Sunday, February 4, 2024

The Sunday Post #356

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The Sunday Post is a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, tell you what I’m reading, and share news. It’s hosted by The Caffeinated Book ReviewerReaderbuzz, and Book Date.

The Sunday Post #356

On The Blog Recently

In My Reading Life

Have you ever finished a book and were disappointed, but y0u're not sure if it's the book's fault or your own fault? That's me with A Sisterhood Of Secret Ambitions by Sheena Boekweg. It's not what I expected, but maybe that's on me? I didn't do enough research before buying it.

A Sisterhood Of Secret Ambitions is alternate history set in the 1920s. It's about a secret society of women who infiltrate American politics by seducing powerful men and influencing their political agendas. At this point in (alternate) history, women don't have any political power. The only way they can make their voices heard is by getting men to speak for them.

The secret society identifies an eighteen-year-old man who may become a future presidential candidate. The main character and her friends are sent to insert themselves into his life.

I adore this premise. There's so much potential for backstabbing and manipulation and messy emotions. I mean, imagine being that eighteen-year-old future politician. Imagine discovering that your friendships and romance are based on lies. That would be unsettling! It would be even worse to discover that your mother contacted a secret society to direct your entire adult life.

However, that's not what the book is about. That's what I thought it would be about. The actual book is kind of bland. The writing is clunky. The pacing is a disaster. There's no character development whatsoever. The author really beats you over the head with the "women are important" moral.

In reality, the main character doesn't want to be in the secret society. She's not interested in being a wife. She doesn't care about politician boy's feelings. It's a story about a teenage girl ignoring a secret society and becoming a writer. She learns to be the #GirlBoss of her own life. That's great, but I've read this story before. I was hoping for something new.

I understand that the author is subverting tropes. She doesn't want to write about bitchy women squabbling over a powerful man. But, the story didn't have to be that. The secret society is intricate and fascinating. I feel like the author threw away a bunch of cool world-building to give us a stereotypical historical fiction plot.

This book isn't what I wanted it to be. That's probably my fault and not the book's. My expectations were very, very wrong.

Then I read a massive book. It was the 976-page The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett. This is one of the biggest books I've ever conquered. Looking at it gave me chest pains because I knew it was a 976-page brick about building a cathedral. Yes, building a cathedral. How tedious can you get? It sounds miserable! I fully expected to read a few hundred pages and then quietly jam the book into the library return slot. (Can it even fit in the slot? Would it cause a minor earthquake when it hit the floor?)

But. Um. I read the whole book. All 976 pages. And I accidentally loved it? Seriously. This beast has consumed my life for the past twenty-one days. I couldn't leave it alone. I finished it yesterday and already miss lugging it around like a morbidly obese house cat. What am I going to do with myself now that it's over? (Well, there are sequels, but one step at a time.)

It's a book about building a cathedral in the Middle Ages. I promise it doesn't suck! Actually, it's a lot like A Game of Thrones without dragons and zombies. It starts with a mason searching for a job and then keeps sprawling outward until it's about a whole town. It would probably make an excellent Netflix miniseries. There are a ton of characters, but I never got confused because they're developed beautifully. They have distinctive personalities and goals. I was never mad about switching perspectives because I was invested in this town. I wanted to be in everybody's business.

For a giant book, the pacing moves quickly, and there's a new plot twist every few chapters. I can tell that the author was originally a thriller writer. Nothing goes right for these characters.

Actually, so much goes wrong that I started to wonder why they were making this cathedral at all. The construction project (accidentally) kills tons of people and causes decades of anger and financial trouble. Does the town really need a massive stone cathedral? Would God be mad if they just . . . did church in a different building? My town has a billion churches, and one of them used to be a car dealership. I don't think God is mad about recycling a building because The Holy Church Of Burt Chrysler Automotive hasn't collapsed on anybody yet.

Even though I was obsessed with this novel for twenty-one days, it does have issues. There's no reason for it to be 976 pages. It gets repetitive at times. Also, the plot is extremely violent, especially toward women. The ugly women are evil, and no one wants them. The beautiful women are good and get raped a lot. The men are like, "Whelp, my wife died of plague three hours ago. I guess I better smash that hot wench I spotted in the bathing pond." Everybody needs to chill, including the author. I don't want any more descriptions of Aliena's luxurious pubic hair. I've had enough. Thank you very much.

Am I going to read the sequel? I don't know. I want to. I just looked it up, and it's 1,237 pages. Goodreads neglected to say how many of those pages are descriptions of pubic hair. Someone needs to take the author's laptop away. He's written too much already.

Five stars!

In The Rest Of My Life

I don't know what to write here! I spent last week asleep because I have a not-COVID respiratory disease. I mostly flopped around in my bed and felt sorry for myself.

Five things that made me happy last week:

  1. Finishing The Pillars Of The Earth. I'm a slow reader, so getting through that many pages is an accomplishment. I put a lot of hours into it.
  2. Speaking of things that take forever, thanks to everybody who looked at my I Read 200+ "Best Books Of 2023" Lists post.
  3. My mom got me Doritos. I haven't had those in a long time because I'm on a perpetual diet. Doritos are one of my true loves.
  4. I watched the NHL All-Star Game. That's a fun time, even though Team MacKinnon was the first team eliminated from the tournament. I should just not pick favorites. My favorites always lose.
  5. I attempted to go for a walk because I was bored of being stuck in the house. I looked like a plague victim, coughing and stumbling down the street. I'm pretty sure I scared a construction worker. He looked ready to hit me with his shovel.

Be Gone, Plague Demon

Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. See you around the blogosphere!


  1. I am sorry you are sick, but I'm glad it's not Covid. I always flinch when I'm in a space with a cougher. People inevitably say (in a rather mean voice): "I don't have Covid!"

    Wow! The Pillars of the Earth! Almost a thousand pages! Wow!

  2. It depends on if the publisher set you up to expect something and didn't deliver. I know a lot of readers get frustrated when books are marketed a certain way but turn out to be something different. I recently DNFed a book that was billed as a story of sisterhood and it was about a throuple. Not for me. Sorry to hear your illness is lingering. That's what happened to me around the holidays. Feel better! And, which Doritos are we talking about? Original? Have you made those southern dishes that use Doritos as a garnish?

  3. You got me at "It's a lot like Game of Thrones". The Pillars of the Earth has been on my someday, maybe list for a while, but now I might have to make concrete plans to actually read it. Off to check your Best Books of 2023 lists!

  4. Well I don't need to read The Pillars of the Earth - you shared the good parts which sound like dark comedy. Doritos are actually gluten free, as are Cheetos, but we don't get them often because orange fingers lead to orange clothes and orange books.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

  5. I'm sorry you've been sick. I know the flu has been going around. My doctor got it and was sick for a week. :( I hope you feel better soon.

    I'm sorry the secret society book didn't work out for you. Honestly, I think I'd have the same reaction. I like your idea of what it's about better.

    Have a good week!

  6. I'm sorry you've been sick. I hope you're feeling better. I couldn't read such a big book. I'm a slow reader, too, and don't even attempt the long books. Hope you have a great week!

  7. I am sorry you have been so poorly AJ! I can't wait inside for too long either, sick or not!

  8. The premise of A Sisterhood Of Secret Ambitions dies sound interesting, it’s a shame the execution wasn’t there.
    I hope you feel much better this week

    Wishing you a happy reading week

  9. I'm sorry you've been sick and scared a construction worker. So glad you didn't end up in someone's foundation! I think I might give that obese cat a go. I'm no stranger to thicc books, but I haven't read one in awhile.

  10. I hope you are feeling better, AJ. I am sorry to hear you've been so sick.

    I am sorry A Sisterhood Of Secret Ambitions was disappointing. I have had that happen too--when I am not sure if it's the book or me that is the cause for my disappointment. I remember loving The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett when I read it and am so glad you liked it. For such a big book, it really was fast paced. I haven't read the sequel and, to be honest, am not sure I will.

    Have a good week and take care!

  11. I thought they made a series out of Pillars of the Earth. Apparently it's on Prime?

  12. I hope you are feeling better soon. I liked the title you gave the church in the former automotive dealership.

  13. I hope that you feel better soon! I love your favourite things!

  14. I’m so sorry you feel so bad. But I’m glad you have so many things to make you happy. Hope this week is better!

  15. I do hope you're feeling better. Respiratory ickiness is just awful.

  16. At least you retain your sense of humor when you're sick. Hope you feel better. A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions isn't a book I've read, but I would have the same idea about it as you did before reading. Hope you have a good week.

  17. Love, love, love your thoughts on Pillars of the Earth. I have had lots of people recommend the book to me, but other people who I respect have mentioned the way that women are treated so I haven't quite got there yet.

  18. Yay, I'm so glad to see you loved Pillars of the Earth! I read that book way back in college for a course on medieval Europe and it always stuck with me. There is actually a mini-series that was made from it (I think Eddie Redmayne is in it!). I've read two of the four sequels and they are good. It's interesting that they are all from different time periods, so not direct sequels. None of the same characters are in it, although they do reference them from time to time.

  19. Sorry to hear that you're not feeling well. I hope you kick the virus soon. Congrats on finishing Pillars of the Earth. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  20. Hope you are feeling better and so glad you got some Doritoes. That's reason for celebration right? Also, Pillars of the Earth sounds like quite the accomplishment. Hope you love the second brick if you decide to pick it up!

  21. I'm sorry you aren't feeling well, take care I hope you get better soon:-)

  22. Omg! I'm laughing my head off over your review of Pillars of the Earth! Yes, someone does need to take his laptop away! Luxurious pubic hair? Yack! Happy you loved it other than that, though. I'm interested in hearing what you think of the next brick. Lol. I love Doritos, too, but try to stay away from them for the same reasons. I hope you feel better, A.J.!

  23. Huh, A Sisterhood Of Secret Ambitions sounds like such a good concept, but it doesn't sound like the execution would work for me either. Shame!

  24. I'm sorry you've been sick, and I hope you're feeling better! I love your review of The Pillars of the Earth, and chuckled through the last part of it. I wish A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions had been the book you were expecting, though, because that book sounds really cool. The book you got, not so much.

  25. Oh - I hope you are feeling better!
    I am intimidated by chunkster books. Thanks for visiting me and for well wishes. The test turned out uneventful - which is good.
    Happy Reading!

  26. Ken Follet's books are always absolutely enormous and while I often enjoy that, it does require a lot of work so go you! And I totally feel you on a book not quite hitting the spot you thought it was aiming for. Sometimes it's just not the right time or it's just not the book for you, which is neither a you problem nor a book problem, it just happens! I hope you feel better soon!
    Juli @ A Universe in Words

  27. I loooved Pillars and I read it so long ago that I've forgotten the annoying parts. I don't have any desire to read the other books though. No real reason for not wanting to.

    This took me out: Someone needs to take the author's laptop away. He's written too much already.

    Hope you feel better sooooooooooooooon.

  28. Wow congrats on finishing the Follett tome. That's massive. I guess being sick helped with that. Have a speedy recovery.