June Recap | 2019

A bit more than halfway through the year! Last week was the first week that I didn’t post a review (besides recaps) and that was to announce The Shakespeare Project! I’m super excited about this and can’t wait to dive into the plays.

This month I finished six books and one short story, which were rated as follows.

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence – April 2nd – June 10th
★★★★☆

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – June 10th – 11th
★★★☆☆

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – June 11th – 12th
★★★★☆

Normal People by Sally Rooney – June 18th – 19th
★★★★☆

Bound by Mark Lawrence – June 20th – 21st
★★★☆☆

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado – June 21st – 23rd
★★★☆☆

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – June 24th – 26th
★★★★☆

This is my tentative list of books to get to in July, some of which have changed up a bit!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Dry by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

-Siobhan

The Shakespeare Project – An Introduction

Let’s talk for a moment about Shakespeare. As with pretty much every child in the US, I was required to read several of his plays during my time in school. A Midsummer Nights Dream, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet (twice), and Othello are all the ones I remember, some more fondly than others.

Since I graduated high school, I haven’t picked up a Shakespeare play. I’ve thought about it. I own several of them, and have even seen several of them performed, but I haven’t picked up and read one in a long time.

Why? Partly because I don’t want to seem like that person who’s reading Shakespeare. But I like the plays, they’re good, and also, who besides me is really going to care?

I was talking with a few people about Shakespeare the other day, and one mentioned that he’s doing a challenge where he reads the entire collective works in the proposed order that they were written in. This seemed like the perfect way to read them to me.

So I’m going to start reading all of Shakespeare. I don’t think that I’ll finish all of them by the end of the year, or maybe even next year. This will be an ongoing challenge to myself to read through the entire works. Looking at the list I have, there are 37. Of these, the ones I’ve previously read are up towards the top. I’m going to re-read these as a part of this challenge.

The first four books I’m starting with are Henry VI, Parts II, III, and I, followed by Richard III, which make up the full arc of the War of the Roses.

I’m really excited to start this project. I won’t be posting full reviews for every one of the plays, but I may group a few of them together to post about as an update. If everything goes well with this, there are a few other authors that I would consider doing a similar project with. First though, we’ll read these 37.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi | Book Series Review

★★★★☆
May 21st

I don’t know a lot about “modern” history. Anything after World War II and I’m totally lost. I’m not typically one for politics or war or revolution. I especially don’t know a lot about Iran. It’s something that I’m working to try and learn about. This series was fascinating to me. Satrapi’s history is complex and important, and is filled with the types of struggles I’m so lucky to have never come across in my life.

Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel which follows Marjane Satrapi’s life growing up in Iran at the beginning of the Iranian Revolution, her time living in Austria during the Iran/Iraq war, and then her return to Iran following the war after high school. The style is simple and compliments the story well. It reminded me a lot of Maus in tone: somber but hopeful for the future.

I cannot fathom what it was like for her to live through bombing raids. I can’t imagine living abroad while your family and friends are still at home. I can’t imagine being forced to wear clothes that you don’t want to wear, or say things you don’t want to say. There’s so much in this graphic novel that’s put into perspective that it’s astounding. This graphic novel was tough to read at times, but was really important.

Even now, I’m having trouble finding the words to say how important I think this was, because it feels like everything I have to say pales in comparison. These are powerful volumes, and I really think that more people should read this series. I’m definitely glad that I did.

-Siobhan

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn | Book Review

★★★☆☆
May 20th

I guess this is technically more of a “short story review” than a book review. This is a 60-ish page psychological short by Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame.

I’ve read Gone Girl, and I really enjoyed it. I tried to read both Sharp Objects and Dark Places and couldn’t get into it. Since I’m right in the middle of a tough reading slump, I headed over to my favorite place to find short books, which is r/bookinasitting. I find that when I’m in a reading slump, the best thing that I can do to get myself out of it is read something short. Usually a 50-100 page story, or even a graphic novel can help. Something about having something that you start and complete helps me get back into reading full-length stories. Which is good, because I really want to finish the two books I’m currently in the middle of.

But back to the review at hand. This book is definitely in the adult genre, as all of Flynn’s work is. It has her typical style of being brash and having women speak their minds. I’m not always a huge fan of Flynn’s characters, but what I did like about this was the atmosphere it had. It really creeped me out. Usually thrillers (and some horror) can scare me, but this one really did a great job of making the reader feel afraid for the main character.

Since this is so short, I’m not sure that it’s totally worth spoiling, and I would definitely recommend picking it up and giving it a read. Reviews that I’ve read are fairly mixed. I thought that it was just okay, and it was exactly what I was looking for, but it wasn’t anything special. Given how I’ve seen how truly great Flynn’s writing can be (I’m looking at you, Gone Girl ending), I’ve come to expect more from her. That being said, you really can’t ask for much more out of around 60 pages.

If she ever writes anything short like this again, I would definitely pick it up, but I think I’m going to hold off on diving into any of her longer novels anytime soon.

-Siobhan

Becoming by Michelle Obama | Book Review


★★★★☆
April 1st – May 1st

I’m still trying to read more non-fiction. Becoming has been getting rave reviews, and several of the blogs and reviews that I’ve read and watched have been talking about this. I ended up getting the audiobook as a part of a promotion, and decided to listen my way through this.

I really like Michelle Obama. She’s an amazing person, an incredible mother, and a hard-working human being. I’m interested in her life, where she came from, and how she became who she became, so this seemed like the logical place to start. There was a lot I didn’t know about her. I didn’t know where she went to school, where she grew up, what her career was prior to being First Lady. I was ignorant about a lot of her life, and I’m really glad that I read this book.

The writing is real and down to Earth. I loved the natural flow of her story, from the pain of watching her father’s disability take over his life slowly, to watching her mother stay strong and resilient, even during her stay at the White House. I loved reading about her relationship with President Obama, and how at times their relationship took compromise and tending to. Relationships take work, and this didn’t gloss over the difficulty of that, especially as he made the transition into office.

The part that I had the most difficulty with in this book was the last third. Listening to the political discourse, and especially the parts about Sandy Hook felt very close to the heart and were difficult to get through. The overall message was positive: a call to stay resilient and keep fighting against those who think that racism and fear are a path to success. I’m not a political person, or a news person, so I recognize that I’m not the demographic for this part of the book.

What I especially loved was hearing about the strong women that helped her along the way, how she had mentors help her become who she was. I liked hearing how she could pass this along to her daughters and help them be just as resilient.

I would definitely give this book a read (or a listen, as Michelle Obama reads the audiobook herself) if you’re at all interested in her as a person.

-Siobhan

May Recap & Mid-Year “Freakout” Tag | 2019

We’re officially done with five months through the year! I finished four books this month, and really enjoyed them. This time last year, I did the mid-year freakout tag, and was thinking that might be a fun thing to do halfway through the year again. It’s the first tag that I’ve done all year!

Becoming by Michelle Obama – April 1st – May 1st
★★★★☆

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – May 20th
★★★☆☆

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – May 21st
★★★★☆

Persepolis: The Story of a Return – May 21st
★★★★☆

And now I have the questions for the Mid-Year “Freakout” Tag!

Best book you’ve read this year?
I think this is going to go to Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, though Daisy Jones & The Six was a pretty high contender as well.

Best sequel you’ve read in 2018? 
In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire.

New release you haven’t read yet but want to?
Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence! It’s the third book in the series, so I have to read the second one first before I get to it, but I’m excited to finish out the trilogy.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
The only book that I know I’m definitely picking up is Girls of Storm and Shadow, sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. That’s expected in November of 2019.

Biggest disappointment?
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Given that it’s the author’s first novel, I’m excited to see what he does with his next project, but I wanted more from this. I still really liked it though, and I’ve been lucky that everything I’ve read this year so far has been great.

Biggest surprise?
Alice Isn’t Dead! I really enjoyed this book, and it’s always great to find something in my favorite niche genre, which is horror-comedy.

Favorite new to you or debut author?
Most of the things that I read this year are from authors who were new to me, but it was probably Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Newest favorite character?
Ava from The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.

Book that made you cry?
Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini and both parts of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. These were both so beautiful and heartbreaking.

Book that made you happy?
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel. Not so much because of the content, I just really love him as an author and was excited to read more by him.

Favorite book-to-film adaptation?
I haven’t seen any so far this year.

Favorite post you have done this year?
My first post of the year! I like setting goals (and then not completing them.) It’s a hobby.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year?
Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty is beautiful, as is the copy of The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab that I was sent. I’ve been much more intentional about the books that I purchase, especially since I have limited shelf space now.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I’m so glad you asked! These are books that I want to get to by the end of the year. You’ll notice a lot are by authors that I’ve already read books from before.

A Darker Shade of Magic (series) by V.E. Schwab
The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Thanks so much for reading! I’m excited to see what I get to this month and for the rest of the year.

-Siobhan

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini | Book Review

★★★★★
April 13th

I’ve found that these shorter poetry-style books are very hit or miss for me. This is an extremely short piece by Khalid Hosseini, who famously wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is a prayer about the safe travel of refugees, and the reality that these people face as they leave their home in search of something safer.

I found the book incredibly moving and loved the space that it took. The illustrations were absolutely gorgeous, and the formatting allowed for contemplation between short paragraphs. There’s gravity to the situation, and gravity to Hosseini’s words. Each choice is deliberate, and the pacing of the piece is slow and methodical, allowing the reader to digest.

I think this is an incredibly powerful piece. From online reviews that I’ve seen from parents, this is a book that many are reading to their children, which, though heavy in subject matter, is an important topic. I would definitely recommend this, as it provides such important insight into a reality which I wish that no one had to deal with.

-Siobhan