Based on the calendar I know it was summer, but the only way I believed it was hearing from friends and family how they were melting away in intense heat. Seattle hovered in the 60s or lower for most of the month. I’m not complaining except it is nice to actually see a pedicure when you’ve gotten one and when it stays chilly I wear socks.
Weather aside, what a month. I can honestly say, reading was the least of it, but that’s only because I took my first ever trip to Italy. There is nothing like a family reunion in a gorgeous historic location to bring all reading to a halt. Because of that this July Reading Wrap-Up is actually going to be a bit of a mash-up.
The Swan Book by Alexis Wright: started and stalled. Highly inventive but I could not get into it. Will try again another time.
I’m sure it’s obvious by now- I have an addiction to the Tudors. OK, the entire history of British royalty. Books, TV, movies, you name it. Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen is book one of Alison Weir’s series on the wives of Henry VIII. Over 600 pages long and I could not put it down. Fabulous historical fiction about a woman who is often perceived as having been a pawn with no ambition of her own. Not so. Bring on Anne Boleyn!
For a psychological thriller to work for me there has to be either a build-up of suspense and some kind of plot credibility. There was neither here. At only 1% (sorry it was an e-read for me) we learn that the protagonist’s house gives her husband “the privacy he craves”. That’s just one tip-off from the first chapter so there is no effort to hide that the husband is a freak. We quickly learn just how much of one. What is implausible is that a successful businesswoman who has taken care of not only herself her entire life, but her younger sister with Down’s syndrome as well, would let herself be snared by such a man. There is a great ending, but not enough to make the rest of the book worth sticking with. Feel free to read and come back and tell what I missed about this one because I don’t get its high ratings.
Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt by Yasmine El Rashid: a young girl growing up in Cairo in the time of the Arab Spring. Review to follow
Lonely Planet Florence and Tuscany: After much deliberating this is the guidebook I took with me to Italy. Nice fold-out map and a pocket to keep it in so you don’t lose it and have to pay the library for the book.
Florence and Tuscany, the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: This is a visually stunning book, like all Dorling Kindersley books, but it’s gorgeousness worked against it. It is printed on very heavy paper and I did not see myself lugging it around Tuscany.
Nine Women, One Dress (review to follow)
The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here by Paula Begoun: I’ve been using her ratings guides for cosmetics for decades and her site, Beautypedia.com, is a rabbit hole to check any and all cosmetics in your make-up bag so when I saw she had a book about skin care I knew I wanted to read it. A great no-nonsense, non-commercial guide for what you really need to take of your skin at any age. A lot of debunking of marketing myths and there’s even a glossary of ingredient terms in the back with a rating as to if they’re good/bad/best. p.s. Yes, after 20 years she did finally start her own skin care line, but it’s not the focus of her books or site. p.s.s They’ve added skin care products to the website now which awesome and awful at the same time because I can now lose hours looking up every product I’ve read about.
Keep in mind I was on a plane for a total of over 20 hours. I can’t sleep on planes so ended up with movie overload.
Room: I understand now why Brie Larson won the Oscar. This movie was difficult to watch but beautiful. It followed the book faithfully and did not disappoint.
Burnt: I know a lot of women think Bradley Cooper is da bomb, but he doesn’t do it for me. He always seems to be smirking. Having said that, this movie is visually gorgeous, being all about food and restaurants, even if it is not all that original.
Sisters: I get that Tine Fey and Amy Poehler are going after that difficult but lucrative male 18-24 demographic, but as much as I love both these women this movie spiraled into a disaster. It could be me, but trying to outgross each other is not a movie formula I enjoy. This was worth 20 minutes of attention at best.
Allegiant: OK, but it’s only part one of the book which left me disinterested.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2: Exactly what you would expect and that’s all right.
Almost nothing! I still have my favorite stand-bys from Slate, but beyond that I am in a serious podcast slump. Any suggestions? Please?!
How was your July? Any fun travel or great reads?