1.25.2016

reading rainbow: mostly novels

I am usually loud and proud about the fact that I would rather read nonfiction than fiction. However! I've had the good pleasure of reading some really good novels lately. I'm all about the fiction right now and I'm going to tell you all about it. The great, the good, the awful. Buckle up.



The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan-5 stars: I could not have loved this book more. It was like the grown-up Princess Diaries and let me pretend to be an older Mia Thermapolis in literary form. The story is so obviously Will and Kate fan-fiction and I don't even care. I'm not even a huge Kate Middleton fan, but this story almost made me want to be her. It's about a girl from the US who met the Royal Prince while studying abroad at Oxford and their ensuing semi-private relationship. Normally I'm not one for partying and drunken shenanigans, which is what this story mostly is, but this book was really funny, well-written, and total escapism. If I had the time, I would've read it in one sitting.

Also--I've heard some rumors that Lauren Graham is making this into a movie? That should be all the endorsement you need.

For fans of: Will & Kate, fairytales, drunken shenanigans, all things British, Mia Thermapolis 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion-2.5 stars: If Sheldon Cooper had never met Amy Farrah-Fowler (the horror!), this would be a book about him. Don is a genetics professor and outcast with zero social graces. The plot alludes to him possibly having autism? I'm not sure. But he decides he needs a wife, so he draws up an extensive application for women to fill out. Instead, he ends up meeting a new friend and helps her find out who her father is. I think the narrative was supposed to come off as charming and quirky, but I found it kind of boring and like reading a dry textbook. It has rave reviews and overall it is a cute story, but for whatever reason it didn't thrill me.

For fans of: Sheldon Cooper, awkward love stories, secondhand embarrassment  

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton-4.5 stars: This is the book that won me over to Kate Morton. I mean, it's a masterpiece. It's happy, it's sad, you'll feel every emotion you're capable of feeling. I could not put this one down! The story follows several characters and jumps around from the early 20th century to modern day and in-between and takes place in England and Australia. It's the story of a little girl raised by a family who found her abandoned on a dock and how she, then later her granddaughter, discovers who she really is and who her family was. I was so emotionally invested in this story and I want to read it all over again.

For fans of: historical fiction, mysteries, the inability to put a book down




Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen-4 stars: This is the one non-fiction book I've read lately. I wish this book had been around when I was a teenager, because it would've been so good for me. When Maya was 13ish, she found a teenage guide to popularity written in the 1950s. Maya was awkward, shy, and a bit of a social outcast, but she forced herself to follow every single tip in the book exactly to see if it made her popular and if advice from the 1950s is still relevant today. My inner middle-schooler cringed at some of the things she did, and I relived those horrible years with her. This girl is so brave and a breath of fresh air. I can't get over how eloquent she was at an age where I was a full-fledged drama queen obsessed with boy bands and frosted eyeshadow. Ugh. We need more Mayas in the world.

For fans of: underdogs, reliving your awkward high school years, the 1950s

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton-3 stars: I have so many mixed feelings about this book. In true Kate Morton fashion, she kept me guessing until the last page. It was definitely more tragic than The Forgotten Garden, but still a very good story. In the 90s, Edie discovers her mom was evacuated to a castle in the country during WWII. Edie visits the elderly three sisters who still live there and once took care of her mother. She learns about their crazy, twisted past and her mother's and how they all intertwine. The ending made me a bit angry, but it's a beautifully haunting story.

For fans of: mystery, tragedy, historical fiction, WWII

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty-4.5 stars: I adored this book. It was hilarious and witty while dealing with heavy issues like abuse and domestic violence. The whole book is a series of interactions between catty kindergarten moms that all lead up to a murder. It sounds a little ridiculous, but it was so entertaining. I stayed up incredibly late every night I read this book, because I did not want to put it down. I was so into the story I started dreaming every night that I was investigating murders. Basically, it was an exhausting reading experience but totally worth it.

For fans of: murder, mystery, humor, cattiness, Australian kindergarteners and their crazy parents

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal-2 stars: Nope. This book had so much promise and sounded like a happy story, but it was deeeeeepressing. In my humble opinion, most of the characters were obnoxious, some of the chapters were extremely boring, and I just don't like the way the book was written. The story is about a renowned midwestern chef, and each chapter focuses on the people and food that influenced her. Unfortunately, I wanted to punch most of those people in the face. I like the idea of the book, but I did not like the execution. It did, however, make me very hungry.

For fans of: cooking, the midwest, jerks, depression


What are you reading? What should I read? Spill!

Let me confess something: I'm currently reading Little Women right now for the very first time. It's the sweetest book.

Are you on Goodreads? Let's book-stalk each other.

25 comments:

  1. I was about three sentences into your summary of "The Royal We" before I had another tab in my browser open, furiously navigating my way into the Amazon Kindle store. THANK YOU FOR THAT. Fun fact: during my senior year of college, for Student Senate we had to write little blurbs about ourselves and our five-year plans following college- and of course I chose to make mine satirical and said my five-year plan was to marry Prince Harry. I'm still working on it.

    I feel like I may have mentioned this on another blog post of yours, but I recently read three books by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I loved them all SO MUCH. All fiction. My favorite one was "Forever, Interrupted".

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  2. Just finished two books for book club: Dead Wake (about the sinking of the Lusitania--non-fiction) and the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Liked the first, loved the second. But fiction is definitely what I prefer.
    Friended you on Goodreads. I love that app!

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  3. I loooooove Kate Morton's book. They are just so good. Although they usually make me feel sad for the characters because all of them started out so young and happy and then tragedy struck. BUT. Man, do these keep me up late at night reading. I am currently in the middle of her newest, and I just want to know what happens! But I don't want the book to be over so, struggle. I feel like we have similar taste in books, so I will check out the rest of these that you have rated 4+ accordingly. Many thanks.

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  4. That Kate Morton book is good! I really liked it. And I'm adding The Royal We to my big list. Sounds fun!

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  5. I knew you'd love Little Women!!! I've read it a million times and it never gets old.

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  6. As you probably know (since we are now biffles on Goodreads), I am currently in the thick of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- and I couldn't love it more. I usually breeze through books I love...but I am savoring this one because I don't want it to end. It's really sad to me that Mary Ann Shaffer will never give the world another book (maybe Annie Barrows can fill both roles but I doubt it). I especially love it because I had the chance to visit Guernsey on my trip to the UK a few summers back, and that little island might have been my favorite stop out of them all. I visited the German Occupation Museum there, and I wish I had read this book before I did. It would have meant so much more. Before going there, I hadn't even heard of that little Channel Island or its role in the war. I only picked up this book because of the title, and I am so glad I did.

    Aside from that, I have been reading a variety of titles. I am really looking forward to the stack of books I have yet to read, however. Some of the ones I look forward to most are:

    - The Boys in the Boat (I have no interest in rowing but I love nonfiction and WWII!)
    - All of Liane Moriarty's books (simply because everyone keeps talking about them)
    - Salt to Sea by Ruta Sepetys (if you have never read Between Shades of Gray, you need to!!)
    - All the Light We Cannot Sea (i really want to...but it's just so big)

    Have you ever read, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple? Your description of Big Little Lies sounded vaguely like it, and I absolutely adored it. It was funny and quirky and original and interesting, all at once. Just a thought. I know you have a to-read list as long as mine.

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    1. Omg... "All the Light We Cannot SEE"- I'm embarrassed.

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    2. Kate! I saw that you've been reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and I've been dying to know what you think. Isn't it amazing? I might reread it again soon. I am SO JEALOUS you've ben to Guernsey. It's somewhere I have to go someday. Have you seen the show The Island? It's on Netflix, I think, and it's about the channel islands during the war and occupation. It's amazing.

      I keep meaning to get The Boys in the Boat from the library. I read All the Light we Cannot See. It was good, but I don't think I loved it quite as much as the rest of the world. Definitely worth reading, though. I read Where'd You Go, Bernadette a few years ago. Loved it, and it actually is pretty similar in ways to Big Little Lies.

      I wish we could meet in person and talk about books for hours.

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    3. I know! I wish we could, too! :( We had a near miss that time in NYC for the Avett show. Fate and the norovirus stepped in. But- we'll always have Paris- I mean, Goodreads. I haven't watched The Island yet but my mom did! She loved it. I'll definitely follow suit.

      Speaking of BBC shows...did you see the Christmas specials of Sherlock or Call the Midwife? I loved both! Though, I have to say it's not the same without Jenny Lee.

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    4. We need an NYC redo one of these days!

      No! I started the Call the Midwife special but didn't finish it and completely forgot until now (and I agree, NOT the same without Jenny). I didn't know Sherlock had one too! BRB, running to the PBS website.

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  7. I always leave these posts with a library list a mile long.

    Right now I'm tied up in The Name of the Wind. It's one of Landon's favorite books and he coaxed me into reading it by saying, "It's kind of like Harry Potter but better." I didn't believe him, but it's true. DON'T GET ME WRONG, nothing will ever move HP from the center of my heart, but The Name of the Wind is the most beautifully written story I've ever read. And it's just. so. good. It's nestled itself right next to HP.

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  8. I'm going to pretend like you didn't say "I'm not even a huge Kate Middleton fan" for the sake of our friendship ;) I'm kidding. I've actually heard wonderful things about that book but I haven't picked it up. Maybe I will. It also sounds like I need to read The Forgotten Garden because I love hist. fic. and I really like books that jump around to different characters and p.o.v.

    I'm about to start Cinder and The Help, but right now I'm finishing up The Cloud Atlas and The Typist. (I should totally be done with them, but when I get busy reading falls by the wayside.)

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  9. Michelle,

    I always enjoy your book updates. I currently deviated from my usual genre of YA fiction as well and read "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith and was not disappointed. It was a fast and enjoyable read for an adult fiction book, and apparently there are 15 books in the series so that's always a plus.

    Currently I am back to YA fiction, reading "The Spectacular Now" by Tim Tharp. It's more of a book for high schoolers, as the main character is a senior in high school and cusses up a storm, but I watched the movie this weekend on Amazon Prime and it was pretty good. I definitely recommend it.

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  10. I LOVE your book reviews because I think we have the same taste in books! Definitly read the rest of Kate Morton's books. I just read her newest The Lake House and OMG I literally could not put it down. It was like a "whodunit" with so much history, it was addicting. Also, another one I could not put down was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It's the story of 2 sisters in France during WWII and their role in the resistance. It was super realistic (i.e.: it didn't glamorize or romanticize the war) but SUCH a riveting story!! And of course All The Light we Cannot See was incredible and just a lovely and haunting story.

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  11. The only Liane Moriarity book I've read is What Alice Forgot and I have to say, I didn't love it. But I've heard such great things about her I'm giving it another try this week with The Husband's Secret. I will have to try this one too!

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  12. I've been loving the Kate Morton books, too! It's kind of funny that we're reading the opposite books from each other...I've read The Lake House and The Secret Keeper. I have this problem, though, I tend to figure out plot line twists way before they happen, and she really likes those plot twists toward the end of her books. It's not a bad thing, just makes the last 1/3rd of the book a bit less enjoyable than if I could just be shocked at the end. Also, The Lake House ending made me roll my eyes, but I still loved the story.

    I'm currently reading a book called Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, and oh my goodness...I'm less than halfway through it and it's taking me FOREVER to read it but that's because I want to highlight something on just about every page. It's opening my eyes to things I've read about Jesus/in the Bible in a whole new way, and I highly recommend it. It'll be a 5 star rating, for sure, and I'll probably buy a paper copy at some point (it's on my Kindle right now).

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  13. Little Women is beautiful. It just makes me want to be a better person.

    I've been on a huge non-fiction kick and now I think I'm ready to go back to novels. :) I'm reading Emma right now but I also really want to read another Kate Morton.

    You need to try the Blackbird Sisters Murder Mysteries by Nancy Martin! The first is called Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds and it's hilarious. The plots fall apart in the end, but the characters are so funny and endearing. I legitimately lough out loud when I read them, and I don't do that.

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    1. Yes! I completely understand that.

      I will! Thank you so much for the recommendation! I feel like you and I see eye to eye on these things :)

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  14. I love little women, it's one of my all time favorites. I remember when I first read it I thought to myself this is how I want to raise my kids someday!

    Is the distant hours the one with the mud man? If it is it was good but definitely more tragic and I didn't care for the end much either.

    Definitely going to check out the Royal We. I used to be in love with Prince William and have the scrapbook page to prove it ;) and Popular book sounds good too!

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    1. Yes! So many good life lessons woven into each chapter. I love it.

      It is! I felt like that story had much more potential. I just didn't like the ending at all. I wanted to throw the book. But the rest of it was amazing.

      Haha!! Definitely read it then. I think you would really like Popular too.

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  15. oh man, I keep hearing about The Royal We and it sounds like I'll have to read it. And Liane Moriarity is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

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  16. I've heard so many great things about Kate Morton. I may have to check out her novels this year!

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    1. You should!! She's absolutely brilliant. I have no idea how she comes up with this stuff.

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  17. Your book reviews are amazing, especially wen you use Sheldon, Amy Farrah-Fowler, and Mia Thermopolis as comparative tools. Love, love love. Also, I'm so sad I'm in school, and hardly have time to read textbooks, let alone other books. But I will try to remember these.

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  18. I admittedly starting reading this when you first wrote it and made to the end of your Royal We review then got distracted by ordering it from the library asap. You had me at grown up Princess Mia. Truth be told, it wasn't my favourite ever, but I enjoyed it.

    I've never read any Kate Morton but it sounds like it's time to start. We're probably distant relations, anyway, so it's just polite to read her work.

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