Black Coffee Books

Currently Reading: October

My first review here may take a while as reading has been a slow process for me lately. I’m currently reading two books:

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler and Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow

I’m also listening to Jane Eyre via audiobook because I’ve surprisingly never read it. Horrifying, I know.

None of these are *new* books. Z was published back in 2013 and Jubilee Trail back in 1950. I do plan to read and review some newer books, but Jubilee Trail is what we’re currently reading in my book club, and I picked up from a used book sale a while back. I’ll essentially be reviewing whatever I read, offering up my opinions on the book, new or old.

Up until recently, I was never the kind of person to read more than one book at a time. Unless I was reading two different books for two different classes, I avoided this at all costs. Now I’m reading three at once and realizing it’s a little difficult to get even one finished this way. But if I only read one at a time, that limits my reading to solely what we read in book club, and there are just too many other books I want to read (I have a very long and ever-growing list on Goodreads).

So I’m going to keep trying. Check back later for progress updates, and hopefully my first review soon!


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Currently Reading: Failing the Trapeze

Technically, I’m re-reading Failing the Trapeze by Susan V. Meyers. It was a prize winner for one of the contests at Southeast Missouri State University Press where I worked for a couple years before moving back to St. Louis. I read the initial manuscript submission, but left before the editing and publishing process was finished. So this is almost like reading it for the first time. This was my selection for book club. I tend to choose books that have strong female leads and evaluate their relationships between mothers and daughters. I’m a little over half-way through with this one and I’m loving it just as much as I did the first time through.

I’ve gotten a lot more reading done lately. I’ve been making it a priority to read a little bit each day. I’ve also taken a break from social media, so I’ve got a lot more free time now that I’m not mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I have decided audiobooks just aren’t for me. They make me sleepy and I feel like I miss important parts because it’s easier to get distracted when listening to a book than when I’m reading it. So I finally renewed my library card (although I still have to go pick it up). Then I can hopefully read more books from the library so I’m not buying as many (unless of course they’re really good).

I still haven’t finished Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald or Jane Eyre. Maybe I’ll get back to those once I finish Failing the Trapeze. My to-be-read list just keeps on growing though. And there are a few classics I didn’t read in high school or college (like 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale) that I’d like to read in the near future, so you might see those pop up on here soon. I especially want to read The Handmaid’s Tale since Hulu is making a series for it (not sure when that’s coming out though).

So that’s my update. I should have a review of Failing the Trapeze in another week or so. In the meantime, what are you reading?

Review: Jubilee Trail

I finally finished Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow. The book was published in 1950 and clocks in at 564 pages. It is an historical fiction novel that details a young woman’s journey along the trail in the mid-nineteenth century. The title of the book, and the name of the trail is ironic, but fitting. The trail presents adventurers with numerous hardships, but also brings about love and friendship.

Garnet, the story’s heroine, is a young woman of high society New York. She meets an interesting man visiting on business in between traveling the trail and falls in love. In addition to Garnet, we have Florinda, the only other main female character. She is a young “actress”, also from New York. She sings and dances at an establishment known as the “Jewel Box”–which is deemed unsuitable for women of high society.

Their paths eventually cross in New Orleans, where Garnet and her new husband, Oliver, are on their honeymoon. After lots of tedious and obvious foreshadowing, we later learn that the lives of these two women were more interconnected than we were originally led to believe. The two women face a lifetime of hardship together in a matter of a couple years as they embark on the Jubilee Trail.

Eventually, they make it to California, where life never seems to get any easier for them. The book is full of adventure, perseverance, friendship, and love. The ending was somewhat predictable, but not unenjoyable. Although Bristow’s writing style is probably accessible for most, I found it choppy and disconnected at times. The erratic use of punctuation (particularly quotation marks for dialogue) was also distracting.

Normally, I enjoy historical fiction. I’d even say it’s one of my favorite genres. This book, however, took a lot of time for me to really “get in to” and, ultimately, to get through. The book was longer than necessary, I think, and I did not find Garnet to be a likable character by today’s standards. She tried to be a strong and independent woman, but in the end, she simply could not exist without the assistance of a man in some way or another. Rather than feeling sympathetic for her, I was mostly annoyed by her.

Florinda, in my opinion, is the story’s true heroine. She has seen more hardship in her life than most and yet she continues to move forward. She never lets anyone–especially a man–get in her way or stop her from doing what she wants. Florinda is strong and resilient. She is a good friend to Garnet and others, but she looks out for herself first and foremost. Her character was one that I could admire and respect.

While there are certainly some people out there who would enjoy (and have enjoyed) this book, I cannot personally recommend it. The length, writing style, and unsympathetic characters made this a difficult book for me to finish.

As always, thanks for reading. Check back later to find out what’s next on my list. And if you have a book you’d like reviewed, feel free to contact me.


Quick Update

I have not yet finished any of the multiple books I am currently reading. I am about half-way through Jubilee Trail though–finally! I’m sure the girls in my book club are angry with me as it has taken me much longer than anticipated to read this book.

It took a while for me to have time to read it. Then when I did have the time, I had a really hard time getting into it. So now I’m about half-way through and things are really picking up. It is a long book, so I’ve still got a ways to go. But after I finish it, I’ll write up a full review on this one.

What is everyone reading currently? Let me know! I’m always looking for recommendations. And if you’ve got a book you’d like me to review, let me know!


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