What I’m Reading: June 2016

One thing I hoped for after graduation has come true: I have a lot more time to read.  I finally have a full-time job, so my days are spoken for, but I no longer have to make room in my evenings for homework.  So books have made it back into my life on the regular, thank goodness!

Resultado de imagen para my not so perfect life coverIt’s not summer for me without a Sophie Kinsella book, and this is the newest one, published in February of this year.  It follows the classic Kinsella style of zany characters and hilariously ridiculous situations, but it felt a bit more serious than her earlier books, especially the Shopaholic series.  In this, Katie Brenner is a recent college grad (like myself) who is trying to break into the world of branding.  She lands a job at a prestigious firm, but is a bit intimidated by her boss, whose social media accounts make it look like her life could not be more perfect.  Katie is simultaneously in awe and repulsed, but when she gets fired she has a whole host of new problems to deal with.

I enjoyed this because it’s the first Kinsella protagonist I’ve read who was just starting out in life.  I identified with Katie, and I admit felt a bit jealous that she is working in her field so soon after graduation.  But Katie is definitely not perfect either, and that made her so easy to root for.  I saw myself and my friends in her, and I wanted her to succeed.  She learns a lot of hard, adult-y lessons throughout the book, but it still has the nice, satisfying ending that is characteristic to Kinsella books.

Resultado de imagen para universal harvester coverUniversal Harvester is one I wish I could have read in school, or even in a book club, because it begs to be re-read and pondered and analyzed.  Set in the late 90s, it follows Jeremy, who works at a video rental store.  Jeremy, who has lived alone with his father since his mother died in a car accident, is settled into his routine, and likes it that way.  But he can’t help but be curious when several tapes get returned with extra scenes edited in, scenes that seem to have been shot not far from his house.

When I started this, it felt like a creepy thriller.  The mystery surrounding the tapes seemed dark.  Once I realized that — spoiler alert — the narrator is not the author, but another, unknown character, it got even creepier.  But as I got even farther into the book, the creepiness melted away, and it just felt horribly sad.

I know I’m being vague about this book, but it’s the kind that demands to be read to be understood.  You can go read the description on Amazon or Goodreads if you want more info.  What I will say is that Darnielle’s writing style is incredible.  Reading a novel with an unreliable narrator is one of my favorite things in the world, and he executed that perfectly.  This is going to be one I beg other people to read so we can talk about it.

Resultado de imagen para yo julia alvarez coverYo! is by the same author who wrote How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, which I loved.  This I have not loved nearly as much.  But part of it is because at first I didn’t realized that this book continues the story Yolanda, one of the Garcia girls, throughout her lifetime.  It’s an eventful one, too — she angers her entire family by writing about them, gets kicked out of college, and marries — three times.  If I had realized that this Yo was the same as the Garcia Girls Yo at first, maybe I would’ve liked it better.

But another reason I haven’t loved this is because I am reading it in Spanish.  While I have no trouble reading and comprehending words, comprehending voice is a different story.  In this book, each chapter has a different narrator.  Sometimes they are named, and sometimes they aren’t.  I also didn’t realize that at first, because it does take a little more effort for me to understand Spanish novels.  I found that it helps immensely if I read out loud, but I can’t read the entire thing aloud to myself.  I did finish the book, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more in English.

That said, it’s still an incredible work.  (Also, some of my issues may stem from the translation, since it was written in English originally.)  But even with my somewhat foggy understanding of the book, Alvarez’s unique writing style comes through.  Her characterization and place settings are both beautiful in their own way, and the fact that she wrote every single chapter in a different voice speaks to her talent.  Even though I haven’t enjoyed this nearly as much as How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, I’d still recommend it, and I may end up reading it again in English in the future.

 

I Want More Spanish Books Everywhere

You all know I love reading, and that I just graduated with a degree in Spanish.  I posted here (before my impromptu graduating-and-moving blogging break) about how I’m planning on keeping up my Spanish skills.  One of the biggest ways I’ll be doing that is by reading in Spanish, so every time I go to a library or bookstore I browse the Spanish section.

Just in the last week or two, I’ve been to four bookstores and library branches.  And of the places who actually have books in Spanish (some don’t have any at all), all of the ones they have are condensed into just two, three, or four feet of shelf space.  That’s not a lot, when you consider that entire niche sub-genres — like, say, vampire young adult fantasy novels — may have the same amount of shelf space.

Here in America, we have vast bookstores.  We have sections for bestselling fiction, literary fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, Christian fiction, and chick lit fiction.  We have romances, erotica, sci-fi, thrillers, epic fantasies, and crime dramas.  We have biographies and memoirs, how-to everything, travel sections, technology books, books of just photos, books to read in the bathroom, every type of cookbook you could think of, and dozens of different magazines.  We have books on every religion imaginable, and many bookstores have one or more aisles dedicated entirely to different versions of the Bible.

Aside from books, bookstores also typically have huge sections of stationery and notebooks, small gift items, and coffee shops.  Barnes and Noble has the Nook e-reader section complete with its plethora of accessories.  Bookstores have sections just for kids, with books and toys geared towards them, and entire sections blocked off for music and movies.  Do you want me to go on?

We have all of this in some form in almost every bookstore you could ever walk into.  Now, there are almost 43 million Spanish-speakers in the US as of 2015 (and not all of them are of Hispanic/Latino origin), which is almost 10% of the population.  This number is only getting higher as the years go by.  And yet, despite this, bookstores allow only a small fraction of their shelf space to books in Spanish, and this tiny amount of shelf space is expected to encompass the highlights of every genre that is offered in English in the rest of the store.  It’s ridiculous.

Now, I do have to admit that while I couldn’t find any statistics on it, I don’t think Spanish speakers read in Spanish as much as anyone reads in English.  I discussed this with one of my Costa Rican teachers when I spent a month in Costa Rica studying abroad.  We were in the “getting to know you” stage, and she asked me what I liked to do for fun.  I told her one of my favorite things was reading, and she asked me how many books I read a year.  I told her it’s probably 20-24 on average, and she was astonished.  She told me she reads maybe 1 or 2, and that most people she knows haven’t picked up a book since they got out of school.  Of course, this was a small town in Costa Rica, not in the US.  I have no way of knowing whether reading is something that is valued in Spanish-speaking households here, because apparently it hasn’t been studied.  That’s something I’d like to see.

I also want to mention that I have never been in a bookstore or library in, say, New Mexico or California, where the number of Spanish-speakers is much higher than in Tennessee, where I live.  Maybe in those states it’s more common to have larger sections of Spanish books since the customer base is larger.

Regardless, though, there are Spanish speakers everywhere in the US.  It’s the second-most-spoken language here after English, and as such, I feel like it should be given a tiny bit more than a measly three feet of shelf space in a bookstore.  Maybe more Spanish speakers would read and write if bookstores offered more than the same old Harry Potter translations and copies of Cien años de soledad in the Spanish section.  Maybe more people would learn it as a second language if they could read different types of books at different levels in Spanish.  Maybe brick and mortar bookstores could save themselves from going the way of Borders if they tapped into the Spanish-speaking market.  I don’t actually know if any of this would actually help anything (honestly it probably wouldn’t).  But I’d at least like to see some more effort.

For now, I’ll have to stick to reading through every small Spanish section I can find, and I’ll also try to find translations of works originally in English.  But I would truly love to see just half an aisle of Spanish books when I go into a bookstore or library.  I might have to take another trip out west.

Book Review: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower by Tom Krattenmaker

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Tom Krattenmaker is part of a growing conversation centered at Yale University that acknowledges—and seeks to address—the abiding need for meaning and inspiration in post-religious America. What, they ask, gives a life meaning? What constitutes a life well led?

In Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower, Krattenmaker shares his surprising conclusion about where input and inspiration might best be found: in the figure of Jesus. And Jesus, not only as a good example and teacher, but Jesus as the primary guide for one’s life.

Drawing on sociological research, personal experience, and insights from fifteen years studying and writing on religion in American public life, Krattenmaker shows that in Jesus, nonreligious people like himself can find unique and compelling wisdom on how to honor the humanity in ourselves and others, how to build more peaceful lives, how generosity can help people and communities create more abundance, how to break free from self-defeating behaviors, and how to tip the scales toward justice.

In a time when more people than ever are identifying as atheist or agnostic, Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower is a groundbreaking and compelling work that rediscovers Jesus–and our own best selves–for the world of today.

Before I mention anything else: if you are a professing, practicing Christian, this is probably not the book for you.  Krattenmaker is not a Christian himself, and is open about this.  He evens explicitly mentions that since he is not a Christian, he is fine with taking parts of a whole from the Jesus story and learning from those parts alone (ie, not in context with the entirety of the Bible).  He tries to take more of a historical, sociological perspective than an internal one.  But if it is against your beliefs to study the Jesus story this way, this book will likely make you more angry than anything.

That said, I enjoyed this.  Krattenmaker takes Jesus out of the Christian context and studies what has been written about him in order to gain some perspective for his own life.  The book is separated into topics such as sexuality, religious tolerance, and politics, and Krattenmaker uses specific anecdotes from the Gospels to illustrate how Jesus reacted to different situations.  The overall message is that Jesus acted differently than most humans tend to.  While we separate the world into “us” versus “them,” Jesus didn’t see it that way, and treated everyone individually.  In his eyes, every single person had value, and he interacted with them as such.  That, Krattenmaker says, is what all humans should strive for.

So if I liked it, why did I just give it 3 stars?  For starters, Krattenmaker tends to repeat himself.  Some things do bear repeating, but it felt to me like he kept restating the same few ideas over and over.  Perhaps this is because he used only 4 books from the Bible — the Gospels — but then, this makes sense because those are the only primary accounts of Jesus’ actual life.  The rest of the Bible deals with events before and after.  So even though I liked what Krattenmaker had to say, I found myself skimming the book after the first few pages of each chapter.

As for the final verdict, I would recommend this to anyone struggling with religion or lack of it.  This book can be used as a jumping-off point for those who are floundering.  It highlights the fact that Jesus really is a great example for everyone, even if the Christian church isn’t always.  If taken to heart, the principles detailed allow for the better understanding of others, and that’s never a bad thing.  This is something I would even give to a Christian who is disheartened or dissatisfied with their faith.  Taking Jesus out of the religious context, while definitely not orthodox, can be a good reminder of why Christianity began in the first place.

This book was provided to me for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for this honest review.  Image from Goodreads.

What I’ve Been Reading: Christmas Break

I was hoping to do a lot more reading over break, along with job applications and sewing projects.  But since I decided last-minute to take a CLEP test, a lot of my free time was spent studying.  My application and sewing plans went out the window, but I squeezed in a little time here and there to pick up a few books.  Here’s a rundown of what I did get to read.

My mom and I both enjoy watching HGTV, and Fixer Upper is our favorite.  I got this for my mom for Christmas, and read it after she was done (although the temptation to read it before Christmas was strong).  It was worth the wait though, because it was wonderful.  It’s a quick, light, often funny read, and it really shows how to maintain a healthy relationship when times get tough.  It makes me want to get into flipping houses (but that’s nothing new).  Even if you’ve never watched the show, the Gaines’ have such an interesting life there’s got to be something in there you’ll enjoy.

This. Is. Incredible.  In case you don’t know, Diane Guerrero is an actress in Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin (among other things).  This book is her story about growing up after both her parents were deported.  It’s honest and raw, and completely disproves bad stereotypes about Latino immigrants.  I cannot say enough good things about this book or about Guerrero.  Read as part of my goal to read more diverse authors. 

I borrowed this from the library to ease back into Spanish.  It’s a translation of Stevenson’s book Outback, and it would be a perfect challenge for an intermediate Spanish student.  As a middle grade novel, the vocabulary and verb tenses are fairly simple, as is the story.  It’s supposed to be a survival/adventure novel, but there wasn’t as much of that as there was setup.  Also, the character of Mel, a researcher, felt a little one-sided.  However, I loved the ending — spoiler alert: the two main characters did not get together romantically at the end, and the whole book has underlying themes about dealing with depression and illness while not being too heavy.

This floated around on the blogosphere for a long time, and I finally got my hands on a copy.  I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I don’t think it was worth all the hype.  It was a lot of philosophy and not a lot of character development.  It was such an interesting concept and story, but nothin really got resolved — we never find out how or whether the MC pays his invoice.  Maybe I’m missing the point, and it never meant to be just a novel — maybe it was meant as more of a social commentary, like Animal Farm.  But at least Animal Farm resolved somewhat.

This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, which I’ve never read.  I was vaguely familiar with the plot, but this novel would’ve been enjoyable even if I wasn’t.  Set in Barbados, it deals with family drama, racism, favoritism, greed, and jealousy.  While not one I would likely return to (unless I read King Lear first), Nuñez’s style is easy to read and she is an admirable storyteller.  Read as part of my goal to read more diverse authors. 

What I’m Reading: December 2016

There are lots of reasons I always look forward to Christmas break, but one of the big ones is because I get to read.  While I’ve had more time this semester to read (and write!) than normal, not having class at all means even more reading time.  So here’s what I’ve read already, and some of what I’m looking forward to.

What I’ve Read So Far

judyblumeVerdict: So.  Worth.  It.

As soon as I realized Judy Blume had written a new(ish) novel, I wanted to read it.  I grew up with Blubber, the Fudge books, and of course Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.  And the fact that this one was based on true events made it even more appealing.  At first, the extensive character list in the front threw me off, but Blume introduces characters slowly enough that it wasn’t confusing at all.  This was such an engaging, sad read, and Blume, as always, captures the very essence of human experience at all ages.  She stays in touch with her inner child but is so incredibly realistic about the way people feel.  If there was ever an author in touch with human nature, it’s Judy Blume.  I highly recommend this.

sleepVerdict:  Do not start unless you have about 6 hours to spare.

It took me from around 8:30pm to 2:00am one night to read this.  I literally did not put it down.  It was kind of funny that I picked it up — it had been on my TBR but I didn’t realize it had finally downloaded to my Kindle from the library until I went to delete another rental.  I just read another book with almost the exact same premise (see below), but I figured why not go ahead.  And this book did not disappoint.  It was suspenseful, engaging, and I caught myself actually holding my breath near the end.  If I ever write a debut novel half as good as this one, I’ll rest easy in my grave.

 

1358844Verdict:  Funny, as usual.

Girl wakes up with amnesia and has no idea who she is — exact same premise as Before I Go to Sleep.  But this was a much fluffier version, a Kinsella classic.  While there are obviously elements of suspense (how can there not be, with this premise?), the surprises are more reality show-esque than the horrible truths revealed in Before I Go to Sleep.  I actually listened to the audio book, and ended up laughing out loud, as I usually do with Kinsella novels.  But maybe not as much as I would have if I had read it — I’m not sure.  Generally I’m not crazy about audio book narrators.  However, it’s really hard to go wrong with Kinsella.

 

TBR for December

To Review

jeffJeff graciously offered me a copy of this collection of memoirs in exchange for a review, so be looking for that within the next few weeks!  I’m excited about this because I love memoirs, and have really enjoyed his blog so far.

 

 

 

sayinsThis is my next book from Blogging for Books, which I chose because 1) I love languages and 2) I love coffee table books.  Someday I hope to have a coffee table full of books, and this will definitely be going on the pile.  Look for the full review by the end of December!

 

 

To Read

Lately I’ve been realizing how few non-white authors I have read.  While I follow a few non-white bloggers, that’s not enough.  In addition to the TBR I already have on Goodreads, I’ll be searching for more non-white authors to read over break.  Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations!

Book Review: Substitute by Nicholson Baker

29429931Resultado de imagen para 2/5 stars

Goodreads Description

In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher’s five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done. What emerges from Baker’s experience is a complex, often touching deconstruction of public schooling in America: children swamped with overdue assignments, overwhelmed by the marvels and distractions of social media and educational technology, and staff who weary themselves trying to teach in step with an often outmoded or overly ambitious standard curriculum. In Baker’s hands, the inner life of the classroom is examined anew mundane worksheets, recess time-outs, surprise nosebleeds, rebellions, griefs, jealousies, minor triumphs, daily lessons on everything from geology to metal tech to the Holocaust to kindergarten show-and-tell as the author and his pupils struggle to find ways to get through the day. Baker is one of the most inventive and remarkable writers of our time, and “Substitute,” filled with humor, honesty, and empathy, may be his most impressive work of nonfiction yet.”

I’ve had this book since September, and just cannot make myself finish it.  Baker may be “one of the most inventive and remarkable writers of our time,” but this book is neither inventive nor remarkable.

If I wanted to hear a play-by-play of every single minute of a substitute’s day, I would just talk to my mom, who can talk to me face-to-face and actually make a story interesting.  She substitutes quite a bit, and tends to tell detailed stories, but she has a knack for storytelling and pulling out the interesting parts of the day.  She focuses on one or two kids and tells me what she thought of them in depth and why she thought they weren’t doing well or, in some cases, how sorry she feels for them just from the little she heard about their home life.  She humanizes them.  Baker tries, but he falls short.

The book is organized into chapters, each of which summarizes one day as a substitute.  Every single chapter consists of verbatim conversations, Baker’s thoughts about feeling tired and inadequate, and near word-for-word lessons that Baker taught or heard.  (Did he just record and transcribe his days as a substitute, and send that to his editor??)  If I wanted that, I’d substitute myself.  I’ve been through elementary and middle school; I know what classrooms are like.

With this book, I think Baker was trying to show just how bogged down students feel by school.  In the schools he was at, each student was issued an iPad in order to more easily turn in homework or play educational games during down time.  But there were a lot of technological malfunctions that resulted in kids sitting around for long stretches of time.  There were intellectual gaps that made it difficult to teach to a level everyone could understand.  There were seemingly pointless assignments — busywork — that not even Baker wanted to do, much less the students.  If our school system is this frustrating for a substitute, Baker tries to say, imagine how much more so it is for kids who must spend 13 years there.

While I understood Baker’s goal with the book, it just was not enjoyable to read.  It was boring.  I found myself skimming page after page,  skipping ahead in the book to see if it got any better.  Even then, I could only force myself to finish about half the book.  It just wasn’t interesting.  I definitely think Baker has more than enough material to make an interesting book, but he should have used the book as it is now as a resource.  He should have tailored the stories a bit more, and tried to create some semblance of a story line from the things he experienced and the kids he met.  I gave a rave review to a similar book a few months ago, and wish Substitute had been as good as it was.  Besides the fact that the other book was written by a full-time teacher, the only difference, really, was that the other one was organized into chapters according to theme, not days.  It made the book a lot easier to take in.

I may not give up on Baker completely, because he has written several other books (mostly novels) that seem to have good ratings.  In fact, I think Substitute is his lowest-rated book on Goodreads.  However, I wouldn’t recommend this book at all, unless you have insomnia and need something ridiculously boring to lull you to sleep tonight.

I received this book from Blue Rider Press through NetGalley for free in exchange for this honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

What I’m Reading: November 2016 – Learning Outside the Classroom

My whole family has a legacy of loving education.  We like to learn stuff, and we all like to read.  My dad is a huge history buff, and as an ex-Marine, you can often find him devouring a book about World War II and other conflicts.  My sister, and brother to an extent, inherited this love of history.  My brother has done school projects on famous generals and war machinery.  His main interest, though, is building things, and he prefers to learn by watching YouTube.  My sister, on the other hand, reads everything — history books, theology, care and keeping of farm animals — you name a topic, she’s probably read something about it.  My mom prefers to read biographies and novels — we joke that “based on a true story” is her favorite genre.  I’m more similar to her in reading taste than anyone else, but I read more popular stuff than anyone in my house.

The only similarity we all have is that we all read to learn.  Even my brother, who doesn’t love reading, has done it.  It’s part of being in my family.  It’s in our DNA.  Recently, I’ve been thinking about learning outside the classroom.  I hope to go into the marketing industry, and I know that learning doesn’t end when classes do.  So here’s what I’ve been reading to try to stay on the up-and-up.

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Source

Hubspot’s Marketing and Sales Blogs

I started following these as a result of my Marketing and Public Relations class.  I’m genuinely interested in the Marketing blog, and often read (or at least skim) an article every day or so.  The Sales blog is not my favorite, but since so many jobs are described as sales and marketing, I figured it couldn’t hurt.  I kind of have to force myself to read the sales articles, though.

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From webinknow.com

WebInkNow

This is the blog of David Meerman Scott, a self-made marketing expert.  He’s the author of our textbook for Marketing and PR, which I’ve enjoyed so far.  He’s been studying the marketing aspects of the presidential election, and it’s been very interesting to read his take on the candidates’ marketing techniques.

 

Magazines

Inc., Fortune, and Entrepreneur are a few that I read articles from on a semi-regular basis.  Honestly, a lot of times I’ll read articles because they touch on something I’ve had to research for a class.  In a couple of my classes we had to take the day’s topic and find a news article that related to it, and these magazines were invaluable.  I also follow all three of these on Twitter, which is easier than visiting each site every day since I’m not a legit subscriber to any of them.

Companies

Since I’m searching for full-time jobs, I spend a good chunk of time researching the companies that are posting on the job boards.  I don’t want to waste my time applying to a company I don’t actually want to work for.  While I don’t do extensive research on every single company I put in an application for, I make sure I at least visit the website and have a pretty good understanding of their mission, customer value, and company culture.  I consider this learning because I’m finding out what companies like to emphasize about themselves, and I can compare this to what I’m learning in my classes about how this should be done.

What I’m Reading September 2016

I randomly started receiving Fortune at the beginning of the summer, and I’m not really sure why, because I didn’t subscribe.  I think it may be a perk of the business honor society I was invited to join last spring.  Regardless of how it began, I’ve found I enjoy reading about the featured businesses, and it’s definitely good for getting my head in the game as I’m about to graduate.

 

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, & Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

This is the textbook for the Marketing and PR class I’m taking, and I can already tell it’s something I would’ve picked up on my own.  First off, it’s written like a blog, so it’s easy and interesting to read.  Second, the ideas can be applied to all areas of life, not just to business websites.  The main point is that content rich websites invite the most customers to a business because that proves the company to be a reliable resource, and that makes so much sense to me.  This can be applied to personal blogs, small business plans, and even stuff like making friends.  If you can relate to whoever it is you want to interact with and be valuable to them, all sorts of natural partnerships follow.

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This is the second book I’ve downloaded from NetGalley for review.  I’m slowly making my way through it — so slowly, in fact, that I think I put it in my “what I’m reading” post for summer.  Once I get into it, it’s actually very interesting, but I’ll save my final verdict for the review, which I hope to post before the end of September!

 

 

81779I don’t know if I can actually count this since I haven’t started it yet.  But I have to read it for Euro Civ, so it’s here on the list.  I am not excited about this book.  I took a philosophy class for humanities credit sophomore year and hated it.  I understand the importance of philosophers, and I know that we owe a lot of how we view the world today to Greek philosophers like Plato.  But honestly, it’s horrible to study.  I think philosophy is better learned on one’s own; it’s something you can glean from life and develop even if you don’t realize it’s happening.  However, professors still think it’s relevant, apparently, so here I am.

I’m also reading blogs, of course — sometimes it’s the only pleasure reading I get to do during school, which is one of the reasons I love them so much.  Here are a few of my current favorites:

Cover photos from Goodreads, Fortune photo from Fortune.com

 

Book Review: Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller

Back Cover Synopsis:

Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets, the least of which is that Freedom Oliver is not her real name.  What her few Oregon friends and neighbors don’t know is that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago.  They don’t know that she put her two kids up for adoption.  They don’t know that ever since then, she’s regretted her deal for witness protection and missed her children desperately.

When she learns that her daughter has gone missing, possibly kidnapped, Freedom slips free of her handlers, gets on a motorcycle, and heads for Kentucky, where her daughter was raised.  As she ventures out on her own, no longer protected by the government, her troubled past comes roaring back at her: her husbands, vengeful family, her terrifying stint in prison, and her children’s adoptive family, who are keeping dangerous secrets.

With this novel, I expected a suspenseful action adventure.  What I got was a confusing conglomeration of scenes that felt more like a first draft than an actual novel.  I felt like I never got to know the main character, because her personality was never really nailed down.  Her thoughts and actions never seemed to match up.  The timeline was incredibly wonky.  There were too many flashbacks with too little context to them, and I read over half the novel before getting anywhere close to the action that is described in the back cover copy.

I still love the idea of the story, but the execution needs a lot of work.  The background info and set up needs to be tightened up a lot, and the author should have spent a little more time with her main character before she sent her out to meet readers.  The supporting characters could also be given a little more time in the spotlight.  A lot of them seemed interesting, but weren’t developed enough to seem real.

A good novel contains continuing action, rather than simply scenes with action.  That, I think, was the main problem with this novel and the main reason I did not enjoy it.  Final Verdict: If I were Jax Miller’s editor, this book would’ve gone through several more rounds of revision before being published.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

What I’m Reading: February 2016

I have always been a reader.  The written word has always been and always will be my favorite form of entertainment, information, and self-expression.  And in my honest opinion, I happen to read some pretty cool stuff.  Here is just a glimpse of what I’ve been reading lately.

marriageplot

 

Book Title:  The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Why I’m Reading It:  I read Eugenides’ Middlesex when I was in Costa Rica, and his writing style is absolutely incredible.  It’s definitely more literary than many of the novels I read, but the story flows better than almost any of the other books I tend to pick up.  The characters are incredibly complex and flawed, but also easy to relate to and like.  The settings he creates are more realistic than most movies.  Plus, I got it in the bargain priced section at Books-A-Million.  Does it get any better than that??

littlelovely

 

Blog Title:  Rants You Didn’t Ask For

Why I’m Reading It:  Apart from the fact that the author of this blog is a great friend of mine, the posts are a great mix of fun lists and actual rants (hence the title!) that are really well thought out and awesome to read over coffee (although what isn’t, really?).

donquijote

 

Book Title:  Don Quijote by Cervantes

Why I’m Reading It:  It’s for a class.  But I am still reading it, thus it belongs on Ye Olde List!  In all honesty, this is not my favorite book.  It’s in antique Spanish, which can be difficult to read, and even if it were in English the story is kind of boring.  It details the misadventures of Don Quijote and his servant, Sancho, as they seek the honor worthy of a knight — but most of the time their opinions are the exact opposite.  Although the book is not up my alley, it’s a lot of fun to discuss in class.

 

casualphil

 

Blog Title:  The Casual Philosopher

Why I’m Reading It:  Because this really is one of my favorite blogs, and it would still be even if it wasn’t my sister’s.  For the past few months, in addition to her usual essay-type posts, she’s been chronicling her journey towards going on a crazy-long trip to Wyoming and then Mongolia to do missions with horses and people, two things she’s really good at working with, and it’s incredible to see how it’s all coming together!