Showing posts from 2019

Reading Roundup: October 2019

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay I listened to this as an audio book while coming back from a road trip. I didn't like it as much as some of Reay's other books that I've read. The audio format didn't help, since the narrator made some strange choices in how they pronounced names and depicted Italian accents. The book also felt slow and the main character was inconsistent in her actions.   Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald The problem with the trend in unreliable narrators in crime fiction is that if the author doesn't do it well, it just feels like sloppy writing. This book had a big twist in the middle, but it wasn't set up well and instead of feeling surprised, I just felt confused and a bit betrayed. The characterization was lazy as well, and some of the plot threads just faded away without a good resolution.  The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin Perhaps it is a bit of a spoiler to say that the poem referred to in the title never actual

Reading Roundup: September 2019

Family Trust by Kathy Wang This book had an interesting premise and started out strong, but was disappointing in the end. The resolution to a few of the story lines never materialized, and I felt like the hype and drama around the main conflict wasn't warranted by the time it was resolved. I've read both the novels that this one keeps getting compare to ( The Nest and Crazy Rich Asians ) and thought they were both better-written and had more sympathetic, nuanced characters. Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallett Reading this as an e-book was a mistake, because the story jumps around to a number of different time periods and includes a large number of characters. It's too hard to browse back and forth on a Kindle, and I know I lost track of a few things. The slow-moving nature of the story didn't help either--although I'm sure the author knows how everything fits together and what the theme of the story is, it was too subtle and the end of the book was a let

Reading Roundup: August 2019

Why Religion? by Elaine Pagels I've still never read any of Pagel's other books, but I'd read a number of positive reviews of this and it intrigued me. The book is a good overview of not only her life, but her evolving scholarship. I will confess that this book challenged me at times because her view of religion is quite different from mine. It was a good exercise in simply listening and working to understand, and I hope I learned something. The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee I had a bit of a 'book hangover' after finishing Lee's first book and was excited to read the sequel. Felicity was not my favorite character from the first book, but by the end of this one she had grown on me. It also went in some surprising directions and I quite liked it by the end. The Current by Tim Johnston This book used two different stories, one from the past and one from the present, that only loosely tie together. It took a while for everyth

Reading Roundup: July 2019

I'll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie I usually like McKenzie's books, but this one just didn't quite work for me. The characters were all stereotypes, and most of their actions were not very understandable. They did not change or develop throughout the book either, and I was able to figure out the central mystery pretty early on. Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown This is another book where I was able to figure things out early on (sometimes I wonder why characters seem to have never read or watched any mysteries), but I still enjoyed it. It's just as much about the central mystery as it is about a family learning to move on and grow through grief. Say Nothing: a True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe I discovered that it's possible to experience a 'book hangover' after reading nonfiction because I spent at least a day after finishing this book wishing I could read more. The book was a bit slow to start, bu

This Time is a Gift

Remember when I started this blog and S-Boogie was only two? And she was my only kid? Tonight she got in a car and drove herself and her two siblings over to her dad's house. It was weird. She doesn't have her own car and probably won't for a while (I can't even afford paying for my own car, let alone a second one). This weekend she borrowed her dad's car since she went on a date and also to a party with friends. It was easier for her to borrow a car than to use mine and leave us here at home without one.  Somehow my kids all grew up and I'm suddenly the parent of two teenagers and a kid who is only six months away from a double-digit birthday. We're talking about dating and jobs and college and AP classes. Two weeks ago I threw out all the old Play-Doh and recycled the coloring books, and no one cared. I thought that maybe P would care, but she just shrugged a little and went back to reading Harry Potter.  For the past few summers we have decided to sav

Reading Roundup: June 2019

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb This book may be one of my new favorite memoirs; Gottlieb is both candidly introspective and really funny (disclaimer--this is not an excessively funny book, but it has its moments). It inspired me to consider going back to therapy, especially if I could find a therapist as great as Gottlieb or her own therapist "Wendell". Saints: The Standard of Truth I've been reading this in bits and pieces since the beginning of the year and finally finished it this month. I've never been particularly interested in early Church history, but this book made it very accessible. I learned quite a lot from it and know that I will revisit this the next time we are studying the Doctrine and Covenants in Sunday School. Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman I've loved all of Backman's other books, but this one just didn't quite work for me. It had many similar elements to his previous work and I kept waiting for th

Reading Roundup: May 2019

A New Constellation by Ashley Mae Hoiland This book was small and quick to read, but also very powerful. I'm still thinking about it two months later. This book me both want to be the kind of person who supports others in the way people have helped her, and also become a writer who can be aware of myself and others and write about them in the way Hoiland does. A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass Sometime I feel like I read too many books about New York and the stereotypical upper-middle-class people who live there. I don't know if there are just that many books published about this world, or if I just always find them. This one was actually pretty good, although a few of the characters never stopped being annoying and I didn't see enough of the character I liked most. Nevertheless, it had an interesting premise and I mostly enjoyed it.  Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett I spent most of the month reading this book

Reading Roundup: April 2019

The Lost Man by Jane Harper This is the third book I've read by Harper and it was just as good as her first two. I love the way she incorporates the setting into her mysteries so that it nearly becomes another character. There was a twist in this book that came fairly late in the game, but it worked out with the way the story was written. If you like mysteries and are looking for a new author to read, I'd recommend trying Harper's books.  Tripwire by Traci Hunter Abramson I've read some of Abramson's other books for past Whitney contests and generally enjoyed them. This one had an intriguing concept for the plot, but unfortunately it did not develop the concept well and the middle portion of the novel really dragged. I liked the characters and wouldn't mind reading more about them, but this book needed a bit more action and an adjustment in the pacing. Conviction by Robbin J. Peterson This book was one of my favorite Whitney finalists this year. The

Reading Roundup: March 2019

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright I've never been particularly interested in Scientology, but I've heard good things about this book for years and I like Wright's writing. He excels at creating coherent narrative through a long period of time and across many different characters. Although not a quick or easy read, this was a fascinating book and I will be thinking about it for a long time. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson This is the last book in Atkinson's mystery series, but I'm happy to hear that there is another one coming out this summer. Jackson Brodie and his crazy antics have grown on me, and while this wasn't my favorite in the series, it was a fun read. Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls by Lisa Damour Damour's book Untangled was one of my favorites from last year. This book was a great follow-up that talks more specifically about stress and