Reading Roundup: June 2016

Sistering by Jennifer Quist

The humor in this book is fairly dark, but if you're ready for it, you'll have a great time reading it. The characters are all memorable, and each of the five sisters had a unique voice; the switching viewpoints felt natural instead of gimicky, like it does in too many other books I've read. The plot also kept me guessing (and cringing a little), and the ending was perfect. This is another unique and wonderful book by Quist and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

I loved Duhigg's book on habits and learned a lot of great things from it, so I was looking forward to this book. It had some useful information, but some parts of it felt a little too simplistic and redundant. A month after reading it, I don't remember much of it. 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

It's been a number of years since I re-read this book and I had forgotten how snarky it is. The romance in it is great, and I think Willoughby is one of the best villains in all of Austen, but Austen's barbed comments about society really make this book fun.

Intuition by Allegra Goodman

This book had an interesting premise and conflict, but the characters were not developed enough for me to really distinguish them from each other or to care about them. They all seemed to have the same voice, and the motivations of the character who drives the action weren't always clear. It was an interesting read, but I felt like it kind of petered out at the end.

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

The main character in this book was impulsive and made some dumb decisions, but she is a young teenager so it makes sense. Thankfully she does grow up, and as she did, I started to like her a lot more and I enjoyed the book. It had some twists I wasn't expecting and a satisfying ending.

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

The description of this book made it sound like a thriller, but it really wasn't. In fact, there wasn't much emotion in the story at all and it felt somewhat flat to me. The author writes each chapter from the viewpoint of a different character, depending on which is the most convenient way to move the story forward. However, the different characters did not have distinctive voices, and their first-person narration sounded too much like responding to an interview ("this happened and this happened", etc) to make the book particularly interesting. The premise of this book was intriguing, but the execution was poor.

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

This was our book club pick for the month, otherwise I'm not sure if I would have read it. I've never read Moby Dick and have not felt much desire to read it--and this book didn't do a lot to convince me otherwise. It was a pretty compelling story and I learned a lot about the early history of whaling. It was, however, pretty gruesome in a lot of the details.

As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner

This book is character driven, not plot driven, and it took me a while to get into it. It's somewhat meandering and moves back and forth in time quite a bit, but that just made it feel like I was really spending time getting to know the whole family. It was an enjoyable read and I'm still thinking about it a month later.

Movies

The Young Victoria

 I was still recovering from my trip to London and wanting to watch and read all things British, and thought this movie would fit the bill. It has gorgeous scenery and costumes, and the lead actors had real chemistry. The plot was a little muddled and I had to look a few things up on Wikipedia to remind myself of who was who and what was going on, but in the end this was a pleasant way to spend an evening.
 
Love & Friendship

This movie was hilarious, and I need to watch it again now that I've figured out who everyone is and how they fit together.  I've often said I read Austen for the social commentary and not so much for the romance and this movie really shows off Austen's wit. Everyone in it is just plain ridiculous.

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