Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Reviews. Six of Them, To Be Precise.

Books!  Let's talk about books today.  Or rather, I'll talk about books and you'll read maybe halfway through this post and get bored.  Terrific plan.

The following is another drive-by review of some of the books I've read over the past few months.  I'm not going to talk much about synopses or anything, but each title will be a link so you can read more about it if you're so inclined.  You can find a way to thank me later for not talking about all the books I've read over this long, loooong winter.  As always, I do accept cookies as currency.

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberol and Agnete Friis

Several professional reviews of this book refer to this as a "page-turner" and "get ready to put your life on hold" sort of book.  For me, I would read four or five pages, then have to put it down and walk away for awhile because this book was mega, mega stressful for me.  I read the first thirty pages a few months ago, then decided I did not need this book in my life.  When it was then handed to me as last month's book club selection I literally groaned out loud.  To be clear, it's well-written, with an interesting, twisty plot and relatively sympathetic protagonists, but if you have small children, like children in general, or spend any time whatsoever with children, it may be difficult to read.  

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Delightful YA fiction.  Sucked me right in, couldn't put it down, quick read.  Loved, loved, loved the characters.  Perfect reprieve after something like The Boy in the Suitcase.  Winner of the Newbery Honor Award.

I Am Malala:  The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

Adelaide begged to read this book, but as it's listed under adult nonfiction, I wanted to read it first to check its content.  Now I'm hoping our daughter does get all the way through it, so she can gain some perspective as to what life is like on the other side of the world, how fortunate she is for something we take for granted- education for girls- and how to have a positive (but not necessarily in a squishy, Pollyanna-ish way) attitude even when all seems lost and someone shoots you in the face.  This was an incredibly inspiring and encouraging read, and I can't help but admire Malala and her family enormously.

Unglued:  Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa Terkeurst

I've had a few women rave to me about this book (It's so great!  I absolutely loved it!  I can't wait for you to read it!), and several more who were more, "Meh.  It was okay."  I'm solidly in the "meh" camp on this one.  She spells out some solid strategies on how to keep your cool when all you really want to do is lose it, but she does it in a way that I've come to think of as very soundbite-y.  I know she's a public speaker of some kind, and I couldn't help but think she's probably way better at verbal speaking engagements than she is at writing.  Phrases like " do I shift from having an attitude to walking in gratitude" had me rolling my eyes (this lady loves herself some rhymes, let me tell you what), but I did like the bit where she mentioned that she and her husband simply call out, "Remember who you are" to their children rather than listing a litany of reminders: Be kind, be honest, be polite, mind your manners, etc, etc.  I'm guessing this book really spoke to certain women who found it very timely to where they are in their lives, but... I just wasn't one of them.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

This book- a simple, young adult love story- has two of the most likeable (fictional) teenagers I may have ever come across.  Bella and Edward, they are not.  While this is a heartstring-yanker of a book, I did wonder a bit about its placement as Young Adult fiction, just because of some of the circumstances Eleanor- a high schooler with a pretty bleak home life- finds herself in.  There is nothing crass about it, and it is absolutely the kind of thing that, sadly, happens in real life, but it also isn't something I'd want a middle schooler reading.  I suppose I'd classify it as a "proceed-with-caution, younger YA readers" kind of novel.

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

First of all, this book is no joke: at 700+ pages long, you are making a commitment when you dive in.  When I (finally) finished the last page, my thoughts were:  FINALLY and Destined to become a classic and FINALLY and I need to read that every ten years to see how it changes for me as I (hopefully) gain a little more wisdom.  There are really, really long books that I want to be long, just so that I can enjoy a beloved story for as long as absolutely possible.  To be honest, this was not really one of those.  It felt long, even if it was an awe-inspiring piece of writing.  I recommend it if you're up for a challenge and some deep thinking.

You know what?  I forgot I said I'd break this up into a series of posts.  What a splendid idea.  It's nice to know I do have those every once in a while, even if I promptly forget them.  I'll try to come back and post some more books tomorrow.


  1. Books like "The Boy in the Suitcase" are the reason I cannot belong to a book club. I say that based entirely on your description because I will never read it. I thank you for warning me away from it.

    Whenever I hear Malala speak (on the radio) I am impressed. I would like to read her book. I'm adding it to my (long) list of books I intend to read.

  2. Fun, fun, I love book posts! Unfortunately, however, they make me want to add to my never-ending list of books I'd like to read. You're the second person I've heard speak highly of "I Am Malala". Your description of Winter's Tale made me think of DH Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers" I recently finished. 600+ pages I thought I would NEVER get through! :) But it was good and thought-provoking.


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