Sunday, 11 August 2019

Books and tea on a warm summer morning...

I went out earlier this morning to pick up my usual treat to take advantage of the rather cool-ish temperatures.   It’s supposed to get quite warm this afternoon and remain so for the next few days, but it’s so much more bearable than the humid days we had a few weeks ago, and I don’t think anyone’s complaining.  I have a cup of steeped chai tea to go with my Date Bar as I think about my book club discussion on Friday and the book I read last week.
My Volunteer group got together to discuss The Storied Life of A J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  I won’t give a summary here, as I did that in last week’s post, but just a reminder that it is a story of a curmudgeonly bookstore owner who finds love and redemption in the most mysterious ways.  I enjoyed this novel more than I expected, and was impressed with the many clever and insightful turns of phrases that were sprinkled throughout this short novel (I was so impressed that I think I’m going to skim the novel again and highlight  - *gasp!* - all the clever phrases, something I certainly do not condone, ever!!) My ladies all agreed that the book was cute, but not necessarily believable. We thought that Fikry embodied the person we would all secretly like to be, but that we are forced to reign in our curmudgeonly-ness in order to get along in the world.  We all liked Maya’s character, and thought she was super-intelligent and sweet right from the beginning. We noted that all the characters were a bit odd and quirky, including Maya and Fikry’s sister-in-law, Ismay. One member commented that she thought the whole book was like a puzzle, offering pieces here and there, and that you had to really pay attention in order to put them all together.  This comment makes me think that the book actually has more depth than is apparent upon a first reading - maybe I’ll do more than skim it again. They were impressed with the relationship between A J and Amelia, and thought that it was because it was based on friendship that they could make it work. All in all, everyone liked the book, but they didn’t love it, and after a short discussion, people in the group splintered off into smaller groups or pairs to carry on individual conversations.  I have decided to classify this as a “happy/sad” book, and would include on this list A Man Called Ove and The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I think these other two books had more substance and were better-written than Storied LIfe.  Still, it’s short, and I think just about anyone could get something out of it.
And I read The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz last week.  This second installment in the series featuring ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne was ok, but not great, in my opinion.  Hawthorne, who may or may not have pushed a peodophile down a flight of stairs to his death, was fired from Scotland Yard, but he is so brilliant an investigator that he is regularly called back by the Yard as a consultant to help solve cases.  The narrator of the book, a fictional Anthony Horowitz, is hired by Hawthorne to write about his cases, and his publisher signs him on for a three-book deal. Horowitz does not relish this prospect, much preferring to work on the rewrites for the scripts of Foyle’s War, but he reluctantly agrees to write about this current case and becomes caught up in the crime almost against his will.  A successful divorce lawyer, Richard Pryce, is murdered with a very expensive bottle of wine, and the number 182 is painted on wall above him.  The suspects abound: award-winning British-Japanese author Akira Anno, with whom Horowitz has a distinct dislike; client Adrian Lockwood; Mrs Taylor, wife of Gregory Taylor, a college friend of Pryce who was involved in a caving accident resulting in the death of another friend, Charles Richardson; and Richardson’s widow; and many others.  This novel was interesting enough plotwise to keep me wanting to read to find out whodunnit, but it had several flaws, namely that it seemed to be trying too hard to be clever, and also that it seemed to be more about fictional Horowitz’ character grinding axes with everyone, particularly Hawthorne and Anno. There was so much negativity in this book that it was not a pleasure to read, and that negativity overshadowed the plot, the mystery, and the cleverness of the writing.  It was an ok mystery, but not one I would strongly recommend.
That’s all for today.  Stay cool and keep reading!
Bye for now…
Julie

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