Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What I Read in August

I doubt I'll finish another book before the end of the month, so here is what I've read this August. It was a good month. I've only read 3 novels since my last what I've read post but two of the ones I've read I feel very passionate about. Here's what I read and what I thought about them.

This book was amazing. Once I was finished I couldn't start another book for almost 2 weeks, (and I only started reading again because it was Harper Lee). It definitely stayed with me since I still think about it. I tried to tell my daughter why it was so good and ended up telling her the whole plot. It reminded me of Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", so if you liked that I think you'll enjoy this. It is set in the future and Earth has been divided into zones (book takes place in the Europe zone) and genetics have been modified so a set of girls are "born" each year and raised together secluded from the rest of the world. On their 17th birthday, ten are picked to be wives, the rest become mistresses or teachers at the school. There are so many twists and turns - especially at the end - that I don't want to ruin. This is supposedly teen fiction but other than the main characters being teens, I wouldn't consider this a young adult novel. I'm sure it will be included in classes about Dystopian novels, if it hasn't already. Highly recommend.

Brevity is the Soul of Wit by Mya L. Gosling
A quick 10 minute read. A local author (works at University of Michigan) and a lover of Shakespeare. This would be great for anyone who has read Shakespeare, seen a play or a movie based on his plays and enjoyed them. Laughed out loud a few times. As the sub title explains it is , "The complete works of Shakespeare in three panels each". Mya also has a blog with more cartoons and she recently returned from seeing lots of plays in Stratford, Ontario.  

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Where to start about this one? Read it in 12 hours but took a break after the first 85 pages while I decided whether I was going to finish it or not. Yeah, it's that bad. But it had enough good qualities about it that I finished it. I tried to stay away from all news and articles about the book before I read it. After I finished reading it at 1 am, I stayed up an extra 30 minutes doing some quick research about the book and I think it never should have been published. Or at least not marketed as a second novel, a new novel or a sequel. This book is Lee's first draft of what would become "To Kill A Mockingbird". Her editor at the time told Lee, the flashbacks that 26 year old Scout had of her childhood were the strongest parts of the book (and I totally agree) and maybe she should focus on that for her novel. Lee did, and a wonderful classic was written and is beloved by many. As a writer, I enjoyed seeing some of the process - how a book starts out as one thing and then becomes another. This is not a sequel and was never meant as one. And although it was investigated whether Harper Lee was taken advantage of in her old age (courts say she knows what she agreed too), I don't believe it. This book badly needs an editor. Dialogue and plot are terrible. It is clearly an early draft of something that could be great but has no right to be published as is.  

Here is part of the inside jacket blurb. I agree with the last sentence. This book makes "To Kill a Mockingbird" look even more brilliant than it is.

However, it's not a new novel!
Have you read it and think differently about it? I would love to hear what other people think of this book. I know I'm not alone in how I feel about it but I'd love for someone to defend it.

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos
 I wasn't expecting much from this novel. It had a few twists that surprised me and some that didn't but the storyline was developed well. I think it may be chick lit disguised as women's fiction (and yes those are two different things). The happy ending for everyone kind of threw me off but I'd still recommend it. The novel is told by two different women, half sisters who have the same father. The older sister doesn't really like her father and how he treated her growing up. She returns home, at his request, after he's had a heart attack and is reunited with her younger sister who she hasn't seen in 15 years. The younger sister (age 16), is going to public school for the first time (the father had homeschooled her) and a lot of her parts of the novel deal with high school and trying to fit in. Of course both of the sisters date, much to their father's disapproval. It was interesting and a nice break from the other novels I read this month. There is a lot to this novel but the main focus is the relationship between the two sisters and their individual relationships with their father.

Next month, my plan is to reread some favorites. It's my birthday month and I don't care what's due next at the library, I just want to read some books that I love.

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