Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reading Roundup - January 2016

Hey Friends! Here's my book reviews from January. I didn't have much luck with books this month. I can't remember the last time I had so many two-star books in one month! Have you read any good books lately? I need recommendations!!!


1) Longbourn by Jo Baker: 4/5 stars. This book is a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the Bennets' maid, although it is really only nominally about the P&P events, and more about the life downstairs. It's interesting to look at the things from a different perspective, to consider what Lizzie's hem "six inches deep in mud" means to the household staff who are tasked with laundry in an era before washing machines and Oxyclean! If you like Jane Austen and Downtown Abbey I think you'd like this book.

2) Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay. 2/5 stars. This book is about a group of people working at a radio station in far north Canada in the mid-1970s. I thought it was a little boring. There didn't seem to be much plot. I didn't feel like I got to know any of the characters. In the last third of the book there is a canoe expedition into the Barrens which seemed like a different story than everything that had come before. That was my favorite part of the book and made me want to go on a wilderness adventure.

3) Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. 2/5 stars. I had high hopes for this book. I even gave it sight unseen (or unread, as the case may be) to a friend for Christmas. But I was really disappointed. It seems more like a short story collection than a novel. Ostensibly the plot follows Eva throughout life as she becomes a famous chef, but each chapter is narrated by a different third party in whose life Eva plays a small role. It was difficult to get to know the characters and there was no sense of continuity.


4) Girl at War by Sara Novic. 3/5 stars. This book was so sad. It's the story of a ten-year-old girl living in Croatia at the outbreak of the civil war in 1991. She eventually ends up in America but returns to Croatia in 2001 in an attempt to find lost friends and closure on the tragic events of her youth. It made me feel incredibly grateful that I live in a safe and free country, terribly sad for all the people around the world who do not, and also a little guilty that I live such a privileged life while so many others are struggling.

5) The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay. 2/5 stars. I generally steer clear of Austen/Bronte knockoffs, but since I started the month with Austen I though I might end it with the Brontes. This book wasn't nearly as good as Longbourn. It takes place in the present day, and there is no connection to any of the Bronte novels other than a trip to their home at Haworth in Yorkshire. The characters are flat and the plot is unbelievable. What I liked most was the descriptions of the elegant clothing and fancy hotels. Why yes, I'd like accompany a mysterious and wealthy (owns a Picasso!) elderly lady on an all-expense-paid trip to England, where I will traipse around in cashmere sweaters and crisp white shirts while buying outrageously expensive flatwear sets, because "good silver never goes out of style."


Swede's Book of the Month: Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere. This book is about a monster coming to... eat you up! [Or perhaps, to give you an incredibly sloppy good night kiss!]  I thought it was super cute and Swede thought it was super funny.

I'm linking up this month with Life According to Steph and Jana Says for "Show Us Your Books!"

Life According to Steph

16 comments:

  1. i love jane austen and pride & prejudice... hated longbourn. haha. HATED it. i have read 3 of Reay's books as well, and disliked all of them. it sucks because her covers and her ideas really grab me, but the books always fall flat. so sad.

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    1. Why didn't you like Longbourn? It's the only Austen knock-off I've ever enjoyed.
      Yea, I don't think I'll be trying anymore of Reay's books... Bummer because the ideas SOUND good.

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  2. The only one I've heard of on this list is The Kitchens of the Great Midwest and it's already on my TBR. I like the idea of the book; it seems in line with what I've been reading lately. But I'm sorry you didn't like it!

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    1. I am just not a fan of short stories, and that what Kitchens felt like to me. I need more time to get to know the characters I think. Interested to hear what you think when you read it!

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  3. I love the title Late Nights on Air...sorry it didn't live up to it! Same with the Kitchens book. I was considering that.

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    1. You might like Kitchens - I know lots of people did - It just wasn't for me!

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  4. That's too bad you had bad start to the year, reading wise! I only read 3 books, but I enjoyed them all, so that was a nice change! The only one of your bunch I've heard of it the Elizabeth Hay one (obviously, haha), but I've heard mostly negative things about it, so it's definitely NOT on my TBR ;)

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    1. I was intrigued by the canoe trip to the Arctic, which was cool, but not worth having to trudge through the first half of the book.

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  5. I've intended to read Girl at War, just haven't got to it yet. I enjoy historical fiction in a different setting, and I don't think I've ever read one set in Croatia.

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    1. I've never read a book set in Croatia either, It really taught me a lot about the (very sad) history of the country.

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    1. Thankfully I've been having more luck in February!

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  7. I'm intrigued by Longbourne! I'm not sure I can handle it because my love for P&P runs DEEP... but I'll have to check it out!

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    1. I am big P&P fan too. This is the ONLY Austen knockoff I've ever enjoyed. Probably because it's pretty far from the real book.

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  8. I just finished reading Katherine Reay's Dear Mr Knightley, which paid heavy homage to Austen and Bronte as well. I guess all her books do? I liked Dear Mr Knightley, although I did have some issues with it, so I'm not really keen to go on another adventure with her. I was never a huge fan of the Bronte sisters. I am adding Longbourne to reading my list because it sounds interesting to me. and I like P&P, but I'm not a purist. I hate it when I have a bad reading month, hopefully this month will be better!

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    1. Let me know what you think of Longbourne if you read it!
      So far February is going better, although it's a slow reading month - I'm only on my second book!

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