DISCUSSION: Book Goals for 2019

I usually set a reading goal at the beginning of the year (I woefully overestimated myself last year), but I don’t usually set reading goals other than that. I’m trying something new this year, however. First, I’m going to set myself a lower, more realistic reading goal and then I’m also going to set some other reading goals for myself:

  • Reread the Harry Potter series
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Neil Gaiman books in general
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Jane Eyre
  • VE Schwab books

These are just a few books that I want to read next year, but I really want to make them a priority.

What reading goals do you have for 2019?
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Non-fiction Mini-Reviews

Since starting my new job at the library, I’ve begun reading more and more outside of my usual YA books (it’s just so hard to say “No” to books when I’m surrounded by them all day). I’ve even been reading non-fiction! Here are some short reviews for a couple of the non-fiction books I’ve been reading lately.

35901186The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
This book was fantastic! I originally heard Kirk’s episode about the Tring heist on This American Life. I was worried the book would be repetitive since I already knew the gist of the story, but it has a ton of additional information (as promised).

I’m not sure if this is the author’s intent, but I really just feel so mad at the fly-tying community and at Rist. There’s just very little remorse to be found and a wild disregard for what these birds really mean on a scientific (and just basic human ethics) level.

Overall, I found this to be a quick read especially for a non-fiction book. It’s a quirky true crime story that I think a lot of people will find fascinating. What’s true? What’s a lie? And where are the rest of those bird skins??? 4/5

We Were Eight Years in PowerWe Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
While I may not agree with all his points, I appreciate Coates’ writing and apparent passion. It feels trite to say, but this topic obviously means a lot to him, and that comes through with every single word in every single essay. He’s asking hard questions–questions that may not have a satisfying answer. And while he accepts that fact, he still feels that those questions need to be asked, and I agree.

I only have a couple of criticisms. The first is that his writing was hard for me to absorb at times. The language he chooses and the way he strings sentences together didn’t always translate in my head. That being said, I still could get the gist of what he was saying, but the lyricalness of his writing was sometimes lost on me.

The second is that as a POC who is not black, I felt a little bit like a third party reading this book. The focus of his essays is on black vs white relations in the United States. At times, it felt like Coates had blinders on to any other race that might exist in America. While I understand why his viewpoint here is so narrow, it made me feel a bit like an outsider while reading. He just kept talking about what this group of people did to this other group of people without mentioning where MY group of people fit in. 4/5

Food and drama and family, oh my | Love á la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm [ARC]

Love a la ModeRosie and Henry are both on their way to Paris to live at the Ecole. It’s a culinary high school for teens around the world who love to cook. Rosie is from a small town in Ohio and isn’t sure if she really belongs at the Ecole since her passion is baking, not cooking. Henry is from Chicago and just wishes that his mom would get off his back and let him do what he loves–cook. Both Henry and Rosie will need to prove to themselves that they really belong in Paris and along the way, they may find something else as well–it is the city of love after all.

TL;DR – Loved the food aspect, but everything else (characters, drama) felt exaggerated and shallow.

I really, REALLY liked the premise of this book. I’m not an awesome cook or anything, but I can appreciate good food and I love watching Food Network. Honestly, this book read like it was written by somebody who also just enjoys watching Food Network and doesn’t know much about the culture of cooking, etc. The main characters were in awe of a chef who won Chopped four times…I just have a hard time believing that’s actually what Michelin star winning chefs actually care about. I also questioned teenagers being sent to Paris for high school? But I guess people send their kids to boarding schools all the time, so maybe it’s not that weird.

The characters were okay for me. They seemed relatively immature and there was a bit of an instalove component between Henry and Rosie. I thought the friend group had the potential to have a great dynamic, but in the end it fell kind of flat for me. I felt like each secondary character was a stereotype or caricature of their culture…they all just felt so exaggerated.

Plotwise, again, the book was just okay. The drama between Henry, Rosie, and Bodie felt SUPER fabricated. Henry and Rosie are pretty much with each other 24/7 and they can’t find two seconds to talk and clear the air? I also didn’t appreciate how angry Henry would get at Rosie doing things with Bodie. Henry and Rosie weren’t actually dating and Rosie doesn’t owe him ANYTHING. I mean, she does end up liking Henry, but even if she did like Bodie, Henry has NO RIGHT to be upset about that.

The last criticism I have is how the author treated Henry’s “tiger mom”. Henry is Korean and his mom is super involved with his academics–even going as far as to email his teachers in Paris. To me, it feels like an Asian tiger mom can really be portrayed in a bad light and I feel like Henry’s mom was mostly portrayed negatively in this book. I feel like the tiger mom thing was used as a plot device to inject more drama into the story. Henry’s mom felt like just another character exaggeration and I didn’t really appreciate that coming from a white author.

Overall, this book was just okay. I liked the descriptions of food (hard to go wrong there), but the book itself didn’t really have any weight or depth. I’d probably advise a pass on this one.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.