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For the Love of Reading: January & February & Early March 2020

Last night I was trying to figure out what to blog about today and I thought . . . hmmm . . . I don’t think I’ve done a reading update lately. So I checked and that’s when I realized I haven’t updated the books I’ve read since January. Today I’m fixing that by sharing the books I’ve read for the last 2 plus months.

The World That We KnewThe World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is Alice Hoffman at her best and I adored it. The magical realism ties in with historical period seamlessly and the themes of feminine power, good vs evil, and love conquers all are woven together beautifully. There is sadness and heartbreak but it’s ultimately a tale of hope and the power of a mother’s love. If you’ll forgive the comparison, it’s like having a grown up version of The Velveteen Rabbit . . . what we love can indeed become real. Highly recommended.

FeverFever by Mary Beth Keane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction on Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, that’s well written and does an excellent job of filling in the back story on this woman who was well known but little was really known about her. I learned a lot about Ms. Mallon’s life and the circumstances that lead to her isolation for many years but I can’t say that I ever truly connected with her or any of the characters. I sympathized but still felt removed from their feelings and the tragedy of the whole thing. Recommended for those interested in historical fiction, NYC at the turn of the century, and anyone wanting to know more about Mary Mallon.

The Turn of the KeyThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good creepy story with a few twists I didn’t see coming. I feel like the unreliable narrator is overdone these days but it works in this instance. The ending felt rushed to me after such a long build up but it was satisfying nevertheless. Recommended for those who like the genre.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome LifeYou Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nothing really new here, mostly a retelling of what others have already said. I did appreciate the author’s can-do attitude and sense of humor and did get some nuggets of wisdom but I’d say the most valuable part of the book is the other books she lists in the resources section at the end.

Evvie Drake Starts OverEvvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the surface, this book is a sweet romance set in Maine. If you consider it more deeply, though, there are themes of loss, abuse, empowerment, and second chances. There are scenes that made me laugh out loud and others that made me cry. The coastal Maine setting is realistic and the characters are enjoyable. I enjoyed this hopeful tale immensely.

Case Histories (Jackson Brodie #1)Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the character of Jackson Brodie and the cases he works on as a private investigator in this book. The connections between the different cases are wonderfully drawn and I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.

Such a Fun AgeSuch a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the surface this is just a great story with interesting characters and an intriguing premise. Truly, though, there is so much more to this book. It’s a study of race relations, white privilege and power, high school insecurities, and the tricky nature of loving a child you care for who is not your own. I thoroughly enjoyed it but was a smidge disappointed with the abrupt ending.

Nothing to See HereNothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely weird, utterly entertaining, this unique story about fire children is worth reading. Covering themes like social class, second chances, what defines a family, and how far will we go to protect the ones we love, I highly recommend this novel.

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and CourageThe Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is comprised of 6 lectures by Brené Brown on wholeheartedly living through vulnerability. It’s an amazing resource full of practical advice and inspirational anecdotes. Highly recommended.

Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1)Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was sure I had read this book . . . until I started Olive Again and realized I hadn’t. Now I’m so glad I did. The stories are wonderful with an incredible depth of feeling and understanding for so much of the human condition and I love that they are all connected by the presence of Olive. Highly recommended.

The Glittering HourThe Glittering Hour by Iona Grey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book and felt compelled to read it quickly but have to admit there’s nothing really unique about it. The romance is lovely but the plot twists are predictable and the characters are pretty one-dimensional. I wouldn’t call it historical fiction although it is set in the 1920s and 1930s in England and the impact of WWI is undeniable. It’s a light easy read and was just what I needed right now.

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #15)A Better Man by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had put off reading this latest Three Pines mystery because I had heard from people I respect that it wasn’t as good as the others. Now that I have finished it I can say that, for me, it was just as good as I had hoped. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of this one immensely and it felt fresh as some new characters were introduced. I enjoyed slightly less the village characters, I felt Penny was including them because they are always involved but they didn’t really add to the story or move things along. I’m looking forward to see what she does next, I feel like she has a good setup for moving forward without being repetitious.

Signs: The Secret Language of the UniverseSigns: The Secret Language of the Universe by Laura Lynne Jackson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nothing new here and perhaps too many stories trying to providence evidence rather than providing ways to enhance our receptiveness to signs and our connection with the universe.

Thirteen books. GoodReads tells me I’m 1 book behind my goal for the year but it’s early days yet. And also, it’s a hobby not a job. Well. I guess technically in my case it’s a job, too but you know what I mean.

What have you been reading lately?

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I love these posts! I always find a book or two to add to my list! Your reviews are really wonderful…thank you!

  2. Just finished Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton…historically very interesting and wonderful family relationships. Very good read

  3. I always enjoy your posts Carole, and particularly your posts on books. Like others, I always find a few to add to my TBR (growing) list. Thanks!!

  4. A book behind? That looks like lots of books to me, and it’s not a race, goodreads! I don’t know if Olive, Again is on your list but I can highly recommend it. I’m currently listening to The Power of Vulnerability!

  5. Not sure what your ultimate goal is for this year, but 13 books is quiet a lot (IMO). I agree with you on Louise Penny’s book. I feel like I am invested in the characters and, even if the stories are uneven, I enjoy every word she writes. I am looking forward to what happens next in the village of Three Pines. I didn’t care for Olive when I read it years ago, but I reread before reading Olive, Again and decided she was a great character that was even more interesting the second time around. Thanks for the reviews, friend!

  6. I loved The World That We Knew, and I think your comparison to the Velveteen Rabbit is spot on, though it hadn’t occurred to me before (leave it to a librarian!). Some of these titles are new to me, so thanks for the recommendations!

    I’ve currently got two books in progress: Say Nothing (hardback, so only pre-bedtime reading) and Lab Girl. Enjoying both!

  7. I really enjoyed The World That We Knew. Agree with everything you said. I have vulnerability issues, so I really should read Brown’s book. I think I told you how much I loved The Dakota Winters, but just in case I didn’t, I wanted you to know that I really appreciated the recommendation. I think it may have been more meaningful to me since I lived through all of that, but it was a great read. As for Louise Penny, well I am a total fan. I don’t care how slow they are, I love them. I recently read Long Bright River by Liz Moore, and I thought it was a great book that was entirely different from anything I had previously read. Highly recommend. You know I love these book posts, so thank you, Carole.

  8. Lots of good reading here. I find it so interesting to see how the same books touch each of us differently. I can’t hardly believe you are a book behind though.

  9. Always good to have recommendations. I loved Olive Kitteridge and thought the movie was pretty good as well.

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