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…

Reading Roundup: December 2017

In the Woods by Tana French

I've seen this book pop up now and then on recommended lists, but never got around to reading it. While I love mysteries, I'm fairly picky about what I like, and wasn't sure I would enjoy this one. As you can see by what happened during the rest of the month, I totally loved this and went on to read the other five books that French has written so far. Although they are a series, each book focuses on a different character--although I would miss a character when we moved on from them, I also liked getting to know a new voice and perspective in each book. For me, the strongest aspect of this book was the psychology of the main character, and I was sad to leave him behind in the next book.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

I've liked all of Reay's other books and had been looking forward to this one, and perhaps that anticipation made it harder to enjoy. I liked the protagonist and thought the setting was a lot of fun, although at times it…

8 Minute Memoir: Adventure

Tonight we watched the movie Kiki's Delivery Service, which is the story of a young witch who moves to a new city to learn how to live on her own. In the movie she is only 13, which seems awfully young (and even other characters comment on her youth), but apparently in that world it is normal for witches to do this. She mostly finds good people to help and mentor her and to become her friends, and the drama in the story is fairly low-stakes as she learns how to work through life. Then I got on the computer and read a blog post from a woman who has been teaching her preteen daughter how to use public transit to get around her city. I realized that my kids are much more sheltered and less adventurous than I was at their age. 

I had an early-morning paper route starting at about age 11 that I kept through starting 9th grade (because Seminary interfered with it). Every single morning I'd wake up early, fold up all the newspapers, load them in my bags, get on my bike, and ride aroun…

Reading Roundup: November 2017

A Disappearance in Damascus by Deborah Campbell

Before reading this book I knew very little about the effects of the American invasion of Iraq on regular people in the country. This book is a good look at the long-reaching effects of war on families and communities--and a reflection on the difficulty of being a reporter and foreign visitor in a region under attack. I would definitely recommend this book if you are at all interested in getting a peek at Middle Eastern politics at a personal level. 

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

This was our book club pick for the month, but unfortunately I did not get a chance to go see the movie with everyone else (I still haven't seen it). The mystery is quite clever and somehow I managed to not foresee the ending.

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

It took me a while to warm up to the protagonist in this book, since she is a bit prickly and defensive. However, as the book goes on, my sympathy grew as more and more details about t…