Books I don’t remember well enough to speak intelligently about them

Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World, by Roger Atwood, was a very interesting book all about looters and what gets lost when ancient sites are torn up and their contents sold off to wealthy collectors around the world. It used Peru as a focus to discuss the global problems of looting and collecting, but my main takeaway from it is that the Met is a big jerk about repatriating local artifacts. And now when I go to the Met and don’t pay full price, which I’m entitled to do because the admission fee is suggested, presumably because the museum recognizes that some people LIKE ME are broke, and the ticket-takers give me the evil eye to try and shame me into paying full price, I won’t feel ashamed at all. And when I’m rich, I’m not going to send any guilt money to the Met! I keep a list of institutions that are going to get guilt money from me when I’m rich, because I stiffed them when I was poor (every free museum in London and every theater company with a pay-what-you-can night), but I just crossed the Met off it. So.

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman, is a letter written by a high school girl to the boy she just broke up with, telling him all the reasons they broke up. Each story is preceded by a Maira Kalman illustration of a relationship artifact that Min is giving back to Ed along with this letter. It’s a really lovely book, both physically and as you read it. A trifle overwrought maybe but the narrator’s a high school girl, so that’s fair. Min loves films and talks extensively about them, all the scenes from movies that real life reminds her of, but all the films are made up. I liked that. The big thing I didn’t like was the end, which felt like it was selling the characters short to wrap up the story.

Days of Grace, by Catherine Hall, is a book about an old woman dying of cancer who befriends a single mother living next door to her. Interspersed with this story are the woman’s memories of her childhood, when she lived in the English countryside as a Blitz refugee and became very close to her adoptive family’s daughter, Grace. I read this over Christmas so as you may imagine I remember almost nothing about it now. I thought both stories were too slight. The emotions of the Blitz-time story felt rushed and unreal, and while the emotions of the present-day story feltΒ  much realer, there wasn’t enough story there.

Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch, was called Rivers of London in the UK, and sound good sense I think it. Midnight Riot felt like it should be the title of a completely different book. I don’t know why they changed it. Rivers of London is better. And a much better cover in the UK too. It’s about a police officer who becomes a sorcerer police officer while he tries to solve an extremely weird series of murders taking place around London. I enjoyed the characters and the mystery, and I felt well pleased with myself for figuring out — not the solution to the mystery, exactly, but I did figure out what the pattern of the murders was, ages before the characters did. I figured it out after Murder No. 2. Not because it was obvious! But because I am clever. (At least, I’d like to think so.) It was a fun read and I’d be up for trying the subsequent books in the series.

The Glass Demon, by Helen Grant, is about a girl called Lin whose father is an academic and they all move to Germany in search of these extremely legendary stained glass windows. There they are surrounded by suspicious circumstances and dangerous happenings, and Lin’s parents are jerks. And the glass windows may not exist but if they do someone might be willing TO KILL FOR THEM. The Glass Demon is notable for being the first book I ever read on a Nook. It was nice being able to lie on my back in bed and read without my arms getting tired from holding up the book, and The Glass Demon was one of those really fun, slightly Gothic, teenager-figures-out-a-mystery books.

Phew. I am relieved to have gotten all of those off my plate. They’ve been weighing on me.

29 thoughts on “Books I don’t remember well enough to speak intelligently about them

  1. Oh boo to those ticket takers – knowledge is for everyone people, even those without money, side eye the people who come in with Gucci bags πŸ˜›

    Anyway…you convinced me to put The Glass Demon on my TBR, because legendary stained glass windows which may, or may not exist sound very my kind of thing. I like quests where the destination may not be the point/may induce weeping when it vanishes (cruel, I know).

    • Thank you for your affirmation of my cheapness. :p

      I hope you like The Glass Demon! It’s not quite as gothic and atmospheric as I wanted, but it was a fun read.

  2. Yup.. “…and sound good sense I think it…” Agree, agree about Why We Broke Up. Stealing History sounds quite interesting; can’t tell from your brief review if you liked it?

    • I did! I did. I did like it. But I would have liked it more if it had gone into more detail about more places. I understand that would have been tricky with length restrictions. It would have been cool is all.

  3. Now I don’t like the Met either! I loved your mini reviews on these books, and am thinking about doing a few of these myself. It’s always such a pain in the rear when I have overdue reviews, and I can’t remember what I felt for the books!

    • It’s a very cool museum, to be fair, which is why I want to go there way more than I actually do go there.

      Go for it with the mini-reviews! It’s so cleansing. πŸ˜€

  4. I just got Why We Broke Up from the library and I’m totally excited about it. I read Days of Grace last year and actually liked it quite a bit. I have a backlog of books to be reviewed too, and I agree that it can be like a weight on your shoulders. I like to schedule 2-3 weeks out though so mini-reviews only work for me if I’m REALLY backed up.

  5. I still love the Met, but everyone has their flaws. Perhaps they will improve, once they read this blog post and feel convicted.

    When are you going to be rich? I’m sticking around!

    • Hahahahahah, yes, I’m sure all they’ve been waiting for is for a nobody book blogger to name their sin to them.

      I’m going to be rich when, um, I win the lottery! It’s happening any day now!

  6. Doesn’t it feel great to cross so many titles off your to-review list in one go? So great.

    I’ve added Why We Broke Up to my to-read list. I think that’s one I would like.

  7. I need to do one of these posts. Books that sit too long waiting to be reviewed start fading in my mind and then I find I can’t write much about them at all!

    And you asked on our post if we were going to read more Edward Eager and I can say “absolutely yes” because we thought Half Magic was awesome. πŸ™‚

  8. I am not sure about the Housman reference; the only thing that occurred to me is when you crowed about figuring out the pattern of the mystery: “if young hearts were not so clever/ oh, they would be young for ever.” Somehow I think that is not the one you had in mind, though.
    Sorcerer policeman?!!

  9. I’ve checked out Midnight Riot from the library but didn’t read it before it was due back. And I didn’t realize that it was the same book as Rivers of London…interesting. I wonder why they did change the title…

    The Glass Demon is on my TBR list. I read a really good review of it somewhere or another, added it to my TBR list, and then promptly forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me that I want to read it πŸ™‚

  10. I picked up ‘Rivers of London’ to leaf through the first chapter and the next thing I knew it was 2.30 in the morning and I still couldn’t put it down. The sequel ‘Moon over Soho’ was equally enjoyable, I hope you love it too.
    I agree totally about the UK covers as well. Really eye catching.

  11. Well, now I’m glad I didn’t pay full price at the Met, either. They should just be free, like the Smithsonian! And they should stop being jerks about keeping other people’s stuff. What, is there a shortage of things to put in their museum? Bah humbug.

    Like the snippet reviews! I’m on hold for Why We Broke Up but it still hasn’t come in yet. I love Daniel Handler as Lemony Snicket, and I’m curious to see if I’ll love Daniel Handler as Daniel Handler, too.

  12. Pingback: Review: The Future of the Past, Alexander Stille « Jenny's Books

  13. Pingback: Why We Broke Up (review) « The Alcove

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