Book Reviews (January-March) It was a quarter of memoirs!

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You made it through at least four whole months of 2020! You made it through days that had barely enough sunlight and the blob of candy-coated goodness that is Valentine’s Day. You also welcomed the beautiful time change and hopefully, some nicer weather! Yeah, you ‘welcomed’ in a few things we never even thought were imaginable but yet-here we are!

I started 2020 at a good pace but March was a tough one, yet for the first quarter I was able to finish 16 (mostly) wonderful stories!

1. Permanent Record, Edward Snowden (biography): I realize I’m now on lists and how important it is to care I’m on lists even if I “never do anything wrong anyway”. I enjoyed learning more about Snowden’s moral obligations and just how heavy of a burden knowledge can be. I recognize laws are typically archaic when it comes to the protection from, and regulation of, technology but I am mad as hell that we (the public) aren’t holding more folks accountable when it comes to our electronic selves. A+

2. Unpregnant, Jenni Hendriks, Ted Caplan (young adult): So after starting the year pissed as hell, I needed a soft read. I realize I dip into young adult fiction and that may cause some folks to judge me but I don’t mind. To me, a well-written story is a well-written story and this book was just that. This book still had hints of seriousness (like any book about a teenager who finds herself pregnant after precautions would) and pointed out very real scenarios-but also some incredibly outlandish ones as well that just created a funny, serious story. A note this book does talk about abortion access, but does a fair job of exploring the narrative of why access to full health care is a woman’s right. A

3. Evvie Drake Starts Over, Linda Holmes (humor, romance): A light love story that really did draw me in. Yes, it’s a typical love story scenario but the character development is solid enough to make it a light read. A

4. Blood, Bones, and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton (memoir): I will always love me an intimate look into the life of a chef! Hamilton’s story was far grittier than I expected. Again (remember, I often pick the book on the subject rather than knowing much about the author), I knew very little of her professional accomplishments before reading her story but I greatly respect her work now that I am familiar. If you’re like me and ask yourself, “I wonder how they got to be who they are” a lot about other humans and/or are interested in what it’s like to be a woman in the food industry, you’d probably enjoy this book too. A

5. Rising Strong, Brene Brown (personal development): I love me some Brene, obviously; but this was like the capstone book in her repertoire. For me, this book built off other (awesome) ideas Brown has produced and added those final touches and ultimately asked-how do you rebound when you get knocked on your ass? I still have one or two of her older works on my list that I can’t wait to get through! If you’re wanting to delve into the Brene Brown catalog, you may find this blog post helpful on where to start. A

6. We’re Going to Need More Wine, Gabrielle Union (biography): I wasn’t expecting what I got from this book-it’s a really good read. It was a read I needed to have. It’s probably a read you could use as well. A

7. The Moment of Lift, Linda Gates (memoir): I appreciated reading about how inspiration is a causal effect throughout life and that science can be the carrier of that. This is a book that definitely empowers you to go forth and make changes however you can so you can help others. If you need to be reminded of your power, give it a try! B

8. Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl (memoir ): Yes, this is another book about food written by someone I initially didn’t know much about. Several people recommended this book to me and I finally remembered to add it to my list-and I’m so glad I did! Reichl’s time as a food critic was really fun (and funny) to read about but the polarity she draws to how difficult it can be to be a woman ‘critic’ really spoke to me. I can’t wait til the library opens and I can check out her cookbook! A

9. Save me the Plums, Ruth Reichl (memoir): Why not, right? I’m glad I got the timeline correct when reading these two books by Reichl because this is the ‘after’ of Reichl’s time as a New York Time’s food critic and moved into her role as editor in chief at a fancy food magazine. I’m a big fan of several food magazines but ultimately were birthed from Groumet (and more than likely, I appreciate them because of the incredible work Reichl did to change the course of the industry) and I enjoyed learning more about the rise, fall, and odd rebirth of these types of publications. I also just find Reichl to be pretty down to Earth and wish she was my friend. A

10. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling (memoir, humor): Okay, yes, I’ve read this before. Like, twice-ish before, but hear me out! I love Kaling and I needed humor in my life! This book is funny, relatable, and is like an old college hoodie to me-you put it on when you crave familiar comfort…maybe it won’t be the same for you but I do recommend it if you need to laugh. A+

11. Know My Name, Chanel Miller (biography): Wow. Before I start to talk about the story itself and how difficult it was to read I want to preface by sharing that Miller is a phenomenal writer. I am grateful for her ability to string together words in such a beautiful way especially when writing about a really ugly topic. You may not know her name but sadly you probably know a version of a story from her life. Miller’s ability to articulate her life before, during, and after being an unwilling participant in a sexual assault crime is so poignant. Trying to phrase these thoughts was difficult enough, I can’t fathom actually telling the story. A+

12. The Best of Enemies, Jen Lancaster (fiction): Eh, not my favorite from Lancaster but it was witty enough to keep my interest. A ‘beach read’ perhaps? The story was relatable only for the fact that I know what it’s like to be the ‘middle’ friend. C

13. Dad is Fat, Jim Gaffigan (humor, memoir): I am not a parent, but I do appreciate the humor related to being a parent. If you need a laugh about being a parent here you go. It’s no diarrhea pockets but it’s still funny. B

14. Revenge Wears Prada, The Devil Returns, Lauren Weisberger (fiction): I kept waiting and waiting for this book to crescendo and… *queue sad trombone*. What a let down from the other books I’ve read by Weisberger. It was fine (?) but I don’t really see this living up the title of the book. C

15. Twice in a Blue Moon, Christina Lauren (fiction, romance): *queue a smaller, sadder, trombone* I realize it may because I had just finished #14 but I found this book flat, too. Another ‘fine’ story if you just need junk food in the form of a love story. C

16. Inside Out, Demi Moore (biography): Honestly, I think I’m a little too young to have appreciated Moore in all of her glory (I’ve never watched Ghost, oops) but I did appreciate her story. There seemed to be pieces missing to create a complete picture, though? C

Books that were ‘50ed’:

  • Semicolon, Cecelia Watson-it was a cute book that just didn’t keep my attention-but how cute to write a love story to the semicolon!
  • Rest, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang- I was just not in the mood to learn about rest.
  • The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins-wasn’t in the mood for this one either *shrug*

34 more books to go to reach my 2020 goal!

What are you reading currently? Have any favorites so far this year?

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