Reading Roundup: February 2019

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

I loved the first book in this series and was excited to get the second one so I could revisit my favorite characters and keep up with their lives. This book moves the action primarily to China and introduces some new characters, not all of them as interesting or likeable as the original group. Also, Rachel seems to have changed and become more one-dimensional in the book than in the first one. Nevertheless, I mostly enjoyed reading it and was happy that my library hold on the third book was available just as soon as I finished this one. 

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

The second book in the trilogy was a bit disappointing, but this one was definitely not. It came back to some of my favorite characters from the first book, introduced some fascinating historical content, and brought everything together in a satisfying conclusion. I had a lot of fun reading all three books and will miss this family and all their craziness now that I'm done. 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill 

This book got off to a slow start, but I'm glad I kept going because it completely deserves all the awards it has won. The worldbuilding and writing are simply gorgeous and the characters are all wonderfully created, even the relatively minor supporting characters. It also carries a beautiful message that subtly presents itself to the reader as the story comes to its conclusion, rather than beating you over the head with an Important Lesson (unlike some other award-winning allegorical children's books I can name).

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

This book required a bit of patience to get through, as it has a large cast of characters that are constantly running in and out of each other's lives in various ways. During the last third of the book the pieces all finally come together and it becomes hard to put down, but it's a bit of a slog to get to that point. At least Atkinson has a delightful writing style, so even rather gruesome events sound almost amusing with the way she writes about them.

Perfect Set by Melanie Jacobson

Jacobson is one of my favorite contemporary Mormon authors, and this book shows off many of her strengths. She portrays the complex lives of contemporary Mormon single women in a realistic way--Bree is juggling a career that she loves, a best friend who is getting married, a difficult relationship with her parents, and adjusting to a new ward after a recent move. She wasn't necessarily planning to fall in love with someone, especially when her budding relationship creates problems in all the other areas of her life. I like how Jacobson's characters have to change and grow in order to find real love, but that the book is still a lot of fun to read.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I loved this book for so many reasons. I loved the example of Obama's parents and her childhood. I loved the insights she had about being a woman and managing all the different parts of her life (and not always managing it well). Her writing style is both elegant and personal, and reading this book felt like sitting down for a nice chat with an old friend.

Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack 

One thing that I always like about Josi Kilpack is her ability to create memorable characters. Peter and Julia are both so delightful that it’s easy to root for them from the beginning. This was, unfortunately, a bit of a weakness for the book, since neither character needed to grow or change much. The conflict in the book was fairly low-stakes (I kept waiting for something more dramatic to happen, and it never did), and I thought that alternating between four points of view broke up the narrative too much. This book was a pleasant read and I had a good time with it, but I wish it had been a bit more substantial.  

My Sister's Intended by Rachel Anderson

I read this book in just a few hours while I was at home taking care of P.Bibby when she had the flu. It’s a quick, light read, but I kept feeling distracted because the Regency setting was very much in the background and the protagonist felt much too modern to really work with the time period. Many of the historical romances I read have this problem, but this book was particularly egregious. The characterization was also uneven, with the motivations of some key characters seeming to only exist to create conflict for the protagonist and her love interest.
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

This is the third Jackson Brodie book I've read, but I think it's my favorite so far. Once again, a variety of characters that have ridiculous things happen to them manage to converge into a coherent, compelling story in the end. There were so many interesting little details throughout that I felt like I had come to know all of the different characters and I was sad to see them go. 


Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero 

I had heard nothing about this movie until P.Bibby saw it on the new video display at the library and desperately wanted to watch it. I enjoyed it more than I expected to--the animation was lovely and the creators managed to make a kid-friendly cartoon about the Western Front.

They Shall Not Grow Old 

I had the opportunity to see this in the theater, and I'm glad I did. It was also interesting to watch this shortly after viewing a cartoon version of the war that focused on a heroic dog. Both films are good in their own ways; this one starts a little slow, but the juxtaposition of the voices with the restored footage on screen pulled me in and I was completely immersed in the world of the soldiers fighting on the Western Front. The film ended with about twenty minutes of Peter Jackson describing the process of making the film, which I found to be just as fascinating as the documentary itself.


It's been a long time since we last watched this movie, and the kids all picked it for our family movie night. It is definitely a movie that gets better the more times you watch it, and I especially enjoyed watching it again with older kids who can really appreciate it and understand its more subtle points. We need to add this to our regular movie rotation. 

What We Do in the Shadows 

I read some reference to this movie and realized that I'd never actually watched it. Plus I really needed something funny in my life since I don't watch enough comedies. This movie really is hilarious and I had a great time with it. 


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