Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Shorts, R.I.P edition

Just a quick summary of what's been going on around here, R.I.P.-wise....

First I read

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
published 2006
406 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.

Both women will have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets... and the ghosts that haunt them still.

My thoughts -

I think I'm at the point where I'm just going to admit that novels with ghosts as a plot device are not my favorite thing. This book had lots of saving graces, though, so I did enjoy it very much. But the ghost parts? Not so much. I loved the emphasis on reading and literature throughout the novel, and found Margaret as well as Miss Winter to be extremely engaging heroines. Good stuff here, even if it DOES have ghosts.

Finished - 10/15/14
Source - mom
MPAA rating - PG-13 for adult situations & possible scaryness.
My rating - 4/5

Then I read the first two stories from this collection -

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
published 1953

You can read a summary and some analysis of the title story here.

I intend to read the entire collection, but it is not a collection I will breeze through. These first two stories were tough, and bleak, and full of despair. In some ways they remind me of episodes of The Twilight Zone, which used to freak me out SO MUCH when I was young. These are worlds where horrible things happen, in ways that you don't expect. 

A Good Man is Hard to Find is a gut-punch of a story. It plays with emotions and perceptions, and introduces some pretty unpleasant characters without giving any of them much of a chance of redemption. I didn't particularly choose this collection to go along with RIP, but it certainly fits the bill. Lots of perilous situations in these stories!

Next I read this novel -

Advent by James Treadwell
published 2012
448 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Once there were virtues in the stars and mermaids in the seas; but then a gift was lost, and all of that became no more than the stuff of fantasy. What if it came back? Everyone tells fifteen-year-old Gavin that the things he sees aren't really there. He hardly believes himself any more.

My thoughts -

Okay, there is A LOT going on in this novel. Elements of Arthurian legend, Faust, mermaids, Greek myth - there is a lot to keep track of, and there were moments in the novel that I could feel some of the threads slipping away from me. But I have to say that I was completely entranced by this story from the very beginning. Even when I wasn't quite sure that I was keeping track of all the fantastical bits, I was always eager to see where Gavin's story was going to take him next. I loved the writing, and I definitely plan to read the next in this series.

Finished - 10/24/15
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for fantasy violence
My rating - 4/5

And then I read -

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesa Lia Block
published 2013
240 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait. In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

My thoughts -

This YA novel was a fairly loose retelling of The Odyssey, and it didn't work all that well for me. I thought the writing was lovely, but I didn't particularly care for the story as Block told it. I thought it was difficult to follow, and there were certain plot elements that seemed to be added more to have something to say about a "hot topic" issue than to really further the action of the plot. I will read more by this author, but probably not more in this sequence.

Finished - 10/25/14
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - R for violence, language, sexuality
My rating - 2/5

So this means that I have completed

for RIP this year!


bermudaonion said...

I had no idea A Good Man is Hard to Find would fit R.I.P. Hmmm. . .

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I love Flannery O'Connor. Her stories are incredibly dark, for sure, but I still love them because there's enough humor leavening them.

Literary Feline said...

I loved The Thirteenth Tale and am glad you enjoyed it too, even if you don't care for ghost stories.

I'm not familiar with Advent, but, boy, do you make it sound good! I am going to have to add that one to my wish list.

Kristen M. said...

I've got Advent on my reading list for the end of fall/beginning of winter! I'm more excited for it now. :)