Monday, 1 June 2015

2015 Reads: May

Things I did this month: read a bunch of books. I also acquired a few more books - my parents were visiting and we went to our favourite bookstore here. They have enabled my book habit for my entire life, and continued to do so on our visit. My partner hasn't noticed yet, and please do not tell him. (We are going to need more bookshelves again, especially after the annual charity booksale in a week or so. Fill a bag for $5! How can you pass that up!) I eased into reading again by reading some old favourites, before cracking open my new ones.

Vague spoilers below.




25. Rilla of Ingleside - L.M. Montgomery (reread)

I like Rilla very much, but it has bothered me in later years how staunchly pro-war this book is - being a filthy pacifist myself. It's set during WWI, of course, and it is very compelling. Most notably, it is the only Canadian novel about WWI written from a woman's perspective (but let's face it, early CanLit is pretty sparse). It's a bit grittier than the others of the series, and for that, I appreciate that. 

26. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith (reread)

If I have to choose a favourite book, it is this one. I have read it at least once a year since I was 11 or 12, and I find different things in it every time. It is wonderfully written, and yet has never quite received the attention and accolades Smith's other works have (101 Dalmations, most notably). I've lent my copy to friends and they all return it absolutely enchanted. Cassandra is entertaining and thoughtful, even though she gets a bit pathetic at the end. I have yet to get tired of this book, and I hope I never will.

27. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules - Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

I picked this up after Christmas with the usual Christmas gift cards - there was recommendation for it stating that if you liked The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, you'd like this one. So I picked it. It was once again of Swedish origin, like The 100 Year Old Man, but followed a group of pensioners who break out of their restrictive nursing home and go on a crime spree. It's funny, but there were definitely some draggy parts that just made the story long. It was okay. I prefer The 100 Year Old Man.

28. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This was recommended to me by a friend, because we both share an undying love for Gilmore Girls and she said aspects of the book reminded her of that show. I didn't remember it until I was in a local bookstore with my brother a few weeks ago and had a feeling I was supposed to be on the lookout for something. They had a copy and I snapped it up. This is a wonderful book, charming and goofy and simple and sweet. It's an epistolary novel, which is a form I so often forget that I like until I come across it again. It's set in post-war Britain, following the escapades of an author who finds herself drawn into the cut-off world on the island of Guernsey. It's not all happy and joyous, but I was content after I finished it. 

29. The Round House - Louise Erdrich

This is the latest book club book (and who knows what's going to happen to book club now, since most of us graduated and will probably be moving, but we'll see) and I dallied about starting it. For shame! This was riveting, in a fascinating, disturbing sort of way. It's told from the viewpoint of a 13 year old boy, during the summer following his mother's rape. He seeks to determine who it is, while his mother descends into solitude and his father attempts to sort through the law, as a tribal judge. It's fantastic, so well-written (though I kind of hate the stylistic choice to leave out quotation marks) and it was heart-breaking and gripping. I highly, highly recommend it.

30. Punishment - Linden MacIntyre

This was another post-Christmas book. The only other book I've read by Linden MacIntyre is his memoir, Causeway, which was of interest to me because of a class I took in undergrad (and we had to read it, but I think I would have done so voluntarily) and also because some commonalities between our stomping grounds. It was okay. I did enjoy the fact that the fictional village was named St. Ninian, which is also the name of a street I once lived on not so far from the book setting. It's a crime novel - kind of. It's a thriller - kind of. It's got a very familiar feeling about it, like these are people I could know and maybe do. I am not a stranger to small-town Atlantic Canadian life, and so it was familiar in that way. I read most of it in one sitting. 

31. For Such a Time - Kate Breslin

I...was not impressed with this one. It was just...trite, and borderline offensively ridiculous. I'm going to spoil the hell out of it now. It's about a Jewish woman who is plucked out of Dachau by a Nazi commander and taken to Theresienstadt (Terezin) to work as his secretary. See, he was fooled by her fake papers that say she's not a Jew. But once they get to Theresienstadt, she finds the uncle that raised her is there, and he believes that she'll save them all or something. Meanwhile, she falls in love with the commander. It of course all comes to a head, he finds out she's a Jew, tosses her in the ghetto, there's an evil underling who has it out for the commander, who tries to make things worse and it all ends with this totally-did-not-happen-at-all thieving of a train by the main character, the commander (who turns out to be okay with her being Jewish because he loves her and wants to marry her) and a bunch of other Jews who were all destined for Auschwitz. They all get to freedom, and she thinks her commander gets killed on their way to freedom, but he magically is okay and finds her at the end. Yeah. I can't believe I read this either. I like WWII-era fiction, but this was awful. The writing was weak, and the main character was detestable. 

2 comments:

  1. Oh man, I totally despised Rilla (both the book and the character) but I read it a million years ago (I think 20+ years counts as a million nowadays) and don't remember the finer details at all. I suspect the reason for my dislike was the drastic change of tone that the series took after Anne got married and how her children didn't seem to measure up to the Avonlea crowd. I own all the Avonlea books except for Rilla. :x

    Haven't read any of the others on your list here but Guernsey has been on my list for a while! I think it was subliminally implanted by a poster in the washroom of a bookstore I worked at for a couple of seasons. I keep picking up new books but haven't been able to buckle down to finish them, so this post is inspiring to say the least. :)

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    Replies
    1. I liked Rilla, both the character and the book, though she was pretty annoying at the beginning, though there was a tone change for sure. Rainbow Valley disappointed me as being billed as a book about Anne's children - and then was all about the Merediths. I also pretend Windy Poplars and Ingleside were never written.

      Guernsey's been haunting me since I finished it. It was sitting on a pile of books at the bookstore, and I considered telling my mother to get it, but we have very different tastes.

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