Non-fiction in the summer | Mini-Reviews

mini-reviews

StiffStiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff is one of those book that you’re always hearing about. It was inevitable that I’d eventually read it. With that being said, I was a little disappointed. I’ve read some really good narrative non-fiction over the last few years. While this was good, it wasn’t as entertaining or easy to read as some of the other non-fiction books I’ve read. Roach definitely has a sense of humor that comes through in the book, but she uses a lot of big words. Overall, this book has more of an academic feel than I was hoping for. With that being said, I still thought this book was really interesting. I learned so many things about what happens after you die and I feel more than ever that I want to be an organ donor one day. This book is not for those with a weak stomach as she goes into plenty of detail. Lastly, this book was published a while ago (back in 2003) and I’d love to read an update or something. In the book she talks about the future of the funeral business and options other than a ground burial, but I feel like I personally haven’t heard about any recent developments. 3/5

Purchase: Hardback | Paperback | eBook

The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik

The Big Year

I loved this book! My husband and I watched the movie a few years ago (starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Steve Martin–link to trailer below) and then he read the book it was based off of and highly recommended it. I finally got around to reading it this month and just fell completely in love with the idea of birding. I know literally nothing about birds but this book made me want to do a big year. Just reading about the preparation leading up to the three big years was really exciting for me! And then the author does a really good job of keeping the suspense up throughout the big year as well. This book was just great. Even if you know nothing about birds, like me, I’d highly recommend this book. 5/5

Purchase: Hardback | Paperback | eBook

Movie: Trailer | Rent

What a crazy summer | August Wrap-Up & TBR Update

I can’t believe August is over already! It seems like we just moved to California last week, but we’ve actually been here for almost three months. As I’ve been seeing everyone’s back-to-school/end of summer vacation social media posts, I’ve realized that we’re in a super interesting time of life where our summer vacation doesn’t really end? We don’t have any kids in school yet and we’re not in school anymore either. The weather will get cooler but like…we’re in California so it’s not going to get that cold. My husband has been working full-time all summer and he’s going to continue to do that…things just aren’t really changing for us like they are for everyone else. We can still go do summery, outside things basically as long as we want. Anyway, unrelated to book things but it was an interesting realization that I had.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 14 with 1 DNF
Books currently reading: 1

Well, would you look at that! I actually managed to complete my TBR and then some this month! Way to go me!

A couple other things real quick, I finished my Goodreads Reading Goal this month! I had no idea how this year was going to go (especially with last year being a bit of a dud reading year) so I set my goal to 70. Luckily, I’ve exceeded my expectations! My new goal for the year is 100. Second, I’m working on a TBR weeding project. I’m going alphabetically and I’m trying to just take one letter at a time, figuring out what I want to keep on my TBR and what can go. So you’ll see my TBR count going down significantly and that’s why.

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of August = 469
Books added to TBR = 8
Books read/deleted from TBR = 65
Total on TBR now = 412

How did your reading go this month?

Library book mini-reviews

So far this year I have read 49 books and 37 of them have been library books! 11 have been ARCs and only one has been a book that I actually own (oops…). Here are a few mini-reviews from some of my recent library reads!

mini-reviews

 

 

A Gathering of Shadows/A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

I absolutely adored this series. I’m partly kicking myself for waiting so long, but then at the same time I feel like I read it in a good time in my life when I could read all three books back-to-back and really feel like I understood what was going on. I really liked the competition aspect in the second book. With both Lila and Kell pretending to be other people, the suspense was HIGH. Then, in the third book, I continue to be astounded at the depth that Schwab has created for the character Holland. I completely understand why Rhy and Lila hate his guts, but I can’t bring myself to feel the same way. Despite everything, I LIKE him. One criticism that I have is that I want to know more about these worlds beyond London. It’s kind of a blank globe outside of the city. I highly recommend this series and could definitely see myself rereading them. Real quick, though, did anyone else ship Lila with Alucard? Or was that just me? 5/5

Shadows: eBook | Hardcover | Paperback
Light: eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

The Lady from the Black LagoonThe Lady From the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara

This book was featured on one of Book Riot’s podcasts and the author was also on What Should I Read Next? In the end, I’m glad I picked this book. It was really different from the other non-fiction books that I’ve read since this author isn’t a non-fiction writer. Actually, she’s not really even an author (though, I guess she is now). Her tone was a lot more casual and I liked her snarky little footnotes. This book was definitely part history and part memoir and I thought the two combined rather well. I did have one issue with it, though. There was a brief section where O’Meara touched on something that is actually pretty personal to me and I don’t feel like she did it in a super respectful (or accurate) way. That cast a cloud on the rest of her book and gave me some doubt as a reader as to the accuracy of some of her other claims. Other than that, though, I really did enjoy learning about Milicent Patrick. 4/5

eBook | Hardcover

Always Never YoursAlways Never Yours by Emily Wibberly & Austin Siegmund-Broka

Blah. This book wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I think most of that centers around our main character, Megan. I think I was hoping for someone a little nicer and sweeter who handled her breakups more gracefully. Instead, Megan is really quite in your face while also being simultaneously oblivious. She just wasn’t the main character I was hoping for with this story line. I also hate when characters are all like, “OMG why am I obsessing over this guy’s hair? It’s not like I LIKE him or anything!” when they very obviously DO like him. Are people’s feelings really so mystifying to themselves? 3/5

The Enchanted HourThe Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon

This was another non-fiction book that I read and I read it for a book club. The premise doesn’t sound that compelling, but I’m actually super glad that I read it. As a new mom, they drill into you that “IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO READ TO YOUR BABY!!!!!!!” Like, literally, they’re shoving that down your throat. Which is fine, I’m not trying to dispute that or anything, but no one really explained to me why? I mean, I was going to do it, but how exactly does it help? I just want to know! This book answered most, if not all, of my questions about the benefits of reading aloud to my kid. Every time I would finish a chapter, I would feel so motivated to go read to him. A criticism I do have, though, is that the author isn’t super forgiving. Everything she says regarding technology came off as super harsh to me and it made me feel like a bad parent for ever defiling my baby’s eyes with a screen. But sometimes I need to take a shower, dang it, and he’ll sit quietly in his Pack n’ Play if I turn on Word Party! Overall, though, still a good read. 4/5

Loved this quote from C.S. Lewis that she included: “He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: The reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.”

eBook | Hardcover

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleThe 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This book is super twisty. It was already on my TBR when my sister texted and was like, “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS.” So the next time I saw it on one of our library displays, I grabbed it. I absolutely LOVED the premise. Each of Aiden’s hosts contributes more pieces to the puzzle. Longtime followers may know that I hate mysteries where the reader doesn’t have all the information necessary to solve the mystery. With this book, I do feel like we were presented with all of the information necessary, but the author didn’t quite lead us to the final solution. In the end, I found the conclusion of the book to be a little…out of nowhere, but I still enjoyed. I could definitely see myself rereading this one and picking up on more clues. 4/5

eBook | Hardcover

CirceCirce by Madeleine Miller

When I was a Sophomore in high school, we read The Odyssey in English. I enjoyed it and ended up writing my essay on how the Greek Gods absolutely do NOT deserve their power. This book just brought back all of those feelings. Seriously. Disney’s Hercules gives you all of these warm, fuzzy feelings towards the Gods when in reality they’re THE WORST!!! Anyway, I wanted to like this book more than I did. I’ve always been a fan of Greek Mythology, so I liked it from that standpoint, but it wasn’t totally for me. The writing was a bit much at times and the pacing was a little strange. All of the sudden, a thousand years would pass without warning–but I guess that’s what it must be like when you’re immortal. I didn’t really care for Circe for a good 50-60% of the book, but in the end, I found myself happy when she found happiness. One thing I really did like about this book was the portrayal of motherhood with both Circe and Penelope. Being a mom is freaking HARD and so some of Circe’s struggles with Telegonus really resonated with me. 3.5/5

April: the month that almost killed me [Monthly Wrap-Up & TBR Update]

Okay, so my title is a little dramatic, but this month was seriously ROUGH. I’m not quite done with everything (I’ve got one more wedding this Saturday), but I’m hoping after that I’ll have even just a millisecond to relax. My reading went completely off the rails this month. I discovered a free game on my phone so…there went that free time (it’s called Two Dots if you’re wondering). I just read a bunch of random stuff and almost nothing that I’d planned on. Oh well.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 7 (3 DNF)
Books currently reading: 3

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of April = 449
Books added to TBR = 22
Books read/deleted from TBR = 5
Total on TBR now = 466

How did your reading go this month?

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