats both with the utmost seriousness. Eliza is an artist who writes an insanely popular web comic, but her identity is secret and at school she is reclusive and anxious. Worlds inevitably collide, with moving results. I immediately picked up another book by Zappia...

Made You Up (by Francesca Zappia)

...whose main character is a high school student with schizophrenia. My notes just say "wow, wow, wow." Again, I ended up in tears by the end. These two books succeed where (sadly) Turtles All the Way Down fails.

Good Riddance (by Elinor Lipman)

A charming and funny romcom, but there is some transphobic and fatphobic language. Not a lot, but here's a content warning nonetheless.  A woman inherits her mother's yearbook and when it fails to "spark joy" she throws it out. It's discovered by a documentary filmmaker (of sorts) and suddenly, family secrets begin to be revealed.  Funny and unpredictable!

Three Laws Lethal (by David Walton)

Speculative fiction that I learned about from John Scalzi's Big Idea feature. It was a really fun page-turner!

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Friday, June 14, 2019

If, Then (by Karen Hope Day)

A fun, fast read about a town in the shadow of a dormant (or "dormant" volcano), four of the neighbors who live there, and what happens when they begin to peek into an alternate timeline and see another way their lives could have gone.

I enjoyed what the author is doing here, and I liked that the "primary" timeline of one character was different than the timeline of the others. Watching Sliding Doors I always thought of them as Good Helen and Bad Helen, and had a timeline I was rooting for. Same thing here.

My quibbles are mostly my inability to turn off my raging feminism: I was annoyed by Mark and didn't care about his white man paranoia and insecurity. Also I hated that one woman's "happy ending" involved dialing back her career to be a better mother. I loved the premise and characters though, and it was a fun page-turner overall.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

The Mother-In-Law (by Sally Hepworth)

Kind of a Big Little Lies-esque thriller about a woman who has a contentious relationship with her mother-in-law. When the mother-in-law is murdered, we wonder: who did it? Secrets are revealed and drama ensues. A fun little thriller with characters I liked (the mother-in-law herself especially) and an ending I enjoyed.

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Saturday, June 08, 2019

Daisy Jones & The Six (by Taylor Jenkins Reid)

A novel in the form of an oral history about a Fleetwood Mac-style band in the 70s, and in the summer edition of the Tournament of Books. (I started Bowlaway but it was too twee for me.)

I loved the format and overall enjoyed this, although I had an issue with the ending. Spoilers below:

The book seemed to suggest that Camila is just great, and I think it was a bridge too far to have her be so saintly to Daisy even as she was saying "I never want to see you again" (but only in a nice, kind, concerned way). And Daisy somehow thinks Camila is just great. Then comes the authorial intrusion, which makes no sense if this were a "real" oral history. That broke my suspension of disbelief.

Strangely, the core emotional beats reminded me of Fleabag which pulled off a similar ending perfectly. The problem here is that Camila is not God, but the book thinks she is. However, Camila was kind of a B, sorry about it!

I'm curious to see if anyone else has this take on it. Looks like I'll have to wait until June 26 for that discussion!

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