All About Books~In Which I Pretend To Review The Books I Have Read So Far This Year

Good day, my fellow bloggers!

I am still breathing, and it so follows that I am still reading books. Though this sometimes proves more difficult than I would like to to be, due to school and shows and concerts and the general mayhem that is life.

In the first three months of 2019 (so obviously not counting April because in my mind April hasn’t really started yet…even though it’s practically half gone) I have read approximately ten books of my own accord. I say ‘approximately’ because there were some books that I started in 2018 which bled over into 2019, and other such sticky matters as that- but I digress.

Most of the book bloggers that I follow have read three or four times as much by now. But I am (sort of) content to move at my turtle’s pace. And I’m not a book blogger anyway.

Let’s talk about what I have read. The shocking thing about it is that three out of eleven of these are non-fiction, which for me is an unusually high ratio.

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

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First off, I am a huge fan of The Book Thief, and I definitely had some anticipation when it came to Bridge of Clay.

Honestly it was kind of hard to get through. I liked the format of the book, with the parallel stories of the sons and the parents at different times of their lives, but the story itself was not very interesting to me. It is a pretty thick book, and not enough happened to keep me interested.

I liked how the brothers were so close, and how emotional they were at the end. I have a soft spot for siblings.

But there were some troubling things for me. A few troubling themes, and just content that I don’t want to read about.

Also the abstract writing style, which worked very well in The Book Thief, felt like too much, and it disconnected me more than it drew me in. Maybe I have just gotten worse at paying attention, but sometimes it hurt my brain to figure out what was actually happening.

Overall, I wouldn’t have minded skipping this one.

Not As We Know It by Tom Avery

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This book is a short read (especially coming after Bridge of Clay). It is full of charm, sadness, and Stark Trek references.

It is about twin brothers, whose names escape me, who are very close and live by the sea. It melds reality with the fantastical when they bring home a strange sea creature and hide it in their garage. The creature is more sinister than comical, and it managed to make me nervous from the minute it appeared. I’m not paranoid or anything.

This book is sweet and sad, but that is all. It didn’t pierce my heart or crush my soul. It was just what it was, and that was okay. But just okay. Not brilliant.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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I watched the movie before reading the book, which is a travesty, I know. But I liked pretty much the same things about the book as I liked about the movie. The movie was a very good adaption.

I like that several different characters get to tell the story from their own perspectives, but one thing that I would criticize is that the voices did not feel distinct enough. The characters themselves were distinct and dynamic, but their voices tended to blend into each other, if that makes sense. It’s a smallish thing, but there it is.

Overall, it’s quite a good book and I would recommend it. As well as the movie.

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

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The concept of this book is about as far as it goes for me. I like the idea of portraying real people struggling with the burden of homelessness, I like brother-sister relationships, and I like the idea of a child clinging to a paper world when her reality is so unstable.

However, the execution of these concepts fell flat for me. Much of the storytelling felt contrived, especially concerning the woman who used to be the children’s guardian. The scenes that were supposed to be emotional generally fell flat. Some of the dialogue was good, but a lot of it felt a bit painful. As I said, a lot of it just felt contrived and stilted.

Fantastic concept, though.

Am I getting “too old” for Middle Grade books? What is this nonsense?

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

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World War II. Obviously things are going to be tragic.

You know those books where horrible things are happening but the main character is just a little slow on the uptake? This is one of those books.

The story depicts Warsaw under German occupation, the Jews getting exiled to the ghetto, and eventually deported, all from the perspective of a street boy who never quite seems to realize what is happening and sees the world in his own unique way.

The story is naturally somewhat depressing, but there is hope, which I appreciate.

I am a huge fan of one of Jerry Spinelli’s other books, Maniac Magee, and I like his understated, almost sparse writing style. He is able to say so much without being heavy-handed with his words.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by Eugene Yelchin and M.T. Anderson

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This book was unique and quirky, which I liked a lot.

It centres around the political tension between the elves and the goblins, two peoples who have never quite seen eye to eye. Their cultures are starkly different, and both colorfully described.

The book is told through a combination of words and drawings, which complimented the story admirably.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

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Very short and sweet, this book is characteristic of Kate DiCamillo. Though, it is perhaps my least favorite of her books. That being said, it was still wonderful. I have yet to read a book by her that I do not love to some extent.

It is a follow up to Raymie Nightingale, though not strictly a sequel. One thing that sort of bugs me about it is that it doesn’t seem like something she was planning at all when she wrote Raymie Nightingale, and there are a few minor discrepancies between them.

But I love Louisiana (both in Raymie Nightingale and this one) and Kate DiCamillo’s writing style never fails to fill my soul with happiness.

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

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This book made me think. Quite a lot. And I love that.

And it’s an autobiography! NON-FICTION. That doesn’t happen very often to me, frankly. I am impressed with myself.

And I actually found it super interesting! The author describes how he met his wife and basically shares their journey together until her early death from cancer. They both loved to think deeply about things and some of the concepts addressed in the book are fascinating.

He describes their intellectual (he was a college professor) and spiritual (they became Christians) transformation throughout their relationship. And they knew C.S. Lewis personally, which is kind of cool.

And it’s really kind of a romance? Which makes it doubly bizarre that I enjoyed it because it’s non-fiction and romance. Who even am I.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

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I discovered the existence of this book through the blogger Grace @ True and Pure, who posted a mini review of it ages ago. She likened it unto The Mysterious Benedict Society, so I was interested at once.

It’s sort of a mystery, and a Christmas book, so I read it at the wrong time of year. I can be a rebel like that sometimes.

It’s set on a mountain where there is a remote inn called Greenglass House. Smugglers like to hang out there, but the husband and wife who own the inn are chill about that. Their son, Milo, is the main character.

The inn ends up being populated by a strange and unexpected group of guests during the winter holidays, when it is usually empty. They all seem to be there for random, disconnected reasons…BUT ARE THEY? (I just had a Quibbler moment, guys.)

This book was charming, but I would deem it to be a lesser cousin of The Mysterious Benedict Society. Or maybe I have just grown more picky in my old age.

The characters were fun but not terribly memorable. The plot had some interesting turns, and some that just didn’t work. Also the bad guy was unnecessarily malicious and evil? That didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the book.

A fun read, but yeah, I won’t remember it AT ALL this time next month. Probably.

Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter

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(I am pretty sure this is the same book that I read, though mine was called Tolkien, not J.R.R. Tolkien. The author is the same and unless he wrote two different books with almost the same title it’s the same one.)

Shocking, another non-fiction book. So yes, I read this book because I saw that they are making a Tolkien movie and I wanted to be informed about his life so that I could be sufficiently displeased by the movie when it comes out. Even though I want to like the movie. Yeah…good plan.

Since The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books of All Time, I found it interesting to find out a bit about the man who wrote it. But honestly I found the first half of the book the most interesting. The growing up bit. The rest of it was interesting as well, but less so.

Miracles by C.S. Lewis

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This book took me….many months to read. For some reason I found it harder to get through than Mere Christianity. The concepts are extremely fascinating, but my brain has been hurting a lot from school, and when I get home I would rather watch a movie or read something fun than delve into thick philosophical content. I like thinking about philosophy and theology and the like, but in small doses.

I don’t really know what else to say. It was good. But there is so much there that you can spend an hour mulling over a single paragraph. Amazing, but not something you necessarily plow through in a couple of days.

Epilogue

Well, there you have it! Are you impressed by how much non-fiction I consumed? Because I am.

Up next: The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (reread) and The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews

The Perilous Gard is one of my favorites, and I am so excited to read The Boy Who Steals Houses! I am hoping that more heart-wrenching books are coming to me in my near future.

What books have you been devouring recently? Have you found any new favorites? Are you revisiting old friends? Have you read any of the books I mentioned or have any plans to read any of them? Tell me of all the books in your lives!

13 thoughts on “All About Books~In Which I Pretend To Review The Books I Have Read So Far This Year

  1. I also have a book I started in 2018 that bled into 2019- I started David Copperfield in December 2018 and finished it around Feb. 2019. You know when you pick up a book, and you finish it, and you enjoyed it, and you have no idea why- David Copperfield was one of those books.

    I recently started Pride and Prejudice- have no idea what to think even after the 10th chapter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really enjoyed David Copperfield! It took me a long time to read though. I really enjoy Charles Dickens’ writing style and characters.
      I have read Pride and Prejudice, but I am not as big of a Jane Austen fan.

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  2. I can’t wait to read the Boy who Steals Houses book! 😀 All of the other books look really cool; I’ve never heard of most of them. Also; I KNOW. APRIL IS ALMOST HALF WAY OVER. WHERE DID TIME GO??? XD

    I’m about to start a steampunk fantasy book that a friend of my grandma’s wrote. I’m excited about it. 😀 I just finished The Screwtape Letters for the fourth time; it’s so good. ❤

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  3. Having read ‘Wonder’ several times before the film came out, I super agree that the movie adaptation was quite faithful to the book! It’s one of my favourite books because “wonder” is my favourite word (that’s why it’s in my blog’s name HAHA) and I loved the characters!

    Seeing the movie was memorable, too, ’cause my family and I decided to watch it at the theatre late at night. We were supposed to attend my favourite vlogger’s event that evening, but there was a fire emergency that caused the city’s highway to be jammed (Manila traffic is bad enough, but this was worse), and so it was impossible to get to the event on time. I cried silently – but thankfully, my parents decided to comfort me by bringing us to see the movie :’)

    Jerry Spinelli – ooooh, have you read Stargirl?? My mentor gave me a copy, and I absolutely loved it!! I just read that there’s gonna be a movie; Grace VanderWaal will be Stargirl, which is neat because she plays the ukulele just like her character ❤

    I'm interested in reading "A Severe Mercy" now!!! haha! A college professor turned Christian is pretty cool.

    Also, I finished reading 'Little Women' last week. It's my friend's favourite book, so I knew I had to read it, and I was so glad I did ;-; I cried a couple of times reading it because I could really relate to it during this season of my life hahaha. And I really loved the character of Jo because she reminded me so much of myself 🙂 It was an absolute treat! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is too bad about missing the vlogger, but great about the movie. It’s always really neat when an unpleasant/sad situation can turn into something happy like that. I love being about to attach certain books/movies to special family memories. 🙂
      No, I haven’t read Stargirl! I have heard of it. I should read it BEFORE I watch the movie, haha.
      Yeah, A Severe Mercy is super interesting! I would definitely recommend that you read it.
      Ooh, Little Women! I like that book. I read it awhile ago, but I remember that I really liked the sisters and all of their antics. Jo is the one I relate to the most as well.

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  4. I’ve read The Greenglass House and Wonder! Yep, I agree on The Greenglass House-The Mysterious Benedict Society is better. I read Wonder the book, but I didn’t watch the movie.
    I am very impressed with all the non-fiction! A Severe Mercy sounds really good and I’m adding it to my to be read list. As you know, I read Orbiting Jupiter and I have now also finished The Wednesday Wars. (I will write about my thoughts on The Wednesday Wars in the other comment thread. :)) Do you remember an idea or sentences (or several) in Miracles that really made you stop and mull? What I’m reading now is The Warmth of Other Suns (it’s non-fiction about the mostly untold story of African Americans moving from the south to the north and west in the 1900s) and I’m also in the middle of The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen. That book has a suggestion to the reader in the front recommending to take the short essays a few at a time, which I listened to. It’s so good. I was reading it and my dad asked if I was okay from downstairs because I made some sort of strangled noise because it was so good. What are you reading now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hm, I know there were several moments in Miracles that made me think, but I can’t think of any right now! Um… There was something about how dismissing the possibility of miracles implies that you think you know all about how the world works, which obviously we would be super arrogant to assume. There were definitely more. Now I want to go back and look…I might come back to your question!
      Those books sound good! More non-fiction. 🙂
      I just started The Boy Who Steals Houses! (I finished The Perilous Gard the other day and it’s so good.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, please do! Here is a thing from the year-long book of C. S. Lewis excerpts that I’m reading that stopped me in my tracks (among the dozens):
        Oh! It’s from Miracles! He argues for Christian theology with the two truths of life that men make coarse jokes and that they feel the dead to be uncanny. He says the jokes show “a quarrel between the spirit and the organism” and from the feeling about death that “the thing ought not to be divided.” And he finishes by saying that “But once accept the Christian doctrine that man was originally a unity and that the present division is unnatural, and all the phenomena fall into place.” I love and am amazed by how he can take tiny, daily things and show how they are proof of the largest, most complex truths.

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      2. Yes, I remember that! It is definitely a compelling argument. Here are couple others:
        He talked about how miracles are not breaking the laws of nature, just adding something to it. He used the example that if you put six pennies in a drawer one day, and then added six to the drawer the next day, it would follow that the next day there would be twelve pennies in the drawer- unless someone else came and removed some pennies (like a thief) or added some more. Then you might find only two pennies in the drawer (or twenty). In this case, the laws of arithmetic have not been broken- there is simply another force that must be taken into account.
        Another thing he said is that in order to see nature you must in some way be outside of it. “I spoke just now about the Latinity of Latin. It is more evident to us than it can have been to the Romans. The Englishness of English is audible only to those who know some other language as well. In the same way and for the same reason, only Supernaturalists really see Nature. You must go a little away from her, and then turn round, and look back. Then at last the true landscape will become visible.” -Miracles

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