Monday, December 15, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit (formerly known as Twitterature) to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khalid Hosseini: A reread that was just as good the second time around. Much less dark than his other books, while still providing unflinching portrayals of real life.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown: Meticulously, sickeningly detailed account of how the United States lied to and betrayed American Indians over and over and over again. The repetition of tactics wore on me after a while and almost made me desensitized, but I still think it's worth a read, particularly for white Americans.

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold: One of the better sci-fi/fantasy books I've read, though still not my preferred genre. The characters were well written, and I liked having a badass female character as the protagonist. I didn't like it enough to want to read the rest of the series, but it reminded me that I do like some books in this genre.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King: A quick, if not particularly easy, read with a conversational style. Whereas Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was a historical account, King primarily tackles North Americans' present-day relationships to native peoples. Informative, funny, and brutally honest. Highly recommended.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: I'd heard mixed reviews of this, but I ended up absolutely loving it. Moriarty refuses to provide easy answers about how our lives end up the way they do, but she still gave me a push to re-examine my own life goals and priorities. Really well done.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman: Good story, not great writing. Provided some interesting historical background about Chinese immigration to America, but suffered from plot holes and a weak writing style, plus some weird xenophobic aspects. Not bad, not great.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork: A solid, enjoyable story of two teenagers grappling with questions of death, life, race, revenge, and family. Reminded me a bit of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, minus the LGBTQ themes.

Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach Between the Church and the LGBT Community by Kathy Baldock: One of the better books I've read that tackles the intersection between Christianity and the LGBTQ community. She chooses breadth over depth, so it's not going to answer every question, but it would be a fantastic read for someone who's just never thought about this much before and wants an overview. Includes many different angles, ranging from historical terminology to psychological research to Scriptural interpretation to personal testimonies.

We Are Water by Wally Lamb: My book club hated this. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't one of the better books I've read this year. The writing itself, on a sentence level, was excellent and kept me hooked, but I had some issues with many of the choices Lamb made both in plot and in character development.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See: A fairly brutal depiction of communist China under Chairman Mao, as seen through American eyes. What kept me engaged were the characters and their development over time, but some of the descriptions of starvation and brutality were hard to take. Recommended if you like historical fiction and can take its less-than-pleasant aspects.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: It was slow getting into this, but I ended up really enjoying it. Smith does a nice job capturing the small moments that make up the experience of growing up, while set against a backdrop of life in poverty. She doesn't shy away from nor romanticize the realities of poverty, and the story is better for that.

Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel: Not my kind of book. Did not like the over-the-top magical realism, the one-dimensional characters, the tired love triangle, or the implication that it's OK for someone to rape you if you really love them. I also had a hard time following the jumps in time, and I didn't care about any of the recipes.

What have you been reading this month? Share over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

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  1. Anne @ I need some inspirationDecember 15, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    You are the third Quick Lit post today to mention A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Pretty sure I thought that was a "boy book" when I was a kid. I put it on my list. Thanks! :)

  2. Interesting that multiple people are reading it lately! The protagonist is female, but I think it would be a good book to read and discuss for anyone in school. Enjoy!

  3. I haven't yet read Hosseini's book; I liked his first 2 very much, so I must get to this one in the new year. I'm also very interested in reading The Inconvenient Indian. Canadian Native issues have been on my mind/heart lately.

    I admire you for completing We Are Water. I LOVED Lamb's other books (I also saw him at the Festival of Faith & Writing in 2010 and he was such a good speaker & lovely person) -- but I abandoned the book after about 50 pages. It just seemed like a big dumping of back story and I didn't like it at all.

  4. And the Mountains Echoed is my favorite of Hosseini's books, and I liked his others. I think you'll love it.

    I definitely recommend The Inconvenient Indian. It was a fairly quick read for the heavy subject matter, due to the light tone of the author.

    I'm not averse to abandoning books, but it takes a lot for me to abandon a book club read. In fact, I'm not sure I ever have... possibly to my detriment.