Books I Read This Week 2019 – 36

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

The Right Swipe (3.5 stars): I have read more romance books this year than I have read in the last five years combined. Romance is not usually my go-to genre and I still wouldn’t call it my go-to genre but this new trend of cutesy-romance is working for me when I am in the mood for a lighter story. This particular story gets a higher than average rating for me because of the incredible diversity in its characters. The main character is an African American woman, her love interest is Samoan, her assistant is Southeast Asian, there’s also a Thai character. There is a character with agoraphobia. I can go on and on. I enjoyed both the main and secondary characters. I will say this is like the 6th romance book I’ve read this year that has an ex football (or baseball) player in it. Not sure why but I’d love a bit more diversity in the male character’s jobs too. If light romance is your genre, you’ll find this one to be your cup of tea.

If You Want to Make God Laugh (4 stars): I loved this book. It takes place in post-apartheid South Africa and covers a lot of the current events of the time either in the background or directly. Including events like Mandela’s presidency, the AIDS epidemic, the racial divide, homophobia, and religion. There are a lot of tough topics covered in the book including several different occurrences of rape.

This is the story of three women whose stories start separately (an ex-nun, an ex-stripper, and a pregnant teenager) and become interconnected. This is a story about motherhood, about the scars we carry with us, about identity and the stories we tell ourselves, about what it means to be family, about how circumstances can unite people in the most profound ways.

I loved all the minutes I spent with this book. It started strong but only got better and better.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January (4.5 stars): ‘”The trouble with you people,” I observed, “is that you believe in permanence. An orderly world will remain so; a closed door will remain closed.” I shook my head, reaching for the door. “It’s very … limiting.”‘

If you like to get lost in stories that take you to other worlds and have adventures and wonderful characters, this book will be worth every delicious minute you spend with it. Just the fact that it has a kid and doors, made me think about The Wayward Children series but about halfway through the book, I realized I loved it for the same reason I love Laini Taylor’s books. Even though the imagery in her books is unparalleled, this book was the closest I have ever come to that type of feeling. This is one of the highest pieces of compliments I can give a book. It’s rare for me to come upon a book that’s unusual and this one managed to surprise me, keep me engaged, make me mad, sad and happy all at once.

“I spent years after the blue Door doing what most willful, temerarious girls must do: becoming less so.”

This book started slow for me. It was interesting from the very beginning but not super-engaging, for me. Just as I was getting sucked into January’s story, the book started alternating chapters between the two books and that didn’t work for me. I was invested in January now and did not want to be distracted by the other story. Even though it all came together, of course, and by midpoint I was fully engaged and fully invested, it took me a while to get there.

“Once we have agreed that true love exists, we may consider its nature. It is not, as many misguided poets would have you believe, an event in and of itself; it is not something that happens, but something that simply is and always has been. One does not fall in love; one discovers it.”

At its core this book is about love, identity, belonging, and family. It’s such a fantastical and beautiful story and it’s a joy to get lost in its pages. Each of the characters is memorable in its own way and you get enough of each of the backstories to see their perspective of the story, to understand their motivations, even if you don’t agree with them.

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”

The love that binds this whole story together was wholly believable to me. I could feel the joy, the sorrow, the longing coming off the pages. That coupled with the visual and magical nature of the story makes this a pure pleasure to read.

“It depends which weighs more: a life, or a soul.”

There’s so much in this gem of a book and I highly recommend it.

Thank you to netgalley and redhook books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Floating Feldmans (3 stars): This family story set on a cruise is setup to be an impending disaster where each family member has a secret they’ve been holding back on, bubbling up. Put all these family members on a boat together for a week and of course things start boiling and spilling over. The story has funny and poignant and tension. The ship exacerbates the typical family get together that’s usually filled with tension and years of stories and resentments. It all comes together, as it always does in these stories and the reader is left feeling whole and a bit better off.

Things You Save in a Fire (4 stars): Katherine Center’s novels always leave me more hopeful about the world. Not in the unrealistic “things are just perfect” way but in the “people are messed up and we are all struggling but also trying to be better” way.  This story is no exception. The main character has some deep-rooted experiences that are causing her to show up a particular way in the world and make certain choices but in her core she’s a good person who’s trying to be a better person so she continually does things that are hard for her but are the right thing to do. At her core, the value of doing the right thing and caring about others’ is so ingrained in her that it shows up again and again in this story.  It made me fall in love with the main character and it made me believe that she would make these choices because I was bought into this being a core value for her. So I was rooting for her the whole way and I loved the way the whole story came together. As with all her novels, the story is funny, serious, heartwarming all at once. It leaves you feeling full and optimistic. I enjoyed my time with this story and if you have read Center’s other books you will not be disappointed.

Turbulance (3.5 stars): This was a short and interesting book to read, mostly because of its format. It’s a very short book of connected stories. There’s no time or space for the reader to get attached to each character. But each story is very short but about intense/meaningful/relatable experiences in the characters’ lives. Often painful. So the stories pull the reader in quickly and keep you feeling an emotional attachment to the situation more than the characters. Many of the stories have two main characters and then one travels on a plane to another story with another person and then there’s another plane connecting one of those characters to the next story etc. Each chapter header is a airport code to another airport code to help guide the reader through the flow of connections. At its core, it’s about how people are connected and slivers of our lives overlap and touch each other. Many of the stories have something sad at their core: abuse, infidelity, death, illness, etc. Most are not explored deeply since each story is short. Just enough for the reader to sympathize but not likely enough to empathize.

You’ve Been Volunteered (3 stars): If you liked Gelman’s first novel, I am reasonably confident you will enjoy this one, too. It has the same humor around what it means to be a class-mom and much of the similar conversations around marriage, mid-life, school-parent dynamics etc. These novels are a notch about meh for me. They are funny but not hilarious and they have heart but not enough for me to feel really good afterwards. Which is totally fine. I listened to this during a long car ride and it was perfect for that.

And there we go, an ok week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.

Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

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