2.21.2018

recent reads

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn--2.75 stars: This was like a racier, darker, trashier version of The Nightingale. Eve Gardiner worked as a spy in The Alice Network during WWI (a real spy network in WWI, though this is highly fictionalized). In 1947, Charlie St. Clair meets Eve on a mission to see if her cousin survived WWII in France. Both stories run parallel to each other throughout the book, and both are full of lots of not-too-graphic-but-awkward-and-often-repulsive sex scenes, foul language, and abortions. I would give this book an even lower rating if it weren't for the fact that the sections on espionage during the first world war were completely engrossing. I couldn't put the book down during those parts. There was just so much filth thrown in that it took away from what these incredibly brave women were doing. Obviously a novel about war is not going to be happy-go-lucky, but there was an undercurrent of hopelessness and it felt darker than necessary. I felt kind of gross when I finished reading it.

BOTTOM LINE--should you read it? A lot of people love it, but I say pass.

For fans of: The Nightingale, Lilac Girls, 50 Shade of Gray (I'm guessing--I will never read that drivel)



Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman--3 stars: Imagine Sheldon Cooper with some
serious mommy issues, and you have Eleanor Oliphant. She's practical to a fault, cheeky, clever, and very strange. She has a mysterious and traumatic past we get little glimpses of as the story moves on. She has zero friends until she meets Raymond, a new coworker. Not a lot happens in this book, but a lot happens. Through her growing friendship with Raymond, she learns to address her own issues and past and work through them. It's funny, clever, very troubling, and a bit weird. If you're a Highly Sensitive Person like I am, there are some parts you'll have a hard time reading. There's a strange twist at the end and a very abrupt ending, but it's also a good reminder about the power of friendship and checking on people in your life. I enjoyed a lot of this story, but I didn't love it the way most people do. However, the constant mentions of Greggs and Irn Bru had me YEARNING for another trip to Scotland.

BOTTOM LINE--should you read it? Yes, I think it's worth it.

For fans of: The Rosie Project, The Big Bang Theory, dry humor, Amy Farrah Fowler 





The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith--2 stars: I remember seeing this book all over the internet a few years ago, but I stayed away because we were renting. Come to find out, much of the book is
geared toward renters. Go figure! But I did appreciate that, even though she apparently had landlords that let her do whatever she wanted. One of the biggest pieces of advice Smith gives in her book is to not take decorating advice from someone whose sense of style you don't share. The pictures of her house in the book look exactly like Pinterest circa 2011-2012, and her current Instagram is full of  shiplap and she is clearly terrified of any color other than white. She is ALL about the trends. Safe to say, we don't share the same style, so in taking her own advice, I shouldn't take her advice. Ha! There was really nothing in this book that stuck out to me. I liked her bits about not worrying if your furniture is older or damaged and embracing imperfection, but I just found her annoying and kind of cringey. She drove around town taking pictures of houses with paint colors she liked, and then knocked on doors asking what color their exterior paint is. That, in my opinion, was crossing some lines, but whatever.

BOTTOM LINE--should you read it? Skip it. You already know everything you're going to read.

For fans of: Pinterest, interior design, Young House Love, gallery walls


The Princess Bride by William Goldman--5 stars: I've seen the movie a dozen times, but I had never read the book. My friend started a book club, and this was our first book. It was FANTASTIC. I've seen the movie so much that I knew the story line, but the book goes deeper into the background of the characters. It also adds a weird element of Goldman speaking as himself, pretending that The Princess Bride is actually a very old book written by S. Morgenstern that he's abridging. It gets slightly convoluted at times and you're not sure what's true and what isn't it, but it's clever, charming, witty, funny, and just so good. I highly recommend it. It was also interesting to learn that Goldman wrote the screenplay as well, which means the movie is very true to the book, which is always a pleasant surprise.

BOTTOM LINE--should you read it? AS YOU WISH.

For fans of: The Princess Bride, Monty Python, sword fights, quoting HALLO, MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA, YOU KILLED MY FATHER. PREPARE TO DIE.


As You Wish by Cary Elwes--5 stars: All I can say is the proverbial millennial OMG GUYS. THIS BOOK. I CAN'T EVEN. So so so so good. I've adored Cary Elwes since the first time I saw The Princess Bride as a kid, and I love him even more now. What a delightful, wonderful human being. The book is all about what it was like to film The Princess Bride, and it's basically a love letter to his costars, the crew, and the movie. He's such a gifted storyteller and had me cracking up. There are some hilarious stories from filming, and it's SO FUN to watch the movie back (what I did as soon as I finished reading) and know exactly what was going through their minds as they were filming and what had just happened off-screen. There are also blurbs all throughout the book from the director and other actors commenting on their memories. It's so refreshing to read a celebrity memoir that isn't rife with name-dropping and humblebrags. You can tell he's genuinely humbled and grateful to be a part of this movie and for what the movie did for his career. Gah. I'm just smitten with this book. This interview gives you a good taste of the stories (spoiler alerts though) in the book, and the impeccable storytelling abilities Cary has. THE ACCENTS. Hysterical.

BOTTOM LINE--should you read it? DUH.

For fans of: The Princess Bride. If you're not a fan of TPB, there's no pointing in reading this book.



Why I Hate Green Beans by Lincee Ray--5 stars: I've read Lincee's blog I Hate Green Beans for a couple years now. Correction, I've only read her Bachelor recaps for a couple years now. I don't think I've read anything else by her. I didn't even know she wrote for EW until I read the back of the book informing me of that fact. She has the best sense of humor, and she's a great writer. Even though I've read her recaps, I knew nothing about her as a person. Absolutely nothing. I bought her book because I knew I would at least love her writing (also because the library didn't have it, and I was desperately curious), but I didn't expect to love her book as much as I did. Other than both of us being Christians, we have nothing in common. She writes about being a kid in the 80s (I was too young in the 80s to remember them), divorce, being a Texan, not being a mother, etc. However, the overarching themes of heartbreak, insecurity, and wanting to write entertaining things were feelings I could identify with and appreciate. She has some very poignant moments and stories so funny I was nearly crying laughing. She's not a celebrity, she's a popular blogger but not on the level of other bloggers who write books, and I like that because her book comes across so unpretentious and genuine. And don't worry--you don't have to watch The Bachelor to appreciate her book. She barely talks about it.

BOTTOM LINE--should you read it? It's probably not for everyone, but yes. I think so.

For fans of: Melanie Shankle, The Popcast, embarrassing moments, dating disasters, probably not for fans of green beans



Seven Women by Eric Metaxas--4.5 stars: Metaxas is one of those rare birds who can write about very serious history, like a 600 page biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and make it absolutely tantalizing. Erik Larsen is the same way, which leads me to believe it must be an Eric(k) thing. He chooses 7 brilliantly strong and courageous women from different periods of history, and gives their life stories and how their faith guided them to do what they did. It's fascinating. I was familiar with most of them, but there were a couple I knew nothing about. My favorite chapter was of course the one on Corrie Ten Boom. I can't read anything about her or her sister Betsie without crying. They were the closest thing to angels that have ever existed in human flesh. There were a few bits here and there that got a little dreary with historical detail, but overall it was fantastically written and very inspiring.

The very best part of the book was the introduction, when he explained why he chose the women he wrote about, explaining that he didn't want women who were the first of their sex to do something a man had already done, but women who were able to accomplish what they did because they were uniquely women.

He says: "What struck me as wrong about these suggestions was that they presumed women should somehow be compared to men. But it seemed wrong to view great women in that way. The great men in Seven Men were not measured against women, so why should the women in Seven Women be measured against men? I wondered what was behind this way of seeing things, that women should be defined against men? Or that men and women should even be compared to each other?

Two interrelated attitudes seemed at play. First, men and women are in some ways interchangeable, that what one does the other should do. Second, women are in some kind of competition with men, and for women to progress they need to compete with men. This thinking pretends to put men and women on equal footing, but it actually only puts them against each other in some kind of zero-sum competition in which they usually tear each other down."

Brilliant.

BOTTOM LINE--should you read it? 1000 times yes.

For fans of: history, Destiney's Child's Independent Woman, Bonhoeffer, Erik Larsen, faith


Thoughts on any of these books? Comments? Snide remarks?

13 comments:

  1. Why I Hate Green Beans and 7 Women are being added to the list.

    Why can’t we live closer? Tuesday night book club would be a thing.

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    1. You will love 7 Women! It's right up your alley. I think you'll like Green Beans too.

      I WISH!!!

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    2. If you two ever start a book club, I want in. It’s like Michael Scott and his inside joke comment. “I love book clubs. I hope to be a part of one someday.”

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  2. I love your reviews. I can always tell if I'm going to like something (even though we don't have the exact same taste) because they're so specific and thorough.
    I was a little meh on The Nesting Place too. Adding both Princess Diaries books, Eleanor Oliphant, and 7 Women to my list immediately. And that Bonhoeffer biography (like a good Lutheran, haha).

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    1. Thank you! That makes me so happy to hear. I think you’ll enjoy all those books!

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  3. This post was so good and super helpful. Love your reviews. I'm going to look for the 7 Women at our library.

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  4. I want to read Lincee Ray's book. Her Bachelor recaps are hilarious and I love a good, funny book.

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  5. This made me laugh out loud on several occasions but mostly at your house paint question opinions. Also, agree.

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  6. I read The Princess Bride in college and it was amazing after a lifetime of loving the movie. I've since re-read it several times. I even love the whole bizarre "abridged political satire" thing going on throughout--it's so weird but it totally fits somehow. I have to find a way to read "As You Wish" sometime!

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  7. Funny thing about the Princess Bride-I first read it as a very naive, gullible 7th grader, and I spent A LOT of time searching the internet to try and find the actual copy of S. Morgenstern's book so that I could read the unabridged Princess Bride. I felt so blond when I finally discovered the truth! That's such a great book. And I LOVE "As You Wish." Especially the parts about Andre-as heartbreaking as they were, it was so cool to see how Cary cherished those memories. I don't know if you're into anime, but there's this anime movie called "The Cat Returns," about a bunch of talking cats, and in the English dubbed version, Cary Elwes voices one of the main cat characters, and it's kind of awesome :)

    I put that "Seven Women" book on my library list and I'll try to get to it in the next couple months-it looks very good!

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  8. Confession: I’ve never read The Princess Bride, despite having seen the movie more times than I can count. LOOOOOVED As You Wish though, so TPB is on my list.

    That Nesting book and how the author knocked on doors to ask about paint colors reminds me of a story my mom told me about two women (strangers, mind you) who were walking through her neighborhood, apparently liked the look of her house, and walked up her driveway and peered INTO HER FRONT WINDOW because they wanted to see what the inside looked like. People are strange.

    I’m excited to read IHGB!!

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  9. No snarky remarks. I always look through your blog and Goodreads for recommendations. I keep thinking I need to reread The Princess Bride. It was a bit weird for me 15 years ago so maybe this is my year.

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