What I Read in January

There’s nothing like waiting until you’re a week into a new month to share last month’s reads, right? Well, I hope you’ll excuse my tardiness, because I am excited to share what I read in January with you. So, let’s get to it!

I managed to read two nonfiction books and three fiction books in January. I generally try to keep a balance between fiction and nonfiction, though admittedly the scales tip lower on the fiction side most of the time nowadays. As a busy mom of two, escaping into another reality, if only briefly, is often a much needed reprieve! However, I thoroughly enjoyed both of my nonfiction reads this month. Here they are:

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts by Trillia Newbell. This book is a refreshing dose of encouragement in an otherwise dark and depressing world right now. Newbell tackles tough topics like sex, relationships, food, money, work (among other things in life) and examines, through the lens of the gospel, how they are meant for our joy and, ultimately, should lead to a deepening worship of the One who created all things. I found Enjoy to be so refreshing because, sometimes, Christianity is known more for what you can’t do or you’re not supposed to do. Rather, Newbell susses out how, as Christians, we should be people who live in freedom, and that freedom should lead us to joy and delight in the good things God has given to us. I particularly found her chapter on intimacy to be a good word to me, personally, for the season of marriage I’m in, and I would recommend it to anyone for that chapter alone.
Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I picked this book as research for writing my own memoir, and I am so glad I did. I had read a brief synopsis of her story, and I was drawn to it because I felt like we had parallel themes from our past. Walls is masterful at taking the events of her childhood and crafting a narrative that is gripping and heartwrenching. She eloquently weaves devastating childhood atrocities with humor and wit, and you find herself laughing at one vignette then crying at another within a few paragraphs of each other. The Glass Castle is a piece of verbal art.

Now, onto my fiction reads!

In the Woods by Tana French. As you may know, this book is the first in a series of mystery novels, each told from the vantage point of a different character and primarily centering on the Dublin Murder Squad. I wanted to give a glowing review of this book, because I couldn’t put it down. I consumed it in less than two days, and I loved it until the last 50 pages or so. I can’t say much more without revealing important details, but just know that the ending was extremely unsatisfying for me. I’ve read interviews with French since finishing it, and I get her perspective and motivation for making the authorial decisions that she did. That doesn’t mean I like them.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This story is an interesting portrayal of the people we are inside our own heads that we may not share with others, especially those people closest to us. Ng explores the separation between the internal reality of our thought life versus the external reality of our words and actions. I found it to be a fascinating commentary on human nature – that we are all a little deceptive in who we claim to be on the outside, and that ultimately our lies catch up with us.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield. The premise of this book captured my attention immediately: a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. As a devoted Austen fan, and a lover of all things P+P, I wanted this book to be a fair homage to the original but strong in it’s own right – think 10 Things I Hate About You, only as a novel instead of a movie, and Austen as opposed to Shakespeare. It was not, unfortunately. I really don’t have positive things to say about it, and I ultimately didn’t finish it because I just couldn’t get my mind to embrace the modernizations Sittenfield chose.

Have you read anything good lately? I’m always looking for recommendations! Share them in the comments!

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Unpopular Book Opinions

Unpopular Book Opinions

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book post, and I hope to have some reviews up soon, but for now I’m sharing my take on something I saw over on Amanda’s blog that I thought was fun and interesting. So, here are some of my unpopular book opinions, and please leave your thoughts/responses in the comments.

1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like.
I recently read Eligible, which is a modern retelling of Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I picked it up because I’d heard rave reviews about it and it had a pretty high rating on Goodreads. However, I didn’t make it to the end because I really didn’t care for the author’s choices in modernizing it. Maybe I’m being a puritanical snob about it, but I don’t care. Liz and Darcy hooking up for hate sex? No thanks.

For a series, I’d say Divergent. I held on through the first two books, but I hated it by the third one.

2. A popular book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.
I’m not sure if this book is hated, but Austen’s Mansfield Park seems to be one of her books that is the least liked, and I love that one. I think it’s because I identified with Fanny Price in many ways, which made the story appealing to me.

3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with.
I know this isn’t a love triangle, but I thought Harry and Hermione should have been together. DON’T @ ME.

4. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.
I can’t do YA books, generally. I loved HP and Hunger Games, but in general this genre is hard for me to get into. I started reading the first book in The Selection Series recently and stopped after a few chapters, because I found myself eye-rolling at the main character. This tends to be my response to most YA books – I just can’t connect with the characters.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.
Katniss Everdeen. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed THG trilogy generally, but I wanted to smack Katniss on more than one occasion.

unpopular book opinions

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.
Stephanie Meyer because see #7.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. 
I’m with Amanda on this one, vampires and werewolves can just go away. It’s way overdone at this point, and I feel like most writers are trying to ride on Stephanie Meyer’s coattails, who was really piggybacking on Anne Rice.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.
Anything related to a shade of grey.

9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or TV show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?
 Though I love Austen’s original work, I really love the both the BBC adaptation as well as the Kiera Knightley movie of Pride and Prejudice. And maybe I love them because they do such a good job of bringing that beloved book to life. But also because Colin Firth is so swoon-worthy.
And I think I can say confidently that I liked the Hunger Games movies better than the books – primarily because Katniss was less annoying in the films since you weren’t inside her head so much. And Gale is pretty nice on the eyes. Ahem.
Do you have any unpopular book opinions? Share them in the comments!
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What I’ve been reading lately

What I've been reading lately

 

Because of the move, I haven’t had much time to read lately. Between the actual move itself, starting a new job, and adjusting to our new normal, there just hasn’t been much time or energy to give toward starting and finishing a book. However, I did manage to get a few books read over the summer, so I thought I’d write a quick post to share them with you all. Since I love to give and receive book recommendations, here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

  1. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I read this book in May for book club. I was intrigued by the premise: a coming of age story of a young girl in an “end of the world” type setting, where the rotation of the earth has slowed and is causing the days and nights to continue growing in length. Since I’m not a scientist, I can’t judge the merits of that part of the novel. The story itself was promising enough, and I found the main character to be likable and relatable. It was a page-turner, as I kept hoping for some resolution to the catastrophic plight of the characters living in this altered world. However, no such resolution came, and the book ended rather abruptly for me. My rating: 3 stars. 
  2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Though I’m generally not a King fan (I have read some of his older books, which were fine, just not my thing), I read this one upon the recommendation of a good friend. I was a little daunted by the length of the book at first (800+ pages), but it was so worth the time investment. I really enjoyed this novel. There were so many things about it that kept me hooked: the experience of history through the eyes of a modern narrator, the power of nostalgia, the Easter egg references to other King works, the compelling plot, a complicated love story, an enticing mystery, just to name a few! I highly recommend this one. My rating: 5 stars. 
  3. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. From Parenthood to Gilmore Girls, I’m a Lauren Graham fan, so when I heard she’d written a novel, I knew I had to give it a try. The story is one that Graham probably knows all too well: the struggle of a young actress trying to make it in New York City. Most of the characters were charming and witty, and I found Graham’s play on Salinger’s Franny and Zooey to be an unexpected and interesting nuance to the book. My disappointments with the novel were that the plot was fairly predictable and I found the main character to be kind of annoying at times. I also felt  it ended too soon. My rating: 3 stars.
  4. Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I had never heard of this author prior to the suggestion of my friend Marisa, so I had no expectations going into this book. The main character is a TV writer workaholic who puts herself before the important people in her life, namely her husband. She’s on the brink of the biggest deal in her career, what she’s been working for pretty much all of her adult life, but her marriage is ripping at the seams. After she discovers a magic phone that lets her call into the past, she’s obsessed with the desire to repair the damage she’s done in her marriage. The story is an interesting premise, and though I found the main character to be self-absorbed and selfish (I’m apparently very critical of main characters), I couldn’t put the book down. The subject of a fairly normal married couple growing apart and then rekindling that connection (even across decades) is the meat of this story. My rating: 3 stars.

I’m always looking for good book recommendations, so I encourage you to share what you’ve been reading lately in the comments. Also, if you’ve read any of these books, let me know your thoughts!