Book reviews

There’s a lot that you forget about having newborns, I think, no matter how recent your last baby came along. Since you spend most of their infancy in a hazy fog of sleep deprivation, I suppose that makes sense. For me, one thing I forgot is the smell. When I walk into the residential wing of our house (ha, didn’t I just make it sound like my house is enormous? It’s not), I walk into a wall of this smell. Newborn babies smell like … warm pooh. I’m not sure how it is that the pooh smell is warm, exactly, but it is. It permeates the very walls of the rooms. Breathe it in, because no matter what you do, there will always be more warm pooh. I’m just happy that the weather is good enough to keep all the windows open.

The other thing I forgot is the rapturous joy that comes with baby’s first smile. It is such a beautiful thing, to see your little one’s face light up with recognition and love; it’s as if they’ve only just discovered happiness for the first time in life. E is a serious little girl, and approaches most of life’s challenges with a furrowed brow. She doesn’t just throw smiles around, that one. So when she finally graced me with a grin, well, all the trauma and pain and blood and lack of sleep and warm pooh smells, it is all worth it. How is it that they do that?

I also firmly believe that newborns have preferred music, although I’m not quite sure how they decide this. X, for instance, was all about Bruno Mars, played very loud while being rocked and swung around rather aggressively. E, though, is all about the country. Alan Jackson to be exact. Nothing calms her down like a good two-step. I like to think it’s because even though she’s born and raised in Switzerland, she has ingrained memory of where her family comes from. All this two-stepping is making miss Stampede.

So, you might be surprised to hear I have still been reading, what with the two children thing, but I’ve been reading as much as I can. Usually at 4 in the morning, trying desperately not to fall asleep as E feeds. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

 

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

Book description: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

Reading Challenge category: First novel of a popular author

My review: This book was a disappointment for me. It was really talked up, but I just couldn’t really get into it. It was sooo dense, and heavy, and verbose, and I thought it was kind of boring. I much preferred Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which has a similar concept but manages to be actually enjoyable to read.

I’m probably not being fair. It wasn’t the right time for me to tackle this book. I’m exhausted and as I said, I’m reading in chunks in the middle of the night, blearily trying to remain awake. A book about the Greek classics and a theoretical take on morality just wasn’t going to float my boat, no matter what. I took me FOREVER to get through this. I wouldn’t have even kept on going, except I had been on the hold list for so long at the library and didn’t want to have to start the wait over. In retrospect, it might have been the right choice, though.

 

Beguiling the Beauty, by Sherry Thomas

Book description: When the Duke of Lexington meets the mysterious Baroness von Seidlitz-Hardenberg on a transatlantic liner, he is fascinated. She’s exactly what he’s been searching for—a beautiful woman who interests and entices him. He falls hard and fast—and soon proposes marriage.And then she disappears without a trace…

For in reality, the “baroness” is Venetia Easterbrook—a proper young widow who had her own vengeful reasons for instigating an affair with the duke. But the plan has backfired. Venetia has fallen in love with the man she despised—and there’s no telling what might happen when she is finally unmasked…

My review: After the heaviness of The Secret History, I went ahead and got a bunch of really light, frivolous books, since it’s probably all my muddled mind can take right now. I was right. A fluffy historical romance was just what the doctor ordered. Hot blindfolded sex and humourous miscommunications that make this a regular romantic comedy? Yes please. For a romance this was totally enjoyable. And can tell you a bit about the state of my mind as well.

 

Angelfire, by Courtney Allison Moulton

Book review: First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

My review: Yet another angel book, and another one that just doesn’t quite make the grade. Actually, first I was put off by our main character Ellie, for being a complete lightweight, more interested in Louboutins than a fight for the world’s souls. She was rich and popular and pretty, so where was the challenge for her? Most good leading ladies (or men) have a lot to overcome, are often the underdogs. But then I remembered that the most kick ass superheroine there has ever been, Buffy, was just the same, rich and popular and pretty, before accepting her destiny and dealing with all kinds of challenges. So I opened my mind to the book.

Which lead to a much greater problem, because almost anything in comparison to Buffy just isn’t going to stand up. This was like Buffy-lite. There was even an Angel character, a broody guardian maybe-former lover who turns up to watch over her. What bothers me is that this character, Will, had been in love with Ellie for centuries, and only now, when she was in the persona of a ditzy shopping-obsessed teen, does he finally give in and kiss her. It would have been WAY more interesting if they actually were former lovers. Anyway, didn’t live up to my immensely high expectations. But points for creating a very interesting world. I might even be enticed to check out the next book, because I do like where the author is going with this.

 

The Dopeman’s Wife, by JaQuavis Coleman

Book description: Nautica was raised by the streets and forced to grow up fast. The allure of the fast like pulled her into a world of scandal, schemes, and hustling. After Nautica comes up on a big scam and her biggest payday ever, she decided to move to the East Coast in search of a new beginning. What she thinks will be a new start turns out to be a nightmare.
She meets Manny, a well known millionaire druglord who is planning his exit from the streets. Manny is ready to settle down and marry the woman of his dreams. He sweeps Nautica off her feet and introduces her to the good life, promoting her from an ex-hood chick to the queen of the streets. But when the past comes back to surface, it causes their whole world to fall to pieces. Nautica and Manny have skeletons in their closest that intertwine and cause a dilemma that turns them against each other.
This story takes you through the life of a dopeman’s wife and her fall from grace. Look through her eyes and prepare for a sexy, page turning classic that has an ending so unpredictable, not even Nautica can see it coming.

My review: This is an urban book, about people who are all about the hustle and the hood. So basically, like my life written down. Just kidding. I could not relate to anything in this book. Nautica is a rather narcissistic character who goes from one scam to the next without a lot of thought to who gets hurt. Pretty much everyone in this book is a dealer, a thief or a murderer, or all of the above, and they spend most of the time offing each other.

My total inability to relate to the characters aside, this book cracks ahead at breakneck speed and is absolutely entertaining. It goes from sexual escapade to criminal activity and they back again, and repeat. And that’s only the first ten pages. So it was tons of fun to read and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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