Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What I'm reading this week (4/24/17)

Last week I finished:

I adore Amy Stewart's Kopp Sisters novels. There's a third one due out this September, and I can't wait. Both of the books aren't terribly heavy on plot (or maybe it's more accurate to say they don't have terribly exciting plots--which I don't mind at all), but the characters are very real-to-life, full of flaws and impatience and worries and dreams. In this novel, Constance Kopp (based on a real woman) is settling in as one of America's first female deputy sheriffs when she makes a professional blunder by letting an inmate escape. She'll only be able to keep her post if she recovers the man. I liked the tone of the novel. There isn't much in the way of violence but the story is still exciting. Stewart uses sparse language, nothing flowery, no extraneous information, but just enough non-essential plot (like Constance's relationship with her sisters at home) to keep you interested. And the characters are fleshy and easy to relate to. This was exactly the palate cleanser I needed. Note that you don't have to read the first book in the series (Girl Waits with Gun) to pick up Lady Cop Makes Trouble. I loved it. My rating: 4 stars.

I sometimes read a book that I just dread reviewing because it's so multidimensional, so layered, and about so much more than the simplistic-sounding plot betrays. I always fear I won't do the book justice with my fumbling around. Emma Donoghue's The Wonder is one of those books. This one would be a fabulous book club book because there is so much to discuss. The plot: In Ireland, eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell has gone four months without eating, and she appears to be in perfect health. Still, a two-week watch is called with a Catholic nun and an English nurse trained by the famed Florence Nightingale, in which the girl is never left alone, vitals are recorded, and attempts are made to determine if she is being fed surreptitiously. I don't want to tell much more about the plot than that, for fear of ruining the reading experience for you. It's good to go into this one without a lot of information and just let it unfold. This is a quiet novel, not plot-heavy, nor particularly character-heavy either, but the book touches on so many big topics with a very light hand: the Catholic church, indoctrination, prejudice, faith, family dynamics, loyalty, health, miracles, and more. It was expertly done, and I could never quite predict what would happen next--or in the end. The only thing I felt fell short was the ending. It fit and it worked, but I could have been stronger. I highly recommend this one for anyone interested in a different kind of novel, who enjoys digging into discussions of faith and faithlessness, and who enjoys books that bring up more questions than they answer. Superb. My rating: 4.5 stars. 

A note about the audio: I listed to this on CD, and while I enjoyed the audio version very much, it fluctuated a lot in volume with the drama of the book. It's not a great choice if you listen to books in the shower like I do. Also, the narrator does a great Irish brogue, but it was often hard to understand on audio if you're unable to listen closely. I anticipate reading this again in print someday.

This week I finish:

I've been well-paced with my night reads. All are progressing nicely, but I'm ready to finish them off this week.

Good Poems is just chockfull of wonderful poems. I can't recommend this collection highly enough.

Eat This Poem and 50 Artists You Should Know, I have somewhat more difficult relationships with. More on those next week.

Next up:

Looks like I'll only be able to finish one more main book this month, and instead of reading one I'd initially put on my April reading list, I've decided to read something else entirely. I'm in the mood for nonfiction, so I've chosen Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve. It's full of graphs and other word-nerdy delights, and I'm looking forward to digging in.


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