Near and Far: Books chosen for setting

So here it is, September and I have given over to the allure of BookRiot’s Read Harder.  I gave in before this but I have caved to write a post on two books that fit two categories regarding location in this hunt.

I read the first one as part of my Read Down 2017 first and then when I was peeking, I saw that it would fit the category of being more than 5,000 miles from my location.


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Soy Sauce for Beginners, Kirsten Chen

The google says Singapore is 9,358 miles from me.  That’s almost double the requirement.  Abouts Egypt or any further East would have done it, but I am clearly an overachiever.

This is a bit of the chick lit.  I am saying that because I have noticed that books I consider to be chick lit are books about the importance of home and family and returning to such. To me, they don’t tend to be about striking out to new places.   This book is about a woman taking a break from her American life to rediscovering herself in her native Singapore and reconsidering where she belongs.

And just because I call it Chick Lit does not mean that these are not flying page turners for me because they most certainly are.  I could relate to her marriage (even though mine is in appreciably better shape than hers, thankfully)  and her attendance in grad school, although she is using it to find herself and it is not working, whereas grad school did help me find myself. Even though I complain about it’s myriad of traumatic experiences, I don’t know who I would be without my graduate training and the awesome people I met to help me grow.  Anyway.  Even though I have always lived in one country and never in the Far East, the protagonist’s struggle and growth was highly relatable.  I like that she was always specially talented at the family business, even though she was pursuing music, and had more than one talent. I liked it.

For a book set within 100 miles of my location:

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Death in Saratoga Springs, Charles O’Brien

I guess I should not have been surprised that Saratoga could be a good setting for cozy mysteries, but it makes perfect sense with it being a seasonal town, a playground for the rich, and a place thought to possess a healing quality. Is it Bath in Jane Austen novels that serves a similar role, where the rich can go to try to get healing and a rest? More than one author came up as having written mysteries series based in Saratoga.

I liked this and I didn’t.  There is so much more showing in this writing than telling.  Even when the author is doing exposition through dialogue, it is often stilted. However, I also understand that cozies have a specific setting and context that they need to convey and that he was also communicating things like asylum reform and how the Civil War and industrialization impacted people of the Gilded Age to create his atmosphere. So I get the purpose of some of the more stilted pieces.

But I do love me a cozy.  They are popular for a reason and I have not done a lot of mysteries in my recent reading, something I actually noticed before I borrowed this from the library, so it balanced me out.  And I love Saratoga too and I have not explored it as much as I should.  I ran in the Spa Park in the spring to train for a half marathon that I was pleased with when it was over but felt like it would never be over.  I got married in Saratoga too.  I liked the murder plot, the number of suspects and the varied reasons people had to have it in for the murdered.  And how could I not love a female protagonist so passionately committed to social reform?  So the atmosphere and the plot worked for me, even if the writing didn’t always do so.

What books have you read based on a location requirement?


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