Thursday, June 24, 2021

Review: The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rereading a book is fun. And I confess, it's been way too many years since I read Pride & Prejudice.

I picked the Annotated one because, well, I wanted context and explanations, for things that the reader at the time would have understood, or what scholarship can now tell us.

It was a delight having all that information while I was reading.

My first read as a teen was as someone who didn't get the class differences at play here; they had servants so how where they not rich? Why would people take a walk around the room?

I better appreciated the class differences this time around. I also better saw that Mr. Bennet was part of the problem and hardly faultless. What an odd pair, the parents. And how little was done for the daughters.

I also appreciated the structure, the timing of what was going on when.

Also interesting: how in the background servants are. They are necessary and needed for the Bennets' life, and the lives of all around them, of course, but so little attention is given to them.

But of course what was best was the dialogue! Elizabeth! Darcy! Character growth! The look of a year in the life of a family, the ups and downs.

My big question for you all: what biography of Jane Austen do you recommend?

Review: The Thursday Murder Club

The Thursday Murder Club The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this!!!

The Thursday Murder Club is a bunch of retirees in a retirement community who get together once a week to talk cold cases. They are a mix of people who wouldn't have been friends before, when they were each working and living in different areas of the country. Geography and shared interests have created friendships.

Meanwhile: a new cop in town, a woman who just transferred to the area, and her first big case.

Oh, yes -- because there has been a murder. So now the Club have a case that isn't cold at all.

I LOVED this. There was humor, yes; but it was also so real. The Murder Club members are smart and likable, each with different skills to contribute. And there were so many twists and red herrings, and it kept me guessing and wondering and trying to decide who were unreliable narrators.

I would love to see this as TV series: Golden Girls meets Murder, She Wrote meets Broadchurch.

I can't wait for the second book!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Review: Trailer Park Heart

Trailer Park Heart Trailer Park Heart by Rachel Higginson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruby: grew up in a trailer park, with her mother (former stripper, now she manages the strip club.) Ruby dreams of leaving the trailer park and her town behind her.

Levi: rich boy who teases and antagonizes Ruby all through high school.

At a graduation party, Ruby sleeps with Levi's older brother, Logan. She gets pregnant, destroying all her dreams of escape. Logan dies before she can tell him; and since it was a one night stand, she doesn't tell anyone else.

Fast forward: Ruby is a struggling single mom, adores her son, works as a waitress.

Levi returns to town.

Sparks fly.

But the big secret of her son's paternity may destroy their relationship.

OK, there was a lot I liked about this story. At the start of the story, Ruby at 25 still sees the world and terms of us/them and slowly, she does begin to realize that's not how the world works. Everyone isn't against her. Part of the "trailer park trash" label is her judging herself and so she takes everything as a slight, an insult, a judgment. I like character growth.

I also liked the romance between Ruby and Levi.

And I like what Ruby is trying to do for her son, to have a better life, even if on the surface (raising her son in the same trailer she was raised) it looks like it's just repeating the mistakes of her mother and grandmother.

What I didn't like: Ruby's dreams for herself, not just for escape but also ambitions for her future, are all set aside to be a "good mom" but her end goal of "good mom" is so her son can do what she didn't: leave the town when he graduates high school. He's in elementary school, and she's already deciding what he should do as an adult; that he's going to WANT to leave. And I also didn't fully buy that Ruby's college dreams were all or nothing and never returned to.

I couldn't get a handle on Ruby's mom. I think she's supposed to be gruff? Hear of gold? Misunderstood? But honestly sometimes she was just really mean and flip flopped on how supportive she was of Ruby.

And while I liked that the town and the people in it were less judgy than Ruby believes, it was also too much of a turnaround from "ugh I'm the town pariah" to "hey everyone is actually nice.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Review: One by One

One by One One by One by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A chalet in the French Alps -- the only way you can get to it is to ski or by a funicular. I am not a skier, so I would not enjoy the skiing or snowboarding --

But! It's a beautiful chalet, rented out to folks (and companies) with money. Nine bedrooms. Staff are Danny, who cooks (and wow the meals that are described!!), and Erin, who does everything else. Not a skier, as I said, but I would like to be there to see everything and eat those meals.

This week's guests: the top echelon of an app called "Snoop." Ten guests. On the first full day the weather reports predict bad weather in the afternoon, with the slopes being closed, so the group skiies all morning -- a mix of abilities, a mix of who is having fun and who is doing it because you can't say no to the boss.

One last run. And only nine come back to the chalet.

And then -- an avalanche hits. They are stranded, isolated. No cell service. And then -- the first death.

And then another.

It can only be someone in the house.

This is told by two narrators, Erin, who is one of the staff; and Liz, one of the guests. It's no spoiler to say that when you have two narrators like this, who both have secrets, that one of them knows more than they are telling us.

The suspense was great; I guessed some things, didn't guess others; and loved the isolation and how that added to the tenseness of the situation, even before bodies started dropping.