Book Roundup: May 2017

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ: 11

NUMBER OF FEMALE AUTHORS VS MALE AUTHORS: Great month for ladies! 9 women (one who wrote two of my books), and 1 male.

NUMBER OF DIVERSE (non-American) SETTINGS: Two travel memoirs that take place all over the world, two fantasies, two set in Europe, and one set in a dystopian near-future America… does that count?

RATINGS SPREAD:  Three 5-star; Two 4-star; Four 3-star; Two 2-star. Interesting spread.

 

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WHAT I READ: A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR #3) Sarah J. Maas

WHY I READ IT: Duh.

WHAT I THOUGHT: *hearts for eyes* FOREVER.

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WHAT I READ: Into the Water (Paula Hawkins)

WHY I READ IT: Hawkins wrote The Girl On The Train, which I did enjoy.

WHAT I THOUGHT: No, thank you. I generally love this style of book and it was one of the most boring and confusing thrillers I’ve ever read.

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WHAT I READ: Windfall (Jennifer E. Smith)

WHY I READ IT: The author is actually friends with my roommate.

WHAT I THOUGHT: It was cute enough, but there was a lot that had me shaking my head and wishing the author had fleshed it out more.

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WHAT I READ: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), Sarah J. Maas

WHY I READ IT: Still trying to slug through one of my favorite’s authors beloved series

WHAT I THOUGHT: I like it enough to read the next one, but I still don’t love it NEARLY as much as ACOTAR series. Sorry not sorry!

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WHAT I READ: The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

WHY I READ IT: I first read it 4 years ago (almost to the day, according to Goodreads) and decided to give it a re-read with the new Hulu show.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Worth the hype.

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WHAT I READAll Over The Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft (Geraldine DeRuiter)

WHY I READ IT: I’ve been a big fan of the author’s blog The Everywhereist for years.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Just what I wanted – a quick, breezy afternoon read, but utterly delightful, hilarious, and thoughtful.

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WHAT I READ: Beartown (Fredrik Backman)

WHY I READ IT: Backmann, the author of A Man Called Ove, is one of my favorite authors and an automatic read for me.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Utterly different from his other novels, no one would qualify this book as “feel good” or “whimsical.” Despite the challenging subject matter, I absolutely loved it and this was one of the best books I’ve read this year.

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WHAT I READ: At Home In The World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe (Tsh Oxenreider)

WHY I READ IT: I’m always interested in travel writing, particularly with this theme of the pull of being a homebody while also having wanderlust.

WHAT I THOUGHT: As a series of blog posts, I bet this would be great. As a novel with no central theme, it was an incredibly weak read.

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WHAT I READ: First Ladies (Kate Andersen Brower)

WHY I READ IT: The premise – exploring the lives of First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama – sounded interesting.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Interesting premise, uneven outcome. It was basically just a series of anecdotes.

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WHAT I READ: The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

WHY I READ IT: It’s a very popular contemporary book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Far smarter people than me have written exhaustively about this book, but I will just say it sunk deep into my bones and I can’t stop thinking about it.

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WHAT I READ: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? and Other Questions You Should Have Answers To When You Work In The White House (Alyssa Mastromonaco)

WHY I READ IT: I heard the author interviewed on Pod Save America and was intrigued about a memoir written by a woman working in the Obama White House.

WHAT I THOUGHT: The title is terrible, but this was amusing enough to read over a quick two-day period.

Book Roundup: April 2017

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ: 11 (although one is technically a novella)

NUMBER OF FEMALE AUTHORS VS MALE AUTHORS: 9 authors total; 5 men, 4 women.

NUMBER OF DIVERSE (non-American) SETTINGS: 2 set in a fantasy world, 1 set in a ghost world, 1 in Sweden, and 1 in Ethiopia. So, kind of diverse?

RATINGS SPREAD:  Four 5-star books; Two 4-star books; Five 5-star books. At least no clunkers!

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WHAT I READ: Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders)

WHY I READ IT: Well-reviewed book that popped up on my radar.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Mostly meh, an over-the-top creative writing exercise.

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WHAT I READThrone of Glass (Sarah J. Maas)

WHY I READ IT: I decided to reread a book by one of my favorite authors that I had read in 2013 and didn’t really love then.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Turns out, I didn’t really love this book now, but I love Maas enough to keep pushing through to the next book in the series!

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WHAT I READAnd Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (Fredrik Backman)

WHY I READ IT: Backman wrote one of my all-time favorites, A Man Called Ove, and my pledge is to read every other thing he’s written. This is a short novella about a young man losing his grandfather to dementia.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Backman makes all of my emotions come out of my eyes, even in a novella I’m able to read in half an hour.

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WHAT I READAll the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation (Rebecca Traister)

WHY I READ IT: It was one of my bookish resolutions to read more nonfiction!

WHAT I THOUGHT: I would have liked a tad more qualitative research and anecdotes from women and a tad less in the numbers department, but it was an incredibly detailed look at the status of women in American history and where we stand now.

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WHAT I READAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Sáenz)

WHY I READ IT: I was literally shamed in book club for not having read it and immediately purchased a copy to remedy.

WHAT I THOUGHT: The hype is real, guys. Absolutely incredible coming-of-age story, beautiful writing.

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WHAT I READMore Happy Than Not (Adam Silvera)

WHY I READ IT: I’m not sure how this ended up on my list, but I read a book by this author a few months ago and really enjoyed it.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Another LGBT coming-of-age story, but totally insane twists I did not expect (and I’m glad I didn’t read the synopsis too closely so I could be surprised).

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WHAT I READ: Crown of Midnight (Sarah Maas)

WHY I READ IT: The next book in the Throne of Glass series.

WHAT I THOUGHT: SO much better than the first. Excellent character development, stakes, and set-up for the next book.

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WHAT I READBlack Dove, White Raven (Elizabeth Wein)

WHY I READ IT: May book club book!

WHAT I THOUGHT: Considering the book love for Wein’s previous works (Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire) – and how much I particularly loved the latter – this one fell flat for me. Uneven first and second half, not enough character development, and while it was interesting to read about this time period in Ethiopia, it was dull at times.

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WHAT I READAmerican War (Omar Al Akkad)

WHY I READ IT: It’s the hottest new book out now.

WHAT I THOUGHT: 5 stars for concept, 3 stars for execution. The story idea of a Second American Civil War is really interesting (and scary), but this book ebbed and flowed from interesting to dull. So much potential that I’m not sure it quite reached. I feel this book will be lauded because of its sexy concept, but the bones don’t quite match.

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WHAT I READThe Upside of Unrequited (Becky Albertalli)

WHY I READ IT: I loved the author’s last book, Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda

WHAT I THOUGHT: Finished in one day, this book was slightly less interesting than her previous work but still a delight to read and wonderful in its intersectional exploration of teenage life. I particularly love how the author let the protagonist have anxiety and be taking medication (without making a huge deal out of it); it’s so important to normalize it in culture, just like someone having to take medication for something like diabetes or a heart problem.

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WHAT I READThe Inexplicable Logic of my Life (Benjamin Alire Sáenz)

WHY I READ IT: This is the author of Aristotle and Dante.

WHAT I THOUGHT: A wonderful and beautiful read (someone might have teared up on the stationary bike at the gym while reading this, y’all), but ultimately a bit thin compared to his last novel.

And that’s April!

Book Roundup: February 2017

Another month down, folks! Not quite as many books as usually but most of them were pretty good, and a few were excellent. 

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ: 7 + one re-read

NUMBER OF FEMALE AUTHORS VS MALE AUTHORS: 3 females, 4 males. Off my game!

NUMBER OF DIVERSE (non-American) SETTINGS: Well, 2 were set in Europe, 1 in a fantasy world, one throughout time and space, and one on Mars, so, a bit hard to quantify this time around…

RATINGS SPREAD: One 5-star, Four 4-star, Two 3-stars. Good month!

 

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WHAT I READ: History Is All You Left Me (Adam Silvera)

WHY I READ IT: Praised for being a realistic YA LGBT novel.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I was skeptical for most of this book that the characters would do something I didn’t want them to do, but Silvera did a good job at keeping it grounded (and sad).

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WHAT I READ: The Year Of Living Danishly (Helen Russell)

WHY I READ IT: I desperately want to live in paradise, aka Denmark.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Mostly it made me depressed to live in the U.S. God bless Denmark, apparently.

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WHAT I READ: In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (Erik Larson)

WHY I READ IT: I’m not sure, but I assume it was on one of those “Read this to learn how to live in our new autocracy” listsicles.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Fascinating and well-written narrative nonfiction of a time period I thought I knew about, but this book taught me so much more.

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WHAT I READ: Wayfarer (Alexandra Bracken)

WHY I READ IT: As a follow-up to one of my favorites, Passenger.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I definitely should have re-read the first book more recently.

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WHAT I READ: Spindle (E.K. Johnston)

WHY I READ IT: Book club book!

WHAT I THOUGHT: Way too much “road trip” narrative and not nearly enough action. The author clearly wanted to make spinning/a spindle the central part of the story, and concocted a fairly weak explanation to make it so.

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WHAT I READ: The Martian (Andy Weir)

WHY I READ IT: Well you know, the movie was good.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Absolutely do not get the hype. The math and science seem incredible (I skimmed past a lot of it) but the dialogue was stitled and the characters not nearly layered enough.

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WHAT I READ: Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance)

WHY I READ IT: 2016’s “It” book.

WHAT I THOUGHT: This one WAS absolutely worth the hype. Easily read and a compelling topic; I only wished it had slightly more research/stats to back it up (but the author was clear from the start it wouldn’t). Left me wanting much more.

 

Re-readBig Little Lies. I first read this book a few years ago and with the HBO mini-series launching, decided to give it another go. Just as good as the first time!

Book Roundup: January 2017

This was the first month into my 2017 resolution to read harder books more deeply, and I expected that each month my total number of books read would be a little lower than usual. But at 9 books read this month, I was actually pretty on-par with my normal reading schedule, and I still feel like I had a good combination of heavy and light books. On to the stats!

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ: 10

NUMBER OF FEMALE AUTHORS VS MALE AUTHORS: All ladies this month!

NUMBER OF DIVERSE (non-American) SETTINGS: 3, although two of those are in Ireland (well, technically one in Ireland and one in a apocalyptic probably former Ireland).

RATINGS SPREAD: Two 5-star, One 4-star, Five 3-star, Two 2-star,

Want more? Goodreads, baby.

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WHAT I READ: The Wonder (Emma Donaghue)

WHY I READ IT: Big fan of her Room.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Meh on my end. Good atmosphere-building, but as a full-length novel it dragged.

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WHAT I READ: Spare and Found Parts (Sarah Maria Griffin)

WHY I READ IT: Book club!

WHAT I THOUGHT: If not for book club, I don’t think I would have kept reading it. I just didn’t get a lot of why the characters did what they did, and it was hard to get into the world.

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WHAT I READ: Today Will Be Different (Maria Semple)

WHY I READ IT: This book was all over the blogs as super-good, and I did mostly enjoy her Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

WHAT I THOUGHT: I liked the book, but didn’t love it. I wanted it to be a better exploration of adult mental health, but it didn’t do a deep dive into a whole lot.

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WHAT I READ: Talking As Fast As I Can (Lauren Graham)

WHY I READ IT: Love me some Graham crackers, and especially Gilmore Girls! 

WHAT I THOUGHT: It was very similar to a lot of other celebrity memoirs – some interesting chapters (mostly about the making of GG) but ultimately just a lot of fluff that was clearly written to get her a boost in sales coinciding with the new episodes.

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WHAT I READ: This is Where It Ends (Marieke Nijkamp)

WHY I READ IT: Another one popular on the blogs.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I REALLY did not like it.

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WHAT I READ: Boy, Snow, Bird (Helen Oyeyemi)

WHY I READ IT: One of those “must-reads,” lent from a friend.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Really more of 1.5 stars than 2 stars for me, I really did not like it. It just wasn’t compelling enough to read to the end, and I ended up skimming a lot.

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WHAT I READ: Strangers In Their Own Land (Arlie Hochschild)

WHY I READ IT: Part of my read harder pledge, this nonfiction narrative explores the “Great Paradox” of conservative America (specifically in Louisiana).

WHAT I THOUGHT: I’ll have a lot more to say in a later post, but I LOVED this book – both as a piece of writing (very well done and compelling) and as a piece of research.

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WHAT I READ: Dear Mr. You (Mary-Louise Parker. Yes, that Mary-Louise Parker)

WHY I READ IT: One of my favorite (travel) bloggers highlighted this as a favorite of 2016.

WHAT I THOUGHT: My god, I loved this book. One of my two five-star books of the month. This is the most unique celebrity memoir I’ve ever read, as Parker uses a combination of prose and poetic prose to convey key moments in her life via a series of letters to men – some significant men in her life, like her father and grandfather, others seemingly less significant (but you come to see how they keyed into her being) like a cab driver or a firefighter she passed on the street. So beautiful, so tear-worthy.

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WHAT I READ: Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

WHY I READ IT: I was tragically behind the curve on this beautiful book.

WHAT I THOUGHT: One of my other five-star books for the month; I can’t believe I waited this long.

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WHAT I READ: My Name is Lucy Barton (Elizabeth Strout)

WHY I READ IT: Her Olive Kitteridge is something I moderately enjoyed.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I bumped this up to 3 stars, but it was really more like 2.5. Beautiful writing, but pretty meh.

Book Roundup: September 2016

Bringing back an old favorite (of mine, probably no one else’s) from way back when I kind of blogged in 2014 – a roundup of the books I read each month! I review a ton of books here, but not every book I read – so let’s dive in, shall we?

STATS:

Number of books read: 13

Number of female authors vs male authors: 11 females, 1 male (2 separate novels)

Rating spread: 3 five-starred; 4 four-starred; 3 three-starred; 3 two-starred

 

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WHAT I READ: Proxy and Guardianby Alex London

WHY I READ IT: One of the podcasts I listen to (The Worst Bestsellers – an EXCELLENT listen) recommended it in a back catalogue episode of “Best books of the year.” The best part of this podcast is that the hosts go to my book club, and now I feel like an awkward fangirl who knows these pretty virtual strangers WAY too well.

WHAT I THOUGHT: One of my favorites from the month! Wonderful macro- and micro-studies of humanity in a dystopian world that may not be very far away from our truth. Plus, well-done LGBT relationship, which is rare in YA lit.

 

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WHAT I READ: Truly, Madly, Guilty, by Liane Moriarty

WHY I READ IT: I love me some Liane – I’ve read her entire catalogue and lapped up this new release ASAP.

WHAT I THOUGHT: A little soapy, but well written and just so damn entertaining.

 

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WHAT I READ: Leave Meby Gayle Forman

WHY I READ IT: Gayle is another one of my favorite authors, primarily for Just One Day/Just One Year and If I Stay/Where She Went. 

WHAT I THOUGHT: In her first foray into adult fiction, I found a little bit of the magic that I love in her YA novels lacking here, but acknowledge it may be because I can’t relate yet – not being a mother or a wife myself. I’m interested in picking this up again in a decade or so and seeing my thoughts then.

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WHAT I READ: Listen To Me, by Hannah Pittard

WHY I READ IT: I believe it was recommended as a best read of the month somewhere?

WHAT I THOUGHT: Not nearly as exciting as the jacket made it seem. Give this a pass.

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WHAT I READ: Naughts and Crossesby Malorie Blackman

WHY I READ IT: Recommendation from one of my bookish Facebook groups.

WHAT I THOUGHT: A haunting look at racial divide and class structure in our society.

 

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WHAT I READ: You’ll Grow Out Of It, by Jessi Klein

WHY I READ IT: I’m a big ol’ fan of Jessi Klein and her oeuvre of comedian work.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I’m never a super big fan of celebrity memoirs/comic essays, but I mostly liked this one. Some of them were a little dull, but most were interesting enough and this made for a great plane book.

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WHAT I READ: Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plentyby Ramona Ausubel

WHY I READ IT: No idea.

WHAT I THOUGHT: May have hit closer to home were I a young adult during this time period (1970s, mostly) but as it were there was a lot of this I couldn’t really connect with. I think I liked it, though?

 

Additional books read and reviewed on the blog:

Some Kind of Happiness

Mischling

Sisters in Sanity

The Hopefuls

The Secrets We Keep

Happy October, y’all!