It’s book time! I read a lot this month! Or at least it felt like I was reaching for books a lot more often. And that was on top of it being a crazy busy month and me getting back to work at more regular pace. But reading is one of my top priorities of every day and I will always make time for it! One of my latest habits is having a book I’m really interested in waiting for me in almost every room of my house. Most of the books I’m loving at the moment I haven’t yet finished because I only read a chapter every few days. But they’ll be coming!
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Rating: 4 stars
Richard is a world renowned pianist who is diagnosed with ALS and declines rapidly. Karina is his ex-wife, also a pianist, who hates him for the life he put her through. With no other affordable options, Karina ends up taking care of Richard as his health very quickly deteriorates. This book is basically an extremely in depth look at how it feels to have ALS. And honestly, it was terrifying. I knew very little of the disease before reading this, and now I hope I never, ever have to experience this in any way first hand. It sounds absolutely horrible. The book was very well written in the sense that I wanted to keep reading to know what would happen. But you never got a very personal sense of either character which bothered me. I picked this book up because I had heard it was a great love story. And it is about love – but not romantic love. You should know that before going in! Overall, a devastating book, but I think one really worth reading.
Grin & Beard It by Penny Reid
Rating: 3 stars
This is the second in the Winston Brothers series. While I greatly enjoyed the first book, I wasn’t as interested in this one. Jethro, the oldest Winston brother, has been living the straight and narrow life for five years to try and make up for his teenage rebellion and all the hurt he caused people. Sienna is a movie star shooting in Tennessee for a few months. They fall for each other before Jethro knows who Sienna is. Their story is fairly cliche, and a little bit boring. But I love the cast of characters and look forward to reading the rest of the series. I’m especially excited to read the third book – Cletus’ story. He’s been my favorite brother by far!
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Rating: 3.5 stars
I chose this as my BOTM subscription pick this month because I was intrigued by the premise – a woman who falls in love with her physical therapist after surviving a plane crash that her fiance was responsible for. I thought it would be fun to read a book about someone recovering from an injury, since I can relate, at least a bit. I have to admit that it took me awhile to really get into the story, but I quite enjoyed it by the end. I love that Margaret was paralyzed and covered in third degree burns, but she almost never let it get her down. She stayed positive and she ended up changing her life for the better. I found the book to be really inspirational. The romance part of the book could have been a lot more involved and interesting (I would definitely not classify this as a “romance novel” as it’s billed), but it was worth it just to watch Margaret’s post plane crash emotional journey.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Rating: 5* stars
This is the first nonfiction book I actually finished in a really long time. I loved it! It is simply a compilation of some of the best of Cheryl Strayed’s letters and answers from her column called Dear Sugar. Every single letter and reply was so interesting! Cheryl had so much wisdom and amazing answers to every question. Her writing style and ability to relate in some way a story from her past to every question posed continued to amaze me. I feel like this is a book that everyone should read. It’ll make you think and question many of your beliefs. It’s really pretty great! My only complaint is that this book has one of the ugliest covers I have ever seen! As someone who really falls for a beautiful cover, it was hard to spend money on this one. But it was a great read, so I will forgive whoever made that terrible cover choice!
Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi
Rating: 3.5 stars
My rating on this book is based mostly on the fact that I had ZERO recollection of the first three books in this series that I read four years ago. I kept expecting something to jog my memory. I even read multiple summaries online, yet went the entire book with nothing. And I gave the first three books all five stars! Anyway, I guess the book was enjoyable, but it felt like it was lacking a lot of context I desperately needed to understand the emotional depth of all the characters. Granted a series isn’t required to give backstory (and it’s often annoying when too much time is spent on it), but it’s been many years since the last installment, so I feel like more should have been given. It was also confusing because a few characters went by multiple names, which of course I didn’t remember either. It felt like kind of a filler novel and I expect the next (and maybe final?) book in the series to be a lot more exciting. This one had quite the cliffhanger which finally left me wanting to read more. If you haven’t read this series at all, I think you’ll greatly enjoy it (at least my past self loved them!). But maybe wait until the fifth book comes out and read them all in a row!
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
Rating: 3.5 stars
This was another verrrry slow burn romance novel by Mariana Zapata. Obviously this is her writing style, but it drives me a little bit crazy how a quick conversation between two characters can go on FOREVER because there are so many extra thoughts that need to be written out between dialog. It just really bogs down the flow of the story. This book is 672 pages, people. Six HUNDRED and seventy-two. You could cut out half the book and still have a really good story. Anyway, pet peeves aside, especially since I keep reading her books, I enjoyed this one. Vanessa is the personal assistant of the famous football star Aiden Graves. After two years of working for him, she gains the courage to quit and begin her own graphic design business. But Aiden wants her back. They negotiate an agreement where they marry in order for him to stay in America. Their friendship grows over many, many, many pages. I was a bit bored at times. But I think it was worth it in the end. You just need to have a whole lot of patience!
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
Rating: 3.5 stars
I think this is one of the most rated books on amazon. I got it as my kindle first pick whenever it first came out, almost a year ago. I tried to read it multiple times and it just felt too serious for me at each sitting. I eventually decided I really better finish it up, trying to understand the hype and before the movie adaptation comes out. I think what people most like about the book is that it’s based upon the heroism of a real Italian teenager who risked his life to be a Nazi spy. The story was definitely intriguing. Pino’s story was inspirational and harrowing. But the book as a whole was very sad and felt relatively slow to me. It’s also very long. I’m glad I read it, but I did not finish it thinking it was one of the best books I’ve ever read. Kind of how I’ve felt about most of the books I read this month!
Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Rating: 5 stars
This is the first book I read in a single day in quite some time and I loved it! I wish I had realized a lot sooner that the book revolves around my favorite thing – the main characters falling for each other through anonymous emails while simultaneously interacting in real life and not knowing who the other is. The main difference being this is about two teenage boys who know they are gay and struggle with when or how to come out. Through their emails they form an amazing bond. There is a bit of conflict, but I really like how overall chill Simon is about everything. He was an extremely likeable character and I was giddy with joy to find out who his mysterious Blue was. It was a fun and sweet YA romance that I think most people would enjoy!
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Rating: 2.5 stars
I was wildly disappointed in this second Creekwood installment. After just reading and loving Simon, I expected to get a lot of joy out of Leah’s story as well. But I just couldn’t do it. Leah was such an unlikeable character! I didn’t like her as a side character in Simon’s story and I really didn’t like her as the heroine of her own story. I felt like she had no redeeming qualities. She was full of angst and anger and always taking it out and being mean to other people. And yet everyone loves her? I didn’t get it. It took me five times longer to read this book. The story was fine, and I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority with my opinion. I found it a little too odd that Leah just happened to be bi and that she just happened to be madly/angrily in love with another member of their group who eventually maybe likes her back? What are the odds? I guess I should be happy it had a cute ending, but it just felt a little too neat and tidy. Especially for a character I really did not like.
And that’s it for May! Let me know what you’re reading and loving!