Disclaimer: these opinions are obviously subjective. We all have different tastes, and what resonates with me might not with you. My reasons for liking or disliking a book can vary depending on my mood and circumstances. With that said, no getting mad at me if you don't like something I recommend :)
I have read an absurd amount of books lately, and these are just a selection of them. If you want to know everything I've read and how I feel about it, follow me on Goodreads.
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah--5 flipping huge stars: CUE THE TEARS. This book destroyed me. Picture this: You're in France. WWII is just about to blow up all over the place. Two sisters. One is married and reserved, the other is young and reckless. Both discover secret ways to fight the Nazis, even while one sister has a Nazi living in her house. It is a very rare thing for me to be moved to tears by a book, but I wept like a teenage girl more than once. It's tragic, it's joyful, it's just satisfying. I'm not kidding, I actually caught myself praying for the characters more than once. I was so wrapped up in the plot that it was all I could think about. It really made me sit and think about what those people went through during the war. The least of my worries is being able to feed my daughter, but people routinely starved to death! Nazis took over their homes! People put their lives on the line every day just to help their families survive. The story is fiction, but it's based on truth. It puts a lot into perspective.
For fans of: WWII, stories of the resistance, feeling all emotions, France
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown--4 stars: I am the last person on the planet who would want to read a book about sports, but oh my goodness. This book pulled me in. It's about the rowing team from the University of Washington and how they took the gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, totally snubbing Hitler who thought he was guaranteed to win. It's beautiful, triumphant, and will want to make you run around your yard waving an American flag. It focuses mainly on Joe Rantz, and his life story pre-rowing is absolutely bonkers. The book did tend to go down rabbit trails on the history of rowing and coaching every now and then, and my eyes glazed over every time, but rowing! I had no idea how technical it is? I also knew nothing about it; I'd never even heard the word "coxswain" before. There's also a lot about the political climate in pre-WWII Berlin, and daaaaang. I will never tire of reading about that. If you need a dose of patriotism before the summer Olympics this year, READ THIS. Be prepared to google rowing clubs in your area even though you're still learning what a coxswain is. Also: 'MERICA!
For fans of: sports, the Olympics, kicking Hitler in the rear, WWII
unSweetined by Jodie Sweetin--2.5 stars: I grabbed this from the library in a flurry of Fuller House excitement. I was vaguely aware that Stephanie Tanner turned out to be a druggie, but yow. I was not prepared to have my image of her so completely shattered. Parts of the book were really interesting, like the Full House tidbits, but it was mostly a description of her very insane benders (how rude!). Honestly, I felt kind of icky after reading it, like I had been there with her. It was really sad to read everything she went through. I truly hope she is still sober and doing well now, because she has a doozy of a past. If you're a diehard Full House fan, it might be worth the read.
For fans of: Full House, disappointment
Columbine by Dave Cullen--4 stars: FASCINATING, and all its synonyms. Columbine is the first national tragedy I really remember. I remember the OKC bombings, but I was too young to grasp the impact. But I vividly remember hearing about Columbine on the news. This book was written by a journalist who was there the day of the shootings and stayed for years investigating and interviewing everyone involved. It was much like In Cold Blood without quite as much mind-numbing detail. I just devoured this book. There were so many things I didn't know! The one thing that always stuck with me is that the shooters asked who believed in God and killed those who said yes. I can still hear the reporter on the news saying that. I had nightmares FOR YEARS about that. I've laid in bed at night wondering how I would react if someone asked me that with a gun to my head. TWIST: the truth might not be what you think! But maybe it is? You'll have to read it and find out. Try not to have nightmares. Try not to be afraid to go out in public and wonder if everyone is planning to kill you. It's insane, but so worth it.
For fans of: Dateline and 20/20, investigative journalism, giving yourself nightmares
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot--4 stars: Another book about murders! I have not been silent on my love of Elisabeth Elliot, but for some reason I had never read this book. I knew Elisabeth and her first husband Jim had been missionaries in Ecuador, and that he had been killed by indians, but that's all I knew. This is the book she wrote detailing their lives as missionaries attempting to befriend the tribe of Aucas who were known for killing every white man and the death of her husband and four other missionaries. For some reason, I trudged through much of this book. I couldn't pay attention, but I suspect it had more to do with my mood at the time than the writing itself (though some is a little monotonous and detailed). Once she got to the part of the murders, I perked up. It's absolutely gut-wrenching, but the resolution afterwards is nothing short of miraculous. Such an inspiring story of redemption, and I can't say enough good things about it.
For fans of: missions, faith, a good redemption story
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin--2.5 stars: Full Disclosure: I watched the movie over the weekend AND I LOVED IT and give it 5 stars. The story itself is so good (though there is something that bothers me but I won't ruin anything). My complaint is the writing. It is awful, in my extremely professional and experienced opinion (lolz). The prose has good moments, but overall it is just boring. There's no other way to say it! It reads very "she did this, and then she did this, and she went there, and then she went somewhere else, then she ate dinner," and I want to scream ENOUGH ALREADY GIVE ME SOME ACTION. There is barely any dialogue. The plot is the only thing that kept me hanging on. The plot! I forgot to talk about the plot. An Irish girl moves to, you guessed it, Brooklyn. She gets a job and meets a boy, makes friends and a life for herself, and life is going swell until she has to make a trip back to Ireland and all kinds of choices. Judging by the reviews, I am in the minority on my stance on the book ("the prose is just so beautiful!!" <--who are you and have you read books before?). This is the rare occasion in which I liked the movie much more than the book.
In the words of The Avett Brothers: "Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in."
For fans of: immigrant stories, the 1950s, New York
What are you reading? What should I read? On Easter, my dad was telling me all about our family and how they moved to California from Oklahoma right before the Dust Bowl. Good timing, eh? I had no idea! He told me about my grandpa growing up and working with the families who migrated west in search of work. I was completely riveted. That and the Ken Burns documentary on The Dust Bowl intrigued me so much that I started The Grapes of Wrath the other day. Just like my weird obsession with WWII, I can't get enough of the The Great Depression.