It’s an up and down year, reading wise, but I’ve surpassed my Goodreads challenge. Brain fog has left me feeling frustrated for a lot of the year, but reading at a slower pace has reminded me that quality is better than quantity. As a result, I’m making some changes to my reading habits for 2017 but more on that in an upcoming post.
In a move that will surprise no one, crime fiction and non-fiction make an appearance in my October and November reads.
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry*
Days Without End* wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but then I’m not sure what I was expecting. Sebastian Barry’s prose is thoughtful, poetic and powerful, while the story is intense.
Thomas McNulty came to America following the Irish Famine and is barely an adult when he signs up for the US Army. He fights in the Indian Wars and on into the Civil War, with his partner John Cole forever at his side. Survival is high on the agenda for McNulty and Cole. I don’t want to say much more because the beauty of this novel is allowing it all to unfold.
Days Without End* is a coming of age story about friendship, humanity, love and the difficulties of war.
The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni*
The Trapped Girl* is the fourth book in Robert Dugoni’s Detective Tracy Crosswhite series. I’ve had mixed feelings about the series so far, but something drew me back to the world Dugoni has created.
A woman’s body is discovered submerged in a crab pot. A woman who is proving difficult for Detective Tracy Crosswhite to identify, the autopsy reveals that Jane Doe may have been trying to conceal her identity. Who was she hiding from?
The evidence leads Detective Crosswhite and her team to a woman who disappeared, while mountain climbing with her husband, months earlier. But the further the police delve into this woman’s past the more conflicting the evidence becomes.
My biggest issue with My Sister’s Grave* and Her Final Breath* was the pacing. This improved greatly for In The Clearing* and The Trapped Girl* continues in a similar vein, the writing is tight and the action well paced.
Tracy and Dan’s relationship still gets on my nerves. It is the one aspect of the series I could do without. It feels forced and unnecessary. I’m still convinced Dan is hiding something, but at four books in I’m prepared to admit this might not be Dugoni’s intention and probably won’t have the pay off I want.
As has become a running theme for me with the Detective Tracy Crosswhite series, despite its flaws it is an enjoyable read.
Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain edited by Kate Harrad
Purple Prose is a collection of interviews, essays, poems exploring what it means to be bisexual. While the these bi activists are UK based, the issues of what it means to be bisexual in a monosexual world, stereotypes, biphobia and the difficulties bisexual people face, even in the LGBTQ+ community, are universal.
I wish I had read this when I questioning my own sexuality and dealing with internalised biphobia.
Girl Number One by Jane Holland*
When she was a child, Eleanor Blackwood witnessed her mother’s murder. The murderer was never found.
When Eleanor discovers a woman’s body in the same spot in the woods where her mother was killed 18 years ago, it appears history is repeating itself. But when the police arrive, the body and all traces of a crime having been committed are gone.
I liked the premise, but the writing didn’t grip me as much as I hoped it would and I lost interest towards the end. The twists were predictable and I figured out who the perpetrator was long before the reveal.
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight
This is a parody of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up for people who want to give less of a fuck. I like some of ideas mentioned, but overall it was too repetitive and the premise that deciding to give less of a fuck is something achievable for everyone was too dismissive of mental illness for me.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus has been on my to-read list for years, so when it was chosen as the first read of the book club I joined I was delighted to have a reason to bump it to the top of my reading pile.
I can see why this tale of a magical circus has captured the hearts of many; unfortunately I’m not one of them. Erin Morgenstern’s writing is evocative and the story is full of intrigue, but it left me feeling underwhelmed. There are elements of the story I loved, but it didn’t feel like a finished novel. I would have preferred the plot to be a bit tighter.
Barkskins by Annie Proulx*
At 736 pages, Barkskins* is not a quick read, but Annie Proulx’s words have always demanded to be savoured rather then rushed past. Proulx is a master storyteller; The Shipping News is one of my favourite novels and Brokeback Mountain is, to my mind, the greatest short story ever written.
Spanning more than 300 years and different generations of interconnected families, Barkskins* is a story about the destruction of the world’s forests. Proulx’s research is meticulous and it shows. At times it reads more like non-fiction, than a novel.
Barkskins* didn’t get under my skin the way her other works have. I felt disconnected from the characters. None of them stood out. I wasn’t invested in what happened to them.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe this was never going to be the book for me. This epic novel felt like a chore towards the end and I never thought I’d be saying that about words written by Annie Proulx.