The To-Read Pile

There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…

Paris Reads

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a whale of a time visiting Paris (I don’t know where that expression came from but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use it).

While I was there, I visited lots of places (Jardin des Plantes! Sacre Coeur! Centre Pompidou! Versailles!). Here is a photo I took:

Photo of the Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

But, being me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for reading even in a new city. We were visiting Paris on the cheap so we didn’t really have the money to go out every evening and books are an excellent way to pass your time.

I took three books with me and I finished them all before I arrived home.

Book Number 1

The Dream Killer of Paris by Fabrice Bourland The Dream Killer of Paris by Fabrice Bourland

I think it’s probably pretty obvious why I picked this book up to read in Paris, but in case you don’t see my reasoning, i’ll explain: I like to read books set in places that I’m visiting. It’s great to read about a landmark (like the Tour St. Jacques, in this case) and then go and look at it. It really helps to bring a story to life. People are dying in their dreams and only private detectives Singleton and Trelawney can discover the truth.

Things I liked:

The writing style reminded me a lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories (which I love!) and, given the previous title in this series was set in Baker Street, this is almost certainly intentional. It’s very well done.

Singleton and Trelawney are portrayed as the best kind of 1930s gentlemen and their characterisation and relationship is very enjoyable to read about.

Things I didn’t like:

Unfortunately, the scales are a little weighted in this direction for me.

I’m not keen on crime novels that actually turn out to be surprise supernatural novels. Especially, as in this case, where the locked room mystery is solved in a handwavey mysterious magical powers way. I like cleverly done locked room mysteries with solutions you would never have thought of.

Although the book is titled after Paris, most of it actually takes place elsewhere. This might not have bothered me so much if I hadn’t bought it specifically to read in Paris.

There’s a secondary mystery that is brought up but not solved. This loose plot thread continued to bother me after I had finished the book.

Conclusion:

If you’ve read Sherlock Holmes and want something a little similar and not too heavy, you might enjoy this book. If you like a real mystery that you can sink your teeth into, it’s not going to be for you.

2.5/5

Book Number 2

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Before I review this book, I have to thank Sam Smith from Atom books for sending me a copy after I said within her hearing that I wanted to read it. Thanks, Sam!

Nora Ephron admits that this is a thinly veiled memoir of her second divorce (although she does point out, fairly, that men are seldom called out for drawing from real life, whereas women often are). Rachel is seven months pregnant when she discovers that her husband has been having an affair and is in love with another woman.

Things I liked:

Nora Ephron’s enjoyable, conversational style made this book fly by. I didn’t realise how fast I was reading it until I came to the end and was disappointed that there was no more. (I really liked her style but I can see where some people might find it a little overwhelming. If you’ve seen any of her movies and enjoyed the witty dialogue and banter, you’ll probably be fine.)

Rachel was a fun character and I wish I knew her in real life as I feel like we would really get along. I enjoyed getting to know her.

The characters are all portrayed sympathetically. There’s even something to like about the cheating husband and I think that’s great because a lot of people who aren’t bad do bad things. I didn’t like his actions but I can’t condemn him either. Normally, cheating husbands will make me put a book down because I love my husband very much and that sort of lie would personally upset me so much. I’m not sure that everyone would have been so kind in a thinly veiled autobiography about their cheating husband.

There’s an hilarious scene with a therapy group, which I will not spoil, but which made me laugh out loud.

Things I didn’t like:

Not much seemed to happen in this book. Or, things happened, but it didn’t have a beginning, a middle and an end the way my primary teacher tried to convince me that all good stories should. (They tell you so many lies in primary school!) I actually didn’t mind this until I reached the end and didn’t quite feel done, but it’s something that I think deserves a mention.

Conclusion:

I liked this book a lot. I think you’d like this book too. And, if it turned out not to be for you, it’s so short that you wouldn’t have lost a lot of time. Maybe you should try it?

4/5

Book Number 3

Q: A Love Story by Evan Mandery Q: A Love Story by Evan Mandery

I have very mixed feelings about this book.

The hero (whose name is either very forgettable or not mentioned) is happily engaged to Q, the love of his life, when his future self appears and warns him not to marry her.

Things I liked:

The premise was incredibly clever; of course a counter historian would travel back in time to try and change his own life and of course he would keep trying to get it right. It also made sense that, just as he would always choose the wrong moment to start his counter histories (the ultimate differences are never that great), he would choose the wrong moments in his life to change.

The first section of the book, up until the break-up, or perhaps even until the third visit from his future self was a good read.

I also enjoyed the ending.

Things I didn’t like:

Large sections of this book were just plain dull. At times, I pictured Sherlock throwing it down in disgust. Perhaps the dullness was intentional, especially in his counter history of Freud, where the pivotal change the hero made left his life drab and unspectacular. Even if it was intentional, though, dullness still makes for bad reading.

I also didn’t care about the foibles of his future selves, which seemed to be described continually and at length.

For a great love story, there wasn’t much that was obviously great about their love. In a way, I almost found that his relationship with Q at the beginning of the novel was too good to be true.

Conclusion:

If you liked the time traveller’s wife or have an interest in counter histories and know that your tolerance for dullness is quite high, you should read this. Otherwise, maybe give it a miss.

3/5

While I was in France, I also bought myself a few books:

Les Femmes dans la Vie de Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser, Le Magasin des Suicides by Jean Teule and Le Tour du Monde en Quatre-Vingts Jours by Jules Verne

Don’t expect reviews of these any time soon – reading in French is pretty slow (for me, at least. Probably not for native French speakers!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: