I'm finally starting to hit my stride with this maternity leave... I'm spending time with my family, getting small projects done around the house, reading a lot, and starting to walk again. Yesterday the lack of sleep started to creep up on me, but I got a 25 minute nap and then a decent night's sleep. Soon I will go back to work and all will be chaos again! Delightful chaos.
This week, however, I polished off three very different but good books.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
I love Mindy Kaling! I enjoyed every page of her more recent memoir, so I was excited to see that her first was marked down for Kindle - a perfect and fun book to read during 2 am feedings. This one was even better because she talks quite a bit about The Office. Mindy and I both have always had a love of comedy and I could certainly relate to her early experiences of relishing comedic sketches (Kids in the Hall!) and doing "bits" with her friends.
One of my favorite parts of this book was the question and answer section in the back where she addresses the fact that she didn't talk about how women definitely CAN be funny. "I just felt that by commenting on that in any real way, it would be tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn't... I try not to make it a habit to seriously discuss nonsensical hot-button issues."
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
I'd like to coin the term "meaty fluff." It's perfect - it both sounds naughty and accurately describes a type of book that appeals to many. Meaty fluff is a book that is light and fun but is thought-provoking enough that it's not straight brain candy. That's how I would categorize this particular novel. Oh, fun - it's about a librarian who is more or less forced into a week-long New York getaway by herself - away from her kids and household responsibilities. She learns how to date, find a bra that fits, tame her eyebrows.... so makeovers and shopping and sexual tension abound. However, the forced vacation is due to her ex-husband coming back after three years and suddenly wanting to spend time with his kids, leaving her to face some interesting reality checks about her life.
This was definitely a fun read with lovely book references, but the characters were surprisingly and delightfully layered. There's also some romance weaved in, but I enjoyed not being able to predict how it would pan out.
I really liked this one, and several days later, I'm still thinking about it. I'd deduct a few points for some occasional cheesy dialogue. Otherwise, I'd say this would make an excellent choice after you've read something especially heavy. Meaty fluff!
Setting Free the Kites by Alex George
I will say, Alex George is a new favorite must-read author of mine. Plus, his author's note said that he is the founder of some sort of Unbound Book Festival, so I'm going to have to look that up.
I really loved George's other more recent book, A Good American. So I had relatively high hopes for this one, and it didn't disappoint! It was a coming-of-age story about friendship and loss set in 1970's Maine, with a family-owned theme park as the backdrop. It was just so, so good. His characters are so amazing, which can be unfortunate because they're not all still standing in the end.
For Kites, that's why I gave a 4 star rating instead of a 5 star - it was just such an awesome book that I abandoned all my responsibilities to read, but the body count was maybe one too many. Still, I wouldn't let that stop you. This would make an excellent book club selection - so much to think about, so much to discuss. So - if you read it, let me know. I have questions!
I've embarked on another great week of reading. Currently I'm reading all about wine on my phone/Kindle and I just started a book about a sassy ballerina with a crazy sister that I think might be another one of those where I get twitchy to read it - the narrator is my new best friend!
Have a great week and let me know if you've read anything fantastic lately!
A confession from one reader to another: Sometimes when I'm feeding Jax, I'm also reading a book.
I know I'm probably supposed to looking lovingly into his eyes, and I do that too, but sometimes he drinks'n'dozes and other times I feel like we're already on pretty solid ground relationship-wise and that he admires my ability to multi-task.
Therefore, I'm going through books at a pretty steady clip. This week, I finished three pretty solid reads and am halfway through two more.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
I really loved Crouch's Dark Matter from a few years ago and wanted to give his new release a try. The books are similar in that they are thriller/sci-fi/romance/do-your-life over all rolled into a fast-paced novel. I'm liking his style. In fact, I think Blake Crouch is going to become a household name in the coming years.
Now that I've had a few days to digest it, I think Recursion was just as good as Dark Matter. I don't read sci-fi and time travel regularly, so I have to remind myself to suspend my disbelief so that I can just go with it. Still, that's not too tough of a task thanks to how the author handles the story and the explanations of why this reality could be feasible.
I know I said that this has a romance component. Don't let that scare you off. It's not a boy-meets-girl smoochfest. Instead, it provides some meaningful insight as to what real love really looks like - within the frame of time travel and living your lives over and over again! With that, it's one of the most romantic books I've read so far this year. Weirdly.
Love! Highly recommend!
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I've heard a lot of great things about this new psychological thrillers, so I was excited to add it to my maternity leave reading list. It earned points for the title not containing the word "girl" or "wife." Especially when one of the main characters is a wife/adult girl! That must have taken a lot of willpower for the publishing house, but I'm glad they resisted.
I don't read gobs of mystery/thrillers. I find them to be overhyped with promises of twists that either don't twist enough for me or the twist was too obvious, or I'm distracted throughout the book trying to figure out the twist. Also, they tend to run together for me with lots of unlikeable characters, soap opera dialogue, and unreliable narrators.
I also tend to shy away from any book with a description that starts out, "So and so seemed to have the perfect life..." I swear. I feel like every other book begins with this description. I'm glad I didn't see that before I grabbed this book. That's completely misleading for this novel, anyway.
All that said, I did enjoy The Silent Patient. This is the author's debut, and I'm really impressed. It was quite the page-turner and although it was formulaic, it was well-written and satisfying.
My boy Blake Crouch felt that the twist was shocking and mind-blowing. While I wouldn't go that far, I would say that the twist is one of those were you laugh out loud a little and say, "Oh, haha, I knew it!" even though you didn't know it. You should've known it, but you didn't.
I would recommend this to those who enjoy the genre.
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
I liked Groff's recent novel, Fates and Furies, so I took advantage of the Kindle price of $2.99 to have this to read on my phone during feedings. (As of this moment, it is still $2.99.)
Although beautifully written, the first half of this book didn't really do much for me. It was interesting, I suppose, to read about life in a growing hippie commune, but I wasn't too invested in anyone or anything. The second half, set thirty-some years later in the near future, read like a completely different book and was depressing but moving. We got to learn what happened to most of the hippies we may or may not have cared about from the first half. Still, I was rooting for the main character and could appreciate his present-day challenges.
Up Next: I'm currently making my way through a slightly fluffy book about a librarian and I've got Mindy Kaling's first book on my phone (another Kindle deal!). A few heavier books are waiting for me at the library, so it should be a good week!
Hurray for a beautiful new baby and for no longer being pregnant. On June 28th - almost two weeks ago - it was determined that my blood pressure was too high for me to safely be pregnant anymore so God bless the fine folks at OSF for sending me upstairs and cutting that baby out of me later that day. We're loving Jaxon a lot and sometimes he wakes up and loves us back.
I wasn't sure this was going to actually happen, but I've managed to get some reading done!!
The Editor by Steven Rowley
An author writes a "novel" inspired by his mother and is surprised, intimidated, and excited to learn that Jackie Kennedy is interested in being his editor. I was expecting an enjoyable and easy read and was pleasantly surprised by how moving it was. I cried a little, but then again - lots of hormones happening!
There, There by Tommy Orange
This is our book club book for the month of July. I almost gave up on it after the first chapter or so, due to how graphic the opening was, as well my assumption that it was going to be pretty raw overall. Instead, I put it down until after baby, just so I wasn't enveloped in a deep dark story during such a happy time.
Although it was indeed not a happy and fluffy read by any stretch of the imagination, I'm glad I stuck with it. This novel captures interwoven stories of a handful of Native Americans in Oakland, California. I didn't *like* it, but it was super well-written and thought-provoking. I can't wait to discuss it with the group!
Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
I just turned the last page on this fun graphic novel about five minutes ago - have I mentioned that everything Knisley touches turns to gold? I really love all of her books. This was a fun dive into her chaotic wedding planning year and her relationship with her sweet husband.
I got pretty misty-eyed.
Oh, and this was a PERFECT light read to recover from There, There!
I just couldn't do:
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo. I gave up at 4%. It sounded like a promising romance, but I can't even express how much this book did NOT float my boat. Boy meets girl, they immediately hit it off the very first day they meet, end up at his dorm and watch the twin towers fall and have their first kiss while they watch. What the heck!?!?! Pass.
The new Blake Crouch novel. I have no idea what it's about, but he wrote Dark Matter, which was super good, so I'm hopeful!
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.