I’m a few books behind to reach my overall goal of 60 books for 2022. I blame getting slowed down by books that felt like a chore to read. I’m hoping to get out of a rut in spring.
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Wow! Leonor recommended this in her newsletter and she didn’t let me down. Eva and Shane are at the center of this teen lovers reunited romance. As teens they were both misfits, but as adults they are successful literary fiction and fantasy/romance writers. While there are really heavy themes and topics (self-harm, addiction, generational trauma to name a few), Williams handles these with sensitivity, wit and humor. I also liked how she also poked fun at literary genres and divisions in publishing.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
I was hooked on this thriller/mystery from the beginning. I was reminded a bit of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. Both books start with a dramatic murder at an event, but the victim isn’t clear. The timeline shifts to a few days before and multiple narrators share their perspectives. I liked the kinda supernatural elements (real or imagined) on the remote island, pacing and satisfying ending. I read some of the book, but mostly read via audiobook.
This book reminded me why I gravitate toward narrative non-fiction. Midnight in Mexico is part memoir, part history of the drug war in Mexico. Although he is a reporter, he becomes a character in his own story when a US investigator tells him there’s a contract on a US journalist and Corchado is on the short list of possible journalists. That wasn’t even the first time his life was threatened. Recommend this if you want to learn more about recent Mexican history and enjoy memoirs mixed with narrative non-fiction.
L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón
I saw a description of this book as “fun and fast-paced.” Um, no. I was stressed from the very beginning when Escandón matter-of-factly describes how two three-year-olds fall into a backyard pool while under the care of their grandmother. Throughout the book, which is set over a year, we get to know the rest of the wealthy Alvarado family, Oscar, Keila, and their three daughters who are professionally successful and in seemingly stable relationships. The pacing is a bit slow and overall the book left me feeling stressed and uneasy. That said, reading this made me want to go back to and re-read Escandón’s previous novels which I liked at the time: Esperanza’s Box of Saints and Gonzalez & Daughter Trucking Co.
Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chávez
It took me a while to read this and found myself getting bored and forgetting plot points. Ultimately, I found it okay. Tere is a single woman who lives with her mom in a town near El Paso. Her social life revolves around a Pedro Infante fan club, her best friend, and an ill-advised relationship with a married man. She’s messy and she knows it. I may have liked this more if I knew Mexican Cine de Oro better or was a Pedro Infante fan myself. Tere frequently recounts major plot points and analysis from Infante’s films and those sections were distracting without really advancing the story.
Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen
When I first heard about this novel several years ago, I was intrigued. Allen tells the story of Thomas Green Wiggins, an enslaved man born in the nineteenth-century with prodigious musical skills. Once I started the nearly 600-page novel, I found it difficult to follow and the pace frustratingly slow. Allen writes from multiple perspectives from Tom’s parents to guardians and those profiting off his skills in a fictionalized US (which was weird, because Tom actually lived). If I had not listened to the audiobook, I probably would have abandoned the book.