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:
(I totally staged this photo of me with my kindle in my office at the library. I don’t even wear my glasses for reading! But I felt like I looked more authentic with them on!)
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?
I’m reading Reservoir 13, which is good, but slow-moving, and Turtles All the Way Down. I swore I was too old for any more John Green YA after being disappointed with The Fault In Our Stars, but I couldn’t resist the title and it’s great so far. My rating system is similar to yours, but I like to call it truthful instead of harsh. 😉
Yoga pants, track suit? Equally poor choice if you aren’t actually exercising, IMO. But anachronisms tend to really distract me from a story, especially if I can’t remember exactly what is right in its place. As always, something new for my reading list here. Thanks!
I’m struggling through Forest Dark myself right now. . . My rating system is much like yours. I have high standards when it comes to reading, and my selections are highly curated from the get-go. XO
Love louise penny! Met her in August at the launch of her most recent book…incredible writer, genuine person !!! Being raised an American Canadian, I “get”many of her nuances and the play between cultures. Even if you don’t, gotta love the character development.
I don’t rate book, if I’m not bonded by the first two chapters, I ditch it for another book– so many good books, so little time! Is the new Ken Follett book on your list?
I’ve read many of the same books and I rated them the same as you. Love the photo of you! Wearing glasses was brilliant! xo
You are getting it done! I’m with you on Beartown…probably a top one or two for 2017!
Mary Garland says
I just finished ‘A Little Life’ . It was so depressing but i just couldn’t not read it and i can’t stop thinking about it! Think a need something a bit more up beat for my next!!
I have read four of those — Into the Water, Beartown, All Things Cease to Appear, and Exit West — and concur with your reviews; History of Wolves is already on my TBR list. I read all the Sue Grafton novels until, I think, R is for [Whatever]; I found that one b-o-r-i-n-g, as though the author was trying to impress on the reader that being a private detective was not necessarily a glamorous nor exciting profession. Perhaps I need to revisit the series. My rating system got tougher in the past year; I noticed I was giving way too many 5 star ratings.
Nice list. Always enjoy your reviews. I don’t usually rate books…just indicate whether I like them or not…or a ton…etc. Agree with your History of Wolves review. I had been hoping for more. It wasn’t awful, but not great either. I finished “I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows and enjoyed it a lot. Makes me want to re-read “Grapes of Wrath.” Am now about a third of the way through “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury and it is enjoyable. Not a compelling read (as in I can’t put it down), but a pleasant read. I’m waiting for several to come in on Overdrive.
Judy Keith says
I am constantly amazed at how much reading you are able to do. Between working, baking, knitting, now baby, and wait, you do sleep don’t you?? – I don’t know where you find the time! Now that I will be home more, I intend to read a lot more. I never stopped, but I sure did slow down. I plan to use your recommendations when I go to the library; thank you. I agree with you, it will be a sad day, when I turn the final page on Z is for ___. I am currently about a third of the way into Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane, which I am enjoying. I have no formal rating system, just a “loved it, liked it, meh” in my head.
Adding to my list! I have read a few of these and agree with your rating–now I can’t wait to your recommendations!
I WON a copy of Forest Dark (but haven’t read it yet) … and have been so disappointed to see my friends’ reviews come in. Gah, did Krauss peak on her second book?! I curate my reading list as carefully as you do – expecting that all the books I read are going to be (at least) 4 stars. But “reading more broadly” has resulted in more disappointments and more “not gonna finish”. All that said, I am currently obsessed with V.E. Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series. I’m listening to the 3rd (and final) installment and – hate to jinx it but – this is approaching Harry Potter good. more to come once I actually finish!
Carole, you know I love these book posts! Thank you. I am struggling through Forest Dark. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I may not finish it. I find it incomprehensible and dense so far. Does it ever solidify into a real story? I also started Manhattan Beach, which I am enjoying. I “think” I curate my reading list well, but I have been disappointed in many books I have tried to read over the last six months. I may have to return to some authors I consider old favorites. I am mostly past the age where I read for improvement; I am mainly into enjoyment. Having said that, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is on my list. I agree with others above, when _do_ you find the time to read so much?
OOO! Great reads! I also LOVED Beartown.
So many books, seemingly so little time. Good to have your list to refer to if I find myself in need of any suggestions.