Friday, August 17, 2018

Olive Kitteridge

Olive KitteridgeOlive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I get going, I need to say that I finished this book almost against my will. It was like a documentary on an important, but enormously depressing subject - the kind where you should as a person know about the topic, but really don't want to. So why finish the book, especially considering that life is to short to read books we don't want to? Because the writing is so good. Strout is a fantastic writer capturing well human frailty and disappointed expectations, but in her writing, there is almost no hope. She has a gift for capturing the bleak and the raw realities of life, but she leaves out what makes life worth living.

I think I would classify this book as a book that felt like it was assigned in school. After all, Strout won the Pulitzer for this short story collection. I can see its merit, its strengths, and why people talk about it - hence the high rating. But I would not recommend it to most people. There's too much beauty and hope in life and literature to stay bogged down in cruel realities. I don't mean that literature shouldn't take on hard topics, but opposition demands that the light be included alongside the darkness. As a person who strives to seek out the light, I need stories and writers that do the same.

So as always, happy reading, but maybe not this one? Your call, of course.

Chasing Slow

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten PathChasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard Erin Loechner interviewed on a podcast, and as soon as I finished listening the interview, I downloaded "Chasing Slow". I clearly continue to be drawn to writers who explore living a more authentic life that isn't dictated by societal norms or social pressures. Loechner has some great things to say, but there were whole portions of her book that lost focus for me or were too much of an attempt to be clever or to push a metaphor. This book felt a bit like Shauna Niequist's "Present Over Perfect" for me where I loved some sections and totally could have done without others.

Still, I'm glad for the chance to have read this book - the idea of the title will actually be the most lasting takeaway. That we so often are chasing ideals or aspects of life that we don't even realize we're seeking...Attempts to live a better life can also thwart actually just living life. Good food for thought, and you know how hungry pregnant women are for all sorts of food.

Happy reading--

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My Oxford Year

My Oxford YearMy Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perhaps it's because I traveled with my sister when she went to study at Cambridge or perhaps it's because I harbor a not-so-secret fantasy to disappear to Derbyshire someday, but "My Oxford Year" fits perfectly into that dream life so many of us, Anglophiles, have. A whole year to live in England - to study, to read, to immerse yourself in the history of one of the great universities and towns....not your fantasy? Then perhaps not your book, but this one was perfectly delightful for me, albeit, a bit more saucy and surprisingly serious than I expected. I can't say I always loved the heroine, but Professor Davenport and Maggie had me from the first pint. Happy reading and happy England dreaming--

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Thing with Feathers

The Thing with Feathers (Blink)The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In short: I think this book has lots of things going for it - compelling protagonist, unique setting, well set-up conflicts, etc. Though its target is a YA genre, it still can captivate an adult audience. So why three stars instead of higher? It just wraps up too quickly. After a well set-up beginning and middle, I needed more from the story's resolution. Still glad to have read it and still really love the cover. Happy reading--

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What Alice Forgot - Round 4

What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yeah, so I read "What Alice Forgot" again...it's as though these characters are speaking to life experiences that I need articulated or that I find so comforting that I cannot help but spend another chunk of time with them. Summer reading really is the best. Happy reading--

Falling Together

Falling TogetherFalling Together by Marisa de los Santos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just love how Marisa de los Santos writes. Even when I don't fully buy plot details, I'm so captivated by her descriptions and her characters, that I'm willing to ignore the implausibility of something. "Love Walked In" is still my favorite of de los Santos' books by a long shot, this was a perfect companion for those "middle of the night" reading sessions that are so common during third trimester pregnancy. If you need a beach read, this is it.

Happy reading and happy summer--

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I'll Be Your Blue Sky

I'll Be Your Blue SkyI'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was such a pleasant surprise to find out that Marisa de los Santos was revisiting some of the characters that readers couldn't help but fall in love with in "Love Walked In" and "Belong to Me". Because so much time has theoretically elapsed between the books' respective timeline, I think anyone could pick up "I'll Be Your Blue Sky" and be just fine following what is happening. I half wished I had used the book coming out as an excuse to fall in love all over again with "Love Walked In", which is still one of my very favorite books.

Marisa de los Santos is an effusive writer - she loves adjectives, setting descriptions, and homages to the book and movie characters that made many of us love story telling in the first place. That said, her writing is like sitting in the sun on a perfect summer day with a drink in hand and the sound of a refreshing breeze in the trees. You can't help but give in. At least one of her main characters tends to be melodramatic, but many of the greats, like Anne Shirley, were too.

Explaining the plot of "I'll Be Your Blue Sky" would only take away from the reading experience and make it sound overly trite or formulaic. It is hardly that. The only thing I will say is that yet again, de los Santos explains love as I think it feels. I love that about her writing....and perhaps that's why I've already started another one of her books.

Happy reading and happy summer--