As I mentioned here, I have been doing a lot of reading since Isla’s birth. I’ve finished a number of wonderful books since my last post, and I want to share them with you. The last nine books have had some hits and some misses. The ‘must reads’ include Ella Minnow Pea, Eleanor and Park, Girl in Translation and The Cuckoo’s Calling. I would not recommend reading Save the Date, and am pretty iffy on The Vacationers and Austenland (links to all novels below). For summaries and my thoughts, read below! Please give me your suggestions! I’m currently reading the sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling, titled The Silkworm. Loving it so far.
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn is a genius novel. It is set in the fictional island of Nollop, where the town’s ‘god’ is the man who fictitiously created the pangram ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’ This sentence hangs in the town, and as letters start to fall to the ground, the leaders of Nollop start to ban them from everyday language. It’s a very, very well written book, and I highly recommend it to any literary lover.
The Chance by Karen Kingsbury is a nice, easy read. I love Karen’s novels, and have read about 20 of them over time, so the only negative thing I have to say about this book is that it’s predictable. The story is based on two high school best friends who are torn apart due to the girl’s mother’s affair. Many years later, the two individuals paths are set to cross as they reach the date of a reunion set about before Ellie moved to California. Karen is a Christian fiction author, and I enjoyed reading this novel and being reminded about how God influences our daily lives.
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok is amazing. Seriously. I will admit that I thought it was an autobiography for 90% of the book, which made me cry even harder about the hardships this young Chinese girl faces living in the slums of New York. I love it, even knowing that it’s fiction! This novel will open your eyes about the conditions that immigrants face when coming to the United States and how difficult it is to land in a country with a foreign language. This is a must, must, must read.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn… well, gosh. I loved it until the very, very end. Like, the last few pages – and it’s long. And even now, I don’t hate it – but the ending is not how I would have written it! This novel is also very well written, and is a definite page turner. I finished it in a day and a half – keep in mind, Isla feeds 7-8 times a day, so there’s lots of reading time. The premise of the book is that a man is framed for murdering his wife, but it is far more intricate than that. I don’t want to give anything away, but read it for yourself and let me know what you think about the ending. I cannot wait to see the movie, which comes out this year!
The Vacationers by Emma Staub is (truthfully) overrated. I see it ALL over Instagram that bloggers are reading it, and I really didn’t think it was that great. It’s an easy read, but not necessarily page turning. I get why a book about a family vacation gets dubbed as a summer read, but I don’t recommend reading it. The storyline is about a girl whose dad has an affair on her mother, but they are sticking together for a family vacation abroad, where they are joined by her brother, his girlfriend, and her mom’s best (gay) friend and his husband. If you’re looking for a book to read, try one of my ‘must reads’!
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is absolutely incredible. I loved every page of this book. Eleanor is a very, very poor girl whose stepfather is very abusive. She goes to a new school, and is befriended by Park, a small Asian boy, who allows her to sit next to him on the school bus, much against his desire (due to intense ridicule from the popular kids). Their friendship develops without Eleanor’s parents knowing and then takes some interesting turns. Please, read this.
Save the Date by Jen Doll – I wouldn’t bother reading this. I don’t think I’ve quit reading a book ever in my life, but about 60% of the way through Save the Date, I did just that. I felt like it was a collection of (some funny, some complainy) wedding stories by an unmarried woman. It came off a bit feminist and ‘some people find that they have to get married to be happy, but I don’t!’ ish.
Austenland by Shannon Hale is another easy read, but very, very predictable if you have read any Jane Austen novels. I enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s about a girl whose late relative pays for her to go to England and experience a submersion experience ‘Austenland.’ All Jane wants to do in life is find her Mr. Darcy, and you sort of expect that she will from the first page.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (i.e. J. K. Rowling) is such an intricate, page-turning, exciting novel. I haven’t read this sort of detective novel in years, and I was seriously dying to find out ‘whodunit’ from the very beginning. It is about a model, Lulu, who is found dead and declared by the police that it was a suicide attempt. Lulu’s brother pays Cormoran Strike, a detective, to figure out the true cause of her death. I pinned it on about seven different people throughout the book and was very anxious to find out the true murderer.
Thank you for the great suggestions last time! Please give me more books to read if you have your own ‘must reads.’
Featured image by Palwasha N. Minhas