As summer draws to a close (officially ending September 21st), I can also say my summer reading is about complete. I can’t say I read every book I had on my original wish list, however, I liked the way I got sidetracked. Except for one misstep, it was all good.
So, what didn’t I finish? I didn’t read OUT OF AFRICA or FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Why? Mostly because I didn’t want to. I did start OUT OF AFRICA, but I’ve seen the movie and, well, it wasn’t “beachy” enough for the beach. Lame maybe, but true. As for FIFTY, I just couldn’t get interested enough to buy it. Although I haven’t crossed it off my list and a friend of mine just finished the trilogy, I have moved it to the back burner. Maybe someday…maybe not.
So what was good and what did I read instead? In addition to TRIAL JUNKIES, CUTTING FOR STONE, and THE GREAT GATSBY from early summer, I read GONE GIRL, DARK PLACES, TOYS, DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, FLOWERTOWN, and OUR HUSBAND. GONE GIRL was a book I had my eye on in June. Of course, it has only grown in popularity since then but I feel it’s well deserved. A few folks I know did not like the ending and it colored how they felt about the book, however, I had no problem with the ending. In fact, I liked that the ending was true to the characters in the novel. I really enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s writing, character development, and plot twists.
I even liked it enough to pick up one of her earlier novels, DARK PLACES. While this was entertaining, I did not enjoy it nearly as much as GONE GIRL. Flynn writes well about characters who are anything but normal or average. You will get to know them, but you may find you don’t want to. This is what happened to me in DARK PLACES. There were a few too many characters I found unlikable or just unsympathetic. Also, I felt the ending was slightly forced. Still, her writing is strong and the book was well-done. If you haven’t read her and you like a little bit of a dark and twisted psychological mystery, you may enjoy both novels.
I don’t know why I read TOYS except that it was sitting around in our house. It’s one of those novels James Patterson wrote with another author, perhaps to help this lesser-known writer get published. Liking or disliking a book is subjective but this one was not really to my taste.
My daughter was assigned DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY as one of her summer reading assignments. I agreed to read it as well and was glad I did. A non-fiction account of the World’s Fair of Chicago in the early 1900’s, this fascinating book told the story of the birth of American architecture set against the backdrop of a young Chicago. Also, woven throughout the book is the real-life story of a serial killer, living in Chicago at the time, preying on unsuspecting women and using the Fair to draw them in. While I admit history has never been my strongest subject, there was a great deal about our history that I learned in this book. Erik Larson is a talented writer I would definitely read again.
The first, FLOWERTOWN, is a debut novel that was published by Amazon’s new mystery & thriller division, Thomas & Mercer. Although this book was a departure for me, a dystopian thriller, the story pulled me in quickly. Ellie is the pot-smoking protagonist, ambivalent and angry all at once, locked up with thousands of others in a containment area after a chemical spill. There is plenty of action and readers will find themselves rooting for Ellie as she grows and fights for her life. OUR HUSBAND, a humorous romantic mystery, was also enjoyable although a much lighter tale. I would classify this novel as maybe a “pool” read. It moves quickly and although the ending has a small surprise, it is mostly predictable. Still, if you like humorous romantic mysteries, you should like this book.
Although I may squeeze in another book before the summer officially ends, I’m not going to worry about it. I read whenever I had the chance and got to know some authors who were new to me (and to publishing) so I feel the summer was a success.
What did you read?