Reading Roundup: June 2018

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

I had just finished a rather disappointing book set among privileged New Yorkers, and for some reason decided it was time to read another one. Thankfully this one was a much better story, with more interesting characters and a well-paced plot. I didn't want to say goodbye to this family when the book ended. 

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy

There were some things I liked about this book; for example, the setting of El Paso was unique, as was the way it tied together elements of Germany in the 1940s with contemporary questions about immigration and border control. The plot was sometimes hard to follow, however, and took a while to really get going, but the details in the book made me want to go find a German bakery so I can eat some treats.

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

I've read enough of Bohjalian's books to know that they always have big twists at the end, and this book was no exception to the rule. However, in some way…

Reading Roundup: May 2018

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Harper's first book (The Dry) was one of my favorites last year, and I was excited for this book to come out. It is different, both in the setting and in the more complex mystery to solve, but I still thought it was well-written and a great read. Now I just have wait for Harper to write another one!

In Every Moment We are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist

I feel conflicted about this book--on the one hand, it had beautiful writing and powerfully told a story of grief and learning to live after tragedy. On the other hand, it felt a bit clunky at times and I couldn't tell if that was the fault of the translation or it was how the book had been written.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn

I love British fiction and thrillers, so of course I grabbed this one when I saw it on the new book display at the library. It's more of a cerebral mystery than a thriller, and more nuanced than I expected. The writing was a bit awkward in spots and sometimes thing…

Reading Roundup: April 2018

I know it's August and I'm really behind, but I told myself I'd get caught up and so decided to go ahead and publish these. After ten years, I'm not ready to stop writing my little book blurbs. During the first part of the month I read some more Whitney finalists, and then later in the month I went on a quick trip and managed to read several books while flying back and forth across the country.

Gilda Trillim: Shepherdess of Rats by Steven Peck

I will confess that I wasn't sure I would like this book. Some of the more esoteric parts were challenging, and it really was as weird as I thought it was going to be. In the end, however, it was probably one of the best books I read out of all the Whitney finalists. I'm sad it didn't win an award, but also understand why it didn't, considering the types of books it was up against.

The Book of Laman by Mette Harrison

I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did; I think Harrison did an admirable job fleshing out th…

Reading Roundup: March 2018

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

 Too often, sequels are disappointing because they simply cannot match up to the wonder of discovering a new world and new characters for the first time. This book, however, is the best kind of sequel, because it lets us return to the same world, to see the characters we love facing new situations and new opportunities for growth. I was glad to have an equally fabulous experience reading this book as I did the first one, and just as sad to see it end.

Love Remains by Sarah Eden

Although I was sometimes frustrated with this book because the initial conflict was based on misunderstandings and assumptions that could have been easily cleared up with a little more communication. However, I eventually grew to love the characters and understand the pain that led to their choices. I also love books like this that intertwine romance with personal growth, and hope to read more books about the people of Hope Springs.

Petticoat Spy by Carol Warbu…

Reading Roundup: February 2018

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I put off reading this book for too long because I worried that it would be cheesy (simply based on its massive popularity and the outline of the plot). However, I loved Beartown last year and finally decided to give this a chance. Yes, the plot could potentially be cheesy, but Backman's tone was just sarcastic enough to keep it entertaining and refreshing. I also love a book with an intricate plot where all the pieces come together in a satisfying way at the end.

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli

This book showed up on a lot of  "best of 2017" lists so I decided to read it. I think it should be required reading for anyone trying to understand more about immigration issues right now. It's a small-scale look at a big, complex problem, and sometimes I wish it had been a bit more comprehensive, but as a small, slice-of-life, it works well.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I've heard some complaints about t…

Reading Roundup: January 2018

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I didn't enjoy this book as much as some other books I've read about the same time period; some parts seemed to drag and it could be hard to differentiate between all the different people involved. It was still an interesting book and I learned new things about the history of treatment for AIDS, and how complicated and difficult progress can be.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Despite the fact that this book starts with a disappearance, it is not a mystery. In fact, there is not a lot of tension or a strong narrative thread. Instead, it is the story of a place and the people who live there, and how they grow and change over time. During the month since I read it, I've had a hard time mentally letting go of it because reading it was such an immersive experience.

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

I read a review of this book several years ago, but somehow didn't write down the correct title and never found the book. I checked out a book I …

Reading Roundup: 2017

I read 109 books in 2017, which is a bit higher than my number for recent years (here is 2016's post, which includes links to previous years). I did finish school at the end of 2016, giving me more free time, plus I read most of the Whitney finalists, and I read several shorter books.

90 books were fiction (including 2 poetry books), and 19 were nonfiction, which is pretty sad compared to previous years. I have a lot of nonfiction on my list of books I'd like to read, but don't seem to get around to reading it as often as I should. I think this year I will focus on reading more nonfiction (and less on staying up late reading mediocre books I downloaded free from the library).

82 books were by female authors, and 27 by male, which reflects trends I've noticed for the last few years. For some reason I tend to gravitate to female authors, especially when it comes to fiction. This year I also had several instances where I read multiple books by the same author, and in most…