What I’ve Been Reading Lately: August 2018

Guys. I finished 10 books this month, thanks to two camping trips and a weekend by myself (my husband saw just what I needed and insisted on taking the kids camping for 2 days so I could stay home by myself for the first time ever.  Yes, it was lovely).  What have you been reading lately?

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This book has been on my list for years. I’ve even started it multiple times, but always ended up setting it aside for one reason or another (not that I didn’t like the book, it just worked out that way). I started it again this month and finally got so into it that I couldn’t put it down. I loved to see the development of the strong female protagonist; she didn’t start off that way, but we follow along as she finds herself and the bravery to share her voice. I found myself a little disappointed in the ending, but then I discovered that’s it’s part of a series.  I’ve already got the second book on hold at the library and I can’t wait to continue the story.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I’m still mulling over how I feel about this book.  It was definitely a page-turner; I wanted to keep going to see what happened to the characters. I enjoyed learning more about all the intertwined stories bit by bit as the book moved along.  I hate the stereotypical high school experience (cliques and alcohol and parties and lots of sleeping around) but loved to see the relationships develop between all the characters.  Have you read this one? What did you think?

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I have heard so many people talking about this book as the Netflix series comes out soon.  While it was a fun, light read, I didn’t love it like so many people do.  I think I’m just not a YA Romance kind of person. I loved the sweet single Dad, the perfect portrayal of life with sisters, but I found myself feeling so annoyed with Lara Jean (the main character) for being so completely obsessed with guys.  I wanted to put my arm around her and suggest that she find a new hobby.

Out of Africa by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)

I enjoyed this brief description of plantation life in Africa in the 1920s and 30s. It’s a memoir written by Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen).  While I did find myself shaking my head a few times at the treatment of the native people (were they slaves or paid servants?  The book doesn’t really address this issue) and what felt to me like subtle racism interwoven throughout the narrative, it’s obvious that Blixen loved Africa, its people, and the life she built there.  There was a tone of melancholy throughout the book that I was so drawn to.

Babylon’s Ark by Lawrence Anthony

I loved Anthony’s The Elephant Whisperer a few months ago, and immediately put his other books on my list.  Babylon’s Ark is the incredible, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story of the rescue of the largest zoo in Iraq during the war. Anthony risked his life in order to save the animals who had been abandoned when their caretakers fled the city due to bombing.  The animals that remained alive were starving and dehydrated, many had wounds from shrapnel and were living in deplorable conditions.  Even though I am not a huge animal person, I loved Lawrence Anthony’s dedication to these helpless creatures.  His attitude that not saving them was a reflection on us as a human race, rather than on the people who cared for them so poorly, has stuck with me.

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Love.  This book is wonderfully written, realistic and uplifting.  It doesn’t gloss over the damage and hurt that an abusive relationship creates, but it doesn’t dwell graphically upon it either.  There’s a fine line, there.  I feel like so many times in books like this, the happy ending is the child being removed from the parent and we don’t see the turmoil they face, the mental train of thought that “If only I had done this differently, she would have loved me…” or “Maybe things would be better if I ______…” mentality that so often happens with people are mistreated.  I appreciate that we got to see Ada’s progression out of that way of thinking and her acceptance that she is worthy of love just the way she is.  Can’t wait to read the sequel!

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

This is essentially a “What If” story. What if the Cold War had turned out differently and Russia and the US had actually used nuclear bombs on each other?  It’s the story of a small Florida town that was affected by nuclear blasts, but not completely obliterated by them. It includes so many details that I never would have considered: the breakdown of society and how they find order in the midst of chaos, short and long-term effects from radiation, and the power of love and friendships even when the world is falling apart.

Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump

We recently discovered the absolutely fantastic movie Hunt for the Wilderpeople.  It’s delightful.  It’s our new family favorite, and it’s based on an equally delightful book.  My husband read it in about 24 hours and passed it on to me; it’s taken me longer to get through it, but I still really enjoyed it.  It’s an unlikely friendship story and an adventure story all rolled up.  It’s funny and engaging.  (I’ll admit that I did struggle a little with the constant use of Maori hut names and place names, I found that trying to pronounce the name correctly in my head drew me out of the story every time I came across one, which is very often).  Loved it.

Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff

This read-aloud took us a little while to get into, but by the end I was in tears. A great historical fiction book, set in Ireland during the great potato famine.  It’s got some strong and brave female characters, a lot of hardship and a lot of hope.  We loved it.

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

I was so delighted to receive an advanced copy of this book! The official release date is September 4th.  As can be expected from anything Anne Bogel creates, this book was delightful.  Heartfelt and engaging, full of humor and relatable.  I found myself described over and over again among her delights and dilemmas of the readerly life.  So, so good.

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