Books I read this week: July weeks 1 and 2

Almost caught up! These are the books I’ve read over the last couple of weeks.

Wink, Poppy, Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke is a disconcerting book, because you’re never sure who is telling the truth and who isn’t. It’s the story of three teenagers, Wink, a girl who loves stories, Poppy, a domineering queen bee, and Midnight, a young man who loves Poppy but is beginning to realize that she may not be good for him. The three of them circle and feint around each other, and you know that something is going to happen as the tension builds, but not exactly what. It’s a great reading experience that catches you up in the story, such that you don’t notice a couple of holes until you’re thinking about it afterward, but I liked this one.

The Beautiful Cigar Girl by Daniel Stashower is about the investigation into the murder of Mary Rogers in 1841 and how Edgar Allen Poe became involved as he wrote the story “The Mystery of Marie Rogt.” Similar to The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, this book is chock full of historical details such that you come away knowing so much more than when you started. The mystery of who killed Mary is fascinating, as are the lengths that Poe went to. Poe doesn’t come off terribly well in this book, I didn’t care for him by the end, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin is SO good. It’s the story of Truman Capote and the lovely, rich women he befriended in New York, and how he ultimately betrayed them by using their stories in his writing. Every character is so vividly portrayed, everyone’s motivation so clear, I want to read biographies about every one of them now. There’s so much in here about class and gender roles, but none of it bashes you over the head, it just gives you a clear picture of how life was and how far we’ve come. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira is about the relationship between Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas, and it is gorgeous. So much good stuff about art and painting and love and family and independence, and I loved it.

Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore is one of my favorite books. I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read it before (I could check but I’m lazy), but I had to reread it again after I Always Loved You because of the themes of muse and art. It’s a story of the Impressionists, and how they really got their inspiration. It’s all about the color blue and Tolouse-Latrec is a main character and is utterly delightful. There’s quite a bit of swearing in it, and the humor is rather dark, but it’s one of those books that you just have to gasp when you realize what exactly the author has pulled off.

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale is about a pair of pre-teen brothers in Victorian England who murdered their mother. It follows them from their childhood. through their capture and trial, to their adult lives, and it’s fascinating.

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