It can’t be all baby all the time around here so how about a reading update? Here is a list of the books I have finished since the end of Summer Book Bingo:
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The writing is good and the story starts out strong with an eerie setting and a creepy feel. However, there are too many characters (and they are universally unlikable) to track and that made it difficult for me to enjoy the book thoroughly. I’d recommend it with reservations for those who enjoy this type of story.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman has such a beautiful way with words and he inserts amazing and deep observations into the middle of a paragraph and it always blows me away. Darker than any of his previous novels, but still uplifting and hopeful, I feel that Backman has hit his stride with Beartown and now I can’t wait to read his next book. Highly recommended.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
The writing quality is excellent and some parts of the story are great but there are holes in the plot and it just never comes together all that well. Great potential but it fizzled out for me at the end.
All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
A thriller that’s very well written but could have used a good editor as it’s just too long. There are also a few holes in the story and some weird instances of current styles/habits being referenced in 1978. As in, someone is described as wearing “yoga pants” but it’s 1978 and I don’t think anyone was calling casual stretchy pants yoga pants then. Despite the flaws, though, the story is compelling and the writing is quite good, particularly if approached as a character study and not a mystery. Recommended but with reservations.
Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
While this series started out as light mysteries, the books have evolved into well written novels with great returning characters. I was pleased with this one, involving two different storylines, and I have to admit I will be sorry to say goodbye to Kinsey Millhone when Z is published. Highly recommended for those who have read the series so far and even more so for the lucky ones who can start with A and read them all for the first time!
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Louise Penny has hit it out of the park again and this one might be the best one yet! I don’t know how she makes the same characters and setting fresh and interesting over and over again but she does. I recommend the entire series highly!
George & Lizzie by Nancy Pearl
I read this book because Nancy Pearl is THE reader’s advisory librarian and I admire so much her ability to suggest the perfect book for someone to read. I somehow translated that into thinking a book she wrote would be perfect for me and I was wrong about that. This book has moments that are quite good but the overall story didn’t really interest me and Lizzie, the main character truly annoyed me. It came through with a satisfying ending but that felt like too little, too late at that point.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
A beautifully written story about love, loss, nationality, migration and life. Highly recommended.
Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss
While I didn’t like this book all that much I’m still giving it 3 stars because the writing is excellent. It’s really beautiful in parts but I had a hard time connecting with either of the main characters and always felt like I was missing . . . something.
The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
I read this super fast – almost in one sitting – and truly enjoyed the writing style and story. I did feel there were a lot of plot points left dangling and, while that didn’t bother me, I do prefer a story that is more resolved. I also felt like the characters acted much older than the age they were supposed to be. Still, it’s a well written coming-of-age story with moments that felt very believable and brought me back to that time in my own life.
I was feeling like I hadn’t read anything great in a while but looking back at this list I see that I’m just forgetful! Three 5 star books plus a 4 star book is pretty good reading. Plus, I think I’m pretty harsh with my ratings – most books I read get 3 stars and it’s rare for me to give a 2 star rating because if I don’t like it enough to give it 3 stars I probably won’t even finish it. That said, I curate my reading list pretty carefully so there just aren’t a lot of duds on there in the first place.
What are you reading these days? And what’s your system for rating what you’ve read?