Saturday, August 15, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit 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.

Lots of good stuff to share this month! Most of my reading has been on audiobook recently because I haven't had a lot of time to sit down and read. Gregory and I got through a fair amount of children's audiobooks during his bottle feedings :)

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare: Glad I gave this a chance, as this was definitely an improvement over City of Bones. The writing still isn't great, but I found the plot well crafted and the twists well done. Be aware that the descriptions are quite gruesome at times, what with violence and blood and other unpleasant things.

The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy: It took me too long to read this slim classic. What makes this book good is a combination of its realistic depictions and its message about the value of life. You may find certain passages embarrassingly relatable, despite its 1886 publication. I wouldn't say it's a favorite, but it's worth a read.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: This suspenseful thriller didn't quite captivate me to the extent that The Moonstone did, but it was still excellent. Having both the good and bad characters be exceedingly clever meant that the outcome was perpetually in suspense as they foiled each other's plans left and right. Certainly the story requires a healthy amount of suspension of disbelief with the number of coincidences that come into play, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg: This was a fun reread and held up as an adult read. I love the way that the kids, particularly Claudia, strategize every detail of their running away, and how they make a routine for themselves in the museum. I enjoy the mystery aspect of it that brings in a little bit of history, and Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a fantastic character and narrator.

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal: In general, I found the book useful, even if some of the research wasn't described correctly or brought up at a logical time. She illustrates how willpower comes into play whenever we have to choose "the harder thing" and provides specific exercises to try, but also emphasizes that as long as you try something and pay attention to the results, you'll eventually make progress on your personal "willpower challenge." Worth a read.

The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam: My book club didn't know this was a sequel when it was chosen, and I've heard the original was much better. This one could have benefited from stronger editing, something that I think happens too often with sequels to a popular or prize-winning book.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas: Lived up to the hype. An incredibly compelling read that strongly reminded me of Gone Girl, particularly in how you don't know whether the narrator is actually reliable. I had a strong suspicion about the ending, but it didn't ruin the book for me — it made it more enjoyable to see the clues that were leading to it along the way.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: Didn't click for me the way it clearly has for many. This middle-grade "novel in verse" that is also a memoir sacrificed too many of her life details to the simplified format. And in keeping the reader so focused in the present moment, she chose to forgo her own adult reflections on her childhood, which kept it at a level overly simplistic for my taste.

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective and Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch by Donald J. Sobol: I enjoyed revisiting these childhood favorites in a back-to-back audiobook. Some of the logical leaps are too large for me as an adult, but as a way for kids to learn to "spot the clue," these are fairly well written. Be aware that these were written in the '60s and often the differences between kids are settled via fistfight.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan: This is a sweet children's classic about the making of a family, when the narrator's widowed father sends away for a new bride. It's not necessarily the greatest book about creating a stepfamily — it glosses over most things — but it is a good book for discussing homesickness and how you can miss the place you come from while also being happy with the people around you.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt: This was a great (if overly long) coming-of-age story about a boy adjusting to a new town during the 1968-69 school year. There's a lot of skillful "showing not telling" in the writing, and I liked how the narrator uses Audubon's drawings as a framework for describing and interpreting the world around him.

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

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