February Reads

I ended up finishing quite a few books this month (10), but most of my headspace was taken up with The Lazy Genius podcast. I’ve told you about her laundry system, haven’t I? Game. Changer.

With the exception of the March books, this month was just okay. There were no absolute clunkers start to finish, but nothing quite hit the spot either. I’m in the middle of a few good ones now, though, so March is looking up so far.

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All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor//I heard about this book from the librarian at the kids’ elementary school. It is a middle grade book, and for that it is really good. Perry is an 11-year-old boy who has lived his whole life in the minimum-security correctional facility where his mom has been incarcerated for the past twelve years. The warden has been his foster care giver, and the other inmates and guards have become his family...until his unusual circumstances draw the attention of a new district attorney and Perry is removed to a more traditional foster situation. I liked the characters (well, the ones you’re supposed to like), and the story was thought-provoking, especially in the sense of what the concept of home would be to an 11-year-old who didn’t know anything else. I especially enjoyed getting the backstories of Perry’s mom and the other “rezzes.” Of course, because the subject matter was presented in a way that is appropriate for younger readers, the book did lack the edge of messy, hard realities. This book didn’t quite hold up for me as just good literature (regardless of age), but like I said, as a middle grade book it was solid.//⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

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A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles//This was our book club selection this month, and even after the discussion, I’m not entirely sure where I land with it. And by that I mean don’t really have strong feelings about this one. It is set entirely in the Metropol, a luxury hotel across from the Kremlin. Count Alexander Rostov (the eponymous gentleman) is sentenced to house arrest there in 1922, and the book spans the next thirty years of his life. The hotel, and therefore the story, is, of course, peopled with employees and guests and news from the outside and happenings within the hotel, so though his physical boundaries are restrictive, the Count’s relationships become deep and his life expansive. I had been warned that the book starts slow, so I was expecting it at some point to pick up. My experience of reading it, though, was that I didn’t feel like it was slow to begin with, so I might have been a little disappointed that the pick up never really came. That said, I enjoyed reading this one all through. I probably expected to enjoy it even more because I had heard such glowing reviews from several sources, but I solidly liked it.//⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

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Astonish Me, by Maggie Shipstead//This is one of those times I almost wish I could skip the little review, that I could simply say “I really liked this one” and leave it at that. The thing is I don’t know what it is about this novel that captured and held my attention so well. I know I did not like the characters (with the exception of one, but he was the least fleshed out of all of them). Usually characters I don’t like are a dealbreaker for me, but I barely noticed because I was so in. I know nothing about professional ballet, but I don’t think it was the peek into that world that made this so interesting to me either. Maybe the writing (short, intense scenes)? Dude. I don’t know. There was something about this book—especially the final scene—that reminded me of the tv show Mad About You (which I really, really loved). Anyway, for whatever reason, I liked this book a lot.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

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Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch//🎧//This audio book (the second in the Gentleman Bastards series) was my constant companion for almost 25 hours of driving, laundry folding, and meal prep. This continuation of Locke Lamora’s story is every bit as enjoyable for its audacious heists and sticky situations. There was some romance in this one, and some of it was pretty eye-roll, fast-forward worthy. Still, I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to listening to the next one in the series as well.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

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Young Jane Young, by Gabrielle Zevin//I had heard the premise of this book (married congressman has affair with 20-yo intern; scandal blows over for him while she becomes pariah), and I decided it was a pass for me. Still, though, for whatever reason I picked it up from a display at the library and decided to give it a chance. I was immediately hooked by the unique and creative perspective (the first chapter is from the point of view of the former intern’s mother). It was nothing like what I expected, and I was very much enjoying the writing (I really liked Zevin’s previous book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry). I also really liked the second section, narrated by the central character (and in fact, one scene will stick with me for a long time: a man proposes to his girlfriend on the day of her mother’s funeral, saying, “Now this can’t be the saddest day of your life.” And Jane Young thinks “Gross” and “I guess he meant well, but...for God’s sake, some days are meant to be the saddest days of your life.”) But then, it all went wrong. Two of the last three sections are super gimmicky and just don’t work at all for me. But worse is that the second half of the book was pretty much exactly what I would have expected when I read the premise and confirmed that my “pass” should have, in fact, been a hard pass. I am giving the book two stars instead on one because there was a time in the beginning when I wanted to rave (and did) about how unexpectedly good this book was. It’s just that I spoke too soon.//⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

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The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen//This is the first domestic thriller I’ve read, and I’m pretty sure the genre isn’t for me. I won’t say much about the plot because I’m not sure how without spoilers. If you’re going to read this one, it’s really best to go in knowing nothing. The book is full of twists, and the first (and central) one is the most satisfying. But! That first twist was also *really* confusing, and I’m not sure if that’s because it was actually brilliant or if it was because it was an interesting enough idea but not well executed. Regardless, I reread enough to make sure I got it and carried on. In the end, the story of the book was not new, but the snappy dialogue and the well-imagined, believable female friendships made the book an enjoyable quick read. I neither particularly recommend this one nor warn you away.//⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/4//#mrsopusreads2018

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March: Books 1-3, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell//This series of three graphic memoirs tell the story of Congressman John Lewis’s early life and his role as a key figure (one of the “Big Six”) in the American Civil Rights Movement. The illustrations are excellent and such a powerful way to tell this story of the struggle for human dignity. These books were really well done, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

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The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch//🎧//The third in the Gentleman Bastards series, this one was disappointing. The plot was boring with no elaborate cons or exciting heists, but instead basically trading pranks with no real tension. The best part of the book was the continued character development of Locke Lamora and his relationship with his best friend, Jean. Despite *really* not liking this one at all, I will nonetheless continue to read the series (fourth book looks to have been delayed for years and years, though).//⭐️⭐️💫//#mrsopusreads2018

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