I have always loved to read – And even though there have been pretty big stretches of time when I just couldn’t make the time, this year has not been like that. I have finished 10 (TEN!) books so far since January and I’m in the middle of 3 others as we speak. Why 3 at once? Which one I read all depends on where I am when the desire to read collides with some available time. 1 sits beside my bed. 1 sits on the table next to the couch and 1 lives at work.
Anyway, I figured I could do a quick book review post. Also, if any of you have a recommendation for a book you think I’d love, please do share. I tend to like realistic fiction; historical, drama, romance, action/adventure and maybe a little suspense. I don’t do sci-fi, horror or self-help.
Anyhoo: My reviews – Not in the order they were read.
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
*Soooo good. Should be required reading.
This was a hard one to put down. Every single character was believable and understandable! Even the ones who you may not want to agree with. The book showed many different sides to touchy subjects. Poverty and police and privilege and race and blended-family. I think many people might be turned off if they read a blurb about it. They may assume they already know where it’s going and who will be made out to the bad guy; but it wasn’t like that. It was honest on all sides and did not shy away from the ugliness/undesirables that is in the “hood” as well as the racism that black people often have to deal with and how difficult it can be to stay true to yourself while also trying to better yourself.
The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
*Overall Very Good.
I really enjoyed this book. Who is who and what is really happening? What’s true? What’s imagined? Ooh, the suspense! The details made it easy to really immerse yourself in the story but there were A LOT of details and sometimes it felt like overkill. The story was solid though and there were a couple of interesting twists which is always good. I enjoyed the ride the book took me on.
Empathy and Eyebrows – Danni Starr
*A Nice, Easy, No Frills, Feel Good, Read.
I finished this in 2 afternoons. It’s kind of like an autobiography/a collection of stories about the life of radio personality Danni Starr. She’s had an interesting enough life to make for some good stories. A blind mom. An alcoholic dad. A cheating husband. A daughter with severe health issues. Some issues at her job related to her race/gender. Ultimately, each story makes you feel like she’s a sister you can go to with all your troubles cause she’ll understand and won’t judge. She is all about women being strong and brave and honest and fierce and owning their inner magic; while being empathetic and maintaining killer eyebrows.
Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
*FIVE stars! A definite Favourite. Fist bump to the author.
I loved this book so much. I told people about it on Facebook and on Twitter. I felt like I was taken on an amazing journey. Everything there was to feel, I felt it. I picked this book up every chance I could to read another chapter. So eager I was to see who I’d me meeting next and how they would tie into the story. At times, the character the author chose to focus on was not initially the one I thought I wanted to know more about, but then bam, I’d be sucked in to their story too. This book could have gone in any of a million different directions. Even though I assumed there would be a nice little bow tying everything up at the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The last thing I will say though is that if you are a fan of audio books, I don’t think this would be a good one for that AT ALL. I often referenced the family tree diagram provided in the front cover to keep my bearings.
Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
*Don’t Waste Your Time.
This book was recommended to me by a Barnes & Noble employee. I should go back there and tell her how awful it was. She said it was cute and charming. Boring and pointless is more like it. I dragged myself across the finish line with this one and in fact, I skipped through large chunks of it only to find that I hadn’t missed anything. The book is chapter after endless chapter of some guy (who you don’t care about) floating down a river, meeting random people (who you don’t care about) on a quest to find somebody (who you don’t care about). Next!
Behold The Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue
I didn’t know how to feel about the way this book ended. It was good, but not what I wanted for them, but only because I cared. I find myself wanting a follow up book so I can know what happens with the kids. I felt connected to this family. My immigrant experience was different from theirs in many ways, but the emotions are universal. As an immigrant, you struggle. But there were struggles in your home country too. You want to be where you are, but you miss so many things about home. There are amazing opportunities where you are, but nowhere feels/smells/sounds/is as comfortable to your soul like where you grew up. You want to fit in. You try to fit in. You want to hold onto your culture and you want your children to know it too, but how can they? Is it all worth it?
The Orphans Tale – Pam Jenoff
This book started off a little slowly and I wondered if I’d made a mistake in getting it. That feeling didn’t last long though and it picked up speed as I went along. I was caught between wanting to know how it ended and not wanting it to end. In real life, I don’t know any circus people. I have never had a conversation with anyone about their or their families experience with Nazi occupied Europe. Yet, I knew these characters. I could hear their voices and in my mind I just knew what they looked like. I cared about every single one of them and what happened to them. I felt their joy and their pain. Even though the book is set in WWII Germany/France, I was caught off guard by how dark it got at times, but it made the story more compelling. It’s one of those books that if they ever made a movie about it, I’d be hesitant to watch it because I feel protective about how the characters should be interpreted.
Yellow Crocus – Laila Ibrahim
*4 out of 5 stars.
There weren’t too many surprises in this book, but that didn’t make it any less interesting. I eagerly followed along with Lisbeth and her enslaved wet nurse, Mattie. I loved seeing their relationship develop as Lisbeth went from a baby to a teenager to a woman. Laila (the author) did a great job of putting herself in both womens shoes so we could see things from both their perspectives. Lisbeth loved Mattie, but she was absolutely a product of her era and upbringing.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
*Good. Not Worth The Hype.
As well known as it is, I had never read this book and then I saw it at the book store on a bargain shelf that was full of “classics”. I liked it but I don’t really understand why it was SUCH a hit and why people are SO outraged at it. There are lots of books that are set in “Jim Crow”, USA and none of them would be honest if they didn’t include language that is offensive. I don’t think the story is better or more offensive than A Time To Kill for example. Maybe it was a big deal because of when it was written or because it was written by a woman. I have no idea. I liked it though and I loved little Scout. She wasn’t afraid to ask the tough/inappropriate questions. She was bold and inquisitive and a boundary pusher. May we all be little Scouts.
Living Right – Laila Ibrahim
This is another book that I think does an excellent job of showing a sensitive topic from both sides. On one side we have Jenn. She is 100% committed to her family and her evangelical Church. On the other hand, we have her teenage son, Josh who swallows a bottle of sleeping pills because he’s attracted to the same sex and knows his families views on homosexuality. What’s a mom to do? This book is not political. It’s not about laws or rights. It speaks directly to what happens inside someone’s home and heart when their most tightly held values are questioned. Jenn is not portrayed as a bad person and as a reader, I felt her struggle, even though I disagreed with her beliefs.
And there you have it. My first ever book review post. The books I’m reading now are Girl Last Seen, Before We Were Yours and The House Girl. I also have Lion waiting in the wings. I can let you know how those are when I’m done if anyone’s interested.
p.s. I realized while writing this that all the authors are female. That was not by design but it’s kinda cool too.