Lindsay's Book Log

I love stories and my library card.

One Summer

One Summer: America, 1927 - Bill Bryson

This book was really interesting, I had no idea all of these things happened in one summer and how huge and impact a lot these events had. In covering the events of 1927, Bryson discusses events before and after 1927 that have a relevant impact on the story giving us a more complete view of the individuals who played such a large role in our social climate. While I appreciated a more complete view, I found the way this story was written to be a bit disjointed at times and slow. I think that some of the more in depth information wasn’t wrapped into the book well which added to the slow feeling (the section on Fordlandia comes to mind, it’s interesting but feels like it doesn’t belong in the book).

 

I listened to this on audiobook in two sessions and I think if I had read this book in smaller chunks reading one person’s story then setting it down and coming back to it I think I would have enjoyed this more.

Paper Girls Volume 2

Paper Girls Volume 2 - Brian K. Vaughan

I loved this volume of Paper Girls. I liked that we started finding more about what is going on in this world. The only thing that kept this from being a 5 stars from me is that I still don’t feel like we learned enough. I can’t wait for volume 3 and finding out more but it’s going to be so long before we get it ughhhh.

Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen - Julie Powell

I listened to this book, found out it was abridged, came home and read the physical book from my TBR shelf. The idea of Julie’s blog, and from that this book, is something that I was really on board for. The actualization of the book though was a bit painful. It is very easy to see how Julie’s blog did well in the digital medium in a time when blogs weren’t as common. Reading the book felt like I was reading a blog which sort of worked for a memoir, but only sort of. I spent a lot of time in this book wanting to shout “GO TO THERAPY!!!” because a lot of the things that she discusses about her personal life are huge red flags, and honestly write the events of her next book “Cleaving” on the wall. The audiobook cuts out a lot of the more personal things about Julie and her friends which both helps because you lose a lot of the Cleaving foreshadowing, but also cuts out some a lot of friendship and New York atmosphere, which is both helpful and harmful to this story. I thought Julie’s friends were some of the best parts of this story but also it gave a book that was supposed to be about cooking and turned it into Sex in (Long Island) City. Also the way she talked about the status of her apartment made me curious as to why anyone ever ate anything from that kitchen. I wanted to like this book, and it flopped really hard for me.

Me Before You

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Ugh, this book, I wanted to like it, I wanted it to be great and I had hope because everyone goes on about it. However I just really couldn’t get into it. On the positive side, I liked Louisa’s family, they felt realistic, they weren’t perfect but they felt like they could be real people. I also found myself laughing at the banter between Louisa and Will more than I would have expected for a sad romance book. Now on to the negative side of things (from least problematic to most): The romance in this book was also hard to buy into for me as well because Moyes shoved too many things into this book so that the relationship didn’t have space to breath. This book is very clearly written by an able bodied person for an able bodied person which came through surprisingly clearly in some of the word choices that Moyes made. Louisa deciding to better her life was handled in the way we see in a lot of romances, because a man pushed her too. In this case it’s not seeing and working with Will that inspires Louisa to do more, it’s literally Will nagging her throughout the majority of the book to get out and live which feels annoying, and tired. The biggest issues is that this book is pretty shitty for disabilities. While I didn’t have an issue with the ending per se, this book tells the same tired tale in regards to disabilities that we always see and a serious current of “I can’t live a full life with a disability”. This is also a story of a man who is very wealthy, which isn’t the reality for most disabled people. While I don’t think Moyes needed to write a 100% true to life book, the attempts that she made to build a disability community in this book were so infrequent and ended up feeling incredibly half assed and like she was trying to give herself an out when people criticized her disability representation, in my opinion.

 

 

I have two points that are serious issues for me and a comment on people’s reaction to the ending but are also spoilers so on to the tag.

Louisa’s reason for dressing quirky and not doing anything were due to a sexual assault, and used as a way to hide from the world. I am still so annoyed by this, it’s not an implied thing it’s stated. I had a roommate accuse of doing my makeup the way I do to hide from the world, which wasn’t true at all. I also have some experience with sexual assault and the message that I couldn’t live a full life because of that is insulting. So I can understand why the disabled community would have an issue with this book and my situation is in no way as serious a disability.

 

The other issue is more that Will is Louisa’s Fairy Godmother. I cannot believe I haven’t seen anyone else talk about this, though maybe I’ve just been looking in the wrong places. The man sweeps in, fixes her relationship, gets her to embrace life, paves the way for her to do pretty much anything she wants, and then disappears. Sounds like a more like a Fairy Godmother than a real human to me.

 

As for the ending, as I previously stated I didn’t have an issue with it per se because I think body autonomy is important for the ill and the disabled and something that is frequently taken from them (which is actually something that this book addressed a lot and I appreciated that) HOWEVER there is no good ending to this book with the way that the rest of the story was written. If we look at the inverse situation and Will had decided to live because he fell in love with Louisa that sends a TERRIBLE message that if you are loved enough you wouldn’t want to die, and my extension that anyone who considers or goes through assisted suicide isn’t/wasn’t loved enough. So people to the people crying for a happy ending please tell me an ending that would have worked for this book and wouldn’t have also sent a terrible message?

(show spoiler)

The Accident Season

The Accident Season - Moïra Fowley-Doyle

I really loved the writing in this book. It drew me in and I just wanted more. I loved the concept, I loved the narrator, and I just wanted more of Fowley-Doyle’s words. Unfortunately I also wanted more from the story. It was so clear that a twist reveal was coming that when it happened it like “oh okay *shrug*”. I liked the relationship between the family members and friends in this book (though I will give you that the one is really weird and straight out of a reality tv show I saw once). This book is full of weird prose, it’s a great October read (since that’s when the story takes place), and I’ll be reading her next book.

Winter

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) - Marissa Meyer

I loved how delightful this series has been. I found the world and its politics to be interesting but recognizable as something that could have come from our society. I love how strong each of our characters are and how Myers takes the typical damsel in distress fairy tale trope and throws it out the window without losing the stories these books are based on. This series is really good and enjoyable. This book specifically though suffered in regards to pacing though, in sections it dragged where I didn’t find that in the other books in is series. I also thing because we had such a large cast of characters that we are very invested in Myers wrote each of them their own story which was satisfying as a fan but didn’t help the pacing. Over all though I’d still really recommend this story and will be rereading it in the future.

Stars Above

STARS ABOVE: A Lunar Chronicles Collection (The Lunar Chronicles) - Marissa Meyer

While I liked this collection, it was really unnecessary in pretty much every way. The stories that delved into the characters’ pasts didn’t really add anything, and in a lot of cases we already had the information. The two stories that didn’t dig into the past were really enjoyable. I really liked The Little Android, and seeing another fairy tale retold in this world. Something Old, Something New was awesome because I liked seeing where the characters were a year down the road and I felt like this was an epilogue style story that was done well.

Wink Poppy Midnight

Wink Poppy Midnight - April Genevieve Tucholke

This is the story of the mysterious girl next door, the bitchy queen bee, and the boy who is feeling lost and detached from his family and they ways they are connected.

 

I think I liked this book I’m not really sure. The writing was good and I enjoyed the story, and I’d be interested to read more by Tucholke but I seriously this book was bizarre. I heard about this book when Jay Kristoff mentioned it at an event for Illuminae, and I can’t remember what he said about it but when I saw it on Overdrive I decided to pick it up. When it ended I took out my earbuds and was just left feeling somewhat confused. Like I understand what happened but I just felt a bit overwhelmed. I don’t know if I’d recommend this book because I still feel like I’m not sure about it. I felt like I could see real humans inside these kinda cliché characters. But then maybe I feel like these characters are cliché because this book is so short everything happens at breakneck speed which is kinda fine and kinda annoying and clearly I don’t know how I feel about this book.  Two things I do know: The cover is beautiful, and the audiobook helped shape the characters and get me through this book.

City of Thieves

City of Thieves - David Benioff

This is a historical fiction book that takes place during the siege of Leningrad during World War 2. The story follows Lev, a 17 year old Jew who was arrested for looting, and Koyla, a 20-something Russian deserter, on their attempt to find a dozen eggs to be pardoned for their crimes.

 

Historical fiction isn’t usually my genre especially if it is WW2 related, but I really enjoyed this book and how it looked at things outside of what we talk about during school (somehow my classes decided to ignore Russia when talking about WW2, seriously my history education was lacking). The book is both truly funny and horrifying at the same time. Benioff’s language has a detached quality that allows the reader to fill in a lot of the horror of the situation while giving you the “facts”, he’s telling you the horrible things that are going on but not in a way that is pulling at your heart strings. At the same time you get this strange friendship between Lev and Koyla which is really fun to read.  Also there’s a bad ass lady in here. The reason that this book didn’t get 5 stars from me was that a section of this book got a bit to fictitious and spelled out, which was in contrast to the things I loved about the rest of the book.

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart - Peter  Swanson

George is having a midlife slump and then his girlfriend from college, who he hasn’t seen in 20ish years, walks into his local bar, needing him to help her out of the mess she’s in.

 

This book felt like a noir movie, but I just couldn’t buy into it. I found the story to be slow, predictable, and trite. This book has two time lines, and I thought that the college time line worked a lot better, which caused the story to drag more for me. George was such a dull character to me that having him as a narrator was painful. Also George at 40 something was basically the same character as George at 18. One thing I did enjoy was the open ending of this story, I was glad to write in an ending that I found less painful than this book.

Vicious

Vicious - Victoria Schwab Victor and Eli were college roommates when they figure out how to become “ExtraOrdinary”. Their superpowers, however, left them in very different places in life. This book switches between present day and the time they gained their powers. This book has complex characters and while being story about revenge it doesn’t go down the easy good and evil route. I loved this book, it’s my first introduction to Schwab and I love her writing and storytelling. I loved how fleshed out all the characters in this book were, even the side characters. This really helped me to be able to see the various points of view in the characters and I loved it. I enjoyed the dual timeline and while sometimes that can bog down a story, this one wrapped together really well so I didn’t feel like I was slogging through one timeline to get back to the other. I totally recommend this book and will be picking up more from her in the future.

Pretty Girls

Pretty Girls: A Novel - Karin Slaughter

When Claire’s husband is murdered and a young girl, who looks a lot like her sister who disappeared 20 years ago, is missing she reaches out to her estranged sister, Lydia, for support.

 

The book is intense and needs all sorts of trigger warnings slapped on it. That being said it was one of the only books that have scared me in recent history. I still think about it from time to time and get the willies, and not because of the very graphic and gruesome details in this book (if I think about those I get grossed out but it’s the plot that gives me the willies). If you like thrillers and can handle some very intense graphic details I’d recommend it. I took off half a star because at times the story was a bit slow and there were a few things that were just too far-fetched and unnecessary.

Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes

Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes - Karin Slaughter

This is a companion, prequel short story to Pretty Girls. This is the short story about the day Julia Carroll goes missing. Over all this just didn’t work for me and maybe part of that is because I read this after finishing Pretty Girls. However one of the things that I really liked about Pretty Girls is the way that the family reacted to Julia going missing and I didn’t feel like I needed a look the day she went missing. To me it felt trite.

H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk - Helen Macdonald

This book is about Macdonald dealing with the sudden death of her father by leaving academia to train a goshawk. This book is also part biography of T.H. White, and according to Macdonald part nature writing.

 

It just didn’t really work for me, and I feel bad about that. I really struggle to rate and review memoirs because it’s someone’s real life and eh, I just struggle. This one though is really easy for me to identify why I didn’t like it. I felt like there was too much in this book. I felt like the nature writing and biography bits took diminished Macdonald’s voice. Macdonald has said she tried to let all these elements of the story be their own things but for me it just made it feel muddy and disjointed even though I could see why she brought White into the story but it still just didn’t work for me. Also maybe because of my own feelings on having birds as pets I feel like I lacked the base interest for a book about falconry, though objectively I can say that it’s amazing.

The Murderer's Daughter

The Murderer's Daughter: A Novel - Jonathan Kellerman

Dr. Grace Blades is the psychologist to see, highly accomplished and dedicated to her patients. However her life had a dark and difficult beginning. When a new patient, who has a lot in common with her early life, ends up dead she fears her own history being exposed. My coworker recommended this to me. This book is more mystery than thriller but I found myself not caring about the events as much as I would have hoped. I just kept feeling like Blades was making a much bigger deal of things that the situation warranted and that the choices she made didn’t really make a ton of sense. The way Kellerman tells Blades backstory though is done really well and is really interesting and where this book shines the most. I listened to this book and I think that helped me get through it, I think I would have struggled to care enough to get through the physical book.

10% Happier

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story - Dan   Harris

I only sort of knew who Dan Harris was before reading this and I’ve always felt a little bit skeptical about the amazing healing powers of meditation. That being said this book really surprised me. I really liked how open Harris was with his life and the things that led him down his meditation journey. I loved that he shared the struggles he had with it instead of getting a book filled with platitudes that seem like a bill of goods.  Since reading this book I haven’t suddenly started devoting my time to meditation, but I am more open to trying it and I feel less cynical about it all so I’d count that as a win.

Currently reading

The Call
Peadar Ó Guilín
Progress: 44 %
Slaughterhouse-Five
Kurt Vonnegut
Progress: 32/275 pages