It’s book time! Four 5 Star books in a single month. That’s got to be a record for me. Page turners, tears, deep emotional connections. They have them all. I can’t wait to give you all of my recommendations!
The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Rating: 3.5 Stars
If you remember last month, I finished the second book in The Remnant Chronicles series and highly recommended it. I thought the grand finale in the series was a bit disappointing. Still worth reading the trilogy, but this book seemed bogged down with all the political stuff and had very little interesting interaction between the main characters. A lot of emotion was pushed aside to fight for their territories. Which some people love reading about, but I much prefer the inter-character development to be first and foremost in every story.
Come Back to Me by Mila Gray
Rating: 2.5 Stars
I had a hard time reading this book because I felt so certain I’ve read it before. I realized later that it had a very similar storyline to Karen Kingsbury’s Ever After/Even Now books, which used to be some of my favorites. Anyway, that’s probably not a valid reason to rate a book 2.5 stars – one of the lowest ratings I ever give a book that I actually finish. But it just felt so familiar in a frustrating way. Forbidden romance, tragedy in war, a lot of messed up emotional responses. It wasn’t really for me.
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a book about a series of characters that find their way into circus life during WWII. While circus set stories are something I usually tend to avoid, it was interesting to read about how they managed to continue performing in the midst of so much tragedy. The main characters are a former Nazi’s wife who was divorced and sent away because she was Jewish, a young woman who was disowned by her parents when she had her soldier’s born baby taken away right after birth, and another baby that was taken off a train car filled with mostly dead babies on their way to work camps. The only thing that really bothered me about this book was its title. Who was the orphan? Probably only the baby – and the story really wasn’t about him. If I realized this book was about the circus I probably never would have picked it up. But it was definitely another eye opening account of lives set in WWII Europe that I never would have considered until reading this book.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I’ve heard this book recommended on numerous podcasts in the last few months. It’s also a book that Greg read and really liked. We don’t often have the same taste in books, but since it kept coming up, I decided to give it a chance. I do have to say it took me about a full week to read this. It felt SO LONG. The first 20% of the book (thanks, Kindle for the number) was setting up the story. If you can get through that, the rest of the book is much more exciting. It’s about our future world that has become so destitute that just about everybody lives most of their lives in a virtual reality universe. The book was very heavily focused on 80’s nostalgia and video games, which I had no interest in. But the premise was unique and kept my interest to the end.
Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a story about the after effects of two families when their parents have an affair. The daughter of the man and the son of the woman meet under random circumstances and instantly have a connection. The boy soon realizes who the girl is, but she is left clueless for most of the book. There is a whole lot of emotion packed into this book and how it feels to be betrayed by those you love the most. People pick up the pieces in different ways and choose to be bitter or choose to forgive. This is definitely one of my favored YA books that I had a hard time putting down. It’s a little on the serious side, but it was good.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Rating: 2.5 Stars
I never, ever would have picked up this book on my own. But I received it in a book exchange I did a few months ago and felt like I should give it a chance. It’s basically a memoir of a woman who suffered for twenty years from a mysterious illness that left her completely bedridden and unable to do almost anything on her own. A friend brought her a snail that she found out in the woods and the author learned to come to terms with her own existence and contribution to the world by spending her days watching the snail beside her bed. While the book was beautifully written and mildly intriguing, it is still just basically about the life of a snail. I don’t feel any richer for have read it, though I do know a whole lot more about snails!
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Rating: 3 Stars
I bought this book for Caden soon after we got Annie. It’s about a boy and the connection he has to his fox, and I thought Caden might appreciate the similarities between him and his new dog. But he read two pages and said he didn’t like it. So I read it myself! Meant for ages 8-12, it was still a full length book, but had some beautiful pictures thrown in the middle. Each chapter goes back and forth between the boy’s and the fox’s point of view. It was an interesting read. Slightly boring at times. But it had a very bittersweet and appropriate ending. If you or your child is into more introspective books, this might be a good one.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Rating: 5 Stars
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. But I kept seeing it every time I went into bookstores – in the YA section, of course. I kind of assumed it was about a carnival, which is much like a circus, and I already said I’m not interested in those. But it wasn’t. This was kind of a dystopian/fantasy type story. Two poorly mistreated sisters sneak away from their father with a handsome sailor and join in the magical game called Caraval. I admit the background information was a bit confusing. It was constantly repeated that Caraval was magical, but also it was just a performance. But if you don’t focus on all of that, the actual story and character interactions were truly wonderful. I love the connection that was made between Scarlett and Julian, the sailor. The only disappointment was getting to the end and realizing that there will be a second book coming. I try not to read books with sequels until they’re both out. I hate waiting!
If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock
Rating: 5 Stars
I hate waiting, but I did for this one! Though I was extremely upset to get to the end and find out that the story still isn’t over! Anyway, this is the sequel to a book called If I Run. Both books were fabulous. It’s the story of a woman who is wrongly accused of murdering her best friend. She is on the run while trying to find ways to prove her innocence and show that the dirty cops working on her case were also the ones to stage her father’s suicide many years before. The main character, Casey, distantly teems up with the private investigator who was hired to find her, but believes in her innocence. What I love most about these two books is that despite being one of America’s most wanted, Casey is constantly finding ways to reach out and help other people. In the first book she rescues a girl who was kidnapped. In the second book she stops a man from committing suicide and helps a young girl who is forcefully being abused by her parents’ drug dealer. There’s a lot going on, but I love Casey’s clear cut purpose in always doing what is right and fighting injustice. I can’t wait for the third (and hopefully final) chapter in this series.
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Rating: 5 Stars
The situational premise of this book is that a girl gives her best friend a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday and he wins. Previously very down on his luck with a history of family financial woes, Teddy’s life drastically changes with a sudden 55 million dollars in his possession. Emotionally, this book is about Alice, a girl who lost both of her parents at a young age and despite growing up with a loving aunt, uncle, and cousin, continues to feel lost and alone on many levels. Despite not being an orphan or having any experience with coming into piles of money, this book really resonated with me. There were a lot of tears watching Alice learn to deal with change and truly learn to accept the love around her and let people deeper into her life. While Teddy definitely isn’t my favorite male lead in a book, I enjoyed watching the two of them grow and change throughout the story. I highly recommend this one!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Greg LOVES the first movie, so of course we had to see the second one right when it came out. We went on a Friday morning, which was fun. I really liked this movie – more than the first. It was so funny! Chris Pratt is just the best.
Just another movie I’ve kind of wanted to see and finally got around to watching. It kind of bothered me how they just immediately jumped into the tragedy without much happening ahead of time. I guess it was a bit entertaining, but not that great.
TV – Alone
I’ve been avoiding watching this Good Wife spin off because I figured it was just the same show, except with Diane instead of Alicia. And I always hated Diane. But really, this show was so good! Definitely worth the watch, even if you’ve never seen The Good Wife.
I finally caught up with the latest season. Young & Hungry is so ridiculous, you guys. But it never fails to make me laugh out loud either. The main character Gabby is so obnoxious, there are way too many fat jokes, and the on again off again romance between Gabby and Josh feels like it will continue on FOREVER. But it’s still funny. And cute. Good for when you need something lighthearted.
I think I heard this is the last season of Last Man. It’s okay. I continue watching, but it definitely lost a lot of its earlier charm.
Still love it! Still recommend it. The newest season is especially good. I love Wednesdays when I can watch the newest episode from the night before.
I’m not sure if this one has been renewed, but I’m okay if it wasn’t. It finally ended with everybody being happy. I’d like to imagine that’s it, no more insane drama.
It’s getting old, guys. But…it’s there. I need these sitcoms in the middle of the more serious shows I watch.
While I’m still bitter about Michael’s death, I am enjoying this season a lot more than I expected.
TV – Together
Master of None is SO good. I really hated Aziz Ansari for such a long time because of his character Tom on Parks & Rec. But on this show his character is so much deeper, and yet still deeply hilarious. Each episode is like a random slice of Dev’s life. Which I feel makes it really unique, but also slightly frustrating when they act like we should just know who everybody is, when there’s no introduction of them. But overall – I love this show. A lot.
Watched the finale at the beginning of the month. I’m not going to stop recommending this one. I LOVE IT.
This season really seemed to drag, but in one of the final episodes when Barry’s memory was taken away and he was suddenly happy and carefree – it was so funny. I hope the show somehow gets back to its humorous side. That’s the reason I’ve always liked this superhero show best.
While Arrow is not my favorite, I did really like this season’s nemesis.
I think I maybe liked this show less with every episode. But still thought it was worth watching. I’m interested to see where they go with it next season.
Still funny. Still makes me laugh so much. Such a good show!
And that’s it! It was a busy month. What have you read or watched?!