This Week, I Read… (#44)


#111 – The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova

  • Read: 10/17/16 – 10/21/16
  • Provenance: Owned (hardcover)
  • Challenge: Mount TBR Challenge 2016 (2/12)
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

I found this an enjoyable, if sometimes slow and clunky, read. I’ve never been much of a mystery fan, though this mystery was so far from a typical murder whodunit that it never got under my skin in the same way. In fact, after spending long enough with the characters, I’d even forgotten what the original mysterious element was (Robert’s mental illness, which came before the question of the painted woman’s identity.)

Not sure that’s a compliment, but there you have it.

What fascinated me most about this book was the lyrical and loving way art and artworks were described. I’m currently working on improving my drawing skills (thanks to Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain) and I did love the oil painting course I took back in college, so a lot of what Kostova has to say about art and artists struck me–a case of reading the right book at the right time, I guess.

That being said, I’m purging this from my collection. I did enjoy reading it, but I don’t think it’s going to improve the second time around, and some parts of the ending didn’t resolve to my satisfaction. Maybe the next person to pick it up secondhand will like it better.


#112 – Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

  • Read: 10/21/16 – 10/22/16
  • Provenance: Library (paperback)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

What the hell did I just read? Thank god it’s short, because I felt like I was inside someone’s fever dream.

The prose was incredibly choppy, often with several “scenes” on a page, broken up by the triple-asterisk markers. I understand that the time-hopping is a feature, not a bug, but it created distance from the characters, only getting them in disconnected bits and pieces.

Oh, but the metaphor, I hear the devotees say. Yes, it’s a book that’s vehemently anti-war, that tackles themes of difficult homecoming, PTSD and dissociation. I get it. I even agree with it, I’m not particularly pro-war myself.

But understanding the message doesn’t mean the way it’s conveyed made for an enjoyable read.


#113 – The Abyssinian Proof, by Jenny White

  • Read: 10/22/16 – 10/23/16
  • Provenance: Owned (hardcover)
  • Challenge: Mount TBR Challenge 2016 (3/12)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

DNF @page 100. I gave it an honest try, but honestly, I was bored.

Fortunately DNFs are addressed in the rules of the challenge; because Mount TBR is all about cleaning house, unfinished books count if they meet the participant’s own personal criteria for having attempted to read the book.

I could have put this down in the second chapter, though. The first chapter was basically a historical prologue, and how does chapter two open? With the main character waking up. On the second page of the chapter, he manages to find himself in front of a mirror so the reader can find out what he looks like.

Glad to see the tropes YA is often derided for are alive and well in other genres.


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