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Summer Reading Project, BookLikes Satellite

Never stop reading. (Content originally posted at Blogger.)

Blitzed, by Norman Ohler

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich - Norman Ohler, Shaun Whiteside

As a reader of nonfiction, I tend to return to the same subjects over and over again: Victorian social histories, the European theater of World War II, war crimes, and weird medical history. These are pretty broad territories, but narrow in the grand scheme of things. What I like about nonfiction in these areas is that each bit of new information the historians dig up fills in the picture a little more. I thought about this a lot while reading Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich, by Norman Ohler (translated by Shuan Whiteside). Historians keep coming back to Hitler’s life, searching for a reason why he committed his terrible crimes, how he suckered an entire nation into following him. Hitler is the great evil and we want to understand. Ohler’s book on Nazi drug use goes a long way to explaining the irrationality of Hitler’s behavior during the war. I was fascinated...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

Joy in the Morning, by P.G. Wodehouse

Joy in the Morning - P.G. Wodehouse

Originally published in 1946, Joy in the Morning is another breezy Jeeves and Wooster story. There are near-miss engagements, scheming, unlucky coincidences, shouting from elderly relatives, one burned down house, a hockey stick in the night, and lots and lots of witty language. I already knew from the series that everything always turns out well in the end thanks to the assistance of the ever helpful Jeeves...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

The Lost Book of the Grail, by Charlie Lovett

The Lost Book of the Grail - Charlie Lovett

Lovett continues his theme of literary mysteries in The Lost Book of the Grail. Previous books have dealt with lost Shakespeare and Jane Austen. This time, Lovett explores new metafictional heights in the most literary grail quest I’ve ever encountered. The Lost Book of the Grail tells the story of Arthur Prescott’s meticulous progress through the library of Barchester Cathedral’s library to find any clues that would prove his grandfather correct: that the holy grail is somewhere in Barchester. Along the way, he has help from a talkative American digitizer and his fellow bibliophiles...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss and NetGalley for review consideration.

An Almond for a Parrot, by Wray Delaney

An Almond for a Parrot - Wray Delaney

Wray Delaney has concocted a delightfully scandalous historical fantasy in An Almond for a Parrot. In this wild tale, Tully Truegood tells us about her strange life—from her less than auspicious beginnings on London’s Milk Street as the daughter of a drunkard to the reason she is sitting in prison about to face trial for murder. Along the way there are chases, kidnappings, salacious details about life in a brothel, true love, ghosts, and magic...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.

A Man of Genius, by Janet Todd

A Man of Genius - Janet Todd

I was immediately intrigued by the description of A Man of Genius, by Janet Todd: Gothic novelist Ann St. Clair becomes involved in her own Gothic romance with a mad genius that ends in violence. Even if it weren’t set mostly in nineteenth century Venice, I would have picked it up. Unfortunately, the execution of Ann’s story leaves much to be desired. The pacing is off for the first third. Todd switches between different characters’ perspectives at odd moments and for no discernible reason. And, as if this weren’t enough flaws for one book, the loathed the way the various Gothic-inspired mysteries were resolved. I only finished it because I wanted to know the answers to those mysteries...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

Things We Lost in the Fire, by Mariana Enríquez

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories - Mariana Enríquez

Even though they didn’t take very long to read, the stories in Mariana Enríquez’ collection, Things We Lost in the Fire, are going to stay in my brain for a while. (In fact, returning to read a few more chapters of War and Peace turned out to be a pleasant mental palate cleanser.) The stories are set in Buenos Aires, Corrientes, and other cities in Argentina between the late 1980s and now. In addition to sharing a feeling of creeping horror, the stories are connected by the way the characters are forced to confront the unhealed wounds of the past that are just waiting to reopen as soon as they are poked...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

One Hundred Twenty-One Days, by Michèle Audin

One Hundred Twenty-One Days - Michèle Audin, Christiana Hills

Michèle Audin’s One Hundred Twenty-One Days is the first Oulipo novel I’ve ever read, though not the first experimental work of fiction I’ve read. Experimental fiction plays with form more than characterization and plot to get readers to think about story in completely different ways—but Oulipo fiction goes further and plays when authors choose not to use the letter e in their story or write an entire novel as a palindrome. For me, a good story revolves around plots, characters, setting, and good writing and not trickery. Literary gimmicks usually drive me up the wall. And yet, I was intrigued by what Audin was doing with her blend of epistolary, documentary, and Oulipo techniques in One Hundred Twenty-One Days. If this is truly representative of Oulipo, I might have to take a deeper dive...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

The Book Thieves, by Anders Rydell

The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance - Anders Rydell, Henning Koch

In The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance (translated by Henning Koch), Anders Rydell takes a counter-clockwise journey across Europe to learn more about the lesser known theft of books by Nazis during the Second World War. Rydell begins in Berlin before heading off to Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Thessaloniki, and Vilnius. Along the way, he visits libraries—primarily Jewish libraries—that are still trying to reclaim books that were stolen over 70 years ago. As Rydell depicts matters, returning books to their rightful owners is a nearly futile task no matter how worthwhile...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.

Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller

Swimming Lessons - Claire Fuller

Relationships are a mystery to outsiders. Perhaps it’s not so surprising after all that so much literary fiction attempts to peer inside disintegrating marriages. Most of what we know of a relationships comes from what a friend, one half of that relationship, tells us, with the slant that comes with hearing only one side of the story. Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller, gives us two sides to the story of a marriage that ended with one half of the couple disappearing into the sea. Ingrid, the one who disappeared, tells us her story through letters written before she left or drowned. Another side of the story is told by Flora, one of the couple’s daughters, who saw her father with the admiring eyes of a child. As each chapter passes, more is revealed and heroes become villains only to be redeemed again. Swimming Lessons is one of the most elegantly written examples of its genre that I’ve ever read...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell - Nadia Hashimi

As depicted by Nadia Hashimi in The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, there is only one correct way to be a woman. First, girls are obedient daughters, then they are obedient wives who have sons. There is only one tiny exception; everything else is deeply wrong or criminal. The exceptions are the bacha posh, girls who dress and act as sons for families that don’t already have a boy. The Pearl that Broke Its Shell tells the story of two girls who live as boys for a time before returning to lives as women. It is also a story of hardship, violence, and gendered oppression. Those looking for an easy read should steer clear...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens

Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens, Stephen Wall, Helen Small

Like many of his other books, Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit is about the (eventual) triumph of good people over adversity. But it is also about the futility of struggling against the establishment. The good people in this book don’t strive so much as endure what life hands them until good fortune lifts them up. While this makes sense in light of the fact that Dickens was satirizing an ineffectual government, it makes for a curiously unsatisfying reading experience...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

Bodies of Water, by V. H. Leslie

Bodies of Water - V. H. Leslie

V.H. Leslie's short novella, Bodies of Water, is perfect for feminist reading. In addition to the overt themes of women overcoming damaging relationships with men, there are also repeated metaphors of water, women’s perspectives of reality, and wombs. I enjoyed this ghostly story, but I feel that it is a dissertation waiting to happen. This isn't a criticism. It's more a warning that, if you are or have ever been an English major, those close reading skills will activate before too many pages and may get the way of really sinking into the story...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

Snowblind, by Ragnar Jónasson

Snowblind: A Thriller - Ragnar Jonasson

In addition to all the other factors that make a book enjoyable—effective pacing, interesting character development, solid plotting—mysteries demand that writers carefully dole out information as needed for the reader to either solve the puzzle at the right time or trick the reader in a series of plot twists. Neither of those things happen in Ragnar Jónasson’s Snowblind, unfortunately. I don’t fault the translator, Quentin Bates, for the flaws in this novel. All the problems are structural. In fact, this book has so many fundamental issues that I wonder it’s garnered praise from the people who supplied the blurbs...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

A Word for Love, by Emily Robbins

A Word for Love - Emily  Robbins

When Bea opens a package from an old acquaintance—full of letters and poems—it sends her back to the months she spent in an unnamed city in an unnamed country (probably Damascus, Syria), learning Arabic and getting tangled up in the lives of her host family and their maid. A Word for Love, by Emily Robbins, is a poetic exploration of love, loss, language, betrayal, and tragedy as seen through the eyes of an American student who abruptly realizes that the consequences of mistakes are much more serious outside of the United States...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

The Cold Eye, by Laura Anne Gilman

The Cold Eye (The Devil's West Book 2) - Laura Anne Gilman

I have been eagerly awaiting the released of The Cold Eye, by Laura Anne Gilman, since I read the book that opened the series. This novel opens soon after the end of Silver on the Road, with Isobel and Gabriel traveling north across the Territory to find new wrongs to put right. Isobel is still learning the limits of her powers and jurisdiction as the Devil's Left Hand and The Cold Eye very much focuses on the ruthlessness of frontier justice...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

The Butcher's Hook, by Janet Ellis

The Butcher's Hook: A Novel - Janet Ellis

Curiosity is a dangerous thing—especially when it’s coupled with amorality as it is in Janet Ellis’s The Butcher’s Hook. Anne Jaccob is the oldest daughter of an overbearing father and a mother worn out from childbirth and miscarriage. She’s mostly been left to her own devices up until now. But now that she’s nineteen, her father decides that she’s old enough to marry a rich man. And this is where the mayhem begins...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.