PopSugar Fall Challenge (6.5 tasks)
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
#1 – Scary book
I’m sure I ruined a decent amount of the psychological impact of this book by reading the end after only 20 pages into it, but I am a wuss, and I don’t like being scared. Bird Box is definitely Hitchcockian in the scare aspect – giving enough snippets for your mind to run rampant. The whisper of terror is so much worse than actually showing it. Which probably makes it a bit hypocritical on my part that I thought the suspense could have been ramped up in parts. The only thing that bothered me in the book was the scene where Malorie gave birth. Having gone through pain med-free childbirth three times, the descriptions of it felt off, especially in where/how the Malorie felt the pain.
Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
#3 – Book + sequel
I like Stiletto better than The Rook, though the multiple POVs was a bit much at times – it would have been better if they focused on less characters, like Myfanwy, Felicity, or Odette. This book also suffered from “could have lost 100 pages” syndrome. Aspects of the plot came about circuitously, and at least one subplot could have been removed completely without affecting the overall story. It would have tightened up the narrative, and made it more readable.
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
#4 – Celebrity memoir
Wildflower consisted of non-linear vignettes of Drew Barrymore’s life (as read by the lady herself). She had some crazy adventures, and her parenting style reflects lessons learned from her wayward youth. The only negative is specific to the audiobook – Drew Barrymore can get unexpectedly loud and emphatic, which can kill if you’re listening to it with earbuds.
The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
#5 – Independent bookstore employee recommendation (Powell’s)
Powell’s had me with the “…if you like Terry Pratchett, you’ll love this…” And while I do love Terry Pratchett, I was only lukewarm about The Palace Job. The heist itself clever, but I didn’t see the sly humor TP used so well. I have no interest in reading either of the sequels.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
#7 – A book you’ve always wanted to read, but haven’t
This is another one of those books that when people find out I haven’t read it, they are completely shocked. I devoured fantasy novels as a child, but never had any inclination to read The Hobbit. In large part, this is because the snippets of the ’80s cartoon version I occasionally saw seemed cheesy, and all the bright oranges and greens turned me off of it as a whole (however, I absolutely loved “Flight of Dragons”, so there’s no accounting). It wasn’t until post-Lord of the Rings as an adult, that I felt I should give this one a try. Honestly, I was disappointed. It wasn’t horrible, but the cadence of the story bothered me. Both Gandalf and Bilbo felt flighty in how they interacted with other characters.
The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson
#9 – Based on a historical event (Cholera epidemic in London, 1854)
This book was alright, and would be fine for its intended middle grade audience. It took a specific event and fleshed out the details by adding Eel. He was good as a character – resourceful, curious, protective, and not perfect. When the story focused on the epidemic, it was strong. The weak point came from the unnecessary added tension of the secret Eel carries. The climax of the B plot was, frankly, anticlimactic, and not effectively closed.
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
#12 – A book with “food” in the title
I have never watched any of Jim Gaffigan’s stand up comedy, so all of the material in this book was new to me. It was cynical and funny, and he made some very on point observations about Americans and food. His relationship with food, and his food sins are put out there for everyone to see. I liked that he did a food road map of sorts. Buffalo was mentioned – and yes, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce gets put on most things my husband eats. It’s something of an institution. But then, green chiles are something of a New Mexican institution (same with flatbread and tamales – especially ones you by at random roadside stands). They make cheeseburgers fabulous.