Monday, May 4, 2015

Mondays on the Margins: Batting Clean-up

I keep trying to assure myself that when my reading focus goes off it's a temporary thing, but sometimes I worry that it's just an increasingly present phenomenon related to aging. Today I've decided that it's cyclical - even if the scatterbrained cycles come around more often, they will always pass. That's what I'm sticking with for now.

So, as I mentioned in this post, I've been having trouble finishing books. Starting them comes easily enough, middling them consists of bits of reading interspersed with other books, too much Netflix and lurking on social media, and then I realize I haven't marked a book as read on Goodreads for way too long, panic slightly, sit my ass down and finish something. Lather, rinse, repeat. I showed at book club with the book unfinished TWICE already this year, which is very unusual for me (I'm still working on digesting The Inconvenient Indian in small, spaced-out bites). Sometimes I'm not-reading for more defensible reasons - I just finished two fairly demanding courses and with Eve sick and the boys away all week-end I could have devoted many hours to the reading chair in between nursing duties, but I made myself walk Lucy and spend some time outside both days - but mostly not.

Happily, since we're talking nearly two months ago, I have managed to finish the books in the aforementioned post, so I thought I'd report back on them.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: I found it as utterly captivating all the way through as I did in the beginning. A lot of reviewers complained that not enough happened, which I acknowledge as a valid criticism, it just didn't bother me. I did think once or twice that some of it was almost a cheat because writing about magic is easy, but again, I didn't really care - I've read that it's being made into a movie (no great shock) and it will be really interesting to see the vision rendered cinematically. I read it slowly over a long period of time and every time I picked it up again I was just as happy to fall back into the world. Not something recommended for people who like plot-driven books with a lot of action.

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel: I was able to renew the ebook after it expired, so I went back to it. It was probably my favourite of the fairly few steampunk novels I've read, especially with regards to characters. The zombie romance when it got going was quite charming, although the series worldbuilding seems to be sticking with the logical fact that, not to put too fine a point on it, zombies can't get erections due to lack of blood-flow (unlike in the series iZombie, which I love, but come on, if zombies are getting it on we need some kind of anatomical explanation to justify it). I'm not feeling any urgency to pick up the next book in the series, but on the whole it turned out better than I expected.

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst: Huge disappointment. A really promising plot and setting that completely fizzled out, and a protagonist that was so limp and without agency that by the time she actually did something I could not have cared less. The reviews are pretty polarized on Goodreads, so go ahead and try it if you were already going to.

Emergence by David R. Palmer: SO FREAKING GOOD. I had to read it very slowly, interspersed with other books, because of the style (and possibly the print, *whimper*), but it completely bore out its early promise. I just realized I said I would review it "more comprehensively", so I'll wait and do a whole post on it.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: After reading this, I now have on my reading pile "Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald" and "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" which is about Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, so I guess I've been shaken loose from my 'no fictional novels about actual historical characters' rule for the time being. Except that when you find certain things about the book really annoying - like how Hemingway and Hadley call each other by unbearably cutesy nicknames - you're not allowed to be annoyed at the author because they have some dumb excuse like it actually happened in real life, *eye roll*. Overall, really enjoyable.


Steph Lovelady said...

A friend of mine, whose taste I trust, has been recommending The Night Circus for a while, so that makes two people now. Perhaps I should read it.

You're my go-to person for discussions of the mechanics of zombie sex now.

Julie L said...

I've been wanting to read night circus for a while too. I really should get on that reading thing. I've been neglecting it for too long.

Nicole said...

I loved the Paris Wife! I didn't really know much about Hemingway - although after reading this I ended up thinking he was pretty gross.

Ms. G said...

I've been in the same weird rut. Stack of books with bookmarks stuck at various intervals. But I'm proud to say I finished two this week! Because they were good, and short. Now I'm off because I forgot to mark one off on Goodreads.

Courtney said...

Love Night Circus! So utterly beautiful, happy to hear that you enjoyed it too. :)