July 13, 2015

Book Reviews: Quarterly Update II

Back in March, I put together a list of mini reviews of all of the books I had read up to that point this year. It was a good way for me to keep track of my progress in the 2015 Book Challenge I'm working on this year so I pulled together this list of everything I've read since that last update. I'm shocked at how much I've read! Between January and March, I read 6 books...since March, I've read 16! Here's a look at what I've been reading!

"The Hollow Man" by Oliver Harris - This was a fun thriller and definitely a page turner but it ended rather abruptly. Throughout the book, I kept asking myself why the main character kept putting himself in the situations he did. There's a sequel but I probably won't read it.

"The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris" by Mark Kurlansky - Do not read this book. I had so many thoughts about this and was so angry after reading this book that I wrote a review rant about it.

"1776" by David McCullough - Boooooooooring. Oh my goodness. Yawn. I don't know how this book won a Pulitzer. It was a bunch of quotes about a bunch of battles leading up to 1776. It wasn't the historical recap of American history that I thought it would be. I also thought that the musical was based on the book. I'm sad it wasn't.

"Tuck Everlasting" by Natalie Babbitt - I had the biggest crush on Jonathan Jackson growing up so when this movie came out, I had to see it. I didn't even know it was a book until someone at book club mentioned it was her favorite. I picked it up and read it in one night. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I don't remember anything about the movie so I have no idea how it compares.

"Pigs in Heaven" by Barbara Kingsolver - Barbara Kings older woos me again in this follow up to "The Bean Trees." This book was just as good as the first one though I really hated one of the new characters she introduced. I highly recommend these two books. The bond between the two main characters is incredible.

"Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen - I didn't like this as much as "Pride and Prejudice." There were too many characters and I felt like the same things happened to the same characters.

"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak - This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Told by Death, this book gives a fascinating perspective that's so much more different than the typical first person narrative or third person omniscient that we're so used to. I sobbed through the end of this book but not at all for the reasons I thought I would.

"The Giver" by Lois Lowry - This fit into the category of "A book you were supposed to read I'm school but didn't." I feel like I'm the only person who wasn't assigned this book in middle school. I didn't like it. At all. I found it incredibly disturbing and the ending completely blindsided me...especially since there are 3 other books in the series. I completely understand now why my Catholic grade school didn't assign this book.

"Last Train to Istanbul" by Ayse Kulin - I randomly found this book during a free trial of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited and I'm so glad I did. I loved it. Alternating between Paris and Turkey during WWII, the book has a few different ploy lines that are all interwoven...my absolute favorite was about the (loosely based on true) story of how Turkish diplomats tried to get Turkish Jews out of France during the Nazi occupation. I highly recommend this.

"Rose of Sarajevo" by Ayse Kulin - There haven't been too many English books written about Bosnia so I wanted to read this by the same author who I thought I fell in love with in "Last Train to Istanbul." I hated it. I hated the main character. I found her unapologetically selfish in the middle of war. I thought this might lead her on a path of self discovery but it didn't.

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler - I had really mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it was LOL funny...on the other, it made me like Amy Poehler a lot less than I already did. One chapter in particular, when she goes on for the entire chapter berating a man who dropped a screenplay on her lap on a train and goes on to say he isn't hard working and that isn't how things get done seemed overly harsh in my opinion. There were a lot of zingers and one liners in this that just left a bad taste in my mouth for a celebrity whom I really loved.

"The Bully Pulpit" by Doris Kearns Goodwin - This book was so boring it was painful. At almost 1,000 pages of endless biographies of people who haven't been relevant in nearly 100 years, this book seemed to TRY to be as long as possible. It could have easily been written in half as many pages and stuck to what it was supposed to be about.

"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery - This is one of my mom's all-time favorite books and I had never read it so I picked it up from the library and read a few pages before bed every night. I loved it. It was such a beautiful story...a little bit sad, but beautifully so. Saint-Exupery was a pilot and I'm eager to read more about him.

"Shatter Me" by Tahereh Mafi -  Tahereh Mafi is married to Ransom Riggs, author of the Miss Peregrine series, which I loved. When I found out she was also a best-selling author, I was eager to pick up her book. I kind of hated it...it was basically "Mockingjay."There are 3 (or 5?) books in the series (I'm honestly not sure...the next book in the series is Book 1.5) and I have no desire to keep reading. Half of the book is written with words crossed out which are supposed to be thoughts she's thinking but isn't really...I feel like there's a better, more literary way to convey that.

"The Astronaut Wives Club" by Lily Koppel - I really don't understand why this book got such terrible reviews. I thought it offered a fascinating insight into the first NASA astronauts' lives, how they were chosen and what it was like for their wives, who had just as much responsibility as they did. I'm also hooked on the TV show.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky - I saw this movie when it first came out and absolutely loved it. The book was just as good. This was one scenario where I think the movie mirrored the book perfectly. I loved Charlie's story and loved the way this book was written. It's a quick read that I'll definitely pick up again.

Have you read any of these? 
What did you think?
What are your favorite reads from this year?

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