The Mothers

I finished The Mothers by Brit Bennett on New Years Eve, but had to wait to do a post because it was also someone’s Christmas gift (oops), and I had to send it to them.

I heard all of the hype about The Mothers on all kinds of podcasts and book recommendation lists over the past year. I completely understand why! It has been a long time since I devoured a book like this. I loved Nadia. She’s not perfect, she has regrets, but she also keeps moving forward.

Nadia is struggling with her mother’s suicide and her relationships. She is angry. She falls for the pastor’s son, and Nadia finds herself in a situation where she has to make decisions on her own, and without support. This decision stays with her and impacts her decisions for years.

I loved the gossipy group of the church Mothers who narrate this book like a Greek Chorus. Pick this one up if you haven’t yet!

 

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Hag-Seed

I finished my first book of 2018 this morning! I started it in November, but finished today. My Goodreads goal of 55 books was a little ambitions for 2017 – I hit some major reading slumps last year. For 2018, I’m setting a goal of 45 books. Still ambitious, but leaves room for me to change some habits and keep reading.

Today, I finished Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. Atwood has been my favorite writer since I read the Handmaid’s Tale in college. Hag-Seed is Atwood’s retelling of The Tempest (which I have not read, but know the plot of). I loved the way this book was structured. The sort chapters kept my attention, and allowed me to read a chapter, even if I only had a few minutes to spare.

The main character, Felix, loses his job right as he is about to conduct a performance of The Tempest. While most assumes he disappears with his tail between his legs, he allows his anger to simmer into revenge. It takes him years to set the stage to gain his revenge, but he is patient and determined. Felix finally gets to direct The Tempest, through a theatre course for prisoners. Along the way he never loses sight of his goal.

Cheers to all of the reading 2018 will bring!

The Doll Funeral

I recently finished The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer. I won this book in a giveaway, which was really exciting (and I took a killer Instagram photo with the cover).

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I liked this book. For some reason it took me a long time to get through it, but I was able to pick it right back up whenever I decided to open it. The main character in the book is a girl named Ruby who lives with her parents – a father who physically and emotionally abuses her, and a mother who cannot intervene. Ruby recently learned that she is adopted, and is determined to find her real family.

You quickly learn that Ruby sees things that others around her cannot see. This escape helps her to find the motivation to keep going, even when the road to finding her parents is tough. Because she can see things others can’t, it keeps you wondering if characters are real, and I found this unreliable component kept me engaged in the story.

There were a few pieces of this story that I didn’t like, but they were overshadowed by what I did enjoy.

Happy reading!

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Hello, blog world.

Life, man. I’ve been busy (If I had a dollar for every time I wrote that phrase…). But, in truth, I have not felt like reading. At all. I have liked the books I have picked up, but at the end of the day, I have no motivation to actually dive into a book. So, I’ve been forcing myself to do a little reading most nights, and feel like I may be getting back into the swing. Hopefully. I genuinely have no reason to NOT be reading, but I have been choosing to go to bed early instead. Alright, enough, let’s talk books.

I finished Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty about two weeks ago. I started it in Philadelphia while on a work trip, continued it in Ann Arbor on another work trip, and finished it in my bed at home. I first heard about this book from a student who I work with. He was taking a literature course exploring death in literature, and would regularly read outside of my office. So, we had a little routine where I (rudely) interrupted, interrogated, and added items to my reading list.

So, when a wonderful person who I work with offered to loan me this book, I jumped. I was reading another book at the time, but had no motivation, so I thought this could be a kick in the pants.

I am obsessed with this book, and was having flashbacks to reading Stiff by Mary Roach. Both approach death with a curiosity and a light humor. I had no previous knowledge about cremation, and learned a lot. I learned that living in North America makes it extremely unlikely that I will ever see a body that is actually decomposing. I learned that, in a society who focuses so much on youth, we sure do not handle the dying well. And, ultimately, I learned that after I die I do not want my body embalmed, and want a green burial. My grandfather is donating his body to Michigan State University – another option to me.

I highly recommend this book if you do not know much about cremation (warning: the baby chapter is a little tough). It certainly helped me narrow down what I want to have happen after I am gone. If you read this, let me know, I’d love to talk about it!

 

PSA – Doughty recently released another book. Check it out here. 

 

The Reader

My final vacation read was The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. I saw the movie a very long time ago, so I knew the general plot, but it had been so long that I could not remember all the details. That was okay with me, though, because I devoured this book. This book is about a young man who gets sick on his way home from school and is saved by a woman who is twice his age. Once better, he goes to thank her, and they start to have an affair until Hanna disappears. Years later the boy sees Hanna again and learns she is even more mysterious than he thought she was as he learns of crimes she’s been accused of.

This book is just lovely. It’s well-written, the translation is great, it’s engaging, and it reads quickly. Everyone should take half of a day to read this one!

Happy reading.

Love Her Madly

I’m still blogging about my vacation reads from one month ago! I need to get these done and get reading!

Lover Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee is about two girls who quickly become best friends in college. They are drastically different – Cyn introduces Glo to a world of drugs and care-free living, and Cyn accepts Glo as she is. They fall for the same guy, and the situation explodes while they are on a trip together in Costa Rica. After one night of partying Cyn disappears.

I had mixed feelings about this book. Working in Higher Education, I always have an interested in fiction set on campus or about relationships between college students – it’s exciting to watch them grow, figure out who they are, and learn about others around them. However, I did not like Cyn. I found her manipulative and extremely frustrating. I also found parts of the story over the top and unrealistic. However, I really liked the writing and Cyn didn’t annoy me enough to put the book down (probably because I was waiting for Glo to get rid of her!), and once the mystery of Cyn’s disappearance picked up, I was hooked.

Happy Reading!

Still Mine

My next vacation read that I need to feature is Still Mine by Amy Stuart. First of all, I really liked her writing! I thought this book had lovely prose, and I was engaged with the book. This book is about Clare, a woman who is moonlighting as a photographer in a small mining town in the mountains. You quickly learn that Clare is there to investigate the disappearance of a woman who is her age. She finds many similarities between the two. Clare herself has disappeared from her home, and knows that when someone disappears, it can mean a whole lot of things. Through the book Clare immerses herself in the roughest parts of this small and crumbling community to try to solve this mystery and sort through the life she just left behind.

This book was easy to read in that it held my attention, and had a great pace. That combined with the writing style made the perfect read through one of the rainy vacation days. Still Mine was not the most fast-paced-twisty mystery novel I have ever read, but it was certainly enjoyable and I look forward to the sequel!

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