Wrap Up | October 2018

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Michaela

A War and Peace update! - I am a little over halfway through this monster, and devoted most of my reading time to it this month, so I figured I would give an update instead of a review. Basically, I freaking love it. I can’t focus on any other books because I love it to much. I’m nearly at the halfway point now (about 600 pages in) and I am riveted. It’s hard to explain, but Tolstoy is just so good at the micro and the macro, and has built such amazing characters who you really, really get to know. This book is a behemoth, and so, so worthwhile. There is just so much going on, and it’s all just so good. I wish I had more coherent thoughts, and maybe by the time I finish I can say something worthwhile, but for now, I just love love love it.

Warbreaker | Brandon Sanderson- This was a book club book that I went into with high hopes! Sanderson is a much lauded author in the fantasy genre and I was genuinely excited….until I got 300/676 pages into it and literally could not focus on reading it because I was so ragey at how terrible it is. Poor plot pacing, passive, weak lead characters, and “witty” banter that was downright painful to read it was so strained and trite. Oh and I guessed the “big twist” on like page 50 (yeah, I definitely skimmed the ending). The internet agrees this is an anomaly for Sanderson, and not representative of his other work, so I may try another of his novels later on.

Frankenstein | Mary Shelley- A pretty quick read, and definitely nothing like the commercialized version of the story we all know. I was surprised at how political this book got, and enjoyed how utterly Gothic it was, melodrama and all. I love reading classics like this precisely because they tend to be so different than the version pop culture shows us. I’d highly recommend this one if you enjoy 19th century or Gothic literature, because it’s a great example of both.

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Rikki

Stay With Me | Ayobami Adebayo - This was such a well done story. I was really immersed in the lives of the characters and had to see it through. With that said, this was also a hard one to read and kind of the worst. I can seldom do without some redemptive qualities and this story had pretty much none. Plus, I loathed the ending and that left me utterly disappointed.

This is How It Always Is | Laurie Frankel - Another well done story that was character driven and had me holding on till the end. I had to know what happened. Frankel took a controversial topic in our society and placed it in a work of fiction that was handled beautifully. However, every single thing in this story wrapped up neatly in a bow, every character was intelligent and knew what to say, and the convenience of how certain aspects played out was too much of a coincidence. Again, well done for the topic of a transgender child, but a little too neat for my taste.

Autumn | Karl Ove Knausgaard - I picked this up at the perfect time for me. I was feeling more than contented with my reading life and was ready to settle into something slow and steady, and this collection of short stories fit the bill and the season. But, as this book goes, it’s meant to be read and enjoyed with time to think it all over, and well, I got impatient at the time it took and was ready to be done. I enjoyed it immensely, and though there were a handful of stories I didn’t care for, there were many more I marked for re-reading. I also felt this was much less a collection of "letters to his unborn daughter” as it was a collection of “thoughts on random things in life.”

There There | Tommy Orange - This book was pretty good. Orange does something very different, in a very real way, and I fully appreciated the story. I especially loved the interconnectedness of the characters and thought that while the ending was a tragic wrap up, it ended absolutely perfectly too, as a finale of sorts.

As I Lay Dying | William Faulkner - This was my bedtime story each night and was so perfect to read slowly and soak in Faulkner’s beautiful prose. It took me about 20 pages to realize what was going on and how it was going to unfold, as Faulkner has a very unique way of writing and this is an even more unique, sometimes funny, sometimes morose, story. I also felt reminisce of Steinbeck throughout, in the same layered, impressive descriptive and immersive writing that I love, but not nearly as straightforward.

The Thirteenth Tale | Diane Setterfield - I would have loved this story much more when I was younger. I will say that I enjoyed it quite a bit and loved the unique plot and elements of mystery. Where I think the story took a wrong turn for me is how unbelievably convenient every single thing (read: attempts at mystery and intrigue) that occurs. The plot/mystery could have easily been elaborated on much more.

Where the Crawdads Sing | Delia Owens - Michaela didn’t finish reading this last month and passed it off knowing I’d enjoy it. I see exactly why it wasn’t for her, although I very much loved this book. There is a very mellow, but very good atmosphere, very accurate, albeit unique, character development, and the little plot twist hidden at the end left me chuckling just a bit at how clever, no bullshit the main character is. I thought Owens’ writing was beautiful, I loved the poetry and story development, and if the prose had been a little more thought-provoking, this would have been an all time favorite forever and ever. Still, it was very good. I can’t wait to see what else she writes!

Frankenstein | Mary Shelley - This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It constantly blew me away. While I found the story to have some gaping holes and leave some things to be desired, I found every single word to be absolutely beautiful—and for a teenager to write this—I’m speechless. There are a ton of nuances littered throughout, a lot of philosophy, and even some political undertones. I’m just going to crawl into a deep book hangover for the next week.