Reading Roundup: May and June 2014

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

This was our book club choice for the month of May, and I'm glad I got a head start on it because it took a long time to read. It was a fun experience because it's been a long time since I had read a book this long--thankfully it's a fairly easy read for such an epic book. I did not expect to enjoy it was much as I did and I felt like it gave me a lot to think about.

Fortune Cookie by Josi Kilpack

This is the second-to-last of Kilpack's Sadie Hofmiller mysteries. . When I found out that this was not the last book in the series, I was worried that it would feel like the author was just trying to stretch things out too much by suddenly having Sadie's long-lost sister appear. Instead, I liked that the story really delved into family issues and problems from the past that can crop up at inconvenient times. I have also appreciated how Kilpack has often included characters who aren't very friendly, and don't get more friendly or understandable with time. Sometimes life and people are just unpredictable like that.

My Name is Resolute by Nancy Turner

I'm a big fan of Nancy Turner and was really excited to find out that she had a new book out. At the same time, I was nervous that it just wouldn't be as good as These Is My Words. Thankfully it was just as good and perhaps even a bit better. This was another big, epic, historical read and a lot of fun to just sink into for a few hours. I think this was one of my favorite books so far this year.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I wasn't sure about this book since I haven't enjoyed much of Gilbert's nonfiction that I've read. However, I read enough positive reviews that convinced me to give this one a try and I'm glad I did. I took it with me on my trip up to Portland and it was a good book for a relaxing trip. For some reason I sometimes end up reading a bunch of similar books all at the same time, and this was the third epic historical book that I'd read in a month. I love historical fiction and it was nice to just have a mini binge during my break between school semesters.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

In contrast to the last book where my low expectations were exceeded, I had higher expectations for this book that were not really met. I'm still not sure why I didn't like the book that much; I might have been reading it too fast. It jumps around in time a lot and that seemed to bother me more than it usually does in books. I also felt like the ages of the protagonists and the amount of time elapsed since their estrangement didn't really give the story enough weight and had a hard time taking their love seriously. It wasn't a terrible book, but it just didn't do much for me.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I checked out this book because the premise was interesting--I liked the plot quite a bit and liked the interweaving of the contemporary story line with the one from the past. There were a few narrative threads that wrapped up a bit too neatly for my taste and I noticed a few small editing errors, but it was still a nice little read.

Hope Springs by Sarah Eden

This book has a somewhat awkward title, and I'm still a little unclear about whether it's supposed to be a sequel or the second half of the first book, or whether that distinction even matters. I just thought the titling was a little strange. I had some issues with the first book and wasn't sure I'd like this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. This book was more action-oriented and felt like it had a better plot arc, with more events moving things along and less talking and dithering. There was a twist at the end that I really didn't see coming and I thought that was handled well, though I felt like there were a few plot elements and characters' stories that weren't resolved as much as I would have liked them to be.

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

A friend of mine summed up Gladwell's books as "you thought this, but it's actually that"--and it's just as true of this book as his others. It wasn't a bad book at all--I learned a lot of very interesting little tidbits from it--but it was a typical Gladwell book. If you liked his other books, you will like this one a lot. If you haven't read one yet, give this one a try some time.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This was our book club pick for June and it sparked another excellent discussion. It was a surprising read; I actually hated the first few chapters and was about to give up on it. Then, it suddenly got much better and I couldn't put it down. Finally, the ending was a bit shocking and wrapped things up in an interesting way. I love books that are a little crazy like this one--I think the mark of a good writer is the ability to lead readers through a variety of emotions and to really make them stop and think about their lives and the world around them. 


The Impossible

I had read mixed reviews of this movie before watching it, but the trailer was compelling and I thought I'd give it a try. I'm still trying to decide if I liked it--the directing and acting were excellent. The special effects were also fabulous--the entire movie is pretty much two straight hours of chaos and terror. That can be a little wearying, especially since I felt like it was thin on plot. Obviously I appreciate the director staying fairly true to the family's experience he based the movie on, but some of the pacing felt a little off and the way the movie ended left me feeling let down. It had potential, but just didn't work for me.  


I liked "These is My Words" but really disliked the sequels. It was like she killed off the love interest (Jack?) in order to force a very dramatic conclusion to her book and then realized AFTER she'd made a million bucks that a sequel might be in order. But without Jack the books just lost some flavor for me. I can't believe how much you're reading. I've got to pull myself together.

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