Spring and Summer Book Report

So, it seems to be book week here as I get back into the swing of things on the blog. As the summer comes to a close, and I get ever closer to reaching my reading goal for the year - only 4 months left! - I wanted to update on all the books I've read since February. (I finally re-capped those for you here.) After February (the month of snow days), reading slowed down for me a bit, but it has picked back up this summer and now I am more than on track to meet my reading goal of 75 books for the year - only 20 books left to go!

Since February, I have read a number of wonderful (and some not as wonderful) books...

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins / This was my first ever book on Audible and I enjoyed it! I didn't absolutely fall head over heels for this one, but I did think it was interesting. I figured out the ending before it happened though, so that ruined it for me a bit. 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel / I absolutely loved the story here, and I would recommend it to pretty much anyone, but I was left wanting more. I felt like the story was a bit too unfinished and I would have liked more from the author. This bummed me out a bit because I did love the concept behind the plot.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell / I read this lightning fast at the end of March and didn't love it. My favorite parts were sub-plot things that Rowell didn't focus on as much as I would have liked. I'm reading Fangirl now, so the jury is still out, but so far, Eleanor & Park is really her only book I've loved.

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman / This was, to me, the French version of Tiger Mom. Some interesting insights for sure and definitely interesting to see what motherhood looks like in France. (Spoiler: It is way different than motherhood in America.)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler / My second Audible! And I absolutely loved it! It was more focused on motherhood and self-reflection than I thought it would be going into it, but I liked Poehler's positive, yet realistic and introspective, outlook on life She is definitely more vulgar than I thought she'd be, but it worked with who she is and I liked it. I do need to add that I think that this may be a better book to listen to than to read. I have 2 friends who read it, and neither of them loved it. The Audible version, read by Amy, has guest readers and she ad libs a bit. I laughed out loud a number of times listening to her read.

Love Life by Rob Lowe / This is Rob Lowe's second book, and follow-up to Stories I Only Tell My Friends. I listened to this on Audible too and Rob Lowe's voice is soothing and wonderful to listen to. I really liked this one and appreciated Lowe's stories and advice for loving life and living it to the fullest.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult / Not my favorite Picoult, but the story was engaging and - BONUS! - not at all predictable. I did really enjoy it and was pleasantly surprised by it since the subject matter wasn't one I thought I would be interested in.

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty / Another one by an author I've binge read (i.e. Picoult and Rowell), and also not my favorite. It was a fun read, but it took me a little while to get into it. This one was a little too out there for me.

The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis / My absolute favorite so far this year, hands down. This was a beautiful and incredible story about love and friendship. The author brought the characters to life with such clarity and realism that I cried with them and for them, and laughed with them as they did. Beautifully written, well-crafted, and refreshing to read an author that stays so true to her characters. 

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith / I had this book on my Kindle for about 2 years, but didn't get around to reading it until May and then I couldn't put it down. It was a murder mystery that was well-crafted and cagely (yes, I made that word up) written. I have the 2nd one on my Audible shelf and am looking forward to reading the 3rd one - out this fall - as well.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira / I read this as the QHS Book Club May book. It was breathtaking, tear inducing and freshly written. The story was about how a young girl recovers from a major tragedy and then navigates through the beginning of high school. The story shocked me, and grabbed me, and I cried through the end - and then some.

The Summer Series by Jenny Han / This series was good and super addicting, but I liked To All the Boys I've Loved Before much better. This series seemed to skim over too much and I wanted more detail than I got. The 3rd book had an info-filled epilogue though that I really appreciated.

PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han / The sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before. A good follow-up to the first book and one I enjoyed. I thought this one was a bit cheesier than the first, but I think that may be because I was a little over reading Han at that point (4 of her books in less than a week was a lot).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng / I thought that this was good, and the writing was strong, but I just don't think that it was worth all the crazy hype. It was an interesting story, but it felt too choppy at certain points.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra / Definitely in my top 5 of 2015. This novel was beautiful, intense and captivating. It is really a must-read for every single person ever. I cannot say enough good things about this moving story and I wished that it did not have to come to an end.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See / I liked this, and appreciated all of the Chinese history woven into it, but I just didn't get hooked on it and didn't love it. 

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham / This was a cute and fun read. I like Graham a lot and it was fun to read her first novel. 

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica / Another Audible book! I really, really liked this. It was Kubica's first novel - which I didn't find out until after I finished it - and it was a thriller that I could not stop listening to. Suspenseful and full of twists, this one kept me constantly guessing. I highly recommend this one if you like thrillers.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari / I listened to Aziz read this on Audible. It was good, but not great. Aziz provides a humorous and well-researched view of modern romance, and I appreciated that, but I wish he had written more of a memoir. 

The Martian by Andy Weir / I liked this one, despite the crazy amounts of scientific jargon, but I was let down by the ending. 

Taft by Ann Patchett / Another author I love to binge read! This is an earlier book for Patchett, and as in her other earlier novels, you can definitely see how she was honing her craft a bit in this one. But, the characters were engaging and I did read the entire book in one sitting since I couldn't put it down.

Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews / I had low expectations for this one, but it was an easy read and enjoyable enough that I read it in one sitting. It was kind of lackluster and just didn't grab my attention.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan / This one surprised me and I really liked it. It was less memoir and more investigative journaling, but it was presented well and the story was definitely fascinating. I definitely recommend this one. As a side note, if you read this, you'll read a lot about something called a teratoma. DO NOT GOOGLE IT unless you have a seriously strong stomach. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian / This was definitely the summer of reading leftover books by authors whom I had binge read, but never finished all of their works. This story was intriguing - focused on the aftermath of a nuclear plant accident - and as always, Bohjalian's writing kept the reader engaged.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh / This was a well-woven story, and I cried, but I didn't love it as much as I think others have. It certainly made me think more about flowers though!

Perfect Little Ladies by Abby Drake / Given to me by my mom to as a breezy read. It was certainly breezy, but a little over the top for me.

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg / Recommended to me by a teacher friend of mine and this one did not disappoint! Interesting story with a lot of history about the WASPs in World War 2 throughout it.
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon / This one was enjoyable, and a super fast read, but I was a little disappointed because I thought it was going to be more of a thriller than it was.

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain / This was okay, but Kitchen Confidential was much better. If you like cooking and are interested in the world of a chef, than you'll like this one.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey / I picked this one up in Rhinebeck at Oblong Books (yay independent bookstores!!) on a staff recommendation. This story follows Maud, an elderly woman with alzheimers, as she searches for her missing friend Elizabeth. Maud is also remembering a long forgotten part of her life when her sister went missing when Maud was younger, and the two mysteries are woven together. It was confusing at parts - although I think that was, at times, the point - but a bit too confusing for me to really love it. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee / It was wonderful to end my summer reading on such a high note with TKAM. I had read this when I was 15, and really couldn't remember any of it. I am interested in reading Go Set a Watchman, and so decided that this deserved a re-read. And wow, am I glad I did. I listened to it as I worked around our house painting this last week of summer and really felt as though I was spending my summer with Jem and Scout. Lee's writing is truly beautiful and this is, without question, a classic. If it's been 15 years since you last read it, then you should re-read it too - I cannot recommend it enough.



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