May 30, 2021

My Book Corner, a Month in Review

This is new to me, talking about the books I've read. I've always been a voracious reader, excluding the years when toddlers and exhaustion monopolized every hour of my day. Once the kids were in school and I had time to actually sit on my own sofa, I rediscovered the adventure of reading.

About six years ago, I realized that I was bringing home books I had already read, but didn't realize it until I was tucked in and reading them. Not a good thing when books are bought at a used book store far from home. So I started keeping a book log. Then I started writing reviews of each book so I could remember the highlights in case I ever wanted to discuss it with anyone. No one ever did. After that, I added a vocabulary list and a want-to-read list. Later, I added genre, publication date, and number of pages read so I could see if there was a pattern to the type of books I liked most. And all that combined to be a book journal that is now with me every time I leave the house, because you never know when you are going to pass by somewhere to get more books.

I already posted this on my sewing blog, but I'm going to post it again here for my friends who do not check that blog. It's a pen holder for my book journal. In the past, I just hooked a pen onto the spiral binder of my journal, but I often lost pens that way, and I never did find a way to carry little post it notes so I can mark vocabulary words or quotes when I am reading somewhere that I can't write in my journal. This is the first one, made to fit this particular journal. A comment on my sewing blog called it a book buddy, and I really like the sound of that, so Book Buddy it is. Normally, the book buddy is on the outside of the front cover, but when writing, I like it on the inside.

I decided this would be a great gift for all the ladies in my book club because it's cheap and easy to make as well as handy. There were just a couple of problems: two elastics are a little bothersome when putting it on, and it won't fit just any size book or journal. So I came up with plan B, still cheap and easy to make, but this one will fit on any book.

Now onto the books I've finished this week, and this month. I don't know about you, but I always have at least three books going at the same time. One that is highly recommended but a new author to me, one an author I already love, and one that is completely unknown but I thought would stretch my comfort zone. Kind of like a mom telling her children to at least try brocolli before eating their entree and then moving on to dessert.

Books this week, starting with my favorite:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T J Klune. I've only started reading fantasy fiction lately and oddly enough, it appeals to me. Odd, because I am usually so practical and the first to read something in a book and say 'that can't possibly happen' but in a book that makes it clear from the beginning that they are in a very different world, it is possible. Maybe we all need a chance to be in a different world right now. It was a great escape and had a poignant message. I loved the symbolism (prejudice and acceptance, bullies and friendships, brow-beaten and confident), the descriptions, and the attitudes of the characters. Of course, I will say right now, that children, no matter what kind of children, are not going to get along as well as these, so there is my 'that can't possibly happen' observation for this book. I loved it except for one thing: the profanity and sexual overtones of the adult characters who are supposed to be role models for the children. 5 star.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. This is the Jojo Moyes I like best: funny, sweet, romantic, and not very sad. It is a well-written, lovely, and enjoyable book which also has a subtle message about truth and honesty and it would have been my favorite of the week except that it is predictable. At no point in the clashes between the characters did I ever think it would turn out differently than it did. It is the story of a rich, but troubled man who is thrust into the life of a desperate young working mom and her two children and enormous dog and against his better judgement, he agreed to take them across country to a math competition. Along the way, the two adults bickered and then began to fall in love. For some reason, I kept seeing Hugh Grant as the man. Maybe because part of the storyline reminded me of About a Boy. Again, I'm disappointed that the author let the adults use profanity in front of children and expose their sexual relationship to their children. 5 star.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. I really disliked the writing style of this book. The author wrote briefly about something that happened years ago and then moved to the present, then back to something else that happened years ago, then back to the present. So brief that several chapters that were only a half page. But most annoying were the witness interviews. That's where my 'that wouldn't happen' hackles were most raised. At about page 160, the author finally quit that style of writing and it became more interesting. Not great, but better. If this hadn't been a book for book club, I would have rejected the book after page 50. 3 star.

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. This book started out with a strong storyline, civil war in Spain, a girl who was a starving goat herder taken in by not one, but two, rich families, and the two sons of the second family and how they deal with the war. The hardships that everyone, even the rich families, endure is told in detail so that it feels very real. Then, the author begins to tell the history and politics of the war, and that is very dry reading. There isn't much dialog and I think that makes the characters two dimensional. I never connected to any of them. It's still an interesting story, one that I had never heard about in World History class, but more like a history lesson than novel. 3 star.

The rest of the books I read in May:

Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton. This author and this series is easy reading, enjoyable, and just the right thing to read before turning out the light. 5 star.

Zero Day by David Baldacci. As long as he has been around, I have never read his books. I thought I knew what kind of books he wrote, but I was wrong. He had a choppy way of writing that bothered me at first, but then I really started enjoying the book. 4 star.

Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos by Donna Andrews. Another cozy mystery and one with a lively sense of humor, which is exactly what I need at this time in my life. 5 star.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I tried to read this book once before but just couldn't get into it. This time I finished it. I have loved some of Mitch Albom's books but this was not one of them. Maybe it was the sad tone or the message, but it just didn't resonate with me. 2 star.

Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon by Donna Andrews. Ditto what I said about Donna Andrews above. 5 star.

We'll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews. 5 star.

The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher. This is an Amish romance and I think one in a series. Like so many Christian authors, this is written with a very simple vocabulary and while there is nothing wrong with that, it always seems like I am reading a book meant for junior high girls. 3 star.

I've decided that my attitude and mental state make a big difference in the way I feel about a book. Right now, I need to escape from reality and be entertained. By fall, I may need psychological thrillers.

All the books I've read this year and in the past six years are in a Reading List Page on the tabs at the top of the page.

In the spirit of trying something new, I am linking to this blog for the first time: