One thing about me that hasn’t ever changed is that I love to read. I’ve always got at least one book going and usually its more like two or three. I read just about any type of book although Science Fiction is probably my least read category. I read a ton of historical fiction and quite a bit of non-fiction (especially in the summer). I try to sneak a classic in every month. I’m also one of those people that will finish a book even if I’m not enjoying it. Except for Wolf Hall. I abandoned it and haven’t tried it again yet. Anyway, I figured that since I love to read books, look at books and read about books I’d share what I’ve read over the last month. So welcome to the first post I’m going to call, “Book Banter.” In my Book Banter posts I will always tell you my Goodreads rating (0-5 stars) and general thoughts on the book.
I use www.goodreads.com to track the books I read and every year I set a new reading goal. Last year I read 66 books which was 21,493 pages. So far this year I’ve read 56 books. I’m hoping to at least tie what I read last year. I had originally set a higher goal but moving, job hunting and planning a wedding have taken some of my reading time. I love using good reads to rate the books I’ve read so I can get new recommendations and just to go back and look what types of books I gravitated towards during a particular time of year.
As I was book shopping at Powell’s at the beginning of the month I realized that just like my wardrobe and food choices change with the seasons so does my palette for books. As the weather starts to get cooler and the days start to get shorter I like a good spooky read. I think the quick pace of a mystery or thriller matches the abbreviated hours of daylight and the eerie feeling that fall can sometimes have. So let’s see if my book choices this month match with the seasonal spookiness.
1. The Thirteenth Tale- Diane Setterfield
This is a one of those books with story within a story. The main character is commissioned to write the biography of a famous author that no one knows much about. As the fictional author in the book tells her story the main character tries to unravel the secrets the author alludes to before the author finishes her tale. With twists and turns and creepy happenings this book is not scary, but definitely has an air of mystery to it. I listened to the audible recording of this book and enjoyed it. I thought it was a well written story and although the end was not my favorite the things that came before it makes it worth reading. I’m excited to read more by this author. Goodreads rating: 5 stars, but if I could give half stars it would be a 4.5.
2. Stuart Little- E.B. White
Despite having read Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan I have never read this E.B. White book. When I started in my new school there was a copy of this on the shelf and since all of my other books are in storage I began reading this to the students. It was an entertaining book, the students especially enjoyed my Stuart voice, but I found Stuart to be an annoying character and felt this book was lacking the lessons in virtue that other White novels have. It is a quick read and would recommend it for a child to read on their own when they are at this reading level. It is not a great book to spark discussion or lesson learning. Spookiness rating: 0, Goodreads rating: 3 stars (I’d give it 2.5 if I could)
3. The Einstein Prophecy-Robert Masello
On the first of every month Amazon sends me an email with 4-6 new release book titles and lets me choose one that I’d like to read on my kindle for free. This book was one of my Amazon freebies from a few months back. It is the story of a Princeton art professor that was enlisted in WWII to save some of the priceless art from the Nazis. When he arrives back to New Jersey a sarcophagus he recovered has been taken to Princeton for him to study and once he opens it evil is unleashed. Also, he befriends Einstein who is helping Oppenheimer work on the atomic bomb. The story is exciting and this is a quick easy read. This is not scholarly, but it was a fun take on how WWII has helped shaped our modern day world. Goodreads rating: 3 stars
Ok, I read this book because I am trying to complete a reading challenge from one of my favorite bloggers that asks that we read a book from a genre that we wouldn’t usually don’t read. This book was a fun, suspenseful read and I’ve heard the movie was good too. I actually suspect that it might be one of those rare stories that I actually like better as a movie. Some types of struggles are so much more real when you can actually see them. Think: racism, starvation, being alone on Mars, etc. There were things about the main character I didn’t like but overall I enjoyed this book. Goodreads rating: 4 stars
5. A Memory of Violets-Hazel Gaynor
This was another Amazon freebie. The description made me think of Historical Fiction but it wasn’t as rich in history as I wanted it to be. It follows the story of two sisters who are orphan flower sellers in London. They get separated and the older of the two is on a life long search to find her sister. A young woman that moves into the boarding house the older sister used to live in can feel the unsettled spirit of her trying to find her sister (an element of the supernatural here!). So she tries to solve that mystery while also solving some problems from her past with her own sister. This book was not that great for me and I almost abandoned it. Goodreads rating: 2 stars
I love Anne of Green Gables and this 3 book series by the same author has been calling my name. This series is also about an orphan on Prince Edward Island but is not as whimsical as Anne. This is a little more subdued but with the same magic the Anne series has. The cast of characters is eclectic and interesting. I am definitely going to keep reading as Emily is an interesting, real character and there are many good lessons and sentiments in the first story. Goodreads rating: 4 stars (I’d give it 4.5 if I could)
7. A is for Alibi-Sue Grafton
I have always wanted to read this series because the idea of using the framework of the alphabet to write mysteries appeals to me. Janet Evanovich uses a similar strategy, only with numbers, for her Stephanie Plum books too (I stopped reading at #18 but will probably take them up again). I believe James Patterson has a Women’s Murder Club series that is numbered as well. As far as I can tell Grafton’s character is a bit more serious than Stephanie Plum and I actually didn’t hate her. Which for me is rare because I often don’t like female characters that are written to be women who have male characteristics or stereotypical male professions. I enjoyed this book, it was fast paced and had a solid story. I will definitely keep reading the series. I’m looking for the B book in used bookstores now. Goodreads rating: 3 stars (I’d give it 3.5 if I could!)
I started reading the Tana French Dublin Murder Squad books last year. Each book follows a different member of the police force in Dublin that made an appearance in the previous book. This is the third book in the series and follows Frank Mackey. I like French’s style and she can definitely write a suspenseful story (there is bad language if you don’t like that stay away). Of the three I have read this was my least favorite because it wasn’t as creepy as the others but it was enjoyable and I am eager to read the next one in the series. In case you are wondering, The Likeness is my favorite so far. Goodreads rating 4 stars (I’d give it 3.5 if I could)
9. Beautiful Ruins-Jess Walter
I listened to this book on audible too. It was a blend of many characters stories and how they were all woven into one. Initially I didn’t like where it started (in Hollywood) but when we made it to Italy it got better. Eventually you make it to Portland and Beaverton, Oregon (shout out to the PNW, the reader did pronounce Willamette wrong, but hey lots of people do!), Seattle, Washington, and Sandpoint, Idaho. Most of the story is very interesting and does have some beautiful sentiments. I thought it could have ended earlier than it did and thought that maybe one too many characters were given a major role in the story. Goodreads rating: 4 stars, but I’d give it 3.5 if I could)
So those are the books I read this month! Most of them have an element of suspense or eeriness that lends itself to my fall reading palette. I was light on adult classics and non-fiction this month. My favorite was definitely The Thirteenth Tale and my least favorite was A Memory of Violets. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know what you’ve been reading too!
Until next time,
I love you more than hair-raising reads and ghoulish weather,