Saturday, June 2, 2018

May 2018 Reads

I'm a little late in getting last month's reading recap up!  A holiday weekend, a birthday, and the upcoming Neat & Tangled release have had me swamped, but better late than never right?  Here are all the books and my thoughts:

Checked - Cynthia Kadohata - juvenile fiction - five stars - This was an Ellie find.  If you don't know we're a hockey family and both our girls play ice hockey.  Ellie found this book at Barnes & Noble and we had borrow it from the library immediately.  Such a good book!  It's about a boy named Conor who's obsessed with hockey, he's trying to make the AAA team.  He and his father ( his mother died suddenly when he was young) don't have much, all their extra money goes into hockey.  Besides hockey, the most important thing in Conor's life is his dog Sinbad.  Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, and they have to make some tough financial choices.  Even if you don't love hockey this one is great.  I love how Conor has to make difficult decisions, how he works to save some money, how he and his dad change up his conditioning and training to compensate for money they are saving on special lessons.  It's about priorities, sacrifice, and working hard.

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War - P.W. Singer and August Cole - fiction - five stars - OK, this book basically scared the crap out of me.  I will say that it could be way better.  The strength for me was in the premise and how the war started and China basically takes over.  The middle was pretty good.  I thought it was interesting how the Americans countered the Chinese with a type of guerrilla warfare, but I thought the way it was wrapped up was a little too unbelievable.  Still, for me, the whole scenario made it five stars.

Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi - historical fiction - five stars - Outstanding book.  A Roots/Michener like epic tale beginning in Africa when tribes were working with the Europeans to supply tribal enemies to the Europeans as slaves.  It follows a dual lineage, one sister who is sold to the Europeans and is taken to America, and the other who remains in Africa and whose family line continues there.  So much sorrow and sadness, but also strength and resilience in the stories.  A must read.

The Hypnotist's Love Story - Liane Moriarty - fiction - three stars - I usually love Moriarty's books.  I love her characters - however flawed - they make me laugh and like them.  Unfortunately this is the first book where I just was annoyed by the characters.  The main character is a hypnotist who is introduced to a new guy, they hit it off, but it turns out he has a stalker, an ex-girlfriend who just can't get over him.  Turns out the hypnotist may know the stalker as well.  I just couldn't find that common ground with the characters, and as as a result the book fell a little flat for me.  It's was OK, but just OK.

Rules of Civility - Amor Towles - fiction - four stars - I absolutely loved Towles' book A Gentleman in Moscow, and have had this book on my to read list since then.  This is a story told as a flashback of the narrator, Katey Kontent's, relationship with Tinker Grey a well to do banker, in 1937.  It's a really interesting story line with lots of intersecting characters and relationships that are woven together.  It was really good, the ending petered out a bit.  Not as good as Gentleman in Moscow, but still a really compelling read. 

The Fox Hunt: A Refugee's Memoir of Coming to America - Mohamed Al Samawi - memoir - five stars - An amazing story of hope and survival.  It's when I read books like these I realize I know so little of the world.  I of course know of Yemen, but not much about it.  Al Samawi is from Yemen, he is disabled and was raised in strong muslim family, I wouldn't consider his family fundamental, but certainly strongly conservative.  Through an acquaintance, he begins to question some of the tenets he has been raised to believe, to explore other beliefs and connect with Jews and Christians.  He has to do this carefully, but he is found out and begins to receive death threats.  This all happens as a civil war is raging in Yemen.  It's then that an international collection of acquaintances works together to get him evacuated from Yemen. 

The Music Shop - Rachel Joyce - fiction - four stars - This is another book where I read a previous book by the author (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of  Harold Fry), and wanted to make sure I read some more.  A man named Frank owns a music store that sells only vinyl.  He has the gift of being able to find the perfect music for each of his customers.  One day a woman faints just outside his store.  This is their love story. I wasn't crazy about how the story unfolded...the ultimate conclusion was OK, but I just don't like it when characters are stupid.  Still I really enjoyed this one.

Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy - Helene Stapinski - history - five stars - Helene Stapinski has grown up listening to stories of her great, great, grandmother Vita who came to America after being involved in a murder in Italy.  She worries that murder/crime might be a family trait based on the exploits of other family members, so she heads to Italy to find the murder and uncover the story of what actually happened.  It is kind of amazing the documentation that is available even from the 1870s, and that family history/lore lives on even hundreds of years later. 

Another really good month of reading.  I'm currently reading Red Sparrow, and on tap Amy Tan's Where the Past Beings, The Invention of Wings, and The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse.  So what did you guys read last month?

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