Tuesday, February 4, 2014

50 Book Challenge - 2014

I have slacked off on blogging for the past few weeks because it has been SO FREAKIN' HOT. The weather is doing me in, I'm not even kidding. There have been times when I've looked at the forecast and almost burst into tears. Why could I not have been born into a cold country? Or at least one that doesn't get to 'fried egg on a footpath' levels in the summer.

Anyway, because of that I have postponed everything - no weekly makeup baskets because it's too hot for makeup; it would just melt right off me. No new resolutions beyond 'try not to cry when you see the weather forecast'. No perfume testing because it's too hot for anything more than a quick spritz of Jovan White Musk, and man are those perfumes piling up. Eeek! No swatching the many eyeshadows and things I've been intending to get to because it's too hot to be outside dicking around with a camera. And so on and so forth.

However, what I have been doing is a lot of reading, because I have no energy to pull myself off the couch. Hopefully after last year's pathetic effort, I'm more on track to beat the 50 Book Challenge this year. I'm going to do a monthly update, which should hopefully encourage me to actually make an effort to have something to report.

1. Night Film - Marisha Pessl
There is a lot to like about this book. It sets up a creepy story about an elusive film-maker and a disgraced investigative journalist who tries to track his story. The book is full of cool gimmicks like photos and news articles. However, about a third of the way in it really started to feel bogged down and taking a huge amount of time to get anywhere, and the ending was a mess. That said, overall I enjoyed reading it, and it creeped me out in a fun way. I knew nothing at all about the story going in, and as with most books, I think it's one of those 'the less you know the better' ones.

2. Tell Me - Lisa Jackson
This book was so unmemorable I had to look up the plot, and I only read it a few weeks ago. One of a series of crime novels featuring a reporter and her police detective fiance. She wants the 'real story' of her childhood friend's murder as the ostensible murderer - the girl's own mother - is about to be released from prison. The solving of the mystery at the end is a dog's breakfast. Don't bother.

3. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion - Fannie Flagg
I loved Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe back in the day, and the couple that came out after that, but when I tried to read some other Fannie Flagg book a few years ago I found it ridiculously twee and couldn't finish it, so I almost didn't bother with this. I'm glad I did though, as I really enjoyed it. It's FF all the way - a present day story and a past story that links together nicely in the end, lots of sassy girls with kooky names being useful and independent, a bit of a mild mystery referred to in an understated way and then casually solved at the end. In the present, perfect Southern WASP housewife Sookie discovers she is adopted and that her biological family are Polish Catholics. In the past, the story of her Polish family is told. It's an easy, page-turning read.

4. The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison
This is being touted as 'this year's Gone Girl', and I can see why people are putting them in the same category, but I don't think it's on par with any of Gillian Flynn's novels, really. It's a page-turner though, and what more do you want in a mystery novel? It gets a bit bogged down and silly in the end, but I read this in one day and enjoyed it while I was reading it. It's about a couple who have been together for 20 years and what happens when - well, again, it's a story best read knowing little to nothing about it. If you want to while away the afternoon, you could do worse.

5. Before We Met - Lucie Whitehouse
Yet another domestic mystery with a twist, this one is about a woman whose husband is not where he said he was on a business trip, seems to have disappeared, and has told some weird, apparently pointless lies about his past. What could he be up to? Dun dun dun! A decent enough story, but took a heck of a long time to get where it was going - a more ruthless editor was needed here. As with so many of these kinds of books, the ending was a bit all over the place. Overall I quite liked it, though.

6. The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty
Oh, god. I don't like Australian books. I don't like Australian television. I don't like Australian movies. Of course there are exceptions, but as a rule - if it was made here I avoid it like the plague. They're all the same, these earnest, kitchen sink dramas where 30-something middle-class inner suburbanites spend a lot of time stressing out about their problems and coming to terms with things. I didn't know this book was Australian when I started it, and had I known I would never have picked it up. As it turns out, it was very readable, and I finished it within a day, but it was pretty much exactly as above. To the point where the whole time I was reading it I was mentally picturing who will be in the film/TV show version (and you know there will for sure be one). Justine Clarke, Robyn Nevin, Vince Colosimo, William McInnes, Asher Keddie - mark my words, they're all going to show up here.

Books I gave up on: 

Drinking: A Love Story - Caroline Knapp
I've had this for ages, and I can't remember why. I think I saw it mentioned favourably in an article or something. I read about a third and then couldn't stand anymore. It meanders all over the place, it's overly wordy, the stories are kind of nothing ('I drank too many cocktails at a wedding and my posh mother glared at me'), it's not linear - she constantly refers to these random stories that could be happening at any time. And for a memoir about a drunk it was just phenomenally boring. It was like a therapist told her to write it all down in a journal for her own catharsis and she went, 'Hey, I should publish this!'.

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin
Insufferable. That's all I have to say about it.

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