January Book Reviews…in February!

Seeing as we’re almost halfway through February, I’m a bit late with this post. Below are the four pitiful books I read in January. My goal this year is, as always, to get to 100. I’m already four behind. But no matter! I have a good feeling that this will be the year I achieve 100. I may have to squeak in a few audio books at work, but dagnabbit it will be done!

I’m trying out a new rating scale. Instead of a star system, which really doesn’t mean much to anyone but myself, I’m doing my own Buy, Borrow, Bypass. Of course, a small note: Save for the nonfiction titles, I’ve already purchased all of these books. That’s just how I roll.

Lincoln in the Bardo | George Saunders

Told from the alternating perspectives of spirits caught in the Bardo, a place between death and new life, it follows Lincoln as he visits the crypt of his recently deceased son, Willie.

I thought this was absolutely brilliant. I was not surprised that it won the Man Booker Prize (as if I really know what that is or care), and I can totally understand why it was on so many favorites lists last year. I wholly recommend this to fans of historical fiction and satire, and I would encourage writers of any genre to read it for the experimental structure alone.

Buy – I’d read it again.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 | Annie Spence

A librarian writes love letters (and some hate mail) to books that have made an impact on her life.

This was hilarious. I did not at all expect to laugh out loud as much as I did, nor did I ever think librarians could have so much personality. I did not agree with her letters to every book, especially her off-putting and most disagreeable attitude towards The Hobbit, but I did read the entire book in one night. Well, okay, that’s a bit of a lie. I didn’t read the very end where she gave book recommendations. I’m already drowning in my TBR–I don’t need any help with that.

Library – Though thoroughly enjoyable, it’s not something I need to read more than once. Also, you know, she’s a librarian talking about books she read at the library.

James and the Giant Peach | Roald Dahl

Poor, pathetic, orphaned James is tormented by his two aunts until a stranger gifts him with magic water, which he accidentally spills on a barren peach tree. When a peach on it grows larger than a house, he finds a tunnel inside and embarks on an adventure with a group of super freaking huge insects.

I’m slowly making my way through Dahl’s books. As a kid, I only read The BFG. Last year I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the last of which I have ranted about to anyone who will listen and even to those who just sort of glaze over when I talk. I won’t bore you with–you know what? I’m gonna go there.

For those who haven’t read it (you lucky dogs, you), the sequel begins with Mr. Wonka, Charlie, and his entire family shooting up into space in the elevator. There are some run-ins with carnivorous Vermicious Knids and a whole section on the idiocy of the President. Then, finally, after much hullabaloo, they return to the chocolate factory, where the selfish grandparents–who they should’ve let starve ages ago–get in a tiff over these pills that make them twenty years younger. One of the dumb sacks hogs four pills which, since she is only in her seventies, ends up putting her in negative years. She disappears and Charlie has to save her. Apparently she never bothered taking up arithmetic during all those bedridden years.

Dumb. It was all just dumb. No wonder no one adapted it into a movie. They just stopped at the first book. Dahl should’ve too.

*deep breath* But I digress…

James and the Giant Peach did not enrage me to my core. In fact, I did not feel much of anything while reading it . . . except sheer bloody terror that the cursed rhino who killed James’s parents would return again. Stupid, emotionally scarring Tim Burton films.

Library – I’m glad I read it, but not certain I’d do so again.

Speak Easy, Speak Love | McKelle George

A group of teenagers work to keep a run-down speakeasy on Long Island running despite challenges from Prohibition officers, the mafia, and their own dramas.

Zounds, I loved everything about this book! Jazz, speakeasies, hate-to-love romances, ’20s garb. The two main love interests–Benedick and Beatrice–are deliciously witty. I aspire to insult people like they do. It’s supposedly a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, which I haven’t read and likely never will. Shakespeare hurts my head and I like to keep my distance.

I am very much looking forward to more work from George.

Buy – Mein Gott, buy it for the cover alone.