Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 2014 Reads

Considering that I was intending to read for both Paris In July and Spanish Lit Month, I fell a bit short on my goals. The only books in translation are from Japanese and German. And only one set in Paris (though four others take place partly in Paris). Six very promising debut novels here. More by and about Americans than my usual reading. No non-fiction, which is unusual for me. Only one book of short stories (and I didn't like it).

Best of the Bunch (5 stars):
Bedrock Faith; by Eric Charles May
 Library book. Wonderful novel. Gossip and mayhem in a Chicago South Side neighborhood. Akashic books is publishing some good things. Debut novel.

The Quick; Owen, Lauren
 ARC won in blog raffle.This took over my reading for a couple of days. Everything else got put aside. Excellent, even though it's vampires. A brief bit in Paris. I reviewed on Goodreads & LibraryThing. Debut novel 

The Man Who Walked Away: A Novel; Casey, Mau
Library book. A couple of bumps, but over all a poetic, satisfying read. And a little bit of Paris.

The Farm; Smith, Tom Rob
 Library book. A young man in London receives and alarming phone call from his father in Sweden telling him his mother is mentally ill. Then his mother calls. She has checked herself out of the hospital and is on her way to London. When she arrives, she tell an incredible story. Is she ill, or does she have information about a crime? Hard to tell just what is going on. This is a real page turner.

We Are Called to Rise; McBride, Laura
 Library book. A woman coping with her past and the breakup of her marriage, an immigrant family facing adjustment, and veterans coping with PTSD all converge in Las Vegas. A difficult story well told. Debut novel.

Next Best (4 stars):
The two in translation fit here in Next Best. Both good reads, of historical interest.

The Journey; Osaragi, JirĊ; Ivan Morris (Translator)
  My copy. First published in 1960. Life in Japan in the period of transition from US occupation.

Rheinsberg. a Story Book for Lovers; Tucholsky, Kurt; Cindy Opitz (Translation), Peter Boethig (Afterword)
 Finished copy from publisher via LibraryThing giveaway. Historic piece, written in 1912, I reviewed on Goodreads & LibraryThing.

Good, but not quite as good as above (4 stars, all are debuts):
2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas; Bertino, Marie-Helene  
 ARC from LibraryThing. A lot a fun as we follow a nine year old and her neighbors through a strange Christmas Eve eve. review to come on Goodreads & LibraryThing. 

The French Girl's War; Williams-Dalgart, Herb
 Autographed copy from author via Goodreads giveaway. I liked this story about a Jewish girl; set in the early stages of WW2. A bit of Paris in this one. I reviewed on Goodreads & LibraryThing.

Home Leave; Sonnenberg, Brittani
 ARC from LibraryThing. Although it has some flaws, it is good at conveying the life of an ex-pat family, something I could really relate to having lived that life for a dozen years. I reviewed on Goodreads & LibraryThing.

Good, but a little less so (3 stars):
I Always Loved You; Oliveira, Robin
 Library book. Bio-novel of Mary Cassatt's Paris years. Interesting read.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant; Williams, Beatriz
 ARC from publisher via Shelf Awareness giveaway. An OK book for non-demanding summer reading. And Paris plays a part. I reviewed on Goodreads & LibraryThing.

Love & Treasure; Waldman, Ayelet
 Library book. Three sections: (1)WW2 officer in charge of off-loading and protecting treasure from train; (2)Officer's grandaughter's search for owner of stolen pendant; (3) story of owner of pendant.  Section 1 was quite good, 2 was bearable, 3 was tedious. 3 stars is a bit generous.

Disappointing (2 stars-barely):
Marine Park: Stories; Chiusano, Mark
  Electronic ARC from Penguin First to Read program. I found it boring, couldn't engage with this at all. Posted brief comment on First to Read site, did not review elsewhere.

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