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 Warburton

This book wasn't terrible, but it was also not a very memorable read either. The protagonist is the stereotypical girl who is unusually educated and self-actualized for the time period, and who manages to fall in love with someone during one single encounter. The writing was fairly straightforward and the action well-paced, but it was not unique in anyway.

Havencross by Julie Daines

This book was another favorite (the historical romance category was particularly strong this year). I loved the Cornish setting, and the friendship between the two love interests. The book also added in some mystery and adventure, and was a great read.

Ruth by H.B. Moore

Moore's scripture retellings are always favorites of mine, because she combines meticulous research in creating a realistic setting with fully-realized characters that are compelling to read about. This book was a lovely story about women and family, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Outshine by Nichole Van

This book ended up being my favorite in the romance category--although I found it interesting that it was put in contemporary romance and not historical. After reading it, I could better understand the characterization, since the time travel aspect of the plot gives in a contemporary feel, in contrast to the historical setting. In addition to a fun plot, this book has great characters with unique personalities, and I hated to leave them behind when the book ended.

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

First of all, this book has a great cover--it's so well-designed and fits the story perfectly! As far as the book goes, I felt like it was a bit of a mixed bag. The conflict was confusing, though, because it seemed like it was mostly based on assumptions by the protagonist, and it was frustrating to see her keep going with them instead of really talking to people and clearing things up. The pacing was a little off as well, and the book bogged down a bit in the middle. However, it was mostly a fun read and I fell in love with Lucas by the end of it.

Brush With Love by Lisa McKendrick

This book really, really needs a second pass with a editor, both copy editing as well as clarifying some aspects of the story. I had a hard time following things because the formatting of quotations made it difficult to tell who was talking. Also, the story was confusing--for example, one character seemed to appear out of nowhere, and in another case, a conflict with a different character didn't get resolved (and it was never clear why there was conflict in the first place. I think this story has a lot of possibilities, but it needs some more work first.

Mormon Girl Incognito by Kari Iroz

I had a hard time with Iroz's first book last year and didn't have high expectations for this one. However, surprisingly, this book was a lot better and I had a lot of fun reading it. First of all, the story had a clearer arc, as well as conflict and complications that were realistic (a few of which were surprising to find in a Mormon novel). Second, it was nice to read a romance about a couple trying to figure themselves out together, rather than one where the entire book was taken up by the pursuit of a relationship. This was still not my favorite book in the romance category, but was surprisingly fun.

The Green Road by Anne Enright

For book club this month we all picked books from Ireland, and I had read a number of good reviews of this book and Enright's other work. The writing was beautiful, and the plot was well-crafted. The main flaw, however, is a lack of clarity about the protagonist's motivations. I never could quite grasp why she acted the way she did, or why the other characters disliked her.

That We Might be One by Tom Christofferson

I have read some criticisms of this book, and while I agree with them, I still think this is a valuable book and would recommend it to nearly anyone. I think it is important to take Tom's intentions at face value--this is a memoir and not meant to be prescriptive in any way. There are aspects of his particular experience that will not fit the life experience of others, and do betray a certain kind of privilege. However, he is an excellent writer and has made a very important contribution, both to books about the gay Mormon experience specifically, and to Mormon memoir in general.

Movies

Monsters Vs. Aliens

I've only seen this book once, years ago, and didn't remember it very well. It's a lot of fun and the kids all got a kick out of it too. 


Big Hero 6

I don't know why it took me too long to get around to watching this movie, since I liked it a lot more than I expected to. The story was fun and had a lot of great twists, although there were a few times it felt like it was doing a bit too much and was hard to follow. However, it is one that I would definitely watch again.

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