30 July 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Books about Women

Stacked-up book thoughts from Beth Fish ReadsToday I'm thankful for a lovely weekend: the rain ended and cooler weather came in behind it, just in time for a neighborhood outdoor get-together on Friday night.

I spent the the rest of the weekend doing a little work, some gardening, and some chores, but I sneaked in some reading time on the deck whenever I could.

 I'm watching season 2 of Anne with an E on Netflix. I'm still undecided how I feel about this show, which is inspired by Anne of Green Gables but not very faithful to the books. The acting is good, though.

I'm in a slight panic that it's just about August . . . not much time left before my final travel for the summer, and I have so, so much to do before I go. Yikes! Here's what I read last week.

Review of Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Doubleday, July 31): Through the alternating viewpoints of young Chula and her family's teenage maid, Petrona, we learn how Pablo Escobar's hold over Columbia affected the entire country, even the children. Seven-year-old Chula lives in a gated community, but the neighborhood guards cannot stop the kidnappings and car bombings. Petrona's family, living in Bogota's slums, has already been victimized, and it's up to the thirteen-year-old to provide for her ailing mother and hungry younger siblings. Each girl does what she can to hold on to hope and to find security, especially as violence and danger comes ever closer to home. It's heartbreaking to witness the girls' maturing realization that their choices shrink with each passing year, and the cost of their unlikely bond is unthinkable. Although entirely fiction, the novel was inspired by events from Rojas Contreras's own childhood. When a drug culture gains power in a community, children, families, and women are particularly vulnerable. The unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 12 hr, 26 min) is read in alternating chapters by Marisol Ramirez and Almarie Guerra. Their performances highlighted the emotional impact of the novel and strengthened my connection to Chula and Petrona. (Review copies from the publisher; more at AudioFile magazine.)

Review of Bad Girls by Alex de Campri; art by Victor SantosBad Girls by Alex de Campri; art by Victor Santos (Gallery 13; July 17): This graphic novel is set in Cuba on New Year's Eve 1958. Three women, linked only by their association with a night club, each have a reason to flee their current lives before the dawn of the new year. A night of traditional celebrations mixed and the last hours before Castro takes control of the country offers them their only opportunity. Will a "convenient" murder, a cache of dirty money, and street smarts be enough to help them find freedom, safety, and second chances? The women's plights and situations, their clothing, the background music, and the political situation all rang true to me. Through both the words and the art, I felt the women's desperation, and the action scenes gripped my attention. I loved the hour-by-hour setup of the story, and the dark colors of the panels set the mood well. Gunshots were shown by spiderwebbed windows and splashes of light, and the pace was accelerated by overlapping panels within panels. This is the first graphic novel I've read from the Gallery 13 imprint, but it won't be my last. (review copy from the publisher)

Review of Lush by Kerry CohenLush by Kerry Cohen (Sourcebooks; July 17). I know there have been a number of memoirs about addiction, and you might feel you don't need to read yet another one, but Cohen does offer something new into the mix. A growing number of women in their forties and above are finding the lure alcohol to be harder to resist. There seems to be no break in the daily burdens of politics, job pressure, children, and marriage. Cohen, who didn't drink much in her youth, started with one glass of wine to unwind in the evening; gradually that one glass became a whole bottle or more. All the while, she took care of the kids, brought in money, and tried to keep her second marriage from dissolving. What makes her story different is that there was no AA and no rock bottom. Her addiction, as it turns out is not alcohol, and I was interested in how she learned to control her drinking and make progress with her true problem. Cohen tells her story with humor and honesty, and much of what she has to say was easy to relate to. I don't have the relationship issues she has, and my glass of wine a night and occasional Sunday afternoon extra have not escalated, but I can certainly see how easily someone could find themselves overdrinking on a regular basis. This is the story of today's women. The unabridged audiobook (Tantor Audio; 5 hr, 40 min) was read by Allyson Ryan. I loved Ryan's performance, which was so conversational that I had to keep reminding myself that this was not an author-read book. She got the humor and the self-evaluation just right. I'm sure her narration elevated my general reaction to this memoir. (galley from the publisher; audiobook personal collection)

Review of Read Me by Leo BenedictusRead Me by Leo Benedictus (Twelve, August 7): I started this book for two reasons: it's published by Twelve, which is an imprint I generally trust and it was compared to John Fowles's The Collector, a book I remember loving. Read Me is the story of a man who becomes suddenly very rich and spends his days stalking women. In the first chapter, we see what I think is the near culmination of a stalking; then the narrative jumps back to fill us in on the background. While I didn't hate this book, I found myself uninterested after the first few chapters and began skimming and spot reading just to see what happened. At no point was I compelled to start reading carefully, and I'm still unclear of the outcome of the book. The writing style was fine, but nothing clicked enough to draw me in. Reviews have been mixed, and you may be one of the readers who loves it. (review copy from the publisher)

19 comments:

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 7/30/18, 7:50 AM  

I am intrigued with Drunken Tree especially. I am fascinated with books with a Latino connection.

Thank you for sharing these.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 7/30/18, 8:10 AM  

I read Fruit of the Drunken Tree in book form and liked it okay, but was a kind of bored overall. Did you like it?

bermudaonion 7/30/18, 8:45 AM  

Fruit of the Drunken Tree and Lush both appeal to me.

Susie | Novel Visits 7/30/18, 10:01 AM  

I couldn't finish Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Though I found parts of the story really good, in the end I just wasn't feeling compelled to keep picking it up. I may make Lush my next nonfiction audiobook. It sounds really interesting and with great narration, even better.

Tina 7/30/18, 10:02 AM  

Lush is going on my list. I haven't read a John Fowles book in ages and i do remember the Collector. Quiet creepy. Too bad about Read Me.
There are so many books that I want to read and now I see the cold hard truth about the saying "So many books, so little time." Therefore I am focusing more on what I want and abandoning if it's not my cuppa tea.

Laurel-Rain Snow 7/30/18, 10:48 AM  

I have read several books about addiction, but I always enjoy something unique, so Lush is now on my list. Thanks for sharing.

Enjoy your week and your upcoming travels...and thanks for visiting my blog.

Harvee Lau 7/30/18, 11:01 AM  

Fruit of the Drunken Tree sounds like a really compelling read.

Kathy Martin 7/30/18, 11:15 AM  

Interesting variety of books. All are new to me. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Valerie 7/30/18, 11:46 AM  

I've not heard of any of them. Great selection.
Have a great week!
Valerie @ Cats Luv Coffee

Yvonne 7/30/18, 1:32 PM  

Fruit of the Drunken Tree looks good. I'll have to add it to my list. Have a great week!

Vicki 7/30/18, 2:15 PM  

Fruit of the Drunken Tree sounds really good.

Kathryn T 7/30/18, 4:23 PM  

I can't make my mind up whether to watch even the first season of Anne with an E!

Sue Jackson 7/30/18, 7:10 PM  

What an eclectic collection of books this week! They all sound interesting. Yes, I am kind of sick of addiction memoirs, but I've heard good things about Lush.

I really enjoyed Anne with an E season 1, but I only just read the book for the first time a few years ago, so I'm not a longtime fan (though I loved the book!). I really like the actress who plays Anne :) I'm looking forward to season 2.

Sue

2018 Big Book Summer Challenge

Donna H 7/30/18, 8:34 PM  

I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around it being almost August, too. Where did summer go? Area schools are starting back this week. See what I read this month at Girl Who Reads

Nise' 7/30/18, 10:16 PM  

I am in denial that August is in a couple of days! I hope you continue to pick up great reads/listens.

AJ Sterkel 7/30/18, 10:39 PM  

I’m not ready for August. I haven’t accomplished anything yet this summer. I hope you enjoy your upcoming reads. Have a great week!

Aj @ Read All The Things!

Greg 7/31/18, 4:00 AM  

I can't believe it's August! Glad you got some nice cooler weather though!

Bad Girls looks interesting- there are so many amazing and original graphic novels out there now- and Lush looks very good as well.

Martha Eskuchen 7/31/18, 10:17 PM  

Yep - August already.
All of your books are new to me. Happy Reading!

Daryl 8/4/18, 3:54 PM  

oh my more books to add to my list

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