I've been busy lately, which means less reading in general and also more re-reading. I need to get myself restocked because I've currently fallen into re-reading the Game of Thrones series and that really isn't necessary.
Delicious! - Lauren sent me her copy after I mentioned reading Garlic and Sapphires and I tore through it. It's a novel by Ruth Reichl and it was fun to read it having just come off G&S because I recognized the inspiration for many of the scenes. It's absorbing, well written if not terribly deep, and it contains a story within a story with an intriguing premise. I will say this - it's probably best if Reichl sticks to food descriptions and stays away from fashion.
Dancing with the Virgins and One Last Breath - I'm always looking for new mystery series and these ones by Stephen Booth are pretty good. They're set in England and feel moody and tense.
Lots and lots of Sue Grafton (F, G, I, O, U, R, N) - She remains my favorite mystery series author. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a funny voice.
The Goldfinch - Everyone was talking about it, so I put myself on the library waiting list and then somehow got the idea that this was about child abuse so I avoided it until the last possible minute. (I was scarred from reading A Boy Called It as a teenager and I couldn't take that again.) And then it turned out it wasn't about child abuse although there are some deeply depressing childhood experiences. All that confusion aside, I can't figure out why everyone is talking about this book. It's fine. I like the premise and the first few chapters were strong but it's looong, which I wouldn't complain about except it gets bogged down several times and feels a bit snoozy. And by the end I was completely out of patience with the narrator, which made things more difficult. I wouldn't tell anyone not to read it, but if you have limited reading time I'm not sure if this is your best use of it. But seriously - why are you all reading this one? Did I miss something?
Several Marcia Mullers (Pennies on a Dead Woman's Eyes, The Cheshire Cat's Eye, Eye of the Storm, Dead Midnight, Games to Keep the Dark Away, Vanishing Point) - Because I ran out of Sue Grafton. Another female private eye series. Many of these were re-reads but it's been over a decade so they felt fairly new.
The Moon Sisters - A randomly chosen novel that ended up being quite good. It's sort of sweet and dreamy. It follows two sisters (one severely practical, one with her head in the clouds) as they deal with the death of her mother and her unfinished novel. It feels a little fairy tale like and I enjoyed it.
Elizabeth Peters re-reads (Children of the Storm, Laughter of Dead Kings) - Because sometimes nothing else will do.
Where I Was From - I want to like Didion but I never seem to manage. I think this indicates a deep well of literary failure in my soul but I can't help it. This book was more history, less novel, and to be fair my head was probably too full of outside issues to hold much of substance, but dear god, there were so many names tossed around in there. I'm terrible with character names and I know it's a problem, but all these ancestors were appearing and disappearing and I had to struggle through, much like the settlers Didion describes. I'm going to try again (have three of her novels on my waitlist right now at the library) but I'm worried that Didion and I will never get along. Previous exhibit - my deep, guilty dislike of Blue Nights.
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year - I saw Anne Lamott speak once almost a decade ago (that's how long this book has been on my list) and she is pretty charming. I love people who are open about how neurotic they are without celebrating it. I'm not sure i could be friends with Lamott but I really enjoyed reading her reflections on solo parenting in real time. You can tear through this book and you'll probably laugh a lot.
L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food - I have had my ups and downs with Roy Choi. I'm a (hugely dorky) fan of celebrity food figures due to my obsession with Top Chef and Choi's guest appearances didn't endear him to me. He comes off as a little try hard and overly self obsessed. But then I heard several radio interviews with him when this book was coming out and he sounded more self-deprecating than I remembered and I do love a hard luck story. Well, the book is worth reading, if you love behind the scenes food information and are willing to overlook some cheesy language. And it's true that Choi's early childhood was pretty rough, while his parents scrabbled to find a way to support the family. But as an Orange native I have to tell you that Villa Park, where Choi's family settled when he was just 12, is the ritzy part of town. I'm not arguing that he didn't have some significant struggles, I just had a hard time hearing them hashed out in great detail while being fully aware that his family was willing and able to step in and support him through any and all crises. I loved hearing about running hotel kitchens and would have loved more in depth information about how he built his restaurants (the book only goes to the opening of the Kogi truck). I guess I would have liked more food, less detail about how tough he's had it
P.S. - Saw Chef, which Choi consulted on, and really enjoyed it. Sweet story, so much good food footage. At one point the whole audience groaned when the camera did a close up on some sizzling hash browns. When the credits rolled someone hissed when Roy Choi's name came on the screen. Hissed! Like he was a Shakespearean villain! So let me clarify that I don't think he is evil and I will happily eat his food, he just makes me roll my eyes a bit and whether or not that's fair is up for debate.