Lethal White, Robert Galbraith
Robert Galbraith is JK Rowling’s detective-writing pseudonym. I quite liked the first book in this series, but it’s increasingly going downhill. This one took the cake.
The rather cliched attraction between Strike and his assistant Robin has been getting terribly annoying. Sometimes this kind of chemistry works; in this case, I just wanted to slap the two of them and get on with the mystery.
I’m beginning to wonder whether I have just turned into a grumpy old crone because I find descriptions of romantic angst stupid. For example, at the last of this book, Strike shows up at Robin’s wedding, and Robin just has to know whether she’s getting her job back or not, thus basically disrupting the proceedings. And I’m like, FFS get a room. Or not. But get on with the mystery please.
Even more annoyingly, Strike keeps thinking about his ex Charlotte, making one long for the days of Hercule Poirot who barely had a personal life. And then, we are constantly told how much they all drink, as if we are teenagers and this is of interest.
The mystery itself was decent, but this book can be one third shorter without all the romantic mooning around.
Die A Little, Megan Abbott
Abbott’s forte is creating a dense creepy atmosphere, and she does this in 1950s suburbia as well as she does in her teen novels.
The One Memory of Flora Banks
Is it me or do a lot of these YA books (except Megan Abbott) have kids with some kind of disability? This one is about a girl who has no short term memory. Ultimately, though, it is about parents of teenagers needing to let them go.
The twists were quite unexpected – except the one related to the boy.
Finally a well plotted thriller featuring good old detective work. The mystery here is intensely personal – the detective goes back to his roots and must face his own past. The narrative is set amid Australia’s drought that makes its rural areas a tinder box and shatters then image of village life as kumbaya.
I’ve found another thriller series yay.
In a Dark Dark Wood, Ruth Ware
The title itself tries too hard, and I can’t say I loved this one. I kept reading it to know what happens, but I didn’t really care about the characters, partly because they struck me as stupid. Here are some ways not to be stupid:
Don’t go to a hen weekend if you haven’t seen or been in touch with the bride in years
Or if you didn’t get a wedding invite
Don’t play stupid drinking games if you don’t want to (why do people play drinking games in their 30s?)
When you’re cautioned by the police, don’t keep talking without getting a lawyer
Meh. Anyway, I read a few reviews because I was astonished at how bad I felt the book was, and I have to say that the resolution was not unexpected but not as expected as a the critics said either.
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer
Wolitzer is not the opposite of Sally Rooney but the synthesis of Rooney and some chick lit writer, say Sophie Kinsella (or someone who writes about entirely ordinary people). She tends to write about precocious kids, but in a self-aware way without taking them entirely seriously.
Take the title itself. The group in the camp decided to call themselves “the Interestings” because each of them was in some way. While they tried to be ironic about life, they also believed their own hype at some level.
When Jules was inducted into their midst, she wasn’t sure what her thing was. This pressure to find one’s thing ,do we all feel it? I certainly did.
I loved this book. Maybe I will return to it as Jules returned to her camp.
Anthony and Cleopatra,Colleen McCollough
My general knowledge of this pair came from the Shakespeare play. What Shakespeare makes out to be a great love story is basically politics.
It’s a massive tome. I learnt a lot, but skimmed through the wars.
One curious character in the novel was King Herod, who those of us steeped in Christian lore know of as the baddie who ordered the first-born sons of Jews to be killed so that he could weed out the future messiah. Turns out – surprise surprise – he too was a complicated character, and not necessarily the bit player I had thought he was.
The thing about these Roman books is that I didn’t realise – silly me – how much Christian history was intertwined. I mean, the Roman emperor is mentioned a lot in the Bible, heck it was a Roman governor who ordered the Crucifixion, but again, I didn’t realise how significant Judea was, or maybe it’s made out to be because these novelists are, like me, steeped in Christian lore and can’t resist playing up that connection.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
Why did I read this? Because a girl posted on an FB group about its sequel (coming up next) which I wanted to read, so I picked this up.
Of course, I enjoyed it. But questions.
I’ve been wondering about YA as a category. What is a young adult?
I’ve always categorised YA as books 13-year-olds read but 13-year-olds are not even close to being adult. Or even 16-year-olds.
But the voice in these books sounds about that old, or rather young. Is this how adults think kids sound?
Also is it necessary to be into music if you’re in a teen? Because I’m going to fail to relate as a parent.
Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli
Obviously, I loved this, but perhaps because I read it right after Simon, I was a little less enamoured of the teen angst. Also, the obsession with coming out – what’s with that? I get that telling and who one tells is significant especially to teenagers but making that the plot point of two novels in succession is a bit much. And all the need to have everyone happily paired off.
The End of Everything, Megan Abbbott
I speed read this in one evening, not in a good way. I did not love it, I just wanted to know the end.
There were twists but they were not entirely unexpected.
I love Abbott’s spooky writing but I felt this one was trying too hard.
Love in the time of Affluenza, Shunali Shroff
Read my thoughts on the chick lit blog here.
Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
This is the first in a triumvirate of feminist novels from the 70s that have long been in my list. This one’s claim to fame is its concept of the zipless fuck. I quote:
The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game . The man is not “taking” and the woman is not “giving.” No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one
Lovely. Thing was this concept was the best thing about the novel and it came early. It’s ostensibly about a single woman trying to find herself, but the way she seems to do this is to have lots of no-strings-attached sex (even as she sorta wants a string) and I don’t care to read about sex that much in novels (except in Judith Krantz novels, she does sex so well). Also, I get the whole sex-as-liberation thing, but seriously it cannot be the only thing, can it?
Read Vogue’s take on whether the zipless fuck has become quaint in our era here.
Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
Feminist 70s novel no 2. Liked this one a lot better. It’s surprisingly contemporary. Three women take Manhattan, then LA, trying to make it and find love as they go along. Sound familiar? Except that this novel makes no bones about how difficult it is to do this while being female, even if you’re pretty.