Monday, June 1, 2020

May 2020 Book Review

I read 8 books in May! I'm at 42 for the year, right on track for my goal of 100 this year, yay!

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart - I am counting this toward my goal this year because I read every single word to Trent, and it was 400 pages ha. He loved it, I thought it was cute/okay. I think kids from 7 or 8 above would like it - Drew listened sometimes and would definitely get intrigued. It's about 3 children who are part of a 'mysterious' society who are helping Mr. Benedict solve a mystery.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep - This book is nonfiction and follows a serial killer in 1970s Alabama that intrigued Harper Lee who tried to write a book about it. The premise was REALLY interesting, I just didn't love the way the author put the story together. She broke it into 3rds with the first part being about the murderer and the killings - I found this part really interesting. The second part was about the lawyer who defended the man who killed the murderer in the first part - it was okay, and the third part was about Harper Lee and more about her overall life with just a little about trying to write this book {which she obviously never did}. I thought it came off as disjointed and didn't fit together, and I found the part about Harper Lee to be very slow since it had so little to do with the rest of the book. I think it could have been really awesome and it started off that way. This was our book club book for May, and we had a zoom book club, and the few of us who actually did read the book felt the same way. Bummer.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai - Rhiannon has created her own dating app and is interested in buying a competing 'old fashioned' dating site, BUT the man she has to interact the same guy who ghosted her after an amazing first date, and he also happens to be a former pro-football player. Sounds like a typical chick lit story, right? Well, it wasn't! There were several threads throughout the story - like concussions in football and harassment and race - that made it a much deeper read. At times, it did have some cheese to it {which you guys know I love}, but it was a really great story.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver - This was a sliding doors type story, but it had a little twist. Lydia's fiance, Freddie, dies on her birthday. Months later and she is not any better, so her mother asks her to get help, and she ends up with sleeping pills. When she takes the pills and goes to sleep, she wakes up in a world where Freddie didn't die. She is trying to move forward in her waking life, but that's hard to do when she can see Freddie every time she goes to sleep. I thought this was a unique take on this type of story line, and I really enjoyed it. I thought the way Lydia's character evolved seemed really authentic, and I thought the way the author resolved the 2 timelines was good. What I found funniest through the whole book was I didn't actually like Freddie, and I wasn't sure if the author meant for him to come off as a schmuck or if I just felt that way? So if someone else reads this, PLEASE tell me ha.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Wow, can this man tell a story! Hiram is a slave, and his father is his owner. We follow his journey as he grows up - he has no memory of his mother who was sold off years ago, and he almost drowns as an adult. After he drowns, he decides he must escape the bonds of slavery. His journey is riveting, and I learned so much. Obviously this was fiction and obviously our history of slavery isn't, so I thought it was a valuable book but also such a beautifully written story. A must read!

Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate - Well, get your tissues ready. These are the real-life stories of orphans who survived Georgia Tann. I read Before We Were Yours a few years back and loved the story and was equally appalled with what I learned about The Tennessee Children's Home Society - it was SO heartbreaking to find out THOUSANDS of children were used as commodities by this evil woman. After that book came out, numerous people who were adopted through TCHS contacted Lisa Wingate and this book came from that. There are heartbreaking stories and also stories of love and hope, and it was such a great book.

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena - No one can understand why Karen was in the 'bad' part of town recklessly driving. Neither can Karen because she has amnesia. As Karen recovers and her husband tries to piece together what happened, Karen also starts to notice things that are off in the house - enough so that she thinks someone is coming into their house. How does everything fit together? Does she really have amnesia? This had several twists and turns I didn't see coming, especially the end. I still don't think these types of books are my favorites, but it was a pretty good page turner.

The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren - Yes, this is total chick lit fluff, but it was so fun, and I loved it. Maybe my favorite by these 2 ladies? It followed the assistants of a Chip and Joanna Gaines style couple - except their marriage isn't happy and they are hiding A LOT. The books flips POV from each of the assistants...and of course there is an attraction between them...and you can guess what happens. Predictable? Yes. Did I really like it? Yes!

I'm not reading anything currently with Trent. When we got the 2nd Benedict Society book, he refused to let me read it to him and finished it in 2 days. He also re-read the entire Harry Potter series in the month of May. So our days of reading together might be over, ha.

Drew and I are still making our way through The Baby-Sitters Club, and I love how much she lives it! We finished book 4, read all of book 5, and are in chapter 2 of book 6 right now.  

And now to crown my favorite of the month! The Water Dancer! The story itself was really good, it was something I needed to read to learn more about slavery, and the writing was phenomenal. Top notch!

One last comment before I close out this already incredibly long post - I've shared a little bit in this space about anti-racism and wanting to do the work, raise anti-racist children, etc. After everything that has happened in the last few weeks, I know I need to step-up my game, and one thing I need to do is work more with the kids. I ordered quite a few books over the weekend for all 3 kids - we need a more diverse library as a starting point for Paige {I also plan to add dolls/artwork of color} but also more direct books for Trent and Drew. I talk a lot more openly with Trent due to his age, but it's time to add Drew into these books and conversations more. If anyone has suggestions for books you've enjoyed with your children, I'd love to hear about them!


Natasha said...

A) I absolutely count books I've read out loud to the kids in my reading total.

B) I was hoping you had some good suggestions for books to read with kids on anti-racism... I need to do some more research into this.

Kathryn Bagley said...

Looks like some good book suggestions this month! I've been terrible at reading but have gotten so many free books from amazon lately.

Emily said...

I had never heard the term “sliding doors story” and had to google it. Intrigued! My close friend (not an avid reader) Randomly recommended the “two lives” book just yesterday too. Obviously adding “the water dancer” too as I know ta-nehisi Coates is such a good author yet I’ve still never read his books! Lastly, would love to see your roundup of books for the kids. I’m also adding a lot of race and diversify books to our library list (I always check out from library first before permanently adding to kids libraries). One book I read over a year ago that I still love is “the last stop on market street”.