I've got 32 quick book reviews here to help you find some good books to read!
I've been working on a batch of great new recipes to share here on the blog. However, before I get to those this week, I wanted to share a quick quarterly reading review and a few good books to read.
Remember how last quarter I read 50 books? Well, I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain those numbers in the second quarter. I clocked in at 32 books this time around. A good number of books, even if it wasn't anywhere close to 50.
But while I did still read a lot of books, I forgot (or chose to ignore) all the reading goals I set in the first quarter. I said I was going to read more classics. I said I was going to read more non-fiction. Instead, I just read a bunch of fiction, and far too much fluffy fiction.
What can I say? It's summer and the kids are home and a good portion of the reading I did on the beach and everyone knows that beach reads should be fluffy, right?
I'll aim for higher quality reads in the third quarter. Meanwhile, second quarter was full of a lot of good books to read on the beach.
Here's the quick version:
Favorite YA book: Piecing Me Together
Favorite Audio Book: Peter and the Star Catchers
Most hated book: I Have Lost My Way
And here's the full breakdown of all 32 books:
Middle Grade Books
We listened to this on audiobook on our cross country road trip this summer. It was so much fun and so well written! It was read by Jim Dale who is, hands down, the very best audiobook narrator of all time, which made it that much more fun to listen to. The book is a wildly creative retelling of the Peter Pan story - kind of a how Peter became Peter Pan. It's really, really wonderful. I think we're kind of late to this party, but we are for sure going to be reading a lot more Dave Barry!
We read this aloud as a family and it was so much fun! Henry York is staying in the attic bedroom at his Uncle's house in Henry, Kansas for the summer. During the night he hears a loud thud on the wall above his head. When he wakes up in the morning, he sees a doorknob has broken through the wall. Curiosity requires him to chip off all the plaster, of course, and he discovers that the attic wall is covered in doors - 99 doors. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens next.
This is the second book in the 100 Cupboards series. The kids enjoyed it, but I didn't think it was quite as good as book one. Still, I'm not one to abandon a trilogy and it is definitely fun enough to keep going - just maybe a little too much world building for my taste. We're actually almost finished with book 3 now and I'd say they've been really good books to read aloud as a family - a lot of adventure!
This was fun! 14 year old Peak Marcello loves to climb, but after he's arrested for scaling a skyscraper in New York City, he's sent to live with his estranged father who runs a climbing company in Thailand. But instead of father-son bonding time, Peak's dad expects him to be the youngest kid to climb Mt. Everest. It's a good adventure- think Into Thin Air, but for a middle grade/YA audience. I loved reading it.
I said last quarter that I was on a Jennifer Nielsen kick, and it continues. I'm reading her whole catalog! Most of her books are fantasy, but this one is realistic historical fiction about the Berlin Wall. When the wall goes up overnight, Gerta's family is divided. Her father and brother went west in search of work and now can't ever come home. Gerta, her mother, and her brother are stuck on the Eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. The quest to be reunited turns into a thrilling read.
This is a cute read. I read it after my 10 year old, who kept pushing it on me because she liked it so much. Read more about it here in my Tween Book Club post.
I LOVED this book! This is one of those rare YA books that I would actually recommend to teens. It's a clean read that tackles race issues in a beautiful way. Jade, is a scholarship student at a mostly-white private school. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs "support," so when her teacher recommends her for a woman to woman mentorship program, she's not excited at all. But both the reader and Jade have a lot to learn. I highly recommend this one.
This was engaging. It's like a "Breakfast Club" murder mystery, but while it's written for teens, I wouldn't actually recommend it to teens. Still, it kept me up late at night to figure out the whodunnit.
I will never ever pass up a boarding school book! I'm still thinking a lot about this book. I liked it and I didn't. Maybe I'll have more to say about this one later.
I saw this on the Modern Mrs. Darcy's summer reading list and picked it up. It was just okay for me. It's a "pitch-dark fairy tale" and it was just a little too dark and a little too strange for me to really get into it.
I've liked other books by Forman, but this was not for me. I appreciate what she was trying to do here, but holy moly with all that teenage drama. She's tackling mental illness, suicide, race, and homophobia and, well, it's just too many dramatic teenagers for me.
I enjoyed this one. It's a good second generation immigration story about an Indian-American Muslim teen preparing for college and trying to figure out who she wants to be. There is part of her that wants to please her parents, marry a "suitable" Muslim boy and stay close to home. But part of her longs to pursue her dreams of film school in New York City and date the boy she's had a crush on since grade school. It's very much a "teenager" book, but well done.
While I wouldn't recommend all of Dessen's books for actual teenagers, I think she's a really fun chick-lit writer for grownups. I listened to this one on audio and loved it. Louna is the daughter of a famous wedding planner, but while she's happy to help with the wedding business, her past has made her more than a little wary of romance. But it's a Sarah Dessen book, so there is, of course, a fun and sweet romance in store for her. A light, fun read - great on audio.
Adult Non fiction
I loved this one. I wrote more about it here.
I've loved everything she's ever written and this one did not disappoint. I wrote more about it here.
I really enjoyed this one. It was a fascinating, eye-opening look into one of America's rural sub cultures. I don't agree with all of the conclusions Vance comes to - some of it felt a little condescending and I think the author doesn't take a broad enough view in some of his sociological comparisons. Overall, however, I thought this was a fantastic read and it gave me a lot to think about.
I LOVED this book! I really really LOVED it. I loved the prominent role nature played in the book. I loved the writing. I loved the adventure. I adored the characters. I enjoyed the structure. A 5 star book for me! Set at the end of the 19th century in wild Alaska, this book follows Colonel Allen Forrester who has been commissioned to navigate the dangerous Wolverine River in Alaska, and his wife who has been left behind. The story is told through letters, journal entries, newspaper articles, and even photographs. It's a captivating story, and a beautifully written atmospheric historical novel. It's my favorite fiction book I've read so far this year.
In my defense, I read this one on the beach. And it's not really very good, but I can't say that stopped me from enjoying it. A royal love story, why yes, yes I will.
I liked this one. It had a very Gatsby-ish feel to me. It opens with the real life Air France Flight 007 crash and then takes a set of fictional characters through the aftermath during the 1960's Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, Georgia. Good writing, compelling story, and very human characters. A great read.
I love anything and everything about the Romanovs so I had to read this. It's historical fiction about the woman who claimed to be the long lost Anastasia Romanov. Of course, we know now that Anastasia did in fact die at the same time as the rest of the Romanov family, but I've always loved that the mystery of her death lasted so long. Even knowing the truth, I still want to believe that she could have survived. It was really fun to read even a fictional account of how and why someone would pretend to be Anastasia and get away with it for so long. The writing was only so-so to me, but the story is top notch.
This was so much better than I expected it to be. Once I realized it was a dysfunctional family type story (and I heard it compared to The Nest, which I despised) I didn't have high hopes. But the story kept pushing me forward until I realized I was actually enjoying myself. And then, I was completely satisfied with the ending. The story follows two women and two men who work closely together in a string quartet and function like family to each other. It's about their relationships and how they evolve over time. But it's not depressing like The Nest. In fact, it's hopeful and redeeming, even with all their flaws and missteps. I loved it and I loved the way the music was a sort of secondary character of its own in the book. Pleasantly surprised by this one + such a pretty cover!
A clever, twisty murder mystery that I quite enjoyed.
An odd and humorous murder mystery set in Sicily with a quirky old lady detective. Fun!
I'm always going to read the hot new book that's getting all the hype. I can't help myself. This one was just okay for me though. I love a book set in Alaska, but this is one of those book where every dramatic and terrible thing that could possibly happen will happen and it drove me crazy.
Another solid murder mystery from Jane Harper. I liked the first one better, but this one is good too. I'm for sure going to read her next one.
I loved this one! I don't know why I'm on such a murder mystery kick right now, but this is one of the best in the genre that I've read so far. It's set in 1920's Bombay, which had me intrigued from the get-go, and it follows Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in India. Apparently this is only #1 for Perveen Mistry and I can't wait for more in this series. If you like a good old-fashioned style murder mystery, I most highly recommend this one.
This is the second book in the Elemental Blessings series, a fantastic fantasy series. I've loved every Sharon Shinn book I've ever read and this was just as good as I hoped it would be. The series takes place in the land of Welce and follows five royal families, with all the intrigue and deceptions that you'd expect in a royal court, with magical powers thrown in. I really enjoy these books.
I liked this book, but I listened on audio and it was hard to follow along. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read a physical copy. It's a mystery that takes place in Bulgaria, which was a fascinating backdrop for the story. If you enjoyed The Historian, you'll probably enjoy this one too.
For some reason, I can't read Sophie Kinsella books but I can listen to them on audio. When I read them, they just feel too silly. But when I listen, they're fun like a good romantic comedy movie/sitcom. This one was really fun to listen to and I found myself laughing out loud as I folded laundry, washed dishes, and pulled weeds in the garden. In the book, Lara is being haunted by the ghost of her recently deceased great aunt Sophie, a twenties girl and a bossy one at that. It's all the cheesy romance and crazy antics you'd expect in a Kinsella, but it sure was fun to listen to.
This debut was an okay read for me. I liked the premise, two female friends who grew up in impoverished and rural India are separated by terrible circumstances. The book, told in alternating stories, follows their lives after the tragedy. I liked the story, but it did feel a little heavy handed and it was one of those books that was just bad thing after bad thing after bad thing.
I read this after I saw the movie trailer because I thought the premise sounded fun - boy takes girl back home to Singapore to meet his family but doesn't mention first that they are crazy rich. It was an okay read. I think it's one of those that I'd enjoy more as a fun movie. Also, a lot of language in this book so consider yourself warned.
My children's pediatrician recommended this one to me and I'm never going to pass up a personal book recommendation. I listened to it on audio and it was really fun! I think if I'd tried to read the hard copy, it might have been a little too cheesy for me, but it was perfect on audio - a romantic adventure and I didn't even guess any of the twists before they happened. It's romance + survival adventure story and it has a lot of heart. I heard it was made into a movie and I'm looking forward to watching it.
Tell me, what have you been reading lately? I'm always looking for more good books to read!