Reading Roundup: August 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

 I don't like hockey, but that didn't really matter because this book is not about hockey (despite the fact that hockey takes up a lot of space in the narrative).  It's really about family, and community, and relationships; I was particularly impressed with Backman's ability to fully realize so many different characters and to keep all the different threads of the story so tightly woven. It's been nearly two months since I read this book and I'm still thinking about it.

The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

 This book had potential, but it just didn't work for me. It alternated between two stories, which made it hard to keep track of either of them and cut into the momentum of the plot. I also never quite connected with either of the main characters enough to understand their motivations, especially since one of the stories lacked a clear narrative arc. This could have been a much better book (or maybe even two better books, especially since the stories never really came together in the end).

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

I made the mistake of starting this novel rather close to bedtime, and stayed up quite late to finish it because it was too good to put down. I loved all the main characters and I enjoyed the way that the main character not only fell in love, but also matured along the way as well.

The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Miserables by David Bellos

I've only read Les Mis once and don't know a lot about French literature, so I worried that I might not be the best audience for this book. Instead, Bellos does a great job of making the context of Hugo's life accessible without too much overwhelming detail. I learned a number of new things about him, his writing, and nineteenth-century France. I might even want to tackle reading the novel again.

The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

I don't remember how this ended up on my list of books I wanted to read, but I like mysteries so I checked it out. I started to figure out the main twist fairly early on in the story, but it was still enjoyable to get to the end. The main thing that bugged me was that the setting was unclear--sometimes it felt like the book was set in Britain, but sometimes not,  and that was confusing. 

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

I just had to go out and find another book by Reay since I loved her other one so much. This one had a protagonist who was a little harder to like, but who also did a lot of growing throughout the book. I also e.specially loved the way the setting and literary references worked together

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

This book was recommended to me by a friend who also loves words, and we had a great time discussing all the fun things we learned from it. Stamper obviously loves her job, and is good at it,  and so the book is quite a lot of fun to read. Even if you are not a linguistics nerd, you might like it  (just be warned that there are some vulgarities in it). 

The Vicar's Daughter by Josi Kilpack

I loved Kilpack's two previous historical romances and was excited for this one, but unfortunately it didn't quite work for me. It started out too slowly, and although sometimes I like switching the point of view between protagonists, that seemed to slow down the action too much in this book. I thought the premise of the book was intriguing, but it in theory it made it hard to root for any of the characters and created awkwardness rather than romantic tension. The historical details were well-researched and the dialogue is a strong point, but this book wasn't a favorite.

Movies

A League of Their Own

I thought it was time to introduce the kids to another old favorite of mine, and thankfully it didn't disappoint. I still think this is a hilarious movie, with excellent acting all around and wonderful dialogue. The kids all loved it and I think we might have to watch it again.


Rudy

We need a movie for Indiana and so ended up with another classic sports tale. The kids loved it, and I discovered that I liked it more than I had in the past. 

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