Monday, March 14, 2016

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 stellar reads this month, and a wide variety of genres! There's probably a recommendation in here for just about anyone.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: I had mixed feelings about this book. It had a page-turner of a plot, and it was nice to see a YA novel that wasn't about white kids in the suburbs for once. I had a hard time understanding any of the characters' feelings or motivations, though, and the novel makes a weird plot turn near the end that completely changes the message of the book. It's not a bad book, but I didn't connect to it the way I'd hoped.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin: I'm not a big fan of sci-fi generally, and my first impression was that there was too much to keep track of, but once I got my head around everything the story started to come together and I really enjoyed it. There's great world-building and a good balance between expository detail and narrative action, and the characters' dilemmas felt real to me.

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene: I didn't read these books as a kid, and without the nostalgia factor I found this pretty weak. Although it's a "mystery," Nancy Drew doesn't really solve anything; she just does the legwork of going to talk to people and then following up on the conveniently specific things they tell her. The characters are pretty one-dimensional and stereotypical. It's not bad for a kids' adventure story, but I won't be seeking out any more Nancy Drew books.

Song Yet Sung by James McBride: This was disappointing. In a book that should be packed with suspense and action — runaway slaves, kidnapping, knife and gun fights — the majority of the book is just people standing around having long conversations. And when there is fighting, characters who very logically should use the opportunity to run away just stand there and watch. McBride also implies via the main character and her "visions" that black people have wasted their freedom from slavery by getting fat, joining gangs, and making violent rap music, which I found problematic to say the least.

Mink River by Brian Doyle: This novel of life in a coastal Oregon town breaks a lot of conventions about structure, language, and plot development, but Doyle does this very intentionally and, I think, well. This isn't a book I'd rush to recommend to everyone, but if you're looking for a slow, immersive read with memorable characters and a beautiful setting, pick this one up.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: I'm glad I gave this a chance after so many people said it didn't "live up to the hype," because it still quite a good book. I couldn't always relate to the characters' decisions (infidelity, deception, manipulation), but the pacing was good and the use of cliff-hangers and changing narrators made it suspenseful throughout.

Watchmen by Alan Moore: A graphic novel about superheroes is definitely not my usual fare, but I enjoyed it, and it's no wonder it's a classic in this genre. Set against a backdrop of the Cold War, it raises important questions about good and evil, power, how we justify our own actions, and how those in power make the decision to sacrifice the lives of others for (what they perceive to be) a greater good.

Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?: Letters to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers: This little book is going in my collection of favorite parenting books to reread. It's not a parenting book per se, but I learned a lot in seeing how Mister Rogers responded to the wide variety of letters he received over the years and reading some of his commentary on those responses. This is definitely worth picking up, whether you're a parent or not. Many of Mister Rogers' life lessons apply no matter how old you are.

Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: There was a lot I liked about this book, even if it dragged at times and I couldn't always relate to the main character's decisions. The ending was strong and emotionally powerful. I would say it's worth a read, especially if you like books about family relationships or about not fitting in, or you're just looking for a book that might make you cry.

Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions by Rachel Held Evans: I've been a fan of Rachel Held Evans for a long time and finally picked up her first book. (She's published three.) While it's definitely not as polished and organized as some of her later writing, it's still a good read and I highlighted a ton of passages. She talks about making room for doubt and questions in her faith after growing up thinking Christians had to have all the answers or else lose their faith in God.

George by Alex Gino: I found this story of a transgender girl in elementary school heartwarming and very well done. The conflicts are realistic without being too heavy, and the ending is optimistic without being naïvely so. I enjoyed the read and would happily share the book with my kids.

The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book by Timothy Beal: Beal shows how publishers are reinventing the Bible in new formats that give people more of what they think they want from the Bible — clear answers. He then takes us back through the long and complicated history of how the books of the Bible came to be put together the way that they are now. Although he doesn't ultimately tell you what you should "do" with the Bible, Beal provides a new framework for accepting the Bible as it is while still seeing it a rich resource of faith.

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

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Thanks for supporting A Cocoon of Books!

No comments:

Post a Comment