Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 2018 in Books

Sisters First:  Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life - by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush - Memoir - five stars - I can't imagine being a President's kid let alone a President's grandchild.  Jenna and Barbara take turns writing on different topics/events, and it's just such an interesting read.  To see a President from a different perspective, to hear what it was like growing up under the microscope, to hear about what they have done since that time, it was a fascinating read and I really enjoyed it.

Lion - by Saroo Brierley - Memoir - four stars - This book has been made into a movie, and it's on my list of movies to watch, but I figured I would read the book first.  Saroo is a poor child in India who accidentally gets on a train and is taken far, far, away from home.  He eventually finds his way to an orphanage where they attempt to find his family, but he has traveled so far and doesn't know where he lived before and so is adopted out of the country to a family in Australia.  He still has very vivid memories of home and family and much later, after college, he attempts to and does find his birth family.  Kind of an amazing story.  I rated it a four solely based on the writing style.  This guy is definitely not a writer so it was a bit stilted for me, there were questions I would have liked answered and some areas where I didn't think the detail was warranted, but overall a great story.

Beartown - by Fredrik Backman - fiction - five stars - Just a wow book.  This is the third book I've read by Backman and I feel like they are all so different.  About a town in Sweden that is dying.  There's not much to live for, except hockey.  It gives folks hope, and purpose, and to those associated with it stature.  From the very first page in the book you know something terrible is going to happen, and the book goes on to show how it came to be.  This book is hard, it deals with friendship, with consequences, with motives, with doing what is right, but also with grace and forgiveness and healing.  So worth the read.  This was my favorite from this month.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - by Patrick Phaedra - fiction - four stars - I liked this one a lot.  It's about Arthur whose wife died a year ago.  While cleaning out her things he finds an old charm bracelet he's never seen.  It leads him to investigate where the charms came from and he finds out about the rich life his wife led before he married her.  It also reignites his desire to live, he connects with some neighbors and reconnects with his children.  An easy read and a sweet book.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - by Gail Honeyman - fiction - five stars - I had a hard time getting into this one, but in the end I really enjoyed it.  Eleanor has a very difficult past, you don't find out how difficult until the end of the book, but it has affected her mentally, socially, and physically.  She lives an awkward regimented life, but then meets the new IT guy at work, Raymond, and through that acquaintance many others.  Her eyes are opened to the possibilities in life, both for her and for what she can offer to others.  Sad, and funny, and hopeful.

Lenin, Hitler, and Me - by Boris J. Kochanowsky - Memoir - four stars - This is another one where the writing itself detracted a bit from the story, but another fascinating life.  Boris was born in Siberia (not the work camp/labor camp Siberia, but a large, bustling city in lower Siberia) where his parents were well off.  Following the revolution/war, his family's land/properties were seized and they fell on hard times.  Boris was able to escape through Manchuria/Asia and ended up in Germany where he went to school.  He because an expert in mining, but then needed to flee during WWII.  Eventually he was able to make his way to the US after first emigrating to South America.  Resourceful and positive when so much was going wrong, he defied the odds and was able to thrive in each circumstance he found himself in.

Turtles All the Way Down - by John Green - Young Adult - three stars - I was really disappointed by this one.  I just expected a lot more based on all the hype over this book.  It's about a girl named Aza who struggles with mental illness/depression/anxiety, it's difficult to tell exactly what it is, in addition to just being a teenager and dealing with all that kind of thing.  She's got a good friend, and she gets sucked into the mystery of the disappearance of an old friend's father who is wanted (there's a reward involved).  I enjoyed the story, the examination of friendship, but it dragged for me.  I was just not into how angsty it was in places and random diversions and endless discussion over Star Wars fan fiction (who knew there was such a thing?).  I found myself skimming long passages where it just got too teeny for me.

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories (Wonder #1.5, 1.6, 1.7) - by R.J. Palacio - juvenile fiction - five stars - I loved Wonder, and so I have been wanting to read this one for a while.  This is three more stories from different characters in the Wonder story.  What I really loved about the original book is the different perspectives that you had on the same events, and this is no different.  I was especially touched by Julian's story.  He's the 'bad guy' in the original book, and yeah, he definitely was not good, but I loved how you could see what drove him here, and how he got to where he was.  What I love about these stories is how it helps kids empathize and see different points of view, it's a great way to discuss difficult situations with kids and how your actions/reactions affect others.

Spy Camp (Spy School #2) - by Stuart Gibbs - Juvenile Fiction - four stars - This is the second book in the Spy School series.  Ellie and I read the first one when it was one of her Battle Books.  It's a cute premise - boy gets recruited to attend a school for aspiring spies.  In this book school is out, but not actually as all the recruits attend summer school which is actually Spy Camp.  Ben, the main character, is still being recruited by a terrorist organization called SPYDER and they come after him at camp.  He needs to elude SPYDER, rescue friends, and thwart a terrorist attack.  Fast and fun read and a great series for boys.

What did you read this month?  Anything to recommend?

1 comment:

  1. This is a fun place with a two-faced appeal. The top floor is for all that sass and oomph. It was super packed, but we just wanted to check the event space out. Loved the solid selection of quality craft beers.