March Reading Recap

Thursday, April 06, 2017

This was kind of a weird month, like for most people, because we had spring break in the middle and all sorts of things go on (like we listed and sold our house!). I finished four books, but am over halfway through a realllly long but good one, so I feel like I've been reading more than this # reflects!

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I read this one the first week of March, and it was one that I've had on my Kindle for a while (bought it on sale last summer), and hadn't made it around to reading yet. This was also my MMD Reading for Fun Challenge pick for "a book with a reputation for being un-put-downable."

I did find this story engaging, as it covers an aspect of American history that is little-known in our current culture—orphan children herded to the younger, western states in late 19th/early 20th century to be given away free to whomever would take them. This story follows an Irish immigrant girl, who loses her family in an apartment fire, from New York City across the country to Minnesota. She goes through three different family placements before ending up with her "forever" adoptive family. Her story is woven in with a foster child, Molly (love the name, duh), in present-day Maine. I found the story very engaging, but the writing not as strong as I would've liked. Maybe I'm getting picky in my old age, ha—I've read so many books in the past year that were SO well-written (and even really recently, like This Is How It Always Is), that it becomes harder and harder to look past other books that don't feel as "tight," no matter how absorbing the story is. Anyway...good book. But won't be on best-of lists for me this year.

---> Next, I started a "project" I'm still working on, and picked up the venerable Gone with the Wind. Of course, I've seen the movie (though it's been years)... As mentioned in the February post, I've been sort of plowing through the MMD Reading Challenge a little quicker than I meant to, I decided to also do her "Reading for Growth" track. This deserves a separate post, and I will properly document Gone with the Wind when I finish it (and it does fit into a Reading for Growth slot)! I won't cheat in this post, promise! :)

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I'm a member of Modern Mrs Darcy's online book club (which is fun!), and her March pick was Christina Baker Kline (author of Orphan Train!)'s A Piece of the World—I wasn't up for another novel about a painting, but I was intrigued by one of the "flight picks" which was this book, The War That Saved My Life (I'd also heard it mentioned on another book-ish blog). I believe this is considered "middle grade" fiction (which I don't read much of), but has won several awards, and thus fits into the slot of the "Reading for Growth" challenge of Newbury Award winner (yay!). I finished this in three days, and found the story so wonderful—it's about a brother and sister evacuated from London to the British countryside during WWII. If you're thinking Bedknobs and Broomsticks, you're on the right track—though this book is not magical and includes no cartoons, I found it to be a heartwarming and great story all-around. I think I read somewhere there's a sequel coming out, too.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This was my first Margaret Atwood book ever to read! It'd been on my library Overdrive "wish list" for a while, but seeing the preview during the Super Bowl *ha) for the new Hulu show moved it to my queue, and when it came up my turn, I left Tara for a minute and read this one while we were at the lake in Arkansas. According to some internet research, I could also count this as "a book with an unreliable narrator" for the MMD Reading for Growth challenge track. Check!

Anyway, this book was pretty haunting/mesmerizing, all of those things, and I can't wait for the screen adaptation with Peggy from Mad Men playing the lead. I wouldn't say I "loved" it, but it was definitely an artful post-apocalyptic story, and especially crazy that it was written in the 80s, because all of the themes seem so relevant for today.

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

This is the fourth audiobook of the Inspector Gamache series I've listened to in a row (and fifth in the series overall)—in general, the story of this one did not keep me engaged for most of the book (I had a hard time following the actual crime-solving process in spots), although it did pick up at the end and by the time I finished it, I once again was completely riveted by Three Pines, Inspector Gamache, the whole bit, all over again. And of course, as I mention in every post, the audiobook narrator Ralph Cosham keeps on knocking my socks off. I have, however, taken a Gamache break on audiobook, so stay tuned with what came next. (I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat!)

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