Wrap Up | May 2019
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A Brightness Long Ago | Guy Gavriel Kay- Let me preface this by saying that Kay is my favorite author, his books are in a category all their own, I’ve read all but 2 of his books, and I enjoy everything he writes more than 90% of anything else I read. Phew. But. This was not my very favorite of his works. Tigana remains safely on it’s pedestal. A Brightness Long Ago was a brilliantly woven tale, with characters that feel alive, but it lacks the raw power of some of his other works and I can’t put my finger on why. Still, I loved being back with Kay; he creates worlds and characters I never want to leave, and this was no exception.
Death on the Nile | Agatha Christie- This was admittedly, not my favorite Christie. I guessed the “whodunnit” straight off, which I never do with her other books, but it was still fun and cozy, and honestly what more do you really need? This was a fun one on audio while I painted some rooms in our new home!
The Hate U Give | Angie Thomas- I read this for our IRL book club this month (Rikki read it last year!) and while it tackled some great hot button issues in a sensitive way, I found myself having the same issues with it that I do with most YA. Characters who are just giant globs of stereotypes, over the top drama, writing that is just okay, and general teen-ness. Again though, bravo to Thomas for writing this book, and good on the YA genre for being generally more progressive than adult fiction.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me | Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell - Tamaki excels at writing graphic novels that feel so, so intimately human, and Valero-O’Connell created art that says as much or more than Tamaki’s words, bringing life and personality to the entire story. I LOVED this one and sincerely hope they do another book together. This found it’s way to my graphic novel favorites shelf.
Ghost Wall | Sarah Moss- Hooooollyyyy crap this one was good…and brutal. The prose style, right from the very first page, establishes the oppressive atmosphere and eerie tone that the book carries so well. Super atmospheric with an original concept, I can see why this one was long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year, and I spent a good amount of time mulling over it with a big glass of wine when I finished, which is always a good sign. There’s a great interview with Moss about this one right here.
Along the Infinite Sea | Beatriz Williams- I picked this up looking for something fun and light…and it was just okay. Plot driven, easy to blast through, and honestly mediocre at best. Not much else to say, as this book left me feeling pretty uninspired, but if you like the sound of the plot, and are just in it for plot, this could be a fun summer read.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea | Jules Verne - A buddy read with my son this month; a book we’ve been meaning to read together for ages. I was blown away by Verne’s creativity and ability to create so much detail in the 19th century, it’s impressive. I read reviews where some said they found it boring. I will say the technical discussion over the Nautilus was extensive, but I really felt that it was tribute to the brilliance of the story. I loved it.
Barracoon | Zora Neale Hurston - A beautiful story that I’m so glad has been told. Hurston relayed Cudjo’s story that would have otherwise gone untold. We don’t get to read his full life in this story, which many asked for, and were upset that she didn’t leave an epilogue with the rest of his life. However, I felt the snippet we got to glimpse was beauty in itself. I loved hearing his recount of the cultural shift from his home country to the changes he was forced to make in a new culture and country.
The Hundred Dresses | Eleanore Estes - A love novella that reminded me a bit of Jane Eyre in some ways. It was short and sweet, but a lovely story for young children to read, and one that I passed onto my daughter.
Relish | Lucy Knisley - Such a fun graphic novel memoir. The kind of story where you realize, as a child, you don’t feel your life is all that extraordinary, but then you write about it and put it out into the world and, wow, what an interesting childhood and story to share! I really enjoyed this one and plan on picking up her other, French Milk, soon.
Anne of Green Gables | L.M. Montgomery - Oh Anne, where do I begin?! For fear of feeling let down because of the ever-present hype surrounding this book, I hesitated to pick it up for ages. Finally, I did. And oh what a beautiful story; the most charming story. Anne is truly as wonderful as I’ve ever been lead to believe. Getting lost in her imagination, in her world, was a gift.
Anne of Avonlea | L.M. Montgomery - I wasn’t sure I’d continue the series after Green Gables, which I loved so much. But I gave it a try anyway, and really enjoyed following her life as she grew from little girl to young woman. I’m looking forward to the next, as I keep hearing the series has other phenomenal books in comparison to the first beloved story.
Death on the Nile | Agatha Christie - So far, I’d say this was my least favorite Christie. After M read it, I realized I hadn’t and had to pick it up. It was a fun mystery, as all hers are, but unlike the others I’ve read, it was easy to figure out the mystery early on. I aim to read her Miss Marple series next.
Before We Were Yours | Lisa Wingate - I had no idea this story of the house of horrors, the Tennessee Children’s Society was a reality in the 1920s-50s. My heart breaks knowing how permanently altered so many lives became because of one sadistic woman. I read this for book club next month, and I couldn’t put it down. The story has two stories alternating as you read, from past to present and back again. I didn’t love the voice of the present day character, Avery, as her character didn’t feel as real as the past character, Rill, did. It was really great overall, and after reading up on some real life cases from this non-fiction event, I’d say Wingate did justice to so many who lived through this.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower | Stephen Chbosky - I picked this up for banned book club, even though I’ll be out of town for the actual meeting. I’ve been wanting to read it for awhile now, and I’m glad I finally read it. I flew through it in a day, really enjoying the story. I thought of my son a lot, as he will enter high school next school year, which is just crazy to even think about. Anyway, I can see why this book was banned; the amount of sex, drugs, and alcohol for high school students is jarring a bit, however, I also don’t believe in censorship, and I did gain a lot from this story. I imagine that there are many teenagers who can relate to various aspects of this book, and it’s nice to not feel alone.
If You Leave Me | Crystal Hana Kim - What an incredibly powerful book. I can’t believe this book hasn’t gained more popularity, and the fact that this is Kim’s debut novel, is really mind-blowing. I’ve said it many times, so it’s no secret how much I enjoy reading about Asian culture and history, and this book was beautifully detailed in that regard. It did break my heart over and over again, as I felt a kinship and affection for the main character, Haemi, as well as the dividing of Korea. I’ll be sitting with this one for awhile.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me | Mariko Tamaki - A graphic novel buddy read for the month, this one explored some complicated issues with a lot of tact, a little obscurity, and some really great illustrations and strong characters that take you through. This actually was very reminiscent of Perks of Being a Wallflower since they were read nearly back to back, and were a great pair.
Pilu of the Woods | Mai K. Nguyen - My sweet pen pal, Cristyn, @paper.forests, recommended this one to me, and of course I had to read it right away. This one is definitely geared toward the younger crown (I plan to read it with my daughter), but is a fun one nonetheless. It handles grief and emotions EXTREMELY well, with only a genuine hint of loss, but with a fun relationship that helps to explore how to manage anger/confusion/grief/loneliness incredibly well. Loved this one.
Did you read anything you loved this month?