• Emily

What I read and did not read in July

Updated: Jan 11

DNF:


Set My Heart to Five (egalley)- Simon Stephenson

I couldn't get into this, and I was surprised bc I thought it would be right up my alley. It's such an interesting premise- an android develops feelings. It isn't allowed, what will happen? I just couldn't finish it. Looks like it's going to be a movie by Edgar Wright- I'll definitely check that out.


The Sisters Grimm- Menna Praag

I don't know. Felt like I was reading a YA, which I do sometimes, but it wasn't what I wanted. From Publisher's Weekly: "Van Praag braids mystery, magic, and a vicious hunt for power into a dark, delicious story of four estranged, supernatural sisters." Why don't I like it? Reading can be mysterious.


The Penguin Book of Mermaids

I liked this one alright, but it's a collection of very short stories, legends of mermaids and similar tales from all over the world. It's the kind of thing you can dip into without needing to finish. I'd been curious ever since I ordered it for the library, so I tried it out. I might get it again someday.


Helen- Maria Edgeworth

Just couldn't get into this one. I love classics, but this was like trying to read oat bran. I don't think I've ever read any Edgeworth, will probably try again someday. With another title, not this one.


Decorate (not counting this as finished bc I skipped around alot)- Holly Becker

I love decorating books. I thought I'd be moving house this spring, but then the pandemic happened, and I'm staying put. This book had different styles in their own chapters, so you could just skip big sections that you know you won't like.


Began, still reading:


Jetsetters- Amanda Eyre Ward

These Fevered Days: Ten pivotal moments in the making of Emily Dickinson- Martha Ackmann (really liking this one so far)

Invisible Man- Ralph Ellison

Joy at Work- Marie Kondo

The Family Plot- Cherie Priest

I've been reading LOTR off and on since April- Tolkien (It's my comfort reading. I'm in Two Towers now. I haven't picked it up lately, but I can pick it up and go on from any point now- I've read it so many times.


I'll get into these more next month. This is ALOT to have going on at once. I haven't been tracking my reading like this, so I'm curious to see if this happens again.



Finished:


Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less- Greg McKeown

This is about making choices and setting priorities for your work life. I almost put it down at the beginning, thinking "I'm not the boss, so I'm not making the calls." But I'm glad that I kept on, because there are principles that can be applied to anyone's career.


Bring Up the Bodies-Hilary Mantel

The brilliant sequel to Wolf Hall. How is Tudor history so compelling? I don't usually go for this. Wolf Hall was my Hilary Mantel gateway drug. I'm definitely going to read more. I haven't made up my mind about the last book in the trilogy- I'm afraid it will be sad.


The Herd- Andrea Bartz

A mystery featuring high-powered women set in a co-working space. Not my usual thing, but interesting. I flew through this.


Modern Cottage Garden (egalley)- Greg Loades

Really gorgeous pictures and practical tips on how to bring cottage style gardening home, even in a small space/container garden. I didn't even know that there was such as thing as cottage style gardens, but it's exactly what I pictured. Lots of hollyhocks.



My favorite titles of the month were:


The Space Between Worlds (egalley)- Micaiah Johnson

The Secret History (audio)- Donna Tartt, read by author but the link is to print

Magic Lessons (egalley)- Alice Hoffman


The Space Between Worlds is a sci-fi with parallel worlds, which I love. It's set in an Earth like ours, but in the future. Income inequality has advanced so that rich people live in plenty in walled cities, and everyone else lives in a place called "the Ashland." It's as nice as it sounds. Most opportunities stay in the city, but in order to pass into a parallel world, there can't be a version of you living there. Because the traversers, as they're called, can only go to similar worlds, people from the Ashland have an advantage- their parallel selves are more likely to have died. I hate reviews that sum up the entire book, but all this is at the beginning. There are some really good twists. It sounds bleak, but it isn't the kind of sci-fi that makes you feel like you are being bludgeoned by worst-case scenarios.

The Space Between Worlds is a really impressive debut from Micaiah Johnson. I'll be looking forward to more from her.


Magic Lessons is a prequel to Practical Magic, going way back before The Rules of Magic. (If you haven't read The Rules of Magic, it tells the story of the aunts when they were younger. If you don't know who the aunts are, read Practical Magic, or watch the movie. Normally I would never advise anyone to watch the movie if there's a book you can read, but Practical Magic was one of Alice Hoffman's early books, and it just isn't as good. That isn't a real criticism, as you would expect a writer to improve over these years. It's still worth a read-don't get me wrong- but watch the movie, too. It's so good. Fantastic old house.)

Also, The Rules of Magic is an excellent book, so if you haven't read it, read it now while you're waiting for Magic Lessons.

Any fan of Practical Magic knows that the Owens witches can trace themselves back to Maria Owens, who put a curse on her own descendants, to protect them from love. Magic Lessons is Maria's story from birth, and her daughter's story. Maria has enough troubles to excuse her from casting the curse that causes so much trouble later. It is another book that might seem too dark on the face of it, but it doesn't drag you down. I like the close female-family relationships in these books. Mothers and daughters, and sisters.


Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copies.


I'll write more about The Secret History, one of my all-time favorite books, in another post.


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