Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Books Books Books! First Half of 2019 Edition

Uhhh, y'all.. I haven't written a book post since DECEMBER.
I guess this just shows how much my life is no longer under my control.

I've definitely been reading, but my reading time has significantly decreased mostly due to school reasons.  ONE MORE YEAR of that shit though, Gentle Readers.. one.more.fucking.year. and hopefully my life will resume the previous state of laziness and boredom that I never properly appreciated.

Ultimate TLDR**
Definitely Read:  
Maybe Read:  
Hard Pass:  

Rating scale*:

1/5 - Hated it, DNF (did not finish).
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish, didn't like it.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it. Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
3.5/5 - I liked parts of it.
4/5 - I liked the whole thing.
4.5/5 - I liked it a lot, but not sure I'd read it again.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

*Subject to change based on my mood, the phase of the moon, or other unpredictable variables.
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3) by Ilona Andrews, Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona AndrewsMagic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona AndrewsMagic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona AndrewsMagic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) by Ilona Andrews   3.5ish/5 (library, ebook)

(I read these books over the last 6 months, but grouped them all together to write this review.)

I read this series to pass the time.  They weren't the worst, they weren't the best.  I wasn't really devoted to Kate in the same way I was devoted to Nevada (another, similar character series by the same author).  I found the relationship between Curran and Kate trying.  Kate is a badass mercenary who cleans up monster/demon/other sci-fi/fantasy type of characters when unfortunate accidents occur and she has a secret that is hinted at for several books, but you don't actually find out what the secret is until like book 4 or 5 or something way too far into the series for me to not be annoyed by it.  

The series focuses on Kate's work, then on Kate's relationship with Curran, then the final books (I have to assume) are about the impending Daddy battle. 

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews   1/5 (library, ebook)

DNF.  Honestly, I lost interest.  Kate and Curran annoyed me with their they-ness.  Is that even a thing?  Because they annoyed me.  They always wanted the same thing, but never communicated about these goals so they could actually work together towards a goal.   IDK.  Didn't not like, finally quit.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid   3.5/5 (library, ebook)

I had to look up the ending of this book when Brittany posted that she read it so I could make a comment, so I guess that represents kinda how I feel about this book.  On Goodreads I gave this 4 stars, but I remember feeling that the dealing with the emailing reading was unrealistic, but I think after the end of the semester (when I read this book), I needed a happy ending.  

I read a review on Goodreads when I was looking up the ending that essentially said how I felt:
-the characters were completely immature, despite being married for so many years.
-the ending is unrealistic because things will fall apart again unless things are actually discussed and resolved.  That's how marriages work.

And my biggest issue was the trust violation that took place.  Holy fuck, so much rage.  When is that ever ok?

Home Front by Kristin Hannah   3.75/5 (library, audiobook)

Military themed book with 2 main female best friends who deploy together.  One comes home broken and one doesn't come home at all.  This book needed an editor or a better editor SO BAD.  So many continuation type flaws.  It was a bright, sun-shiny morning, no clouds in the sky.. then 45 minutes later it was pouring rain.  Also, it needed a military-savvy editor.  I've never met a Warrant Officer that was called "Chief" ever.  In the Navy or in the Army or any other branch.  I asked some Army folks about this and they confirmed my knowledge.  I get it, it's fiction, but you're portraying a VERY real topic that is probably a "too soon" or a lot of veterans, get it right and up your credibility.  It's super simple.

Betsy almost ruined this book for me.  The kid's behaviors were the thing that stuck out in this book.  I can't understand how such a disciplined person would allow their kids to behave in that way.  But what do I know, I don't have kids.

This book discussed a very relevant topic in the US, so in that regard, I enjoyed this book, but it had many things that irked me.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead  3/5 (library, ebook)

A millionty years late on reading this book.  Slavery books are important.  We should never forget what we came from so we can keep moving forward.  But, this book was like reading a Jeff Shaara book.  Lots of research into the time to create believable situations and a very close retelling of history, but you don't feel an emotional investment in the characters.

Also.. I really hope that people don't believe that the Underground Railroad from history had an actual train.

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata   2/5 (Audible, audiobook)

Letters to a solider type of story that develops into an actual story.  A story with the most annoying female lead character ever.  I listen to audiobooks when I run and drive.  I listened to the airport scene while I was running and it lasted for.fucking.ever.  It was painful.  Like... YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE JUST FUCKING CALL.  It's that not that fucking difficult.  I thought that I had definitely went at least 2 miles during that scene.  Nope, less than half a mile.  That's how long the scene lasted.  FML.

In the end, as you suspect, they end up together.  But the story felt contrived and it was painful in too many places to be enjoyable.  So many times I almost gave this up, but because I purchased it, I wanted to finish it.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J.K. Rowling   4/5 (library, audiobook)

It's HP.  It's a reread.  YAY Harry has a relative!  The reveal scene feels like it takes half my life, but maybe that's the time changer also working in my Muggle life?  IDK.  Also, they were so mean to Hermoine and that always pisses me off.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate   4/5 (Audible, audiobook)

Dual story line.  Tennessee orphans during the 1940s.  South Carolina political family in present time.  I used a credit on this one, so I was glad that it turned out to be a good listen.  The accents helped.  So what happens is, the children are stolen from their home since they were poor and then brought to an orphanage where they are abused and neglected and sold to the highest bidder by a shady orphanage director.  I wouldn't be surprised if some of this is based on a kernel of truth.

Present day characters are obviously involved and by the end you figure out how.  It's not as a shocking as it could be.

Educated by Tara Westover   4.5/5 (library, audiobook)

This was like watching a train wreck.  You can't stop.  You just need to know what other crazy shit is going to happen.  Assuming the story isn't embellished, it's crazy to think there are actually people who are this way (Doomsday preppers to the extreme).  I was disappointed with how the story ended, but I assume that if she stuck to the facts, once she left the family, the drama in her life significantly decreased, which is why the ending was uneventful.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon   2.5/5 (Audible, audiobook)

A "short" 45 hour Outlander book... and with this book, I might just be done.  Technically, there are no more books right now in this series, but book 9 is forthcoming at some point in the future.  It was the fistula that finally made me realize that these books are just endless babbling between Claire's random medical cases that sometimes really stretch the bounds of what is believable for the time period.  The fistula was described in all the detail that I knew I didn't need.  And I almost just stopped at that point, but there were so few hours left, compared to what I had endured, so I had to carry out.

When Roger went back, I tried to remember if there had been stories of a strange visitor from the other books, but it wasn't worth my time and probably didn't even matter.  As always, the Bree/Roger storyline was completely stupid... not what was happening but the fact that Roger just went back in time with no way to communicate with Bree and then what?  How fucking stupid.  I had predicted it would resolve itself exactly the way it did.

I was more relieved than Claire to finally get back to the Ridge because it meant the end of the book... and also the Revolutionary War stories were very confusing for me because I couldn't keep up with what side we were on at any given time.

Why do I insist on hate-reading things?  Ugh.

Becoming by Michelle Obama   3.5/5 (library, audiobook)

I almost put this book down about halfway through because I was tired of hearing about Barak's life.  If I wanted to read about Barak's life, I'd read a book he wrote.  Thankfully, gears switched and we finally got back to Michelle's life.  Honestly, it wasn't all that interesting.  She's a kid who was properly supported as a child, didn't come from a life of struggle or extreme poverty (as someone who thinks in stereotypes might assume because she is black and from Chicago). She went to Ivy League schools and was a successful lawyer.  Obviously, none of that is worth scoffing at, especially considering the time and that she is a black woman.. But she was the First Lady and she was good at it, and the discussion of that time was interesting to me.  If you're very anti-Obamas, don't read this, but if you're interested in what life is like in the White House, maybe start reading from about halfway.

The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic by Emma   5/5 (own, book)

This is actually a graphic novel by a French comic that I found through a friend via Facebook.  The friend shared an article about Emotional Labor (the term for all that planning and shit that people (mostly women) do that goes unacknowledged) and one thing led to another and I bought the book for myself for my birthday.  #SorryNotSorry.  It was totally worth it.  There were several gems in the book, to include reproduction, an anatomy lesson of the vagina to point out the clitoris, work place harassment, and the emotional labor comic.  1000% would recommend.

Damals war es Friedrich by Hans Peter Richter   3/5 (own, hard copy)

This was required reading for my German class.  We read the book over the entire semester, so if you watch my updates on Goodreads and saw me update 2 pages at a time.. that's because the book is written in German.  Kthx.  I tried to read the book, and then would transcribe sections into Google Translate to help myself out so I could complete my homework.  Let's just say, I'll be sticking to English books, no matter how badly I want to be super awesome at German.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter   3.5/5 (Audible, audiobook)

A rare book about a Jewish family during WW2 that was separated and actually survived.  Part of me was like, this isn't a good WW2 book because people aren't dying and I realized just how fucked up that was and started to appreciate the struggles the family did face.

A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain   3/5 (Audible, audiobook)

A story about Marie Curie.  This was an Audible freebie and it was only a few hours long, so I figured, why not?  I'm not sure if it was true or not, but it was entertaining enough for a few hours.

Wishes and Wellingtons by Julie Berry   4/5 (Audible, audiobook)

This was another Audible freebie and I was almost put off by the childish/ya theme, but figured why not, since it was free.  This ended up being a super adorable book that I really enjoyed.  A rebellious girl at a boarding school finds a genie and adventures abound.  Heartwarming finish, even through the tribulations.

A Beautiful Work In Progress by Mirna Valerio   3/5 (Amazon Prime, ebook)

Meh to this book.  Mirna is an Ultra distance runner.. or whatever they call those crazy people who run distances over a marathon.. and I thought the book was going to be about running.  It was mostly a book about her life with some running stories sprinkled in.  The story really only left me with more questions.. Specifically.. Who in the fuck was watching her son while she trained for all these runs?  Like, I know how long it takes to train for a HALF marathon and that's only 13 miles.  To train for 26+ is obviously longer and requires a LOT of dedication.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero   2/5 (library, ebook)

I wanted to like this book, but I really didn't.  Conceptually, I like the idea of believing what you think you deserve will get you what you want.. but realistically?  Not so much.  Also, I feel like it's 100% shit advice to tell someone to go out and buy the car of your dreams without the means to pay for it, rather than a car within your means.  That's just one example she used, but I hope she enjoys her Audi.  I'll be driving my Subaru that was within my means.

Verity by Colleen Hoover   4/5 (own, ebook)

I had a credit from Amazon for a book, so I was like.. I'm gonna take a risk.  I read a millionty reviews before I clicked place order on this book.  The reviews were all over the place.  You either loved it or hated it.. and the biggest warning was that this book is not Hoover's standard fare.  So I took a risk.. and I was 100% hooked by the first chapter and loved it.

I did have some annoyance with the main character's lack of confidence, but that's not unusual for me.  It only took me a week-ish to read this book, and considering the happenings at the time (end of semester, Germany, etc), that's a record.

Sweet Tea Tuesdays by Ashley Farley   2.5/5 (library, ebook)

I found this book or it was recommended to me when I was searching for Southern themed books.  In fact, this book is set in Charleston and I felt that it was ultimately a frivolous setting.  I think it was supposed to show that these were classy women, but instead all I could see was the vanity of the women who live right off the Battery.

I mean, there are probably nice people who live by the Battery, but most of them that I've come across are rich, snobs.  It is what it is.

This book was like a match between the characters over who could be more stubborn.  Farley seemed to have some good topics to cover, but it was all such a mess that nothing felt explored in any solid way (sick parent, homosexuality, coming of age, marriage, dating, being older).  And also, the ending felt contrived.  Southern women are not forgetters.  They will hold a grudge till they die.  Sweet tea or no.

Before the Broken Star (The Evermore Chronicles #1) by Emily R. King   3/5 (Amazon Prime freebie, ebook)

This is probably the first Amazon First book I've ever read.  I usually download a book per month (because who turns down free books?), but never get around to reading it.  Ooops.  This was a YA book with some sci-fi/fantasy stuff going on.  I didn't full comprehend the clockwork heart thing, but the main character literally had clockwork to make her heart run.  She was supposed to be full of mystery, but seemed mostly just filled with angst about people finding out she wasn't normal.

This is obviously a series (based on what I found in Goodreads) based on the ending.  I really struggled with how she treated Callahan.  The mythology story made zero sense to me because it was told in sections as stories and I couldn't keep it all together.  Oh well.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) by J.K. Rowling   DNF/5 (library, audiobook)

Teh PT Kid complained that this book was chugging and dragging and he wasn't wrong.  I was listening to it on audiobook and I got annoyed with it before the Quiddich World Cup ended.  I think it was a matter of bad timing, but I let this book go back to the library at least twice and I've finally given up the fight for now.  Maybe at another time, I'll pick this back up or if Teh PT Kid asks me about it, but I was hoping we'd read Harry Potter together and get to nerd out together... But he's way too cool for me and he's also a preteen male, so talking to a female is so uncool.

PS.  This was a reread (or whatever the term is when you've already read a book, but decide to listen to the audiobooks for the "reread").

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman   3.5/5 (library, audiobook)

A novella by Backman, who I love-hate.  This is a novella about Alzheimer's and I read in the reviews that it would shatter me.  Every Backman book that I've been able to read has shattered me.  At only one-ish hour long and available on audio from the library, I had nothing to lose.  It wasn't a bad story, but it was told in a very confusing way, that maybe would have made more sense on paper rather than via audio.  I wasn't as shattered as I expected to be.

The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright   5/5 (library, audiobook)

Exactly what I needed when I knew I needed it.  I've been hunting this book from the library for a while because the audio version is under 10 hours.  I've followed Jamie for many, many years, like when she was still in Costa Rica, that many years.  I'm not even sure how I found her blog all those years ago, but she is authentic and that's something I also strive to be, so I felt like we were kindred spirits.

This book talks about her struggles with her faith and with missionary work and how the system might be broken and there's cussing that people didn't like.... but for real, I almost started crying while driving down the interstate with Teh PT Kid in the car when she was talking about how little struggles add up when you're living in an unfamiliar place, attempting to speak an unfamiliar language.. it was like she was living my life, but in a more Jesus-centric way.

**TLDR: To long, didn't read.


  1. Ahhh, an After I Do post that I can agree with :) I really ranted about it a few years ago. Lauren (?), the main character, was so unlikeable.

  2. I seem to be the only person who actually liked After I Do, haha. Although it's definitely not TJR's best. The scene where she is in the parking lot with the new guy and realizes "Oh, all relationships end up here" is what clinched it for me. It's obvious but I think it's overlooked and ignored in most stories.

    Also really liked Becoming, lol.

  3. I read Damals War es Friedrich for a course on National Socialism and the third Reich in children's and youth literature. It was years ago but I remember it being good. We read 6 or 7 books and there were definitely some I enjoyed less than that one.


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