Finished: 12/25/20

Grade: B

Six essays about the COVID PANDEMIC written during the COVID PANDEMIC.

It is comforting to have someone with such clarity of vision talking definitively about a situation that seems so confusing. So much media feels irrelevant right now, the simple fact of being set during the pandemic makes it refreshing.

I read this in a couple hours on Christmas day. Easy peasy, nice and cheesy.

Big ups to my mom for giving me this bad boy!

Finished: 12/20/20

Grade: A

A pair of poets in Mexico city hang out, find love, and write letters to famous American Sci-Fi writers in a desperate plea to save Latin America from US aggression through the power of literature. Roberto Bolano’s writing is smooth, mesmerizing, and unique. He has that great writer thing where he can be telling a very casual story about some individuals living their individual lives but it somehow unlocks the deeper secrets of the entire world.

Big ups to my dad for giving me this bad boy!

Finished: 12/10/20

Grade: C

It is 1920 and Australian teenager Maggie Bright finds herself working for Edward the Prince of Wales during his train tour of her home continent. What begins as a romantic brush with royalty, takes a tragic turn and sparks a drama that spans generations.

I found this book in a free library and decided to read it because it seemed like the kind of thing I wouldn’t usually read.

It was… OKAY!

The writing was cheesy, and at least one character randomly bursts into tears in every scene, but my main issue with this book is the pacing.

Things are moving at a reasonable clip for the first 60 pages or so but then Maggie gets on the train and we fall into a plot-swamp where we get 100 pages of reminders of what has already happened, and relentless foreshadowing of the dark events on the horizon. When something finally happens again, it’s less of a shocking twist, and more like “Finally! Now we can get on with the story!”

This seems like an author trying to pad the length of a book without much plot but then, at the end of the book, we get this huge chunk of exposition, where half of the plot is explained to someone over the phone. There was plenty of plot, it’s just all scrunched up at the end for some reason. 20% of this novel’s plot actually takes place on a train, but that’s where we spend 75% of our time.

There were some truly lovely parts, and it’s an exciting story, but there’s a big slog in the middle and by the end you’re just happy to have gotten through it.