What I Read | JANUARY 2018

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 4.35.38 PM

The Queen’s Thief Series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves) by Megan Whalen Turner

This is my go-to comfort series, and I reread them when two of my friends in Greece decided to read them as well.  We literally had parties where we talked about the books for hours and fell all over ourselves squealing about Eugenides’ perfection.  They are children’s adventure stories with a political backstory that becomes increasingly important throughout the series, and seriously.  Eugenides is the embodiment of my Ideal Fictional Hero and I cannot even hold it together any time he does anything.

51IpIExqbQL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Pegasus by Robin McKinley

This is an unfortunately cut-off first book in a series that I assume is leading to a human/pegasus romance that I…was super into??  McKinley’s ability to create lush fantastical and creative worlds is very evident here, and I’m really disappointed that there seems to be little possibility of a sequel, just as the political aspect of things were heating up!  I wanna know if humans and pegasi can coexist when led by representatives of their species that can speak telepathically!

6a016760e4a142970b01676103f988970bThe Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart

This was one of my favorite childhood movies, so I was curious how the novel that inspired the Disney movie held up.  While mostly similar in plot, Stewart’s novel feels more grownup, to the point that I believed a devastating plot twist that fortunately turned even twistier.  A perfect book for those of you who like murder mysteries set on Greek isles!

516RKT4NIAL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr

The final conclusion that Rohr reaches “Everything is holy” feels incredibly satisfying and encouraging after a deep dive into the relationship of the Trinity (both amongst themselves and with humans) and how that informs all of life.

2337457The Art of Crossing Cultures by Craig Storti

I read this as I was flying back from Greece, and it was incredibly validating to see my cultural experiences laid out on the page before me.  It helped me to see what I did well and what I did poorly while trying to adapt to a foreign culture, and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone considering living in a country not their own.

a328d7c9caf2857e082fe981af6df5b8Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

I read this because *ahem* it was a significant plot point in the amazing television show Black Sails, and I’m glad I did.  It’s a bit like the book of Proverbs, and there were quite a few bits of wisdom that I really took to heart, including this one:  “But to get back up when you fail, to celebrate behaving like a human – however imperfectly – and fully embrace the pursuit that you’ve embarked on.”

31207017Love Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Half teenage romance, half social commentary, I didn’t like this book as much as I should have.  Everything felt a little too perfect, and I couldn’t help wanting a bit more grittiness in a novel about hate acts and terrorist attacks.  But it’s a fun quick read, and well worth a day’s read.

 

Advertisements

What I Read | SEPTEMBER 2017

 

Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

and

Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

I loved the documentaries by the same name, so it was fun to read about Ewan and Charley’s motorcycle travel adventures from their perspective.  Although it covers the same ground as the films, there were some fun extra scenes and interior thoughts.  These books only confirmed that 1) yes, I do love Ewan McGregor very, very much, and 2) it would be amazingly fun to travel across Asia or Africa with a best friend and film crew.

22934446

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

A memoir of a life so incredible (and sad) that it confirms the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction,” I loved this book despite being largely unfamiliar with Cumming’s work.  He’s a fantastic writer, and he tells an intentionally small story surrounding a month of his life in which massive family mysteries were brought to light.  A great read for fans of his or not, because you probably will be by the end.

SONY DSC

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

I really loved the beginning of Don Quixote with the descriptions of our protagonist going mad from reading too many books and inserting himself into a fantasy world of his own making.  It was uncomfortably delightful to read of the misadventures in which he makes things worse by trying to be chivalrous, and after 150 pages I was a bit tired.  Are all 1,000 pages more of the same, or does a plot develop?  Help me out and let me know if I’m missing out by stopping early.

34099546

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

I devoured this book!  It is a story in reverse, starting with a girl hiding out in a Mexican resort, gradually taking steps back in time to reveal what she did to necessitate escaping from the law.  It is a really fun mystery (what did she do rather than who did it), and I just feel so blessed to be living in an age in which fictional teenage girls can be murderous psychopaths.

81ofDPF3rfL

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

This book is about a middle-aged woman exploring her sexuality, and I was super impressed by how…nice it is?  What I mean is, a bunch of people do a bunch of things, some questionable, some lovely, some awful, and these actions are always separated from the value of these characters.  Mrs. Fletcher might think or do things that make herself (and us) cringe, but we’re never meant to think that she’s a bad person because of them.  Lots of gender and sexuality stuff too!  This book was literally made for me.

download

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Despite a very direct title, reading this book is like watching Titanic thinking, “I hope they avoid the iceberg this time!”  Because they do die at the end.  And it sucks, because we’ve just spent a novel getting to know our two protagonists.  But the story is worth it, both because it’s an uplifting “if you knew this were your last day, how would that change the way you live your life?” query, and because it’s a cool sci-fi think piece on how society would change if people were notified of their death on their last day.  Not a fun book, but a very good one.

51g3PhJBgeL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

It’s another romance/travel memoir, though this very much leans into individual growth more than romantic love.  I wasn’t surprised to discover the pair split after this book, because I was honestly surprised they lasted throughout their two years sailing around the South Pacific.  Not that that’s a bad thing!  Torre and Ivan are a great example of why dating someone very different from you is a great way to push you beyond your comfort zone into new experiences…just don’t expect a happily-ever-after at the end of it.  Still, my main takeaway was:  I want to go sailing around the South Pacific, NOW.

51qiSnm2q1L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

Written incredibly well in only emails and texts, this is a book about two college freshmen staying friends despite a long distance separation, exploring their sexuality with varying levels of success, and figuring out what they want to do with their lives.  It’s surprisingly deep for also being very witty and compulsively readable.

What I Read | September 2016

This month I filled by brain with murder mysteries, musical histories, travel anecdotes, high fantasy, and (auto)biographies of YouTubers and female saints.  Real on-brand, if my brand is “EVERYTHING,” which it is.


unknownHamilton the Revolution
by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

THE HAMILTOME.  My mom brought this to me, and it only confirms that LMM is a literal genius.  The background information about how the Broadway musical came into existence makes the show even more impressive (how is that possible), and Lin’s notes throughout the lyrics highlight his intelligence, attention to detail, and humor.  I’m forever grateful to know that he thought of the Hamilton/Burr rivalry as something akin to Harry/Draco.

51e6cmjvnlStrong Poison
by Dorothy Sayers

This little murder mystery was gifted to me by a friend who knew I love witty romances, and it totally scratched that itch!  I did, however, accidentally solve the mystery within ten pages, so the actual plot part was not very exciting.  But Lord Peter Wimsey and his too-good-to-be-true feminist feelings for Harriet Vane?  I swooned all over their conversations.

crazy-rich-asiansCrazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan

“I’m getting kind of tired of hundreds of pages of ‘They are SO RICH, check out this thing they own,’” I said to a friend.  “Tricia,” she responded, “Look at the title, you should not be surprised.”  Despite the almost comical portrayal of sickening wealth, I liked its message that all the money in the world will not solve your problems.  Not an original concept, but I’m considering reading the sequel, so some part of me must have loved peeking into the lives of the fantastical Singapore elite.

unknown4Modern Lovers
by Emma Straub

I got this book because I THOUGHT Straub wrote a different book that I enjoyed.  She did not, which is why it turns out I did not super love Modern Lovers.  It’s not bad or anything, but the full extent of my notes on it read: “Eh – interesting but not memorable.”

original-imageThe Road to Little Dribbling
by Bill Bryson

I love Bryson’s travel books, and this one commemorating the 20th anniversary of his Notes From a Small Island seemed like a good investment.  Unfortunately, this time I found his wanderings around Great Britain to be wildly unpredictable – occasionally great, but too often boring.  There’s only so often I can read about an old man being gently annoyed by the state of the society today.

unknown3A Contemplative Biography of Julian of Norwich
by Amy Frykholm

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of all things shall be well,” is one of my favorite quotes, so I was interested to read this the-best-we-can-do-with-limited-information biography about Julian of Norwich.  It was very helpful to read about just how difficult it was for a woman to study the Bible centuries ago, let alone to have the freedom to write about her spiritual experiences and offer theological doctrines.  I adore Julian’s message of God’s love and am intrigued by her mysticism, so well, I should probably read her actual book, Revelations of Divine Love, now.  Whoops.

unknown2Assassin’s Apprentice
by Robin Hobb

A friend of mine fell in love with Hobb’s universe and suggested I start at the beginning.  I’m glad I knew there was obsessive potential up ahead, because the first half of this book wasn’t enthralling.  By the end, though, I was totally hooked, and I’m eager to see what political disasters Fitz diverts with the help of a little assassination and mind-melding.

it-gets-worse-9781501132841_hrIt Gets Worse
by Shane Dawson

I love Dawson’s brand, whether on YouTube, his podcast, or in his books.  He a furiously controversial figure, and he delights in crucifying himself…but running through the deliberately shocking humor is a wide vein of authenticity, vulnerability, and hope.  He’s a mess, and he’s writing to people who know that they too are a mess, and somewhere in that I find a lot of beauty.  Do many people call Shane Dawson’s work beautiful?  They should!

The Diamond Caper by Peter Mayle

414C6HpwNgL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I have no idea how this book wound up in my library queue; it’s unlike everything I read, but I thought it was so much fun!  It’s supposed to be a diamond heist mystery, and that definitely happens, but that is the least important part of the story.

What matters is a bunch of rich people drinking their way through house parties while describing incredible views and delicious food with a dry wit.  I didn’t know I could be so entertained by 200 pages of privilege, but I totally was!  I want to buy a house in Nice, make friends who send me cases of champagne, and solve diamond heists in my downtime.

I would be interested to read more of Mayle’s books, because…I cannot stress enough how inconsequential the mystery of this story was.  I wonder if the rest of his mysteries are more socialites mingling than mysteries solved.  If so….I want to read them!

Book Jacket

Bon vivant and expert sleuth Sam Levitt and his partner in love and intrigue, Elena Morales, return in the latest installment of the delightfully sun-splashed Provencal Caper series.

When a Riviera socialite’s diamonds are stolen-the latest in a string of seemingly unconnected but ever-more-audacious jewelry heists across France-Elena flies in to investigate the insurance claim.  It’s a trip she’s more than happy to make, as it gives her a chance to meet up with old friends in Marseille-and, particularly, with Sam.

Once reunited, Sam isn’t particularly distracted by domestic matters.  In the pattern of these “perfect crimes” he’s beginning to see a master at work, and he’s quickly determined to connect and solve the cases.  But as he and Elena dig deeper, they begin to realize just how much is connected and how dangerous it may be to pursue the whole truth.

Meanwhile, there’s a house to renovate, a rose to share, and feasts of Provencal summer bounty to enjoy.  Full of Peter Mayle’s inimitable wit and style, The Diamond Caper is sure to charm faithful fans and new readers alike.

Release Date:  October 2015

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

I loved this book!  I would have been content to read about the little backwoods town of Tupelo Landing and all its delightfully odd characters from Mo’s pitch-perfect sixth-grade Southern perspective.  But Turnage included hurricanes, murders, crushes, and car crashes on top of an already excellent story.  The result is one of the best middle grade books I’ve ever read.

I think I was most impressed by how Turnage stepped into a very stereotyped situation (both the small-town Southern setting and the middle grade characters) and infused them with unique and surprising qualities.  Mo could quite easily overpower her best friend Dale–she is bold where he is scared–but Dale turns out to be smarter and braver than expected when it matters.  Small town life could have been idolized, and while it’s certainly charming, there is also a genuinely distressing subplot about domestic violence.

I adored this book, and I can’t imagine anyone not feeling the same.  Read it!

91ckGqkZXFLBook Jacket

Meet Miss Moses Lobeau–rising sixth grader, natural born detective, borderline straight-A student, and goddess of free enterprise.  Mo washed ashore in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina eleven years ago during one of the meanest hurricanes in history, and she’s been making waves ever since.

Mo’s summer is looking good.  She’ll take karate with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III (whose daddy believes in naming for the famous), and plot against her sworn enemy, Anna Celeste (aka Attila).  She’ll help out at the cafe run by the Colonel and Miss Lana, and continue her lifelong search for her Upstream Mother.

But when the cafe’s crankiest customer turns up dead and a city-slick lawman shows up asking questions, Mo’s summer takes an unexpected turn.  With another hurricane bearing down on Tupelo Landing, Mo and Dale set out to save those they loves and solve a mystery of epic proportion.

Release Date:  May 2012

Netflix Rec: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

I don’t know if I should call Miss Fisher a female Sherlock Holmes or instead compare her to an Agatha Christie sleuth.  To be honest, neither comparison does her justice!  I put this show in my Netflix queue ages ago, and on a whim decided to give it a try before deleting it.  It was love at first scene!  Continue reading

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

By the time books arrive at my library after months of sitting in my request queue, I usually forget how I heard of it in the first place.  Such was the case with Unbecoming, and the cover didn’t grab my attention.  I very nearly decided to return it unread, but I decided to give the first page a cursory look.  The very first sentence grabbed my attention, and by the end of the first chapter, I knew I was going to read the whole thing.

The first lie Grace had told Hanna was her name.

Unbecoming is an excellent example of one of my favorite tropes:  the unreliable narrator.  Grace shares what she wants to share, and as the reader, I had no idea how much of the information presented was truth, fibs, omissions, or outright lies.  I loved it!  The suspense was heightened even more by alternating sections that described her present life in Paris or her past in Tennessee.  Halfway through the book, I was dying to know what had happened in the past as well as what would happen to her in the future.  The double mystery made the book twice as interesting.

I don’t want to say too much, because I want people to experience the book as I did:  totally unprepared.  The characters are rich, the themes fascinating, and the plot fantastic.  What more do you need?  Read it now!  (Or click through to read the book jacket, which does do a great job of setting up the story.) Continue reading