4.04.2016

reading rainbow

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.

26 comments:

  1. you make me miss reading. but then, I'd never knit anything. or feed myself O_o

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    1. I make a point to read every afternoon during naptime. It always re-centers me. But! I haven't been knitting lately and that's been bothering me. Too many hobbies, too little time.

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  2. Your review of Brooklyn is the most common review of Brooklyn. Every person I know who read this book told me the same thing. I liked it. I know that "show not tell" is straight from Writing101- but I find my own writing style to be kind of wordy and detail heavy so I might be cutting old Colm some slack here because of my own biases. I also saw the movie BEFORE I read the book, and like you, adored the movie. It is ultimately why I ended up reading the book. I just wanted to own that story because I loved it so much. So, I knew every mundane thing that was going to befall Eilis, and I still looked forward to it. (Full disclosure- I saw the movie TWICE in theaters).

    Also, I WILL GET TO BOYS IN THE BOAT, DAMMIT. And definitely will read The Nightingale and Columbine.

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    1. I totally understand what you're saying, but see, I find you very interesting. And I am incredibly guilty of being overly wordy and detailed. Some of his descriptions were really good, but I needed more character development and dialogue. I felt like his writing style didn't suit the plot. But regardless, I ate the story up.

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    2. I think I found Eilis stronger and fuller as portrayed by Saiorse Ronan and not the screenplay itself. And I found Tony so much more endearing in the movie than the book. But I also love the guy (from About Time) who played Jim Farrell- so I was really torn about her leaving Ireland! How about she comes to Brooklyn and I take her place?

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    3. I agree completely! Eilis was much more likeable in the movie. Tony was borderline creepy at times in the book, but I adored him in the movie. Ah, Jim. My heart broke a little.

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  3. Like most books I've picked up lately, I can't get through Brooklyn. I thought it was because I was reading it at work during my break and I was too distracted, but then I tried reading it at home and fell asleep. Then I gave up.

    I didn't know there was a book about Columbine! I'm a huge fan of giving myself nightmares and panic attacks, so I definitely need to read that.

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  4. Hahaha, For fans of:...disappointment.
    Rough. Lol
    I love your reviews! I've heard nothing but amazing things about The Nightingale so I guess I need to read that! I also love your confession of being intrigued by murder, haha.

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  5. I am so happy to finally have some good books to add to my wish list. I've unfortunately been in a dry spell. I read After You (the sequel to Me Before You) and it didn't even come close to as good as the first. Then Americanah, which has such great reviews, was a huge (and by huge I mean 600 page) disappointment. It felt like the author really wanted to write an essay about race but instead tried to force all her thoughts onto a sub par plot with a main character that's hard to like. Ugh. I will say, a couple months ago I read another book by JoJo Moyes called The Girl You Left Behind that I really enjoyed. It's really two stories in one, with the tales of a young woman in France during WWI intersecting with a modern day widow. And, though it doesn't really apply to my current stage in my life, I've been listening to Modern Romance on audiobook, and it is absolutely fascinating (and funny!).

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    1. I know I'm in the minority on this, but I HATED Me Before You. It left a horrible taste in my mouth. I had written JoJo Moyes off forever, but you just won me back with your description of The Girl You Left Behind. It's going on my list! Thanks!

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    2. I would say I had a love/hate relationship with Me Before You. I thought it was so well written--I was totally engrossed in the story, but the ending was devastating. That said, The Girl You Left Behind is totally different and doesn't leave you with any ick in the pit of your stomach.

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    3. I agree, Courtney! It was a 5 star book until the end. It ruined it completely for me. I'm glad The Girl You Left Behind is different!

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  6. I've been reading some bad fantasy lately but I feel like that's probably not your jam.

    I love the disclaimer at the beginning. No shame. You liked The Royal We and the rest of the world wondered why. Then you introduced us to Popular and we learned how to wash our hair properly and were forever grateful.

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  7. Columbine is SUCH a fascinating book- that is definitely the word I would use to describe it as well! I read Jodi Sweetin's book and enjoyed it (as I do just about every memoir ever written) but man, such a sad life for sure. You don't feel great at the end of it.

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  8. I'm curious about what bothered you in Brooklyn. The thing that might ruin it for others. I'm guessing that you meant the movie. I haven't read the book, but absolutely adored the film.

    Love your book reviews!! Definitely added a few to my list. I've been reading memoirs lately. But...both about murder (or at least attempted murder). Here are my two reviews - http://alhadventures.blogspot.com/2016/03/collaboreads-memoir.html AND http://alhadventures.blogspot.com/2016/03/rising-above-to-heal-within.html

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  9. I'm currently in the middle of The Art of Racing in the Rain and it's GOOD. I just finished The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and it was GREAT. All caps for both of these books.

    I have The Nightingale on my Kindle so I better put it on my list!

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    1. Oh my goodness, I LOVED The Art of Racing in the Rain. I listened to it on audio during a road trip and cried my way through half of Pennsylvania. Great story!

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  10. Oh my gosh, The Nightingale. I wasn't kidding on Instagram when I said that it broke me and that I cried while hiding in the bathroom - no shame.

    HOW have I never even heard of The Boys in the Boat?! As a UW alumni I feel like I HAVE to read this book haha.

    Also, +1 to both books mentioned by Chantal above. Both are SO GOOD.

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  11. "for fans of full house and disappointment" aha! I still need to read that. I definitely want to read the columbine one, although I thought the christian thing had been said to be just a rumor. Regardless those stories fascinate me. Have you ever read Give a Boy a Gun? It' fiction but it's really good (in my opinion) it really stuck with me.

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  12. I just finished reading "Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah. I liked it a lot. I'm interested in checking out "The Nightingale" now!

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  13. The Nightingale sounds right up my alley! And I would love to read Columbine. That's exactly what I remember about it too and I also had nightmares for years wondering if I'd really be brave enough. I didn't even know about Brooklyn until I saw it in Target last week and I almost bought it based on the eve case alone ;D now I'm definitely going to buy it! Ya know, I saw where you said you read during nap time and I should really start putting reading back in the schedule. I haven't read one book since having Ben (sad) BUT I have been crocheting my butt off so there's that...like you said too many hobbies too little time.

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    1. I HIGHLY recommend both The Nightingale and Columbine! I bet you would like them. I wish I could read them both again for the first time. I'm so impressed you've been crocheting!! Knitting has been on the back burner for awhile now and I've got the itch to pull it out. It's so hard to find time to do everything I want to do each day.

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  14. I always love your book posts! I'm jealous of all the time you have to read. These all sound good! I totally agree that sometimes your mood/life stage can affect the way you feel about a book.

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    1. Oh, and also your "for fans of" lines always crack me up!

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  15. Okay, I read The Nightingale based on your recommendation and I have no one to discuss it with, so I'm back here because AHHHHHHHHH. All the feels. I cried so much. It made me seriously consider what I would've done in a similar situation. No one would have blamed these women for just gritting their teeth and surviving (that was hard enough), but to put themselves in grave danger to help their friends and complete strangers is truly spectacular. It certainly made me reconsider my trivial life decisions and the petty things I worry and obsess over. I hope I can have even a bit of the grit, toughness, and bravery these women had. Oh, and if you haven't read the real life story of Andree de Jongh (the inspiration for Isabelle), it's an amazing story. Anyway, I blame you for running out of tissues this month. Thanks for the great recommendation!

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    1. THIS IS BRINGING ME SO MUCH JOY!!! I had the exact same reaction! I sat there with tears streaming down my face, reevaluating my whole life and priorities. Just so good. I'll look up that book, it sounds great!

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