Tuesday, August 3, 2021

July Reading


I missed the end of July! Here we are already three days into August before I noticed it was August. 

To be fair, I WAS at a convention all weekend (Galaxy Con, Raleigh). I barely knew what time it was, let alone what day it was. 

Me with all my book babies at GalaxyCon

But I did want to tell you about what I read in July, because I read some excellent books :-) (as always, you can click on the link in the book's title to see my fuller review on Goodreads--I don't review on Amazon anymore because Amazon decided I was up to nefarious things and won't respond to my queries . . . apparently writers aren't allowed to also be readers?). 

I started off the month by finishing The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, which I began in June because I wanted to talk to play along with the #WeeklyLitChats #BuddyRead over on Twitter with Manuela Sonntag, DB Carter , and the rest of the regulars. It's one of those books that everybody knows in a sense, because it's so steeped in our culture, often adapted and parodied, but I had never read it. I found it a bit disorganized by contemporary standards, with plot lines dropped for a hundred pages and then picked back up, but the characters I knew and loved from popular culture sang on the page and it was well worth the read. 

After all that bro-mance, though, I was ready for something very different, so I picked up Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a book that had been in my TBR since its release. LOVED it. So much great Gothic atmosphere with extra layers of horror in the form of colonialism. 

Monster, She Wrote
by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson was probably a dangerous choice in that it added a hundred or more books to my TBR. It's a historical overview of women in speculative fiction and there are so many more things I now need to read! 
Becky Chambers has become one of my automatic purchase authors. When I need a boost of optimism and hope, she's just the ticket. Her newest is a short book, A Psalm for the Wild Built, which takes place on a far-future, post-factory earth and chronicles a friendship between a human man and a robot. 

I finally finished Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. I started it some months ago as an audiobook, and the narration was so flippant that I found it off-putting. While there is certainly some snark in Solnit's book, the narrator read it like it was a rom-com, so I put it down. When I came back to finish it on Kindle, I liked it much better, though I still it's a bit "feminism 101" for a woman like me, now over 50 and hardly new to the battlegrounds of feminism. Maybe better if you're a newb? Still, more power to Solnit for getting a whole book out of a single funny/sad incident at a party. 

I wasn't sure what I felt like reading after that, so I went to my Audible library, organized by "not yet read" and "by length" and picked something short: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi. I have enjoyed all of the Scalzi I have read, and this one was quite interesting, too. Noir-esque, but not so very gritty. Very interesting world/central concept. 
Then, I realized that Lucy Blue was about to release a new romantic mystery in her Stella Hart series. Lucy and I share a publisher, and I've been hearing such good things about her books, so I figured this was my moment to check them out. I read Guinivere's Revenge and The Passion of Miss Cuthbert back to back. They're short, fast-reading, and delightful. 

They're set in the early 20th century and combine mystery-romance-historical elements into witty and charming stories. I LOVE Stella and George, and appreciate romantic stories that aren't all about prolonging the chase, but instead let the romance progress. The third is next in my TBR, so tune in next month to hear about that one. 

After that, I was once again unsure what I wanted to read, so I went to short books already in my Audible library and found Nim's Island, a middle grades adventure story with shades of Pippi Longstocking and Swiss Family Robinson. I'd seen the movie some years ago, and enjoyed it, and I also quite enjoyed the book. Light and fun, whimsical. 

The last book I finished in July was Yo-Yo Ma's A Beginner's Mind, a short memoir combining recordings of his performances with anecdotes from his journey as an artist. It made me wish I could invite myself to Ma's house and just listen to him talk for a few days. He's such a kind-hearted, open person, with quiet grace and I was already a huge fan of his musical performances. His mini-concert videos on Facebook were part of what saw me through the pandemic. 

I tried and failed to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude for my First Monday Classics Book Club. Too free-wheeling and unmoored for my mindset right now, and I finished the month still in the middle of two books: The Wharton Gothics by Edith Wharton and Dr. Watson and the Ladies' Club Coven by Alexandra Christian. Tune in next month to see how those shook out for me (spoiler: I'm really enjoying both). 

What did you read in July? I'd love to hear about in the comments! 

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