November Book Report

Thanksgiving is next week, which means many of us will be spending time in a car or airplane, or maybe on the couch enjoying some free time. That means you will have time to read a good book!!

This collection of books is quite eclectic, there is something for everyone! There are some light, quick reads, a good sci-fi story, some great first time fiction authors, and a couple of much anticipated books on many 'best of' 2015 lists. I saved a couple of my favorites from this month so I can do a best of 2015 list, and will post something before Christmas so you'll have a book to read other than borrowing Aunt Edna's romance novel titled Three Nights of Sin

The Book of Strange New Things – By: Michael Faber - 5/5

All of It - November 2015 Book Report - The Book of Strange New Things

I started this book on a whim, I needed a fresh new, out of the ordinary book to read, and this seemed like a good choice. I also needed to fulfill one of my 30 in 30 goals to read 5 books outside of my comfort zone. This book did not disappoint. It is unlike anything I’ve read in the past couple of years. I loved the imagination of everything. I thought the scientific advancements were realistic and loved the inhabitants of the planet Oasis.

Peter, a pastor and founder of a small church in England, is chosen to fly to the planet Oasis as an employee of USIC.  His job is to spread the Gospel.  USIC relies on the Oasans for a large part of their food supply, and in turn they supply the community with antibiotics, painkillers, and other pharmaceuticals. Most of the USIC employees dislike the Oasans, especially since the last pastor just disappeared.

  • In Conclusion:
    • Super imaginative, but realistic at the same time! I especially loved the description of the environment including temperature and humidity. 
    • The characters were great 
    • THERE HAS TO BE A SEQUAL!!! RIGHT?? 
The Boston Girl: A Novel" target="_blank">
All of It - November 2015 Book Report - The Boston Girl

THE BOSTON GIRL – BY: ANITA DIAMANT-  4/5

The Red Tent was one of my favorite books, so I was excited to read another Anita Diamant’s newest book, The Boston Girl.  It carries some of the same threads as the Red Tent as far as independence, religion, tradition, and feminism.

Born in 1900, Addie survives World War I, the flu epidemic, World War II, and triumphs her way through the women’s movement. Addie remembers friendships with deep ties carrying each other through the ups and downs of life, sharing what she learned about love and respect, both for herself and for others. She learns something from women of all different ages and backgrounds.  I loved how each experience shaped her life and how she worked so hard to pursue both her independence and interests.

  • In Conclusion:
    • Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong time period, the depictions of the times in this book were lovely and had me wishing for a time machine
    • Simple but powerful. I looked forward to each new chapter of Addie's life

To RISE AGAIN AT A DECENT HOUR - BY: JOSHUA FERRIS - 3/5

All of It - November 2015 Book Report - To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Paul O'Rourke, DDS is a dentist in Manhattan, a self-deprecating atheist, obsessed with the Red Sox, and 100% against social media or any other type of online presence. He's had four relationships in his life, including one from elementary school, and in each one has tried to attach himself to what the thinks is a happy home life, even if they have nothing in common. One day, he finds that someone has created a website representing him and his dentistry practice. Soon, this person also creates a twitter account and starts commenting on different Red Sox fan forums. To make things even worse, they use O'Rourke's website and social media outlets as a platform for an obscure religious sect, the Ulms. 

This book made me laugh out loud, I found the main character and the way he interacted with the world to be mostly hilarious. I enjoyed the way his character developed along the way, even if the religious stuff got a little bit heavy. 

“Now I have to spend the time that I'm not doing the thing they're doing reading about them doing it? Streaming the clips of them doing it, commenting on how lucky they are to be doing all those things, liking and digging and bookmarking and posting and tweeting all those things, and feeling more disconnected than ever? Where does this idea of greater connection come from? I've never in my life felt more disconnected. It's like how the rich get richer. The connected get more connected while the disconnected get more disconnected. No thanks man, I can't do it. The world was a sufficient trial, Betsy, before Facebook.” - Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

  • IN CONCLUSION: 
    • Hilarious, thought provoking, creative, and different. 
    • “I swore never to use the emoticon ever… until one day, offhandedly and without much thought, I used my first :) and, shortly thereafter, in spite of my initial resistance, :) became a regular staple of my daily correspondence” - Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

GIRL AT WAR – BY: SARA NOVIC-  5/5

All of It - November 2015 Book Report - Girl at War

I have read my fair share of World War II novels. They seem safe in a way, maybe because there is so much time between now and then? This book takes place in Zagreb in 1991 and starts at the cusp of the Balkan wars. Ana Juric, aged 10, lives in a small apartment with her mom, dad, and younger sister; her childhood is filled with playing and friends and family. The war changes everything and Ana’s family adapts to midnight air raids, food rations, inadequate medical care, and frequent news of lost friends. Ana and her friends turn the sandbagged wars-cape into their playground, and ‘war’ becomes their favorite game to play. Though they do learn to avoid small piles of trash, pens and pencils, found on the street, due to the possibility they could actually be small explosives. Her sister Rahela becomes incredibly ill and her parents must take extraordinary measures to get her help. In a chain of unexpected events, Ana’s life is thrown into turmoil. All alone in the midst of war, Ana joins a group of unlikely soldiers at a Safe House. Ana turns into a child soldier, not wanting to be a killer, just wanting to survive. 

We also meet Ana at age 20, as  a third year college student at NYU. Sharon, a Blue Helmet who smuggled her out of Croatia, finds Ana and asks her to speak at the United Nations on behalf of child soldiers.  All of her thoughts that were so deeply packed away are unearthed and the pain she has tried so desperately to forget comes seeping out.

  • IN CONCLUSION:
    • This book has encouraged me to step outside of usual World War II historical fiction
    • Honest, brutal, haunting depiction of children during war, and after the war too, actually
    • The ending. The ending? The ending! I don’t want to give too much away…

DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY? – BY: BILL CLEGG - 4/5

All of It - November 2015 Book Report - Did You Ever Have a Family?

There is only one survivor of a house explosion caused by a propane leak. The event effects the whole town. Four people died and June survives. Behind the grief, the survivors of the house fire carry their own guilt and regret about the events that took place. As time goes on, families and friends begin to mend, and instead of grief, forgiveness and acceptance starts to awaken within. There are so many answers to the question, ‘Did you ever have a family?’, depending on your role and perspective. Who makes up your family? What defines family? Sometimes what happened isn’t as important as what you have right now. 

  • IN CONCLUSION: 
    • Has there ever been a more thought provoking book title? Read the book, and then we can discuss! 
    • Memorable characters, even the ones who only get one chapter. Love the way we learn about main characters from an outsider's point of view. 
    • A beautiful message about forgiveness, family, friends, and moving on. 

 

INSIDE THE O'BRIENS – BY: LISA GENOVA -  4/5

All of It - November 2015 Book Report - Inside the O'Briens

I listened to the audiobook. Can I just say that this audiobook had the best narrator of ALL TIME. This book is about an Irish Catholic police officer in Boston, Joe O’Brien.  At age 44, Joe begins experiencing bouts of unexplained muscle movements, bursts of outrage, and disorganized thinking. He learns he has Huntington’s Disease, which is a genetic disorder with no cure or treatment. The O’Brien kids have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease, and must decide whether to get tested or wait until the disease sneaks up on him. The book moves back and forth from Joe’s point of view and his 21 year old daughter Katie’s point of view.

  • IN CONCLUSION:
    • A realistic, emotional view of how genetic disorders affect families
    • The absolute BEST narrator of an audiobook of ALL TIME!!
    • I wanted to hang out with Joe and his police buddies

 

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth – by: Christopher Scotton – 5/5

All of It - November 2015 Book Report - The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

I was sucked into the summer adventure of Kevin, who has come to stay with his grandfather after his younger brother dies a painful, devastating, death, leaving his mom in a catatonic state. The town is rural, and as the only vet for miles, Kevin’s grandfather (Pops) travels around to farthest reaches of town. As Pops assistant, Kevin witnesses how the mining industry has affected their town. Having grown up in the Twin Cities, which are quite liberal and more open minded than I’ve experienced here in Nashville, I can relate to the small minded, care what everyone thinks, must follow traditions, southern attitude depicted in this book. 

This was a great read. I love books that remind you how important it is to treat others with kindness and to stand up for what is right even if you’re standing alone. I love books that make us consider the lives of others and broaden our abilities to empathize and love.

“I guess I learned that even though most people are good, they can be talked into doing bad things by one or two jerks...And I guess, people sometimes need someone who can stand up and remind them that they are good people and they know what's right.” - Christopher Scotton, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

  • IN CONCLUSION:
    • A unique cast of memorable characters that I cherished
    • The summer adventures of Kevin and Buzzy make me want to go camping (kind of, ok maybe just hiking and picnics...)
    • A great read for young males, would make a great addition to required school reading!
All of It - November 2015 Book Report - In the Unlikely Event

IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT – BY: JUDY BLUME - 3/5

Three planes crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey in a span of three months during 1951 – 1952. The first plane crash could be considered an accident, but the second and third crash? All of the residents are on edge. Rumors of communism and UFOs course through the town.  This was a great story, and I was enthralled with the stories of each character. A coming of age novel amidst the 1950's, Judy Blume portrays young adults perfectly. I loved how they all shared a house and how loved Miri was by her family in the absence of her father. I definitely liked this book, but did not walk away with any sort of big messages.

  • IN CONCLUSION:
    • It was a good book, as far as I liked the characters and hearing how their stories wove together. The teenage characters were full and believable. 
    • I liked the 1950’s backdrop, I think it is a good, collective portrait of the time period.
    • I only gave it a 3/5 because it wasn’t a life changing book, but it was interesting and a great choice for a light read. Sometimes we need those kinds of books! 

 

All of It - November 2015 Book Report - A God In Ruins

A God in Ruins – by: Kate Atkinson  -  5/5

Have you read ‘Life after Life’ yet? If not, go read it ASAP! Not only because it is one of my all-time favorite books (I was so sad when it ended!!), but because A God in Ruins is a continuation of Life after Life. This story weaves through characters in the Todd family, but is mostly based on Ursula’s younger brother Teddy. It jumps back and forth through events that shape Teddy’s life and the people he shares it with in postwar Britain. I loved every single character in this book with the exception of Viola, who we meet while she is living on a commune with her giant stupid jerk of a boyfriend Dominic, and had to focus on the pure creativity that went into her creation. Listen, I cannot write anything else that will do A God in Ruins any justice, because I just think you need to read it and then we can have a book-club-esque discussion about it, ok?

  • IN CONCLUSION:
    • Kate Atkinson is brilliant. Both Life after Life and A God in Ruins are beautifully structured and hop from time to time effortlessly
    • Viola, Teddy's daughter is the most obnoxious female character I've read about in a long time, but I appreciate the artistry and creativity devoted to the task of her creation 
    • I can picture Kate Atkinson gingerly tucking each of her characters into bed

Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts?? 

What have you been reading? What is on your list to read next?? I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below!! Happy Reading!! 

P.S. Click here for my October book report!