Wrap Up | February 2018

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Michaela

The Year of Living Danishly | Helen Russell- I've been meaning to read this for about a year, so I finally pulled it off the shelf and really quite enjoyed it. This book is very statistic/research heavy; much more than I expected, but the narrative style still carries it along smoothly enough. I laughed out loud in some places and learned a lot about the philosophy that guides Danish life and why it fosters such happy people, as well as some of the downsides to their society. I'm endlessly interested in other cultures and places, so if you are too, this will be a good pick. 

Force of Nature | Jane Harper- If you loved The Dry, this next installment will be well worth picking up. It has that same style of short, cliff-hanger-y chapters and perfectly paced plotting as the clues unfurl. It's not as focused on Aaron Faulk personally and is a drastically different story, so fair warning. I personally wish there had been more Aaron in it, but it was still really well done. Its been weeks since I read it and it's still haunting my brain a bit. Full disclosure, I was gifted this advanced copy by the publisher, but my opinion is wholly my own.

The Adulterants | Joe Dunthorne- This was such an unusual book. It definitely didn't inspire warm fuzzy feelings, but it wasn't meant to. The characters are so interesting and flawed and relatable, the plot is dramatic without being totally outlandish, and it's a quick, quirky read. It made me laugh and cringe in all the best ways. If you need something outside the lines of mainstream fiction this is solid.

The Bear and the Nightingale | Katherine Arden- I really loved this, actually! I thought it was well written, had a lovely gradual build, and the magic increased at just the right pace; it reminded me of Neil Gaiman a bit. I loved the warm family dynamics and the great set-up it did for the series to continue. The ending was a little anti-climactic, but the weaving of fairytale themes into something new and interesting was superb. I'm excited to start the next book ASAP.

The Phantom of the Opera | Gaston Leroux- Our dinner party pick for February and a classic! If you've seen the movie or the play, the plot is very similar, but the book feels much more gothic/horror tinged than the musical. The Phantom in the novel is sinister and less romanticized, while Raoul is frankly spineless, but I thought this was a fascinating story, with tense pacing and lovely imagery. Be mindful of which translation you pick up, and if you're a fan of the music, expect it to play in your head the entire time you're reading!

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Rikki

Talking As Fast As I Can | Lauren Graham - I really didn't think I'd be into this book very much. In general, I'm just not interested in celebrity books. Instantly, however, I was comforted by Lauren's familiar voice (on audio) from all my (admitted) years of watching Gilmore Girls (see: I first watched in 2004). An important consideration in how much I enjoyed this book is that I listened to it on audio and so much of what I laughed at were her inflections and personality that went into. Overall, it was mildly interesting and quite entertaining, I particularly loved "Old Lady Jackson".

I Am I Am I Am | Maggie O'Farrell - Loved is not an accurate adjective to describe one's feelings toward this book. It just doesn't fit well for me. It's haunting. Well done. Not an ounce of sympathy or "look at me!" in these 17 stories of near-death experiences. All rather matter-of-factly-written accounts that leave you turning page after page, nearly holding your breath, and gasping "WOW" at the end. One of the most intriguing memoirs to date. Full disclosure, I was gifted this advanced copy by the publisher, but my opinion is wholly my own.

Into the Wild | Jon Krakauer - I hadn't known, prior to starting this story, the intense controversy surrounding Chris McCandless' actions and subsequent death. His story is incredible, and oddly, reminds me of characters found in the works of Steinbeck. A man who, despite his intelligence, could not conform to society, whose mind reaches into depths many can't understand, and seeks a life of simplicity and honesty that doesn't exist anymore. His will was stronger than common sense at times. And what it all comes down to is that he wanted the very stripped down version of life. It would seem that Krakauer has a similar mentality, as do many others he included in this story to bring a difficult understanding to light on McCandless. Sad, but great story, on a troubled yet intelligent man. Such is life.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry | Gabrielle Zevin - I picked this book up at our Bookstagram meet up book swap. I was needing a break and something fun to read; this was perfect! The story was quick, easy to read, had great literary references, and pulled at the heart strings a little bit. Great story!

The Hate U Give | Angie Thomas - Another YA book for class. I'd been holding off on reading it, because I needed a solid break from YA, plus the hype had me feeling unsure. I'll be the first to admit this book blew me away. I had no idea what to expect and the hype is totally worth it. For a debut novel, Thomas did a phenomenal job at giving an inside look at a sad truth in our current society. I'm looking forward to reading more of her novels. 

The Phantom of the Opera | Gaston Leroux - I'm actually a little surprised how enjoyable this book was for me. It came off satirical in the "horror" scenes and left me more humored than anything. Phantom is a creatively written love story, with great dialogue scattered throughout that keeps the pace going strong. I've never seen the film, so I'm looking forward to following up with that soon. 

My Kitchen Year | Ruth Reichl - This was one of our picks from Anne of What Should I Read Next. I had this book on my counter from the library for about a week. I barely flipped through it. Then, I came across it on audio and wondered how on earth a cookbook would translate. Surprisingly, it was done well, but speed up the reading pace, Ruth is a painfully slow narrator otherwise. I really loved that Ruth narrated the book herself. She includes personal stories that lead up to each recipe, detailing her life after Gourmet magazine closed down. While she reminds of Ina Garten, in that you should only use the best seasonal items the world has to offer ($$$), I do look forward to trying some of the more toned down recipes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches anyone? I laughed at that one. Ruth's own love affair with cooking is so engaging, it makes you want to fall in love with cooking yourself, if you aren't already.

FEATURED REVIEWER

Courtney | @wordsthatsing_

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Hi readers! I'm Courtney and I currently live in New England with my husband and our rescue cat, Sicily, after 4 years in Southern California. I've been an avid reader since I was very young. I love reading historical fiction, poetry, memoirs, and cookbooks but will really venture into any genre for a good story! Professionally, I am the Community Outreach Advisor for a popular New England food website and I also write for a professional services company where I work with clients to help them achieve their career goals. Aside from reading, I love being outdoors, practicing yoga, drinking good coffee, and cooking for friends and family. Thank you to Rikki and Michaela for allowing me to share my February reads! 

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First Comes Love | Emily Giffin - I love Emily Giffin's books because they often have an unexpected twist or deal with complicated relationship dynamics. First Comes Love follows two sisters in the aftermath of a tragedy and explores how each sister deals with their pain in different ways. The characters face some interesting, challenging decisions, which kept me interested until the end. I found it difficult to relate to the animosity and strain between the sisters, but sometimes unlikeable characters make for an interesting read. 

Reading People | Anne Bogel - I'm a huge fan of Anne Bogel and love her podcast, What Should I Read Next, so I was really looking forward to reading her book, Reading People about personality types. Anne gives an overview of various personality frameworks in such an accessible way that the book feels like an intimate conversation with a friend about how to utilize the frameworks to our advantage. There is a a lot we can learn about ourselves from each framework, and although it can be uncomfortable to objectively view your strengths and weaknesses, it is a valuable practice. Anne gives you the tools you need to identify your type and then use the corresponding information to strengthen yourself and your relationships. I loved this one.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop | Veronica Henry - You know the cozy feeling you get when you watch You've Got Mail even though you know how it ends? That's how I felt reading this book. Although it is somewhat predictable; it is warm, heartfelt, and delightful. I loved reading about the different relationships and how they all unfold against the backdrop of Nightingale Books. It takes place in a small countryside town outside London and will likely evoke a strong desire to visit your favorite little bookshop. Sometimes you just want a heartfelt, lighter read and this book fits the bill.

Devotions | Mary Oliver - This collection showcases over 400 pages of Mary Oliver's best poetry from the past 50+ years. If you aren't familiar with Mary Oliver, her poems are like love letters to nature. When I read Mary Oliver, I am inspired to slow down and truly appreciate the nature that surrounds us every day. Her writing is profound and inspiring. Since she writes about something we all experience, nature and its beauty, her collection, Devotions, is a great place to begin if you'd like to incorporate more poetry into your reading life. This collection took my breath away.

OTHER NOTES

We're still getting back into the swing of things around here, so thanks for your patience as we continue to find our footing!

We have our dinner party for Phantom of the Opera on Friday, so that will be up next week and we can't wait to see it come together and show off some details, as well as a fun collaboration with So Many Damn Books.

Our first bookstagram meet up was a definite success, you can see the books everyone bought to swap and much more about the event right over here. We will definitely be hosting another one sometime soon!

Michaela Devine3 Comments