Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Month in Books: August

I may have gotten a lot of reading done in July, but that didn't happen again in August. It rarely does, because August is one of our busiest times at work, so I'm always happy I got to read anything at all. Unfortunately, most of what I did read was kind of a waste.

With that ringing endorsement in mind, here are the four books I read:

1) It's been years since we saw the Adare family of VC Andrews' Whitefern, and the years have not been kind. While Sylvia has grown into a beautiful young woman, she still has the mind of a child, helpless to care for herself. Papa is in frail health, Arden is drinking heavily, and Audrina is surrounded by memories of the past. When Papa dies, his lawyer reveals the shocking news that Papa cut Arden out of the will, leaving the business and Whitefern to Audrina and Sylvia. What shocking secret prompted him to do so? And how does it threaten the fragile peace of Whitefern and threaten Audrina's quiet, peaceful life?

All of the "shocking twists" in this book were telegraphed chapters before they happened. Read it if you're curious, but you're not missing much. I expected this to be trashy garbage going in, though, so I wasn't really disappointed.

2) Cassandra French is a bored lawyer in LA, tired of dating the wrong man over and over. They're crass, uncultured, insensitive, selfish, and boring, but some of them seem to have a little bit of potential. Cassie, deciding that the best way to find the man of her dreams is to train them herself, opens Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys, and promptly sets out drugging men and chaining them to cots in her basement. Each day she drugs them with morphine and takes them through a series of lessons in things like matching clothes, getting in touch with their feelings, and how to please a woman. She thinks they're getting closer to graduation, but will she be able to keep the school from being discovered before they can finish their course of study?

This wasn't funny, or clever, or witty, or any of the other words it said on the cover. It was boring.

3) Patrick deWitt's Undermajordomo Minor was a fairy tale that didn't seem to really go anywhere. Lucien "Lucy" Minor leaves the tiny village where he's unhappy to take up a position at the Castle von Aux, where he'll be assisting the majordomo. The castle is full of secrets, and the village below full of quirky characters, and Lucy might fall in love, and the Baroness may return from her long exile, but really none of this seemed terribly interesting. I was bored for most of the book, and when I got to the end I wasn't sure why I'd bother to read it.

This was recommended by a website that usually points me to good things, so I'm wondering what I missed here. Something about it just didn't work for me.

4) Ron Horsley's Beyond the Grass Ocean is a children's book, but engaging and moving enough for adults as well.

Nary, a young girl in the fishing village of Rains Perish, lives alongside the great Grass Ocean, a wide sea of grass so deep that ships sail on it and unknown creatures live in its dark depths. When Nary was younger, her mother got very sick, and then went away, forever away, and now Nary wants to know where forever away is, and why the people who go there never come back. When no one can answer her question, she and her friends set off across the Grass Ocean, searching for the Twined Cities and the twins, Somnol and Mortol, who run the world.

In some ways, this is a typical coming of age novel, but it's also filled with magical, lingering imagery. It made me think a lot about grief, loss, and coping, but also it was just an interesting read. The illustrations are well done, too.

I'm glad I read this. It's the only book out of the four I read this month that I'm going to keep.

The book I'm reading now is pretty entertaining, so I have high hopes for September.

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