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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Goodreads list challenge: August and September

Yang, Susie- White Ivy

Mascarenhas, Kate- The Psychology of Time Travel

McDermid, Val- Northanger Abbey

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia- Velvet Was the Night

White Ivy: The cover blurb said that this was unputdownable, but I couldn't stop putting it down. I didn't finish it. It was so well-reviewed and won awards and all that, so I think that maybe I will come back to it someday. I also feel like all the part that I read, about a third maybe?, was setting up for the real action to come. It probably gets better if you have the patience.

The Psychology of Time Travel: Audio, read by Ellie Heydon. I love time travel stories, and this is a good one. It's about four women who were the pioneers of time travel in the late 1960s. It imagines all sorts of perks and pitfalls of time travel. It goes back and forth from the early days of time travel to the grand-daughter of one of the pioneers, fifty years later. Even with multiple timelines and narrators, I rarely felt lost and never for long. Part of that is probably due to the good narration. I really enjoyed this and will be on the lookout for another book by this writer.

Northanger Abbey: Audio, read by Jane Collingwood. Remember a few years ago, when someone decided to get modern authors to write updates of some of Jane Austen's novels? It was an anniversary or something. I remember reading some opinions that they were all awful, or all awful except for Emma, the one I didn't like, or the whole idea was a travesty. Anyway, I think that there were supposed to be six to begin with, but we never got a Persuasion or Mansfield Park.

I enjoyed Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. I didn't finish Emma (Alexander McCall Smith), as it seemed to be mostly about her dad? Maybe it got better but my eyes were crossing.

I finally finished the group by listening to an audiobook of Northanger Abbey. It is very true to the original book. I personally liked the ways that these books were updated, while still preserving the plots. I suspect that Persuasion and Mansfield Park were harder to update, as they depend so much on the main female characters being so restricted to home, and with major barriers to communication.

One thing that I didn't like was the age difference between Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney; I know that an 18-year-old and a 25-year-old would have been a completely normal couple in Regency times, but it was weird in this. Obviously, no one holds a candle to Jane Austen, but it was fun.

The narration by Jane Collingwood was good; I especially enjoyed the annoying Bella Thorpe.

Velvet Was the Night: I didn't like this for the first four or five chapters, but then I was really glad that I stayed with it. There are two main characters, and the chapters are split between them, so you go through the introductory chapter of "who is this person", and then do it again, and then go back to the first... I didn't realize that I liked it until I started thinking of it as "my book" one day. I need to get this finished so I can get back to my book. Anyway, it's a crime-noir set in Mexico City in the 70s. None of the characters are really very likeable, but I liked the book as a whole. It's suspenseful, and it has enough characters moving around to be complex but without being overly complicated.


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