2017 Books · may2017reading

Beartown

Beartown

I stayed up until 12:30am last night to finish this book.  It was partly because it was due back to the library this morning but mostly because I couldn’t put it down.  The writing was brilliant.  It went from breaking my heart to making me laugh to moving me profoundly every chapter.  Disclaimer: the subject matter is tough.  I don’t think it’s too big of a spoiler alert to let you know that a girl is attacked and that triggers a ripple effect to the entire town.  However, the book is so much more than that.

I’ve never been a big fan of sports.  My dad passed away when I was 10, I don’t have any brothers, and my boyfriends have never been obsessed with it.  So, when everyone else is attending sporting events, I’m hanging out with friends or settling down with a good book.  That being said, I still loved the descriptions of hockey and the people that play it in this book.  I got as swept up as the crowd when the team would score an improbable goal.  I saw all the good it did to people, and I saw all the bad it did to people.  It’s a book about unity, loyalty, courage, and doing what’s right when you know it will cost you possibly everything.  I loved this book and I will be thinking about it for a long time.

5 Stars

2017 Books · april2017reading · Quick Lit

April Reading

Unfortunately, my reading took a major hit in April so this round-up will be rather short.  Looking forward to a hopefully slower summer so I can catch up on lots of good reading. 🙂

Speak Love

I actually read this over about four months with a group of teenage girls that I teach at my church.  Every Friday night, they piled into my living room to eat cheese dip and cookies and talk about what they learned from this book.  It quickly became one of the highlights of my week.  I thought this book was perfect for teenagers.  Annie has a down to earth writing style that is instantly relatable, but she also packs lots of truths in.  I got a lot out of it myself, and it served as a great starting point to talk about some hard issues my girls deal with.

the Wife

This seems to be one of those books that you either love or just feel ehhhhhh about.  I fell into the later category.  It wasn’t that the book was bad; it just didn’t wow me.  Even now thinking back about it, I can’t remember any characters that I particularly loved.  The ending was good but not overwhelmingly so.  Confession – I am not a huge fan of this time period (1920s).  Some people absolutely love the glitz and glam of showgirls and mobsters, but I’m just not one of them.

Radium

I loved this book!  Meticulously researched, it tells the story of the young women hired to paint clocks that glow in the dark because of radium.  At the time, they were told it was good for them… until they all started to die horrific deaths.  It was hard to read, because of both the trauma they went through and the inability of their employers to take any responsibility whatsoever.  However, it is an important book, and the beauty of the women’s strength will stay with me a long time.

Life Intended

Technically I finished this one at the beginning of May, but I’m throwing it in because my reading life was so paltry last month!  This was a sweet and somewhat predictable book.  It deals with the grief of losing someone in a way that was sad but not overly depressing.  It more focuses on what you do with your life when it doesn’t turn out the way you planned.  This would make a great beach read.

What I'm Loving

What I’m Loving

I’m stealing this idea from other bloggers because I just love it!  Every week, I’ll try to list things I’m currently obsessed with.  Not only is it a fun idea but it also causes me to reflect on good thing that I’m enjoying in my life right now.

Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road CD

Ellie

I am not exaggerating when I say that this CD by Ellie Holcomb is on constant repeat these days.  Not only is the music enjoyable to listen to, but her lyrics are amazing.   I’ve been going through a difficult season of working through something that happened to me a few years ago, and her songs speak to my soul.  So, so good.  “He Will”, “Wonderfully Made”, and “You Love Me Best” are particular favorites.

The Great British Baking Show

250px-The_Great_British_Bake_Off_title

I discovered this show on Netflix about a week ago and flew through the first season with my mom.  The funny thing is that I actually hate reading food memoirs and I hate cooking, but this adorable show is so fun.  The contestants are charming (and so nice!) and the foods they cook are so un-American that I’m fascinated.  There’s drama (apparently #justiceforiain was an actual trending hashtag in Britain when it aired), there’s tears (people are crying over custard and I literally feel my heart hurt for them), and there’s friendship (can Richard be my best friend??).  I’m just starting Season 2 and already missing the contestants from Season 1 but I’m sure the new group will find a place in my heart too.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty

Sigh.  I don’t know if it’s possible for me to have loved this more.  I am a die-hard fan of the cartoon version and seeing it come to life on screen was just SO GOOD.  Emma Watson and Dan Stevens (ahh Matthew Crawley, you’re always handsome to me!) were amazing and Luke Evans did a fantastic job as Gaston.  The music was in my head for days, and I may or may not have gone to see it a second time the very next day.  My only regret is that it took me so long to get around to seeing it.

2017 Books · april2017reading

The Radium Girls

Radium

Y’all.  This beautiful book caused my jaw to drop no less than ten times as I was reading it, and then at the end, I was curled in the fetal position sobbing like a baby.  (That may be a slight exaggeration but seriously, I was crying pretty hard.)  I knew nothing about this when I picked up the book.  I heard about it on two different podcasts and thought it sounded interesting so I requested an advance copy from NetGalley.  This is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read.  It focuses on hundreds of women who were dial painters in the early 1900s and used radium in the paint.  They were told it was completely safe and even good for them, only to be exposed to significant amounts of radioactivity that caused horrific deaths for most of them.  They literally put radium in their mouths.  What these women went through was pretty unbelievable and yet their employers denied for decades that they did anything to cause their symptoms.  I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

What I Liked: It is meticulously researched yet it reads like a novel; it is incredibly interesting; there is a section on a husband and wife that is the most heartbreaking picture of love and devotion I may have ever read; and I’m happy to know an important part of history that I didn’t previously.

What I Didn’t Like: Some of the description of what the girls went through was graphic and disturbing to read but it really needed to be in the book in order to understand it.

5 Stars

2017 Books · april2017reading · Murder Mystery

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

the Wife

I read this historical murder mystery for the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club.  So far, I’ve noticed that I’m rather lukewarm about a lot of the monthly picks.  They aren’t necessarily picked because they are books we will all LOVE but because they offer good discussions.  This is based on a real life unsolved murder of Judge Crater in 1930.  This book is the author’s creative take on what could have happened but is most likely far from the truth.

What I Liked:  The ending had a pretty good twist and I loved that it was all based on real life people and events.  My favorite part was at the very end where there is a section with each character and a description about whether that was factual or embellished for the story.

What I Didn’t Like: Most of the story felt pretty slow (especially the first half), even though many of the characters were sympathetic, I didn’t feel a huge connection to any of them, and much of the ending was confusing (in the book club, everyone is constantly trying to figure out exactly what happened and why).

Three Stars

Recommended for: Fans of murder mysteries and historical fiction.

2017 Books · march2017reading · Quick Lit

March Reading

Time for a quick round-up of what I read in March!

This is How

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

I read this for the MMD book club and have so many thoughts about it!  On the one hand, it was well-written, engaging, and had interesting characters.  On the other hand, I didn’t agree with everything that was taken for granted as true in the book.  For example, it was assumed that if your five year old boy feels like a girl, then he IS a girl regardless of what gender his body actually is.  Then, all of the storylines built on that premise.  However, I can’t say that I agree with that (controversial, I know!) and so several of the conversations and decisions veered into an area that I didn’t think was always best for the child.  However, it was very clear that these parents loved their child and wanted what was best for him, and I enjoyed reading a book that I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up.

Caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

When everything is a part of a game, how do you know what’s real?  This book was cute, colorful, and magical.  The storyline wasn’t perfect but it almost didn’t matter because I had such a great time it.

Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

This page-turner was a fast-paced thriller with a bizarre and unpredictable ending.  It was twisted and strange but I love books that can surprise me and I thought this one did a great job of it.

Mother's

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

And my Columbine obsession continues!  I loved Columbine by Dave Cullen so much last month that I have started reading everything related I can get my hands on.  First up was this memoir by the mother of one of the shooters, Dylan Klebold.  Dylan was unquestionably fascinating in Columbine because his journals and personality seemed so different from the boy who murdered his classmates, and this book expounds on that.  What Dylan did genuinely shocked his family to their core and it was heartbreaking to read.  However, the unconditional love Sue still has for her son was also quite beautiful.

Be Frank

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

What can I say?  This one really didn’t do it for me.  My best friend loved it and called it charming so I went in with high expectations.  However, I found it to be very sad and the storyline slow.  I didn’t like any of the characters and I didn’t think the ending was very satisfying.  Definitely my least favorite of the month.

Talking

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

I ADORE Gilmore Girls and by extension Lauren Graham so I knew that unless this book was truly awful, I would enjoy it.  It would have been better as an audio book, I think, because the writing comes across as rambling sometimes.  However, if Lorelai Gilmore had been reading it (and Lauren basically IS Lorelai), it would have been even better.  Perfect for fans of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood.

Overall, it was a fun month for reading!  I’m hoping to keep this pace up so that I can finish my Goodreads goal of 50 books this year.  So far, I’m on track. 🙂

This post is linked to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.  Head over and see what others are reading!

2017 Books · march2017reading · Memoirs

Talking As Fast As I Can

Talking

Can Lauren Graham be my best friend??  I mean, seriously.  This book is like sitting down with her over coffee and learning about her life. I giggled my way through it but she also shares some bits of wisdom that I really valued.  Her chapter about her boyfriend, Peter, was also on what it was like to be single for so long as all of her friends got married and had babies.  I loved her advice that she gave at the end of the chapter.  Also, she basically IS Lorelai Gilmore.

Things I Liked:  It is hilarious (I read most of it during down time at work and had to struggle not to laugh out loud multiple times), Lauren is surprisingly unHollywood (discussing her personal dislike of doing nude scenes and plastic surgery), fans of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood are treated to some behind the scenes thoughts and stories (I could literally hear the last song playing from the end of Gilmore Girls as she described it and almost started crying), and it’s a quick and easy read.

Things I Didn’t Like: A couple of chapters ramble a bit and it probably would have been a bit better as an audiobook.

Four Stars

Recommended For:  Honestly, fans of Gilmore Girls are probably the only ones who will appreciate this book.  Otherwise, you would be completely lost during a couple of chapters.  Now, please excuse me while I go rewatch the entire series.  Again.