What Nikita Read: February

I am slightly disappointed with myself for I was having a good run with reading. Sadly, I only read three books last month. It is almost as if there was a dry spell just waiting to happen and it had to happen when I was happy reading away my life. Which somehow this meme pops into my head:

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Even though I read just three books, each book was deep and evoked feelings for me. That could be the reason of the dry spell, two of them were good, but majority a sad tale, while the other has some sad moments, but by far a better ending. I would recommend all three, but my favorite was: Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris

Credit: Goodreads

Credit: Goodreads

My reasoning of making this the favorite of February was simple. It dealt with letters to a Soldier, but also followed the lives of three women during World War II. I have always liked stories that dive into the era of the Greatest Generation; there is just something about that time that almost feels surreal to what I live in. Another reason is hand-written letters are more of an extinct practice in today’s society, if anything many of us cannot write decently with a pen and paper. (I would give the example of my sister who is in high school and I feel her handwriting reminds me of a 5th to 6th level. Not saying my sister is stupid, just most people type now and that means we lose the muscle memory that is needed for good hand-writing.)

As I mentioned this story incorporates the story of three women, but also one man, the Soldier. While the main focus is on the woman who is writing letters to the Soldier, the author does an amazing job pulling the other women’s stories in the mix without confusion. (Always a nice touch.) As I was reading I was rooting for certain things to happen, while I was not surprised about the ending, how it played out was not what was to be expected. Even though one of the things I was rooting did not happen, doesn’t mean I cannot think it could. It is left open-ended for one character’s story. And I read it quite quickly, so a good page turner.

The other two novels I read this February were: Lost Saints of Tennessee by Ann Franklin-Willis and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. The Forgotten Garden was a suspenseful, drama, and tragic story, was still a good read. It made me cry a lot, but there was a sort of happy ending to it all. But, I am not going to spoil that for you. Now, Lost Saints of Tennessee was a book I read before my husband, who wanted to read it as well. If you read this book, I will recommend picking a day where you can stay in your little corner. It is a sad tale that has a happier ending, but nevertheless sad.

My husband was happy that I recommended him to not read it until he had enough time to focus on the book and let it sink in. I think the only thing that bugged me was the transitions from one time period to another were not as clear as I think the author thought they were. Other than that good book.

Well that is all I read for February, until next month, happy reading!

Nikita

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Books of the Month: July 2013

This is only new books, as per my Good Reads queue. I generally re-read a lot, as well. I’m a big believer in re-reading.

  • Some Assembly Required and Operating Instructions, by Ann Lamott. Now, normally I won’t read her books at all, because she is diametrically opposed to everything I am, and I generally don’t like book that tell me I’m an idiot or whatever for a whole bunch of pages. But these were a book club selection for my Mail Order book club. So I read them. SAR was better than OI. But still, not high on my list of pleasure reading.
  • Kisses from Katie: about how a teenager from Tennessee came to live in Uganda and become the mother of a lot of girls! A great inspirational read.
  • The Real Jane Austen: A Life In Small Things: Probably one of the top three books on Jane I’ve read.
  • Love Walked In. I thought this book was going one way. It went another. And was better for it.
  • Divergent and Insurgent: Two of the three books in the Divergent trilogy (book three comes out in October). Very much recommended. They’re in the vein of Hunger Games, and a movie comes out based on Divergent next year.
  • The Phantom of the Opera, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary: I love Phantom. So I had to read it.
  • The White Princess: A continuation of Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series. This time, it’s Elizabeth, who became the wife of Henry VII and the mother of Henry VIII. She was in love with King Richard III, but after his death, was forced to marry Henry Tudor to create a new Tudor dynasty.
  • The Light In the Ruins: Forbidden love in World War II Italy meets a modern day detective story.
  • And Then There Were None: The play version–preparing for an audition.
  • Bring Up The Bodies. Finally finished this. Not compelling, and generally much inferior to its’ predecessor Wolfe Hall.
  • The last Time I Saw Paris: Future book club selection so withholding my review. 🙂
  • Organized Simplicity: this had a real impact on how I view housekeeping. So much so that I’m doing a series about it over on my blog.

That’s it for me!

What Emily read: May 2013

Looking back over my Goodreads counter, I see I read a ton of books in May. So buckle up. 🙂

Waiting to Be Heard, by Amanda Knox: Knox was convicted of murdering her British roommate in Italy several years ago. The ruling was then reversed, and Amanda was released and sent back to the states. Now the Italian government wants her extradited to stand trial for the murder again. This is Knox’s memoir about her time in Italy, what happened the night of the murder, and her experiences with the Italian justice system. Let’s just say it’s not a fond look. She definitely makes some questionable choices in the beginning, but her treatment at the hands of the Italian government is shabby at the best. It was a quick read.

donkey pilgrims Last of the Donkey Pilgrims, by Kevin O’Hara: O’Hara, a Vietnam vet and Irish citizen by birth, comes back to Ireland from his home in the states and endeavors to be a “donkey pilgrim”–to traverse all of Ireland with a donkey and cart. It’s a fun and fascinating read, and if you’re at all Irish, like I am, or just love a good travelogue, you’ll very much enjoy this book.

May I Be Happy, by Cyndi Lee: A memoir by the world renowed yoga instructor about body acceptance and the meaning of happiness. (And yes, yoga in involved)

A Step of Faith, Richard Paul Evans: I am a total devotee of RPE, and have been since I read his first book, The Christmas Box, in seventh grade. This is the fourth installment of his very popular Walk series, in which the protagonist decides to walk from his home in Seattle to Key West, Florida, after the death of his wife and the loss of his home and business. This series is tremendously well written.

a step of faith

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson: A fantastically funny quasi-memoir by the author of The Bloggess. It’s quick, it’s hysterical.

Fides et Ratio: John Paul The Great’s encyclical on the relationship between faith and reason.

My Sisters The Saintsby Colleen Carroll Campbell: I really wanted to like this, but it left me sort of cold. There was a sense of overdramatic writing and trying a bit too hard to make her journey relate to that of familiar saints.

Blessed, Beautiful and Bodaciousby Pat Gohn: Now I really liked this one. The book deals with how to be an authentically Catholic woman, without resorting to the all-too-common “married women only need apply” patina that glosses so many of similar books. Her writing style is conversational and fluid, and I really enjoyed it.

Once, by Enda Walsh: In preparation for seeing the show, I read the script.

Return of the nativeThe Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy: In the mode of almost all Hardy: man and woman marry. Man and woman unhappy. Man and woman end unhappily. Sigh. However, it’s good writing and vivid characters.

Italian Food, by Elizabeth David: I bought this in NYC during a recent trip, and loved this book. David, a famous British food writer, makes Italian food accessible with simple recipes that still work today.

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter: Yes, I finally broke down and read this. Stick with it. It starts slow, but oh how it all comes together!

Extra Virginity, by Tom Mueller: Extra Virgin Olive Oil has become a staple in American kitchens. But is it really extra virgin? A fascinating look at the olive oil industry around the world.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz: Continuing in the cooking vein, this is a brilliant, all encompassing biography of the woman who really brought French cooking to America. Spitz doesn’t gloss over the more controversial or idiosyncratic parts of her character and allows her to exist in her entirety. A great read.

A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, by George R R Martin: Books two and three in the Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire series. Battles are won and lost, people are dismembered, people die, and marriages are made. And ended. Oh, and dragons.

The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck: Ten ways to bring more joy into your life. possession

Possession, by AS Byatt: If you read only one book on this VERY LONG list, make it this one. Two British researches uncover a hidden relationship between two Victorian era poets. That’s the basic outline. But it’s so much more than that. Read it.