Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately - The First 2015 Edition!

I haven't written about books in so long! It's been killing me. But I've been reading a lot...because winter. Here's some quick thoughts - let me know if you think I'm crazy or not!

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Haley and I did a whole podcast talking about this book (as well as Gaudy Night) so if you've heard it already you know I like it. I typically don't read fantasy and while this book felt like it took a while to drag me in, once I was part of the world I was hooked and enjoyed the over 1000 pages! The characters are memorable and the author does a fantastic job creating an alternate history of England that includes magicians. I also enjoyed the interplay between the humorous and some terrifying scenes of evil. I would recommend this to anyone who doesn't hate 1000 pages of just one book, and anyone who likes Jane Austen or magic in books.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

I loved The Rosie Project so much that I was willing to take a flyer on the sequel, but even my low expectations were disappointed by this follow up. Everything that made the first book original and sweet and charming was made repetitive, frustrating, and grating. The book could have be saved by a good editor and a complete rewrite of Rosie's character. We all wanted them to fall in love, but seeing Rosie become completely undeserving and behave so badly while watching Don try so hard and fail so often was unfairly cruel to devoted readers. I also really didn't appreciate some insulting bits about parenthood thrown in. Avoid like the plague if you enjoyed the first!

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

I would say that overall this was a decent chick-lit read. The story of two sisters healing their relationship in the midst of cancer and romance was engaging but imperfect, but I liked most of it to enjoy it on the whole. I feel like being overly critical of a chick lit read is almost unfair, so I'm just going to stop here. If you're looking for a nice, easy read this one is worth it.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

So sometimes I wonder why I read books written by celebrities. I read this book mostly because I really love Amy Poehler and thought it would be Bossypants-esque. But unfortunately this book feels like it was written simply because she already got a boatload of money. Her stories don't really cover the important parts of her life in a complete way and it just wasn't that funny. I for sure don't want to read a celebrity's book for her wisdom about life so any pontificating chapters were fairly frustrating.

The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor

It's been a while since I read this novel so I thought it was time to go back. I cried so much. For Tarwater, for Rayber, for Bishop. It's such a stark novel but her words are so perfectly written that emotion catches you off guard and that is something that I've found no one can do as well as Flannery. Like I wrote the other day I think I should stick with reading Flannery during the summer months where everything doesn't seem quite so depressing, but everyone should read Flannery, this book is no exception but the proof for that rule!

I'm so happy to join Jessica again this week for What We're Reading Wednesday, and I'm going to cheat a little to join Jenna with 5 Faves!

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  1. Between the podcast chat about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and this, it is definitely on my reading list for this spring! I just need a week off work to do it...

  2. Amen to your thoughts on Yes Please. I was excited to read it because I loved Bossypants and thought it would be similar, and I was SO disappointed.

  3. Ugh, I felt the same way about Yes Please. I'm a big Parks and Rec fan so some of that redeemed it for me, but I frequently was like, "Yo, Amy Poehler, you are not that wise."

    I'm a spoilerphobe so I didn't listen to your episode about Gaudy Night and JS&MN but your recommendation to Haley did inspire me to finally read the Lord Peter series this year. I am on the third and they are an absolute delight so thanks for that!

  4. I have just recently started getting into Flannery O'Connor, and will have to add your recommendation to my Amazon wish list. Thanks for sharing your picks!

  5. Thanks for the reviews; 3 were of books I was considering and one I hadn't heard of but will keep an eye out for now.

  6. That's not cheating - it's in a group of 5 ;)

    I already vowed not to read The Rosie Effect. Loved the first one, but I haven't heard a single good thing about the sequel. Life is short. Put down bad books.

  7. If I've never, ever read Flannery (and I am very skeptical that I'll like her) which ONE book should I start with???

  8. Oh thanks! I've been waiting for your reading updates!

  9. I LOVED the podcast you and Haley wrote on books! And can I say I'm exactly like you! For the longest time I have read about 30 minutes before going to bed, I look forward to it and I agree it is a great way to unwind:)

  10. I have had a "2015 reading goals" post in my drafts for weeks and this post just may be what I need to inspire me to finish it! I'm so intrigued by a book that would appeal to Jane Austen fans AND fans of magic in books... I may have to pick that one up. ;) I have been reading some of the Fr. Dowling murder mysteries lately. I feel a little ashamed even admitting that here, where you are reading much higher quality literature but they are excellent and easy reads nonetheless.

  11. I really appreciated your book recommendations--please keep it up! You and Haley actually inspired me after I heard the podcast you did on books. I am such a reader at heart, but I tend to feel like I'm wasting time if I read something for fun (rather than a parenting book or spiritual reading)!


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