My Dark Places by James Ellroy
433 pages / Memoir and True Crime / 3 out of 5 stars
When James Ellory was ten years old his mother was murdered. Her murder was never solved. Thirty years later, after growing up and becoming a best-selling crime writer, he teams up with a retired cold case detective to solve his mother’s murder. I don’t really want to spoil anything, but it doesn’t work. They still don’t know who killed her. He basically spends the first half of the book reviewing the original investigation and saying, “They never found anything.” He spends the second half of the book reviewing his own investigation and saying, “We never found anything.” Three out of five stars is a generous review, but it’s mostly just because I like the author.
I did not finish the 50 Book Challenge this year, but I did read 42 books, which is pretty darn close. I also want to point out that if I were to count all the books I read that came within 20 pages of counting as 2 (400 pages or more) I would have gotten to 45. To punish myself, I’m going to find a room like this one and lock myself away and do nothing but read until I feel like I’ve learned my lesson. This would also be my reward if I had finished. I win, either way.
Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land by Amy Irvine
363 pages / Natural history and Memoir / 3 out of 5 stars
I bought this book for two reasons: I love reading about and exploring Southern Utah and I suspected that I was related to the author. My great grandmother was an Irvine from Scotland, but my family has lost all contact with any of the Irvines we may be related to. Amy Irvine, the author, writes quite a bit about her family history, so I looked her people up on familysearch.org. It turns out we are not related. Additionally, I didn’t care much for the narrative of the book, although I did enjoy the way she described Southeastern Utah, and her writing has made me eager to get out there, hopefully sometime this summer.
Son by Lois Lowry
393 pages / Dystopian fiction / 4 out of 5 stars
I loved Part 1 of this book. It was cool being back in the world of The Giver seeing that world again from a different and unexpected perspective. I like the way the story was shaped in Parts 2 and 3, but I felt like the story lost a lot of steam and my interest waned a bit once Part 1 ended. I really enjoy Lowry’s understated world-building. I love that she shows so much restraint and fights the urge so many writers give in to, to go back and burden the reader with every detail about the history of her setting. She focuses on the story and omits any details that don’t drive her story forward. The only thing I really dislike about Lowry’s writing, in the installment as well as the other books related to The Giver, is her tendency to rely on “clean-sweep” endings, in which everything is wrapped up suddenly through supernatural means. It’s the only reason I don’t feel like I can ever give her books a five-star rating.