Monday, July 29, 2019

The Bees (by Laline Paull)

Found this via the Read Harder Challenge group on Goodreads, which recommended this for the category of "book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character." In fact, the main character is Flora 717, a honeybee.

Paull draws from the science of bees, as I found out when I went looking up how bees reproduce and found that hive life is just as insane as it is portrayed here. But it's easy to sympathize with Flora, a sanitation bee who ends up with special talents that allow her to experience different aspects of life in the beehive.

I mentioned to my friend Miriam that the gender politics are interesting here, and indeed they are. Spoiler alert: I especially enjoyed the scene where all the lady bees decided the man bees were lazy and worthless and then bloodily massacred them all. #mood.

I'm gathering from friends' Goodreads reviews that this is a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it read, so your mileage may vary, but I loved it.

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The Sentence Is Death (by Anthony Horowitz)

The second book in Horowitz's metafictional series. He inserts himself as a character, a slightly egotistical Watson to a somewhat unpleasant Sherlock Holmes-type detective named Daniel Hawthorne.

I figured out who the murderer was about 60% of the way through (I put it as a Kindle note to prove that I had the right suspect) which isn't the most fun, but a lot of it was a surprise to me nonetheless and the execution was great! I love Horowitz's creativity and style, and pleasantly breezed through this one.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Vacation Reads: Hawaiian Cruise Edition

Here are the things I read on planes, ships, and beaches over the past week:

Evvie Drake Starts Over (by Linda Holmes) 

... saved especially so it could be my very first vacation book. So great and grounded and authentic and romantic and perfect. Absolutely loved it. 

Whisper Network (by Chandler Baker)

This novel is Big Little Lies x Lean In ÷ And Then We Came to the End

A bit unrealistic but rah rah feminist, very fun and ultimately satisfying. Loved the framing of the collective voice of women. (The author, Chandler Baker, is also a woman.) Reese will obviously be playing Sloane in the movie.

The Gifted School (by Bruce Holsinger) 

Also very Big Little Lies-esque! But like Whisper Network, adds in in the story of someone who is not white and not privileged. Seems that is a new part of the formula, which I like. Fun chewy interpersonal drama. Some characters (e.g. Kev) never quite crystallized but enjoyed it!

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life (by Samantha Irby)

A collection of humorous essays that fall under the humor category of the Read Harder Challenge. Hilarious but also super relatable. Essays don't tend to be my favorite, so there were a couple of false starts, but I'm glad I powered through and stuck with this one!

The Flatshare (by Beth O’Leary) 

A creampuff of a novel, fun but I doubt it will stick with me. Also do British people say "clock" all the time, drag queen style? Because both the main POV characters here do. (15 times, according to my app.) This is not a rhetorical question, please let me know.

Red, White & Royal Blue (by Casey McQuiston) 

A male-male romance between the son of the U.S. President and an English prince. Set in an alternate reality where a woman was elected president in 2016 (sob) and the world is not a garbage fire (sob, sob). Honestly impossible to fully escape into for that reason, but I loved the romance between these twentysomething characters. It was very reminiscent of Performance in a Leading Role, a rather famous piece of Sherlock fanfiction.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

I Hate Everyone But You (by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin)

This is my last post before I go on vacation. I have 22 books checked out on my Kindle and one on paper, so I'm ready! I doubt I'll get through all 23 in a week, but I hope I'll put a dent in the list. (Last time I went on a cruise, my phone died on the very first day and I had to check out a series of weird and sub-par books from the ship library. A truly tragic fate.)

Anyway, I Hate Everyone But You is a joint-written, epistolary YA about two friends who are freshmen at two different colleges, writing emails and texts back and forth. I find epistolary novels very charming in general, for some reason it really works for me.I loved it and was excited to hear there's a sequel coming out in just a few days!

My one complaint about this book is like, okay, you know the movie Beaches? After Hillary gets married she comes to visit CC, and sure CC is pretty self-absorbed and annoying and married to the man HIllary loves, but still Hillary is the worst and is super horrible to her. And then when they reconcile, CC says "it was my fault" and then Hillary, instead of saying "no, I was a horrible cow, I'm the literal worst, please allow me to grovel," says "it was our fault." And then I hate Hillary a tiny bit for the rest of the movie even when she gets sick and dies. It was your fault, Hillary.

So this novel had the "friends have a big fight" of course and the character who I felt was more in the wrong, the Hillary if you will, did not grovel enough, and I did not feel enough of a catharsis, because the other character was too forgiving. And no, the characters' personalities are nothing like the Beaches characters but still. I think you understand where I'm coming from.

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Sunday, July 07, 2019

In at the Deep End (by Kate Davies)

A British comic novel (at least the first half) about a woman called Julia discovering her sexuality as a lesbian. It starts off hilarious, and I highlighted a bunch of scenes that made me laugh.  For example: Staring into my eyes, he went to push himself into me. He missed. ‘Jesus. That’s never happened before,’ he said. He picked up his penis and guided himself in, frowning as though he was trying to assemble a particularly tricky piece of IKEA furniture.

Julia then gets caught up in an abusive relationship, with some championship gaslighting and questionable portrayals of polyamory and BSDM along the way. It's half lesbian Bridget Jones and half lesbian 50 Shades of Gray. Overall I liked it, but be forewarned that it gets darker and more complicated as it goes along.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The One (by John Marrs)

Speculative fiction about a world where DNA can tell you your "perfect match." Marrs introduces five characters and shows how their matches unfold. Twists and turns ensue.

I read a review that said "once you pick this up you won't be able to put it down" and indeed, I picked it up and couldn't put it down until I knew how it ended. Stayed up way too late reading, but who doesn't love that experience? I think Gone Girl was the last novel that happened to me with.

The writing is flawed, some stories are better than others (Nick's is the best) but I had to keep turning pages to find the next twist and surprise.

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