Monday, April 24, 2017

Everything, Everything

Everything, EverythingEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a perfect light read after finishing such a gut-wrenching book earlier in the week. It was the last thing I read before bed and first thing I picked up all weekend.

The premise of Yoon's book is fascinating, albeit a bit far-fetched, but I loved the creativity of her writing style. The illustrations, the "book spoilers", charts, descriptions of color, and email/IM correspondence were so fun. The book lost me with the big twist, but I enjoyed the overall narrative, and I would recommend this book to YA lovers and, most definitely, my students.

Gotta run because I need to get to my next book.

Happy reading--

Ps. It is rare to have diverse main characters, so I was thrilled to have a part Asian, part African-American main character. Teenagers need to see themselves in their books, and I love finding them quality characters that look more like them than what is found in a lot of mainstream fiction. Just a shout out for my other educator friends who are looking for books for their students.

Pps. Thanks to Ness for sending her book all the way from Utah, so I could read it. Sharing books with my favorite people makes me excessively happy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Underground Railroad

The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have spent the week debating what the purpose of a ratings system is. Do we say a book is worth five stars because it's an amazing read? One that carries us away to somewhere we all wish we could go with lyrical words and fascinating characters. Or do we say that a book is worth five stars because the story is powerful and allegorical and one that must be told? This is the debate of books that I love to actually get lost in versus ones that have the power to change the way a society sees an entire era.

The Underground Railroad is one of the latter. Whitehead's narrative is deeply scarring and unconventionally told, and yet it captures the life of a runaway slave in a way that I will never forget. Like Holocaust stories and other tales of struggle, it is not one that I will readily return to, but I can see why Whitehead's book received so much notice and why it will continue to be talked about for decades to come. It is a haunting reminder of slavery's impact on our nation, and why the race issue isn't one that we can just "move on from" as so many are apt to say when racial tensions boil over. This book is a reminder that our assumptions must always be challenged and that when we help others rise, it helps everyone rise.

Happy reading--

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lilac Girls

Lilac GirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I pick up and put down books all the time, so to say that it took me nearly six months to complete Lilac Girls doesn't have to be some dramatic commentary on the novel itself...except that it was. I wanted to love this book. It came highly recommended by people whose opinions I trust, but the book's structure and style were too predictable. The story itself was powerful and the characters compelling. It was fascinating seeing into the lives of women in World War II, whose experiences were far from the traditional war epic that we so often read. That said, without knowing anything about the story ahead of time (two of the three book perspectives are real people), I could see the twists coming and the forced chapter cliff hangers were frustrating.

I would absolutely recommend this book to people who read a lot and love historical fiction, but if you're short on time, there are other stories I'd choose first - All the Light We Cannot See, Nightingale, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Unbroken, etc, etc just to name a few.

Whatever you choose, happy reading~

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly GuiltyTruly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Liane Moriarty's books have been like Tostitos for me the past couple months. Once I start, I cannot seem to stop. "Truly Madly Guilty" was my fourth Moriarty book in that short window of time, and if there were another dozen of her books, I would move on to my next right away.

That said, I wanted to love "Truly Madly Guilty", but I just didn't. Maybe it's the same when you've realized you've eaten half the bag of chips...I still loved the different perspectives and the way Moriarty wove the lives and plot lines together, but I didn't love the characters. That took away a level of the avid interest that the other books have had for me. I did love the thematic discussion of marriage and the little girls of two of the main families. Moriarty's ending was satisfying, but it took until the last quarter of the book to identify well with the main characters.

In a sentence, underwhelming, but Moriarty is a great writer and Caroline Lee is a great narrator. Audible for the win (again).

Happy reading~

ps. This is book ten for the year so far. Really hope I can keep this up for the year. Life's too short to not read a lot.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What's Saving My Life Right Now

Recently, my friend Meg said I had to start listening to the Modern Mrs. Darcy aka the wonderful Anne Bogel. In Anne's Groundhog's Day post, she wrote about a borrowed sentiment of "what is saving my life right now". I like the drama of it over the previous trend of gratitude journals. With the highs and lows of life lately, I love this idea.

So, what is saving my life right now?

1. Liane Moriarty books: Seriously on my fourth book of hers in a few weeks. I've needed the distraction, and the Australian narrators are fantastic. If you've never read her books, start with "What Alice Forgot". It's excellent.

2. Audible subscription: Best $22 I spend each month.

3. Minimalism game: The Minimalists have a game where you get rid of the amount of items that match the date for a month. You can donate, sell, or trash the items. I have already finished all the March dates both at home and at school(let's be honest - it was mostly paper items for school). It helps that we're moving. I pick up almost everything and say, "do I want to pack this and carry this into a new home?" Works wonders. I'm hoping to do a major purge when I'm moving in too.

4. Candles: They really do make any space feel more cozy. I can't get enough.

5. Caffeinated beverages: So, so many of these.

6. Random check-ins: Friends and family randomly texting, calling, or stopping me to ask how things are going. Talking through some of the madness is helpful.

7. Green hills and warm sunshine: I love being on the edge of spring, even if rain is in the forecast for the next few days.

8. My parents: They really do go out of their way to still make sure I am being taken care of.

9. No grading: As in, I actually am 100% caught up. That won't be true tomorrow, but it's so rarely true ever that it's a miracle.

10. Videos of Jewels' kids and group texts/snaps with my sisters: They really do make every day better.

11. Seth: He's been working like a crazy person the past five plus weeks, but when I wake up next to him, I know that everything will be okay. We really are so blessed.

After pondering my list, I can't wait to ask people what they would put on theirs. Happy living and happy almost spring!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Husband's Secret

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seriously though - I start Moriarty's books, and I cannot stop. I was so into this one, I almost forgot what I was doing while listening. "What Alice Forgot" is still my favorite, but this is my third of Moriarty's books in the last couple months, and I already have started my fourth.

This one was different than "What Alice Forgot" and "Big Little Lies" in that Moriarty doesn't wait until the last 10% to reveal the main twist, but still a really powerful story. Just like her others, she really makes you wonder what you would do and challenges the roles and patterns we so naturally fall into without question. This story is saucier than her others, so not for everyone, but I can't help myself.

Happy reading--

ps. I really want to hang out in Sydney after all these stories. Field trip anyone?

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a little while to understand why everyone was so in love with Ove. He's cranky and seemingly unyielding, but when you see him through his sweet Sonja's eyes, you can't help but fall in love. This isn't my usual genre, but I am so happy to have met Ove and the crazy cast of characters that live in his neighborhood. Perfectly delightful-

Happy reading--