Lindsay's Book Log

I love stories and my library card.

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, 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.

The Hidden Oracle

The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan This book was fine. It was an average Rick Riordan book, I didn’t love it but I think I’ll pick up the next one because they are light and fun but at this point I’ll looking for a shakeup. Most of this book feels like Percy Jackson the reboot. Also I don’t Love Apollo, he seems like such an obvious lesson character, I’m far more interested in the other characters. I want to pick up Riordan’s adult series. Has anyone read those?

The Monster of Florence

The Monster of Florence - Douglas Preston

When author Douglas Preston moved to Florence to work on a new novel he never thought he’d get caught up in a real murder case. Much less that those murders took place from 1968 to 1985.

 

The first half of this book covers the cases and this serial killer that was never caught. Then we get into the truth is stranger than fiction side of this story that directly relates to Preston.  I read this book around the time the Netflix Amanda Knox documentary was  getting hype for its release (I still need to watch that) and I can say between the two it didn’t make me want to run off and enjoy Italy anytime soon. I’m sure Italy is wonderful, I had friends stationed there and my husband did some study abroad there but this book made their police seem completely incompetent. This book has two different tones, the first half of the book has a very traditional true crime non-fiction vibe. Then the second half where Preston is talking about his own experiences just didn’t feel quite as solid. Maybe it was the truly weird over the top experience he had but it felt sort of like a ranting blog post at times. The book was interesting even if the execution wasn’t consistent.  

Ready Player One

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? I was worried about reading this book, because I don’t have a huge love of 80 pop culture (what can I say I was all about 90’s Nick) but I my love for video games and the internet more than made up for my lack of depth of 80’s knowledge. I really thought Clines idea of the Stacks was fascinating. I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that we’re all going to be glued to VR in the near future but I did like the way Cline pulled irl into the book. I did feel like a lot of this book rested on nostalgia to pull you through and had a whole lot of infodump sessions.  I liked this book but it wasn’t the end all be all I’d heard it was.

 

On an audiobook note, I loved Will Wheaton narrating this. Honestly that was another thing I was worried about. Poor Will Wheaton gets shafted in my mind, I have a hard time separating him from the shit people he plays on tv, and I was worried that prejudice would follow me into listening to this book. However he was great and I was pleasantly surprised.

The Magician's

The Magicians - Lev Grossman

Quentin goes to a college interview and instead ends up getting invited to take a test to get into a magical college. The story follows Quentin through his time at college and the year(ish) after.

 

This book is Not Harry Potter, at all, not even a little. The characters in this book are unlikable, but in a very real human sort of way. I kinda hated this book for most of the time I was reading it and then finished it and immediately wanted to pick up the next one. That wasn’t because of the ending so much as it was more enjoyable after the fact (does that even make sense?).  Most of this book is paced slower than I would expect but it still sucked me in. I really think looking at these books as individuals doesn’t work as well as judging the entire series which I know isn’t going to work for everyone but I do think it’s the best way to view this.

The Magician King

The Magician King - Lev Grossman

TW this book has a very graphic sexual assault.

 

This book takes place a few years after The Magicians. While off on an adventure to outer Fillory, Quentin and Julia end up back in the suburbs of Massachusetts. Throughout the book we dig into how Julia ended up with the Brakebills crew and just what exactly is going on with her all while the pair are trying to get back home.

 

I liked this book a lot more than The Magicians right off the bat. I really enjoyed seeing Julia’s story and the ways that it paralleled Quentin’s even if she didn’t want to acknowledge that. I enjoyed Poppy and the Fillory characters that we meet.

 Then we had that ending and without getting into spoilers, it was super graphic and I’m not sure I feel great about the things Grossman is saying in regards to it and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the options…I just felt beyond weird about the whole thing. I’ve heard such good things about the series so I’m continuing but I didn’t feel like I could just gloss over that point here. 

SPOILER ALERT!

The Magician's Land

The Magician's Land - Lev Grossman

Quentin is back at Brakebills, because where else do you go when you’ve been exiled from your magical kingdom. There he and a student get wrapped up in something extracurricular and find themselves fighting to get back to save Fillory. 

 

I really enjoyed this book. I loved Elliot and Janet in this book. I liked Plum a lot. There was a lot of adventure and action and I liked how things were wrapped up. However I feel like Grossman may have lost some of what he was trying to say. I mean if the first two books were challenging these fantasy tropes, I kind of feel like the ending of those was right on brand for fantasy books. Which I was fine with it didn’t diminish my enjoyment but it was interesting. I still feel very uncomfortable about the Julia rape scene in book two and its resolution in this book really didn’t diminish my feelings about how not okay that scene was for me, which I mean maybe that was the point but still feel icky about that.

 

Overall I really enjoyed the series as a whole and found myself wanting to read more from this world. This series is not going to be for everyone but if you’re going to try this series I would commit to reading all of them and then judging them all as a whole.

Paper Girls Volume 1

Paper Girls Volume 1 - Cliff Chiang, Brian K. Vaughan

I really liked this comic but I can’t say I totally know what’s going on. It’s just not explained. I love the art, I love the characters but, I can’t wait to get volume 2 so I can get some more information on what is going on.

Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty

This book follows 3 families before and after a backyard barbeque. Something happens at the barbeque and we jump between the day of the barbeque and the families trying to deal with the after math of the barbeque. The tragic event that happened at the barbeque is kept from the reader for at least half the book if not more.  I listened to this book on audio and the amount of times that the word barbeque is said is so ridiculous that I went through the phase of the word just meaning nothing as well as me wanting to rip my hair out every time it was said. Honestly the story was fine but I was so glad when it ended so I didn’t have to hear that word one more time.  

I did enjoy this book, the characters felt like real humans and I appreciated it.  I loved the conversations that Moriarty put forth about love, marriage and friendship. However it felt like it was as long as it was, I didn’t get wrapped up or engrossed in this book like I would have liked, so while it didn’t drag, it did feel longish. I think I’m going to read Big Little Lies, because I’ve heard that one is a bit more engaging.

Currently reading

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Mackenzi Lee