My goal this year is to read 50 books (almost 1 per week!) and the only stipulation is they need to be new books, not ones I’ve read before. I re-read a lot of books because I (apparently) have terrible memory and never seem to remember exactly what happens. I also love to go back to some books just like I would a favorite movie (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days in case you were wondering). Here are the 4 new books I read in February with my short review of each:
Fate & Furies by Lauren Groff
Goodreads summary: Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.
My thoughts: I’m honesty torn on this one. It’s beautifully written, but the prose seemed to get in my way a bit. As much as I’d like to be someone who turns to true literary works of art to lose myself in, I’m much more like to fall into a chick lit novel. I definitely had to re-read some passages to make my brain focus on what I was reading, but I thought the story was great. I know a book is good if I find myself thinking about it and wanting to read it while I’m doing other things. I always WANTED to be reading this book, but I don’t think I ever felt like I NEEDED to be reading this book, if that makes sense to you. I would definitely still recommend it, but just know that it is heavy on the flowery language.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Goodreads Summary: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
My thoughts: I didn’t love this book. It was okay, I finished it, but I felt there was a lot of unnecessary stuff going on, especially in the sections where we see Evie in modern-day. I appreciated seeing how what she went through and was a part of affected her, but most of it was boring and irrelevant, I thought. Also, the book builds up what the “unthinkable violence” and it is truly that, but I definitely felt like the build-up was bigger than the ending. I was left wanting to know more about what happened, what came of it, etc. I wouldn’t read this one again.
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
This Goodreads summary is super long so I’ll try to summarize myself here. The book opens on the birthing of a baby in a barn on an Amish farm. The baby is soon found dead in the barn, and the book centers on the main suspect, 18-year old Katie, an unwed Amish (or “plain”) girl whose father owns the farm. A hot-shot lawyer who happens to be a distant relative of Katie’s (obviously not Amish) unwillingly takes her case and finds herself bound to Katie until the trial is over, living and helping on the farm. The book centers on the preparation leading up to the trial as well as the court room itself.
My thoughts: I love Jodi Picoult. She could probably publish a book that said nothing but “blah, blah, blah,” and I would read it. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, go read Nineteen Minutes and The Pact immediately. Now that I’m a mother, it’s always hard to read or watch a story where a child is injured or sick, and this wasn’t any different. It definitely makes the story more emotional, but I like to get invested in books. I also loved learning a little about Amish culture as any previous knowledge came from that movie with Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen, For Richer or Poorer (this book also made me want to watch that!).
The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
Goodreads Summary: Paul Iverson’s life changes in an instant. He returns home one day to find that his wife, Lexy, has died under strange circumstances. The only witness was their dog, Lorelei, whose anguished barking brought help to the scene – but too late. In the days and weeks that follow, Paul begins to notice strange “clues” in their home: books rearranged on their shelves, a mysterious phone call, and other suggestions that nothing about Lexy’s last afternoon was quite what it seemed. Reeling from grief, Paul is determined to decipher this evidence and unlock the mystery of her death. But he can’t do it alone; he needs Lorelei’s help. A linguist by training, Paul embarks on an impossible endeavor: a series of experiments designed to teach Lorelei to communicate what she knows. Perhaps behind her wise and earnest eyes lies the key to what really happened to the woman he loved. As Paul’s investigation leads him in unexpected and even perilous directions, he revisits the pivotal moments of his life with Lexy, the brilliant, enigmatic woman whose sparkling passion for life and dark, troubled past he embraced equally.
My thoughts: I started this book more times than I can remember, but never got past the first couple of chapters. The beginnings starts of slow with some factual information about dogs and the history of their “speech,” which is maybe what originally turned me off. I’m on a mission this year to read the books I currently own, but have yet to finish (or start!) so I began with this one. It was much better than I expected it to be, and I’m happy I finally finished it. It gets a little iffy at some points for an animal lover, but I liked the flashbacks to Paul’s days with Lexi. An overall sad (with a few funny and a couple truly disturbing parts) book, I enjoyed it and would recommend it, but with the heads up that it might upset a dog enthusiast! Carolyn Parkhurst definitely got me good with this one!