Friday, June 23, 2017

Books for a Warm Weekend

For those keeping track, I'm 3/4 done with the Bestseller Puzzle Reading Challenge and have four more mini-reviews for you. I just kept forgetting to post them until my 14YO got out the puzzle and put it together again.

There's good news and bad news, and since we always lead with the bad...

Woo, mama, I hated this book. See that jigsaw line cut right under Temple Drake's nose? That should've been my first clue that this book was a stinker. Awful characters behaving awfully, and the whole thing compounded by Faulkner's penchant for hiding the ball. That is, his tendency to disguise what is actually going on by making the prose difficult to plow through. It's totally worth the effort in As I Lay Dying (still my favorite Faulkner book, though, to be sure, I haven't encountered much competition in the four books total I've read of his), but in Sanctuary, though he dials it back, it's just annoying. Let me read an online plot summary, just to make sure the icky thing I thought happened actually happened. Yeah, it did.

Basically, Temple Drake and drunken boyfriend end up crashing their car by a bootlegger's place, and things actually go downhill from there. Amazing.

At least the cover made me feel better about my daughter's prom dress. Hoochy koochy dresses have always been in style. Let's just hope my girl doesn't go off the rails as badly as Temple Drake when she goes to college in a few months.

Okay, that's it for the bad news. The next is really just mediocre news.

I had high hopes for this one. Having really enjoyed the original Tarzan, I thought this would be more of the same--super-fun pulp fiction. And this was fun at times, but the rest of the time you spent thinking what morons the other characters were for not figuring out the face behind the mask. After all, hadn't they read The Scarlet Pimpernel? Didn't they know the mystery macho man surely had to be the most effete guy in the room to throw them off the scent??? Nevertheless, three stars for swashbuckling and a mildly interesting heroine.

On to the good news.

Yes, I'd read some Sherlock Holmes before, and I skipped the stories in the collection which I'd read, but I was surprised to find how some details from the stories I hadn't yet read were used in the Robert-Downey-Jr-Jude-Law Holmes adaptations. We could get into a Cumberbatch-vs.-Downey-Jr argument here, but I actually like both versions. Any way you slice it, Sherlock Holmes tends to be insufferable. Robert Downey Jr. plays him as endearingly so, and Benedict Cumberbatch as cold-but-hot. Judging by the book cover above, he looks cold-and-cold. Nice receding hairline, which explains the trademark hat he often wears in early adaptations. Fun. Four stars.

Also fun and a quick read would be:

Mr. Gardner wrote gazillion Perry Mason stories and I'd read exactly zero. Nor do I think I'd pick more up, since this isn't really my genre, but it was fun while it lasted. Perry was clever; Della Street was capable; the femme fatale was present and accounted for. Four stars.

Just a few more books to go before I complete the challenge, and I hope to get to them shortly. In the meantime, here are a couple recent favorite detours from my required list:

Nonfiction for fans of Unbroken and WWII. That is, everyone.

Read this one instead of Sanctuary. Elliptical prose with a structural purpose. Much more compelling story. Ex-slave is haunted by her past. Literally. And this one will be featured in Literary Night 2017! (More on that later.)

And, because sometimes you just want to scalp people:

Don't pick up this book if you recoil from gory details. I'm warning you.

Until we meet again, happy reading!

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