Wow, I cannot believe I haven’t done a Show Us Your Books since October of last year! In that time, I’ve had a baby, announced a comeback, and done just a little bit of reading. I’m finally getting back into the swing of things and thought a quick recap of my 2020 reading was the perfect way to re-kick off the blog—for real this time. From here on out, expect a post every Tuesday, and maybe on occasion, a little more often. (If you subscribe to my newsletter, I’ll be popping into your inbox just once a month.)
I’m SO excited to be participating in SUYB again, but since it’s been a while, here’s a quick reminder of how I rate what I read. Let’s get started!
4-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Martian by Andy Weir - I don’t usually re-read books, but honestly, this was the perfect one for me to try. It’s a super engaging book that I knew I liked, so it helped me get into a good reading rhythm again (which I so desperately needed!). I think when I originally read it I had rated it a 5, but on the re-read, it was a bit less un-put-downable because I already knew how it ended. I’m super excited to be making a potato-based recipe for it—like I always said I would. So, look out for that in a future post.
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center - I was a huge fan of Katherine Center’s How to Walk Away, so I had high hopes that this one would be just as good. I didn’t like it quite as much but still absolutely enjoyed it. I read it right after The Martian and it definitely kept my reading rhythm going.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez - This is a classic I had never read, but I did have a copy laying around, so I thought I better get to it. It’s a really interesting fictional account of four real sisters who resisted the Dominican Republic’s dictator Trujillo between the 40s and 60s. I think it would be a great one for a book club discussion.
3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (3.5 stars) - Aside from re-reads and “easy” reads, buddy reads really kept me on track with my reading! Thank goodness for Deanna, who has read quite a few books alongside me (so to speak) this year. We read this February Book of the Month together, which was good, because it’s one that you need to discuss when you’re through! Adunni, a 14-year-old in Nigeria, does everything she can to pursue an education, despite all the odds being against her. It was, at times, hard to read, but the message is powerful.
Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman - I really love Backman’s novels and had heard amazing things about this short memoir, which he writes sort of as a letter to his son. It seemed perfect since I was having a son soon (I bought it last fall), and so I bought a copy for my husband and I to read. It was the first book I read this year—about a month after bringing Henry home from the hospital. It was sweet, a bit wacky at times, and yes, tear-inducing as well.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - This beloved novel about a girl and her family living in a rundown castle was not an instant hit for me. It probably wasn’t the best style to be reading when it’s hard to concentrate and you can only read little snippets at a time — the writing was very verbose, heavy on description with not a ton of action. I can see myself enjoying it more in a different setting, but this time, it was just okay.
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield - This book was probably another case of reading it at the wrong time. Deanna loved it, but she was able to devour it on a plane (remember those?), and I read it a few pages at a time, over almost a month. The number of characters and multiple story lines were hard for me to follow under such circumstances, and I kept having to look up the plot to figure out what was going on. (I'm sorry this is a horrible recommendation for a book that so many people love!) I was sad I wasn’t able to fully appreciate, from what I understand, such an intricately woven, beautifully written story.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid - Another buddy read, I was thankfully able to get through this buzzed-about debut quickly. Deanna and I both had high expectations but were left a little disappointed. Honestly, most of the characters felt one-dimensional (and, oh the bad decisions!). The only character with any depth was still pretty obnoxious, so she was hard to get behind anyway. It had a lot of potential, and I would definitely be interested in more from this author.
Maid by Stephanie Land - We read this novel for my book club — the first one I was able to go to in a couple months before everything shut down again. The general consensus of the book club (myself included) was that it was just okay. Land tells the story of her hard life, but plot-wise, she left a lot of storylines unexplained, and the writing seemed unpolished. It’s also not the gossip-y look at the behind-the-scenes of what a maid sees, like the blurb sort of implies. She’s not cleaning for the rich or famous, just normal people, and in the end, it’s more of a gritty story than anything else.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane - I have heard nothing but amazing things about this novel, and while I liked it, I wasn’t blown away. Perhaps it was a case of high(er) expectations. The story about two families, forever linked after becoming neighbors in the early 70s, was theme-heavy, very focused on somewhat underdeveloped characters, and not terribly interesting from a plot perspective. I wasn’t upset I spent the time reading it, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou - Another book club pick. I was actually really excited when this was selected because I’ve been wanting to read it for (what seems like) forever. I was honestly overwhelmed by the amount of names that were introduced as he was building the story. I also had trouble following the timeline because Carreyrou does not use a linear storytelling method, which I thought unnecessarily added to the confusion of so many names (lots of callbacks). A riveting tale for sure, but I preferred the more streamlined documentary.
2-Star Reads ⭐⭐
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz (2.5 stars) - This feminist sci-fi novel about multiple timelines had a revolutionary premise. I was so excited for it. I got it for my birthday from Deanna, and we decided to—you guessed it—do a buddy read. The story focuses on female time-travelers who try to change the future by changing the past, generally trying to secure additional women’s rights / achieve equality. I thought it was more confusing than it needed to be; I felt like some things were under-explained and some things were over-explained, and they were usually the opposite of what I wanted. Like I said, the concept was interesting. I didn’t love the execution.
Currently Reading ????
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher - Yet another buddy read! I’m about a third of the way done with this dystopian novel, which is sort of weird to read in these times. Especially because the main character keeps talking about how interesting it would be to be in a crowd and to travel on planes, like we do...except not right now. I don’t know, it’s putting things in perspective I guess, and not in a way I intended it to. But, I’m still finding it to be a good read and I’m sure I’ll enjoy discussing it with Deanna ☺️
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano - I feel like everyone’s read this but me, even though I’ve wanted to since I first heard of it. I miraculously got a “read now” e-copy from the library, so I scooped it up, and now I just need to finish it in the next couple of days before it’s due (or do the old airplane mode trick, which let's be real, is probably what will happen). Wish me luck!
I’m looking forward to being back and sharing my reads with you all. Keep an eye out for some bookish recipes in the near future, and if you haven’t yet signed up for my newsletter, now’s the time!
If you’d like to share what you’ve read, here are the linkup details below:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is June 9.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post.
3. Please visit a few other blogs who've linked up and get some book talk going!
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