Category Archives: Reason: Book Club

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

I am not a fan of CS Lewis. I do not love the Narnia series. It was fine, but it’s not something I’ll read again and I’m definitely not a fan. So when I read the synopsis of Once Upon a Wardrobe, which was picked to read for my book club, I was not thrilled. As it turns out, I absolutely loved it! The story is very sweet and a little sad. CS Lewis answering the question of where is Narnia through stories of his life is delightful. The way his stories are woven with Megs and George’s lives is lovely. It’s a pretty quick read and quite enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who loves Narnia, CS Lewis, or just a sweet story about the love between siblings.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 110
Pages Read in 2022: 38,715
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Book Club

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Some of the characters in The Thursday Murder Club are absolutely hysterical. I instantly fell in love with both Elizabeth and Joyce. But there are way too many characters. It’s very hard to keep them straight, especially since some are mentioned and then not again for several chapters. The British wit is fabulous. While the elderly group figures everything out, and in fact are the only ones who know the whole truth in the end, the police are not portrayed as completely inept. I certainly didn’t have it all figured out before the end, but it did all fit together in a way that made sense. This is a good book, but not one I’d go out of my way to read.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 103
Pages Read in 2022: 35,989
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Reason: Book Club

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is impeccably researched. The notes, bibliography, and index are massive (making up more than the last third of the book). At times it reads like a historical fiction novel even though only actual quotes are used, but other times it reads like a textbook. The author skips around between the four woman profiled, Emma Thompson, Rose Greenhow, Elizabeth Van Lew, and Belle Boyd, and sometimes it is hard to remember which is which and what was happening to them the last time they were discussed. I recommend this book to adults interested in the Civil War.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 97
Pages Read in 2022: 34,367
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: Book Club

The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks

The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks

Elyn Saks is a very successful woman. She is married, holds a rather impressive job, and has been published multiple times. She also has schizophrenia. The Center Cannot Hold is her story. She talks about her struggles with accepting that she needs medication and even accepting that she has a mental illness. Many times she quit taking her medication or reduced it thinking she could just try harder. The descriptions of psychosis and her delusions are vivid. Her writing is engaging even when discussing the more clinical aspects of her illness. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in mental illness.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 90
Pages Read in 2022: 31,629
Graphic Novels: 2

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: Book Club

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a slow moving book. I generally do not care for books like that, but for this one it totally worked. It just fits the vibe and makes you kind of feel like you’re in the marsh, living a little slower, noticing things happening around you. The character development in this book is phenomenal. Even some of the side characters grow and change. The descriptions of things living in the marsh are incredible and vivid. The ending is both surprising and, when I think about, just what part of me hoped for. Kya learning to read so quickly and being able to comprehend high level textbooks is somewhat questionable as is her ability to so easily communicate with others even though she was so young when her family left her and spends long periods of time all alone. I recommend this book to adults who enjoy contemporary fiction.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 83
Pages Read in 2022: 29,583
Graphic Novels: 2

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reason: Book Club, Reason: Grim Readers

The Do-Over by Bethany Turner

The Do-Over by Bethany Turner

The Do-Over is a really cute book that is more or less predictable, but in all the ways you want a romcom to be predictable. While I found it easy to put the book down as needed, I did look forward to picking it back up when I had more time to read. While the end was perfect, I wish there had been a little bit more and it kept going for at least a few more pages. I recommend this book to adults who enjoy clean romantic comedies.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 73
Pages Read in 2022: 26,404
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Book Club, Romance

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I have loved every book I’ve read by Ruta Sepetys. They are meticulously researched (there were several pages of sources at the end of I Must Betray You) with amazing writing. She managed to capture the paranoia of living in a society where you never knew who might be informing on you. I knew what happened in Romania in December 1989 before I read the book and as the time got closer and closer to the revolution I found myself feeling very nervous about what would happen to the characters because I cared about them very much. While the book has a happy-ish ending, it’s not tied up all nicely in a bow. The bow is kind of lopsided and not totally cute because that’s what life – and the fall of communism – is like. I very highly recommend this book to teens and up who enjoy historical fiction. Romania’s story isn’t one that’s regularly told, but it deserves to be known.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 55
Pages Read in 2022: 19,898
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Book Club, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I’m not a huge fan of the writing style of Anxious People. I usually enjoy books that jump around the timeline going into the past and back to the present multiple times, but this one does it without always making sense. It is often very ambiguous which actually is the most amazing thing about the book, but every so often it’s too ambiguous and seems like it is saying something it’s not. I really don’t care for books that go “There are two policemen. One is young and one is old. The old policeman did not want his son to become a policeman. The young policeman is the old policeman’s son.” like this one does. I just don’t like the sentence construction or that method of storytelling. The moral and ending were great. It really makes you think about the ripples we cause by every little action and how we affect others, for good or bad. Above all, this book reminds us that we are all connected and does it very creatively. I’ve concluded, though, that I’m just not a Fredrik Backman fan (this is the second book of his I’ve read and rated three stars). His books are just so-so to me. For people who like his books and writing style, Anxious People is a great choice.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 51
Pages Read in 2022: 18,501
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reason: Book Club

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver was my book club’s choice for March. I finally finished it the day of my April book group get together. Sometimes I wish I had the ability to abandon books but I just can’t do it. Plus my friends said the last half was better than the first half, and the last chapter was incredible. They were wrong, and it wasn’t. I didn’t hate it on a Red Badge of Courage level, but I definitely didn’t like or enjoy it much. I absolutely judge books by their cover and Spinning Silver has one of the ugliest covers I’ve ever seen. It’s very long, over 450 pages. Now, a long, good book can be extremely enjoyable. This was just a slog to get through. The book is written in first person, but the narrator changes regularly right in the middle of chapters. There is no indication this is happening other than a little scene change sort of symbol. It does not indicate who the new narrator is. You just have to keep reading, confused for the first several sentences, until you figure it out. Some narrators appear quite often, some very rarely, and there is no pattern to when they appear. When I started reading it a couple weeks before our March book group gathering, I found myself finding every excuse not to read it. For like a week I barely read anything. On the plus side, my house was exceptionally clean even with twin toddlers and a preschooler constantly wreaking havoc. I just didn’t care about most of the characters. I found the majority to be annoying. I really didn’t care if they stopped the Staryk creating eternal winter or not. It moves so incredibly slowly. Maybe if it was half as long and things actually happened at a reasonable pace it wouldn’t have been so bad. I did like how all the many storylines converged and the house that was in both the real world and the Staryk world at the same time was very creative. Thank goodness for small things that made it slightly less dreadful. I do not recommend anyone read Spinning Silver.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 39
Pages Read in 2022: 14,106
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Book Club

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Donald Miller learned a lot about making your story the story you want it to be while working on adapting his memoir into a movie and decided to share those lessons in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In the process of intentionally choosing his own story, he lived a full life. In addition to his own experiences, there are lots of anecdotes from others who intentionally created their own story with their lives. It’s a quick read and a good reminder to really live your life rather than letting life pass you by. I recommend it to all adults.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 37
Pages Read in 2022: 13,181
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: Book Club, Self-Help/Motivation