Sunday Lowdown #32

This Week’s Blog Posts:

My review of Swift as Desire by Laura Esquivel, which was published on Tuesday, didn’t get a lot of attention. I’m now wondering if folks are turned off by Esquivel’s most famous book, Like Water for Chocolate, due to her tendency to be overly-dramatic, garnering comparisons to telenovelas Mexicanas by users on Goodreads.

On Friday I posted my review of Wicked Woman by Addison Herron-Wheeler. While I’m glad that I learned about the early days of women in metal, especially Jinx Dawson, much of this nonfiction work felt like a Wikipedia page.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

Monday I’ll share my review of the third book in The Mage Storms trilogy, part of #ReadingValdemar in 2019. I know many of you aren’t following along with this particular readalong, so I’m adjusting my plans for Valdemar in 2020 and also seeking more stand-alone fantasy novels by women.

Wednesday I was going post a review of a book many of you are interested in: What We Talk About When We Talk About Books, a nonfiction work by Leah Price. However, Price uses painfully academic language to describe simple concepts. Instead of writing that if e-books are digital, then paperback books are analog, she writes that paperback books are “not-app.” And before e-books some folks would write their own index on separate pages and glue them into paperback books. Price calls this “not-database.” I have a master’s degree from a highly competitive university, and even when I was in the thick of things I could not stand the way some academics would make up terms when perfectly good words exist to describe their ideas. Even without invented terminology, her writing is clumsy. Take this sentence in which she describes viewers’ reactions to a YouTube video in which a crafty person repurposes a Lemony Snicket book to into a box with an X-acto knife and glue:

Before YouTube came on the scene, however, it would have seemed odd for a secular children’s book to inspire an army of enforcers to wrest the vulnerable volumes back from the hands of others judged undeserving of custody.

Wordy, attempts at alliteration to make it more. . .poetic? Sorry, Price. DNF.

Friday brings The Namesake review. A novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, many Grab the Lapels readers expressed their like of this book. I’ve only read Lahiri’s short stories and look forward to sharing my thoughts on a sustained plot.

Book by a Male Author from My TBR:

I finished the audio book of Elevation by Stephen King (read by the author) in short order. It contains the titular novella about a guy named Scott who is slowly less affected by gravity, and a short story called “Laurie” about Lloyd, whose sister unexpectedly dumps a puppy named Laurie on him to help him get over his dead wife. I wasn’t majorly invested in the plots of Elevation or “Laurie,” but I did feel invested in Scott, Lloyd, and Laurie. Neither story is horror, and neither provides neat answers, but I appreciated the simplicity of the writing that instead focuses on an idea: what if gravity no longer affects you? can a dog replace a human being?

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

Still David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Still the same insufferable Dora telling David to stop being so gruesome and talking about things like working, or suggesting Dora learn how to use a cook book. She’s so dumb it makes my face hurt.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

Thanks to Emily, Lori, and Ami for their recommendations!


  1. I have always followed movies and books through reviews (or Mad Magazine). So I enjoy ReadingValdemar without feeling any need for actually reading Valdemar. You of course may wish for more feedback.
    And your reaction to the insufferable Dora may finally jog me into reading David Copperfield for myself, overcoming the inertia of half a century (ok, two thirds).


    • David Copperfield is great fun, especially scenes with Mr. Peggoty and the time David gets drunk and wants to know who is smoking, only to realize it’s him!

      Thanks for following along with #ReadingValdemar, Bill! I appreciate the support. I’m thinking of reviewing entire trilogies in mini reviews, though with some books Lackey moves away from 3 books into 5, which might be a hiccup in my plans.


  2. Such a shame that the Price book didn’t live up to expectations, but that is a very wordy quote. And you’re spot on with your comments about the Laura Esquivel review, at least as far as I am concerned – I didn’t live Like Water for Chocolate on rereading it, and I’ve given her work a fairly wide berth since then. (I will give your review a read now, though, as I am curious to know what you made of it).


    • Esquivel’s writing is dramatic, has a wild flare, definitely uses magical realism, and can be saccharine to a fault, but there is something about her work that makes me feel like I’m watching a performance that I enjoy in her novels.

      The Price book felt both silly and mind boggling right away, so I had to let it go. I’d already crammed in another nonfiction book by Sarah Powell, so I don’t feel bad putting down Price’s work.


      • Yes to both! My caseload is very heavy right now, and I’ve also had lots of family obligations (some of them fun, like a trip to Florida last week with my kids). October is rough, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that November is better. I’d like to do NaNoWriMo again if I can (ha!). I hope you’ve been doing well.


        • You always seem to do well in NaNoWrMo. I don’t know how you manage it with your workload and the amount of attention you pay to your family but you pull it off! I am doing well, thank you 🙂


  3. I’m glad you (mostly) enjoyed Elevation, and I’ll be interested to see what you think of Duma Key when you get around to it! I am slowly making my way through all of Stephen King’s books, but Duma Key is very low on my list as far as titles that interest me, even though I’ve heard mostly positive things about it. Not sure why.

    Also looking forward to your review of The Namesake! I have not read anything by Lahiri yet, but would like to!
    And of course, I hope you enjoy The Turn of the Key. 🙂


    • I’m surprised how many people HATED Elevation! Perhaps because it wasn’t straight-up horror, but it was advertised as such. I picked Duma Key because the description interested me, especially the focus on creativity.

      To get a taste of Lahiri’s work, I would recommend “A Temporary Matter.” There is a PDF of it here:
      It’s a short story I used to use with college freshman when I was teaching a class called Domestic Fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wasn’t one of the many who hated Elevation (I do think marketing it as horror was a mistake), but it was very middle-of-the-road for me. I really liked the weird sci-fi element and didn’t mind the genre, but I found the lesbian neighbor side plot kind of preachy and gimmicky, like he was trying to crowd please with a bit of political commentary that didn’t feel very new or unique. It had a different tone from SK’s usual fare, that’s for sure. I’ll link my little review here in case you’re interested, but I think that’s the gist of it.

        Thanks very much for the recommendation! I’ll probably check that story out later today, short pieces are always great to get a feel for an author’s work, and I am curious to try Lahiri!


  4. That quote from Leah Price’s book is such a turn off for me. I don’t want books to be ‘simple’ but neither do I want to read any that are full of tortured prose like this.


    • She’s trying to by fancy, in my opinion. Honestly, that sentence reads like something my Introduction to Creative Writing. They want to use as much alliteration and assonance as they can to demonstrate they’ve absorbed the lecture, but at the expense of something pleasant to read. It’s a good first attempt, but I don’t want my nonfiction to read like that.


  5. Looking forward to your thoughts on Ruth Ware’s book, I’m going to post my review of it shortly I think…

    Also, your commentary brought up an interesting idea. You had mentioned that one of your posts didn’t receive alot of attention, and you attributed it (possibly) to the book itself. It’s funny, whenever one of my posts gets less attention than usual, I tend to attribute it to other factors, like when I posted the review, what time of the week/month/year, whether the timing of the review vs. the release of the book made it too late or too early. I tend to blame every other factor, other than the book it seems. I wonder why that is?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OOh I hope that Spinning Silver is good and lives up to the hype!
    I just finished The Ten Thousand Doors of January and really enjoyed it – I think my review will be ready to go next week sometime.
    What We Talk About When Talking About Books sounds absolutely awful! Uggh – smart choice to DNF it!


    • I was shelving books at the library the other day and noticed that the Spinning Silver author has several books. I don’t know why I thought that was her first. Maybe it was the first in a while? Or readers were really excited about it?


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