Book Catch-up, Pt. I

Although I haven't written about it in quite some time, my voracity for reading - and for meeting my 24 books/year reading goal - hasn't subsided. Since last August, I've read thirty-two books; I met my 2016 reading endeavor and am on pace to do the same for 2017. Some of those books have become treasured favorites, while others I'd rather not read again. I think one of the great things about reading is their hit-or-miss aspect, though, and it fascinates me that some of the books I wasn't fond of received rave reviews from others; the opposite can be said for those that I instantly loved. Certain books aren't for everyone, but I love working to figure out which ones are for me. 

For ease of reading, I'm going to split this into two posts, because thirty-two books is a lot to cover. Here are the books I've read from August to December of 2016, with my 2017 reads coming along in another post. Each book is rated, between 1-5 stars, and I've given each a mini review. 

Fahrenheit 451 - 2/5 | It was not overly descriptive in terms of plot and could have been longer in order to elaborate more.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard - 5/5 | I think being part of the generation that will forever swoon over the Harry Potter series explains my rating for this one. It includes "The Tale of Three Brothers" that's vital to the resolution of the struggle between Harry and Voldemort, so you know it's a good book.

The Little Mermaid - 3/5 | As long as one understands going into this book that it does not follow the same story-line as Walt Disney's land-loving red-head, one is not as startled at how shockingly different it is.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 4/5 | F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors, and his ability to adeptly and honestly describe a person - especially their flaws - is on display in this short story.

The Good Earth - 5/5 | Author Pearl Buck is from my home state of West Virginia, and I became enamored with The Good Earth. I woke up early to read it, I talked to everyone I possibly could about it, and I couldn't immediately move on to another book after finishing it because I had "book hangover." The characters are flawed yet relatable, and the story is an informative glimpse into Chinese culture.

The Nightingale - 5/5 | I am a sucker for WWII-era stories, and this was no exception. The story focuses on two French sisters and the ways in which they handle the Nazi occupation of their home. Books and movies don't typically bring me to tears, but I was bawling like a baby at the end of this one.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - 3/5 | Rowling tried to transport us back into the world of Harry Potter, this time through the eyes of Harry's young son, but it did not have the impact on me that the original series did. It was wonderful to return to Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic, etc., but without Harry and the gang front and center to guide the story, I wasn't as enthralled.

The Patron Saint of Ugly - 4/5 | This book was written by local author Marie Manilla (who signed my copy!), and many pieces of the story come from her real-life experiences. The story was different from any I'd read before, and I connected to the characters because they had lives and experiences (sans the supernatural bits) similar to my own. I can only wish I was as saucy as Garnet Ferrari.

The Romanov Sisters - 4/5 | It had been since college that I'd read a historical non-fiction, but my ignorance of the Romanov family led me to read this one. Although the title of the book would lead one to think that it would focus on the sisters Romanov, more emphasis was placed on their parents than I expected, and I wish I could have learned more about Olga, Tatiana, Maria, & Anastasia.

Barkskins - 5/5 | Annie Proulx's novel is profound and catapulted itself to my top five favorite books of all time. It follows numerous generations of two families deeply ingrained (no pun intended) in the lumber industry. I'm not a lumber aficionado, but Proulx's ability to describe people, their motivations, and their surroundings made me feel like I was in the story and as connected to the trees as the characters were. There are not enough kind things I can say about this book. It's been nearly a year since I read it, but I still get animated when talking about it and still vividly remember scenes from this exceptional piece of work.

Crum - 3/5 | Crum takes place in the same county where I grew up, and a lot of people in that region don't take kindly to author Lee Maynard's description of the area. I personally didn't take offense to anything he wrote, even if some characters' behavior seemed far-fetched and likely fictionalized.

Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East End - 4/5 | My best friends and I love the Call the Midwife series on BBC, based off of this Jennifer Worth series. The show did not pull as heavily from the last two books as it did the first, so it was new material for me. And I know I'm going to make waves here, but I just don't like Sister Monica Joan; she is far too much to handle and is not a sympathetic character.

The Underground Railroad - 2/5 | This book received so much hype - it was an Oprah's Book Club read, for crying out loud - but I just did not like it as much as everyone else did. The, for lack of a better term, sci-fi take on the real life underground railroad was a fascinating concept, but the story severely lacked character development and had a surprisingly abrupt conclusion. I had such high expectations for this book that sadly weren't met.

Stay tuned for my run-down of 2017 books read, and feel welcome to recommend titles I should read next!

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