Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Reading Challenge Book Review)

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried. My issues are: 1) Too many people to keep track of, with too many interwoven family ties; 2) Too much telling, not enough showing; and 3) I’ve met the 100-page rule but it’s just not grabbing me.

Caveat: I tried to read this right as my husband decided to torpedo our marriage and I’m overwhelmed with starting my life over AGAIN at my age, for chrissakes, not to mention severe cases of both pandemic brain and trump fatigue syndrome. So, I’ll be kind and tell this book, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

For my soon-to-be ex, “It’s you, asshole.”

This book was #7 on my 2020 Reading Challenge, a book with only words and no graphics or images on the cover.

Bookshelves: asian-culture, trashiest-trash, well-i-tried, pop-fiction

Help me find something I can actually tolerate in all this craziness

The Power by Naomi Alderman (Book Review)

The PowerThe Power by Naomi Alderman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Um, wow.

The takeaway? That oppression is grounded in fear: The fear the oppressor has of the oppressed.

Imagine if you will, a world where women have a power that renders them not only supremely able to defend themselves against the oppression of the patriarchy, but able to flip said patriarchy on its head.

And imagine the world they will create when it becomes men who fear being assaulted and raped, who cannot walk alone in the dark, who have to toe certain lines to keep their jobs and their social standing.

Power has her ways. She acts on people, and people act on her.

This is a very uncomfortable book, even if you do embrace feminism, and thought-provoking in all the right ways. I myself go into burn-it-all-down mode whenever I remember that rape is the only crime where the victim’s story is routinely not accepted and the victim herself is put on trial. And if you don’t believe that’s inequality, then… ~shrug~ Those who do not want to know cannot be taught.

I am happy to learn this book is being taught in college curricula. Highly recommended.

Bookshelves: women, patriarchy, controversial, current-social-issues, literary-fiction, social-commentary

Someday, women are going to burn it all down

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom (Book Review)

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1)Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bookshelves: historical-fiction, whodunit, period-mystery, murder-mystery, i-am-an-anglophile

This book is a delightful break from straight-on romantic historical fiction and standard mystery fare. I enjoy historical fiction and I enjoy whodunits, and C.J. Sansom nicely combines the two in this story of a commissioner of Thomas Cromwell investigating a murder (or three) at a monastery slated for elimination during the Henrician reformation.

Very well set in its time, this story serves as a window to Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church and the victims of that break, including heretic papists generally and Anne Boleyn specifically, while maintaining its focus on a locked-room-style murder mystery at the fictional monastery at Scarnsea. Our hero, the hunchbacked lawyer and ardent reformer Matthew Shardlake, is a pleasure to read.

Very well done. It’s the first in a series of several books, and that makes me happy.

Let’s find out whodunit together on Goodreads

Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (Reading Challenge Book Review)

The Bonfire of the VanitiesThe Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was #8 on my 2020 Reading Challenge, a book with one of the deadly sins in the title. (Note that I consider grounded knowledge of one’s virtues and strengths to be a different thing from vanity, but I’ve already read Pride and Prejudice more than once.)

There is not a single likable character in this book, not even the six-year-old, who isn’t even old enough to know better. You know she’ll be poisoned and grow up to be just another lemon tart/social x-ray. Wait, I take that back–young Henry Lamb seems to be a good person, but we never hear from him because he spends the whole book in a coma.

But that’s okay, because the characters aren’t supposed to be likable. They are despicable, because they are parodies, and very well done parodies. (I’ve heard that Tom Wolfe is famous for satire, but the only other book of his I’ve read is The Right Stuff, which I’ve read a few times and thoroughly enjoyed but for different reasons.) Essentially, we’ve got:

– Sherman McCoy, Master of the Universe bond trader on Wall Street, desperate to make the killing that will let him pay off the huge mortgage on his luxury apartment, always careful to position his face so his perfectly aristocratic jawline is at its best angle;

– Judy McCoy, Sherman’s wife, interior decorator and Social X-Ray;

– Maria Ruskin, Sherman’s mistress, gold-digger extraordinaire, married to a much older, very much richer man for obvious reasons (it is even suggested that while husband-hunting, she consulted actuarial tables);

– Larry Kramer, assistant prosecuting attorney looking to make a name for himself so he can get a raise and be able to afford a clandestine affair with a former juror, The Girl With the Brown Lipstick, because his magnificent sternocleidomastoid muscles might not be enough to impress her;

– Peter Fallow, a hopelessly alcoholic British journalist working in the U.S., desperate to get his writing mojo back and shamelessly manipulated by;

– Reverend Bacon, a black activist who not only promotes, but seeks to capitalize on, the cause celebre of the injustice done to;

– Henry Lamb, the young black man who is the victim of a hit-and-run in the Bronx.

Bonfire of the Vanities not only encapsulates the 80s and Wall Street excess (still relevant today, sadly), it lampoons WASPS, racism, sexism, keeping up with the Joneses, multiculturalism in general, law and order, use and abuse of privilege and power, and honor (or lack thereof) among thieves.

Highly recommend.

Bookshelves: modern-classic, satire, schadenfreude, dark-humor

Read to satirical excess with me on Goodreads