I know I haven’t been updating as regularly as I usually do. I’m sorry for that. I’ve been busy working on setting up a blog that is all about reading (more to come on this later), moving into a new place (which we love), and trying to start a small business (preschool!) with my sister. Things have been a little hectic. That doesn’t mean I stopped reading though. Not even close. In fact, as I write this I am on a family vacation–blissfully reading as much as I want (okay, not as much as I actually want, but as much as any normal human being should want). So here we go–the good, the bad, and the meh.
My 5 Star Recommendations:
- These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (416 pages), adult, historical fiction. When I first started this, I definitely thought this was going to be a “meh” for me, but luckily my sister told me she enjoyed it and I trust her reading choices. Turner really hit it out of the park with her characterization. If you aren’t in love with Sarah and Jack and their relationship by the end of this book, you may not be a real human.
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (352 pages), adult, science fiction/dystopian. I’d heard good things about this, but I was feeling pretty over dystopian fiction at the moment. This kicked the pants off of all the other recent dystopian novels. Crazy huge pandemic, Shakespeare, everything tying and connecting together around one seemingly random character connection. This book is worth the hype.
- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (208 pages), upper elementary/middle grade, fiction. Time travel + friendship + awesome female protagonist = 5 stars.
- Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam S. Miller (78 pages), adult, non-fiction/religious. This book is written by a father to one of his children on various gospel topics. Given this premise, it could have read like a list of commandments, but it actually has some of the most profound insights I’ve heard in my life. After one read, I think I will need to give this book a few more reads to really glean all of the meaning he has put into such a small space. I hope he will write more books!
My 4 Star Recommendations:
- Happier at Home: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Cram My Day with What I Love, Hold More Tightly, Embrace Here, and Remember Now by Gretchen Rubin (304 pages), adult, non-fiction/self-help. I really enjoyed her emphasis on happiness through growth and self-mastery, rather than through pure pleasure and thrill seeking. I always enjoy her books and this was no exception.
- The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (576 pages), adult, historical fiction. I was reading this on my kindle from the library and was in the last few chapters (which, if you’ve never read a Kate Morton novel mean things were intense) when my book was returned suddenly. I was pretty devastated. I got it back a week or two later, so things worked out I guess. 🙂 I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as The Forgotten Garden but I did enjoy it quite a bit.
- The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (278 pages), adult, historical fiction. I’ve been intrigued with the whole era of orphan trains in the US, especially since learning a little bit more about it from our adoption training. Reading this book was a beautiful way to learn more about the practice with a little more humanistic perspective. I would love to read some non-fiction on the topic.
- The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life by Terryl and Fiona Givens (160 pages), adult, non-fiction/religious. This was beautiful and poignant. I had to stop underlining in some parts or the entire chapter would be underlined. Some of the writing is hard to digest and a little too academic for my taste, but I love the subject matter. Would love to read some of their other books as well.
- Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (256 pages), upper elementary/middle grades, fiction/fantasy. Sweet story (with an awesome female protagonist) about a castle that chooses its rulers and guides the kingdom. This story is about a group of loyal siblings helping each other (and their kingdom) out. Highly recommend for children (and adults!) who love magic and fantasy.
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (369 pages), adult, fiction. I think this book deserves all the hype it gets as well. Story about a woman taking care of a young quadriplegic and their developing relationship. I think this would be a great book club book, because there are a lot of moral issues to discuss.
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (460 pages), adult, fiction/mystery/thriller. I was sucked into this story right away. Despite its length, I finished quickly because I couldn’t put it down. I would like to note that there is language and scenes of domestic and sexual violence.
- The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (336 pages), adult, historical fiction. This was slow for me at first, but then I really fell in love with Addie’s character and couldn’t put it down. It read like an oral account of someone’s life and shows what life as a Jewish woman during WWI era could have been like.
My 3 Star Possible Recommendations:
- What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (320 pages), adult, non-fiction/science. I was reading this for a book club and there were no available copies at the library when I needed it, so I bought it. Kind of disappointing because I wasn’t a huge fan of it. I liked the premise behind it (answer weird questions in a scientific way) but the science was a little intense for me. I still gave it three stars though because I could see how someone more scientifically minded would truly enjoy it. Also, it helped me fall asleep quickly every night.
- Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova (352 pages), adult, fiction. I received an advance copy of this from the publisher and was so excited. I LOVE Lisa Genova. I read Still Alice and then devoured her other books. Unfortunately, I don’t think this book was as good as her others. There was a LOT of language. I know it was used for character development, but it really got on my nerves. I also feel like it was a very similar plot line to Still Alice, but I didn’t like the characters in this book quite as much. I love that Genova raises awareness for diseases through her books and definitely learned a lot about Huntington’s through this.
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (352 pages), adult, fiction/classics/gothic. I am glad I read this, because I think it’s important to read classic novels (especially one like this in which I am so familiar with the storyline because of the musical and movie). I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. It was a solid “meh.”
My 2 Star Book:
- This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman (320 pages), non-fiction/essays. Read this for book club and basically forced myself to finish it. I liked the idea behind it, but I don’t think I’m really into essay compilations.
My 1 Star Books:
- The Elite (The Selection) by Kiera Cass (352 pages), YA/Adult, fiction/dystopian. I know this series has a huge following, which is one of the reasons I kept reading it despite my distaste for it. I also kept reading it because it felt like watching a really hilariously bad movie. The idea is intriguing and Cass is probably a much better writer than me, so all respect to her. However, I feel like she didn’t want to develop her ideas fully enough before writing–the love triangle is hilarious, her protagonist is hard to relate to (everyone is IN LOVE with her for no obvious reason so I’m assuming it’s beauty. She is supposed to be funny and witty, but Cass never shows that in the writing.), and the history and world building are overly simplistic. The prince is fine but makes me a little gaggy sometimes. I guess it’s my bad for reading a book about teenagers intended for teenagers, because if I’m being honest, this may be pretty accurate about that fun stage of life.
- The One (The Selection) by Kiera Cass (368 pages), YA/Adult, fiction/dystopian. I liked this one slightly more than her first two. The ending was laughably simplistic (killing off all characters that make things even slightly complicated).
Total: 18 books. Total Pages: 5,857 pages. Average: 325 pages. 2 children’s books, 2 YA books, 14 adults books. 13 fiction, 5 non-fiction.