Sunday, August 9, 2015

July Reading

June was a very light month for reading - in July I couldn't stop reading.

A Dead Man in Instanbul by Michael Pearce.  The second in the series of mysteries I started last month, this time the hero is sent to Istanbul.  It's a nice view of pre-World War I Turkey but the mystery is a little weak.  I'm not sure I'll go further with this series.  Can't really recommend.

Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood.   I've really been enjoying the television series on Netflix so I thought I'd go back to the original mysteries.  I started at the first and am working my way through them - I won't list them all.  The plots are different than the TV series and there is no sexual tension between Phryne and the police inspector.  Instead she has multiple lovers but her main squeeze is a Chinese importer, Lin Chung.  I am enjoying these very much and will probably finish the entire 20 volume series next month. Recommended.

In the Woods by Tana French   The first in Tana French's series of mysteries set in Dublin.  This was a very good novel although it was somewhat frustrating that one of the mysteries was never solved.  The novel is written from the point of view of the detective investigating the murder who is slowly falling apart.  When characters do things that I think are stupid, I prefer not to be in their minds.  I'd rather read about it in third person.  But it was not enough to stop me enjoying the novel. Recommended.

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro.   Another novel written in the first person.  For plot purposes she needs to be naive and a little bit stupid.  Again, I prefer that if the protagonist is not smart that I not be in their head.  There were interesting facts about forgeries but not nearly as good as the robertson Davies novel What's Bred in the BoneNot particularly recommended but would make a decent beach read.

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.   Parts of this novel are written in the first person and parts are written in the third person. The narrator is not stupid which is a relief.  This novel is the third in the series. Truthfully I don't remember all the characters of the other two novels but that didn't matter. It was a compelling read.  Some day I'm going to read all three again, closer in time to each other.  Recommended.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante.   This is the second volume of the Neapolitan Series.  About halfway through this novel I found myself exasperated and thinking that the characters were all acting like a bunch of teenagers.  And then I realized that they were a bunch of teenagers.  Again, this is a novel written in the first person and again the narrator, for plot purposes, seems to be be required to not really be able to figure out what is going on.  Probably I was just tired of first person narrative, but I didn't really enjoy this volume as much as the first one.  I already have the third volume so I'll read it but I am still at a loss as to why people are raving about the style of the writer.  Recommended with reservations.

Before She Met Me by Julian Barnes.  This was an interesting novel - the story of a man who slowly drives himself crazy by being jealous of men that his wife slept with before she met him.  The ending did totally surprise me.  It was well written but sometimes I get tired of those 20th century novels written by men who are obsessed with sex.  But at least it was written in the third person.  Recommended with reservations.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.   The whole time I was reading this novel I kept wishing that I was seeing it as a movie instead.  Then, right after I finished this novel, I read that Steven Spielberg would be directing a move version.  This novel, set in a dystopian near-future, is about a society obsessed with 1980s culture.   There were so many references that it was almost overwhelming.  Many of them I didn't get since I never played video or arcade games.  I'm also bad at identifying songs by titles or artists - I have to hear them.  But despite that, I did really enjoy this novel.  It was clever.   And, even though it was a first person narrator, he wasn't stupid - at all.   Recommended.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  This was an odd book. Again written in the first person but not a stupid narrator.  it kept my attention but I didn't really like it.   I never felt invested in the characters.  Recommended.