Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Books

I am stoked that even with our MoviePass membership, I am still getting in a decent amount of books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;)

There were FOUR books in the first month of the year, so when I add February's TEN that brings the total for 2018 to FOURTEEN! If you're interested in what I read (and how I'd rate them) or need some possible suggestions on a book to grab, make sure to give my previous write-ups a quick glance over when you have a minute! {January's Books}

  • The New American Road Trip Mixtape by Brendan Leonard - As you may remember from my January post, I wrapped up the month by reading through some of the books the hubby received as Christmas gifts. Well, I might as well continue the trend while I wait for more of my books to become available at the library... This was a quick and easy read. The hubby loves camping and climbing (as well as the author in general), so I know he will love this book even more than I did, but I was still engaged and entertained throughout the entire read. This isn't a typical novel (or even an autobiography), but just a collection of snapshots from Brendan's first couple months living as a "dirtbag" after a breakup. As always, books like this make me want to give away all of our stuff and hit the road... maybe one day ;) One of the last paragraphs in the book really stood out to me and captured the heart of the book - "Because if you could live anywhere, wouldn't you want to live everywhere? For as long as you could? I mean, really, what is a life, and what is the American Dream, and what is a "home?" The best thing you can do with those questions is keep trying to find the answers, not actually find the answers...". I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon - I read and enjoyed her previous book, Everything, Everything, so figured I would pick up this one up from the library as well. I'll be the first to admit, this is definitely more of a teen or young adult book, but sometimes I like those more (they tend to have less sex and more interesting plots that keep me engaged). I love the way that this book is written (flip-flopping back and forth between the different characters, writing from their perspective). I also sort of love that between page 1 and page 336, only about eight hours take place. It is like you are watching real life unfold right before your eyes... no long breaks in time, no having to fill in gaps with your own imagination. I also love how all of the different characters or coincidences mesh and fit into place. (And maybe with the number of times I've used the word love you now can rationally assume that I loved the book). I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - I had seen that some of my friends had read this book recently so scooped it up once it was available at the library. It is rather thick, so I was worried it would take me a while to get through, but I legit couldn't put it down. It was so good! The story is honest, tragic and necessary. I appreciate that it is written for a younger audience, because it seems that the young folks are those who are willing to stand up and make a difference! Not only do I hope everyone reads this book, I hope it has a lasting impact and we DO SOMETHING! It's not enough to get mad, post on social media and then move on with life... WE MUST MAKE A CHANGE! Thank you to the author who had the courage to write this book, for the people who are willing to enter into a dialogue and attempt to fix the system that has been broken for way too long, and for everyone who gets involved, joins a movement and demands better. I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • Sixty Meters to Anywhere by Brendan Leonard - I read two of Brendan's books already this year (the hubby really enjoys him as a writer and this happens to be one of his recent favorite books), so I figured I'd grab the last one of his we had laying around the house. The memoir recounts Brendan's life prior to finding his passion for rock climbing (including two DUI's, substance abuse treatment and a stint in jail, all before the age of 24) to how a gift from his brother of sixty meters of climbing rope changed his life and gave him confidence, a purpose and an identity (I was going to include a "healthy outlet", but I don't know that everyone would consider the death-defying act of scaling walls of granite as 'healthy'). I would say the hubby definitely loves this book more than I do, but that's probably because he is a climber and I'm not. Even still, it is real, redemptive and kept me reading. I finished the entire thing in an afternoon. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey - I felt like I needed just some good, quality entertainment so I picked up Tina Fey's book from the library (sometimes you just need a good laugh, #AmIRightOrAmIRight?!). As I expected, it made me chuckle. She doesn't take herself too seriously and seems truly grateful for the life she is currently living. Although I've never watched 30Rock, I have always loved Saturday Night Live and hearing about some of the behind the scenes made me smile (those comedians/ actors are pretty amazeballs and I am always in awe of their talent). For what it was, I think it served its purpose - it definitely kept me entertained. I saw this term before and think it fit perfectly "junk food for the mind." I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller - In spite of the fact that I would love to say I originally picked up this book because Arthur is an alum from the University of Michigan, I actually grabbed it because it was mentioned in Molly's Game (which the hubby and I saw earlier in the month). I thought this was a great book (although it was actually written in the format of a play with four acts). I have very little knowledge about the Salem witch trials (or at least I have forgotten everything I once may have learned),  so this was all very interesting to me. Such a dark time in American history. This play was based on historical events and real people, even if some of the details have been changed (Abigail was made older and Proctor was made younger, etc). No matter the changes, it still leaves you shaking your head. Not only was the story itself outrageous, but the parallels between this and the communist hysteria in the 50s or even the Holocaust are uncanny. When you read this as an observer, you can't imagine how people would allow this atrocity to occur, but then we look around today and see that when evil people get access to power the same thing happens. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Turtles All The Way Down by John Green - I didn't know much about this book when I grabbed it from the library, other than I had seen that a couple of my friends had recently picked it up so I figured I'd give it a try. This is the same author as The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns (both of which I did not read but saw the movies and enjoyed). I'll be honest, I couldn't put this down. Sometimes you just need a good little love story (I guess you could consider this one) to get totally engulfed in. This story shows us that it's okay to not be okay, that it's okay to ask for help, and that it's hard as hell to try to cope with life when you feel as though everything is spiraling our of control. I appreciate that the author dives into the topic of mental health. It was raw, honest and real. And, although this might be a little bit of a spoiler, you are left with heartbreak in the end... Because, as Aza says, " The problem with happy ending is that they're either not really happy, or not really endings, you know? In real life, some things get better and some things get worse." I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone - I originally saw this title when I was grabbing the link for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and actually thought it was about Trayvon Martin. It turned out to be a novel about a 17 year old who is trying his hardest to be more like Martin Luther King Jr. in today's society. It was a very quick read (I think it took me maybe 2.5 hours to get through it), but super powerful. I enjoyed the way the story was told from an outsiders perspective, but then had an incredibly personal touch from the main character's letters he was writing "to" MLK. This is a story that needs to be told. We live in a world where racial inequality exists but just because it commonplace does not make it acceptable, right or permissible. Being disappointed, frustrated or disgusted is not enough. We must ACT. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - I had seen the preview for the "Love, Simon" movie and didn't realize it was a book until I saw it on Amazon... And thankfully my library had it available so I snatched it right away. Another book I finished within 24 hours. Very easy read, and I gobbled it up. I didn't realize I was a romantic but apparently I can totally fall for a good love story. Not only is this an adorable story (well, not every part is adorable, let me make that clear, but the characters definitely can be), but it touches on important topics - like why white and heterosexual are the default. It also makes you think about folks closest to you and what you really know (or don't know) about them. The author does an amazing job at encapsulating the struggles of coming out (especially in the age of social media). I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - I read Celeste's other book Little Fires Everywhere in December and really enjoyed it, so when the hubby and I were getting ready to head to Phoenix for his FIRST FULL MARATHON I thought I'd grab this one on audio so we could listen to it on our way there and back. I have to admit, I was disappointed. The story seems slow with so little happening that both the hubby and I were fairly bored. I was hoping that the slowness of the beginning would be made up towards the end, but it never really picked up steam... which is a bummer since I liked her most recent book. I appreciate that the author focuses on the pressures we can place on others without fully realizing it, but I was left wanting more (more depth, more mystery, more something...). I would give it a 5 out of 10.

With that February comes to a close. My reading may have slowed, but I definitely hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions on books, please send them my way! I'm always willing to add them to my queue at the library!

What was the best book you read this month?


Deborah Brooks said...

Wow I am just super impressed and a little jealous that you have time to read so many books! Very eclectic group as well

Virjinia Harp said...

The second and third books sound super interesting! I agree with reading YA books because they usually aren't too "serious" and keep me entertained. It's so awesome that you're able to read so much! I have a book that I've been trying to read and I literally take it a chapter a day lol.