Monday, September 3, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - August

Gosh, I feel like I spent so much of the first half of the year reading, and now I’ve totally fallen off that wagon. Between school starting again and time spent with friends, I really haven’t had much “me time” for reading. I can’t complain though, my mood has been exponentially better this last month than it’s been all year, so I’m thankful for the change. Here ya go- August’s books!

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(Summaries are from Amazon, but all reviews are my own!)

62. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (4/5 ★)

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

This book has been on my “to read” list for ages, so when I won it in a giveaway I knew I had to read it right away! Suspense novels are my favorite, so I figured I would love it. Even though it is set in Europe, they’re on a cruise ship so there wasn’t a lot of geography to sort through like some of the previous books I’ve read this year. I did however hear from a Norwegian girl that some of the geography was off- so if you are from that area then it may make a difference!  The also gave me a lot of flashbacks to the cruise I went on earlier this year, which I had mixed feelings about. But I thing I liked about this book that is different than most is that it gives you small flashes forwards of how the story ends- just enough to keep you wanting more and keep reading to find out HOW it ended that way. There was a lot of suspense throughout, though I felt like it ended abruptly, like there should have been more detail. However, just when I was getting upset about the end, there was one last twist that left me feeling satisfied!

63. Gossamer by Lois Lowry (3.5/5 )

Where do dreams come from? What stealthy nighttime messengers are the guardians of our most deeply hidden hopes and our half-forgotten fears? Drawing on her rich imagination, two-time Newbery winner Lois Lowry confronts these questions and explores the conflicts between the gentle bits and pieces of the past that come to life in dream, and the darker horrors that find their form in nightmare. In a haunting story that tiptoes between reality and imagination, two people—a lonely, sensitive woman and a damaged, angry boy—face their own histories and discover what they can be to one another, renewed by the strength that comes from a tiny, caring creature they will never see.

I have loved Lois Lowry's stories since I was ten years old.  Gathering Blue is still one of my all-time favorite books.  I was at the bookstore picking up a copy of Gathering Blue for a student when I saw this one on the shelf and realized I hadn't read it. A little boy, a foster child, was introduced a third of the way into the story, and without saying what happened to him, I knew his background based on his behavior and responses.  It tugged my heart string hard because so many faces of kiddos I know flashed through my head because they're the reason I understood this boy's story.  That being said, though it wasn't one of my favorite's of hers, it is a really sweet little story!

64. Slam by Nick Hornby (2/5 )

For 16-year-old Sam, life is about to get extremely complicated. He and his girlfriend—make that ex-girlfriend— Alicia have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble. Sam is suddenly forced to grow up and struggle with the familiar fears and inclinations that haunt us all.

This book was in perfect, hardcover condition at the bookstore for $0.05, so I couldn’t pass it up. I had read another book by Hornby earlier this tear and enjoyed it, so I was excited to read another. I regretted that decision. It drug on and on, and it’s probably geared toward late middle/early high schoolers, but honestly I think I would have been bored with it even then. I contemplated putting it down about halfway through, but I AM NOT A QUITTER, so I persevered, but I wouldn’t recommend.

65. Orphan Train by William Morrow (5/5 )

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?
As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.
This book has also been on my “to read” list for ages! (Gretchen, why have you had so many books on your to read list for so long? Why haven’t you just read them already?? Because my “to read” list is 300 titles long, that’s why!) Again, I won this book in a giveaway, which meant it was finally time to read it. After suspense/mystery, historical fiction is one of my favorite genres- but it has to be the right point in history. This one wasn’t in my usual time period (WWII era), but I LOVED it! I loved that half the story was set in my home state of Minnesota because it gave me some insight as to what life was like there in the Great Depression era. For example, I didn’t know that Minnesota had been the biggest producer of turkeys in the country, or even that the state’s name came from the Dakota Indian word for “cloudy water.” I love fiction stories that teach you things! It was fun to recognize places like the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Fort Snelling, and St.Olaf college- places that existed in 1939 and still today. I’ve always appreciated the history in the South, it’s nice to learn about the history from home. This ended up being a book I stayed up way too late reading on many nights because I could not put it down!

Reading Challenge: 65/52 books read in 2018

You can find previous book reviews here!