Recent Reads

I have finished three books recently and haven’t even mentioned them… what am I doing??  What can I say except that I’ve been distracted by Marvel movies, summer daydreams and pondering what my dog is doing while I’m at work.


Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I’d been wanting to read this one, so imagine my delight when it turned out to be our April book club pick.  I even won a copy of the book in our raffle!  Not going to lie, it is LONG.  And about three-quarters of the way in, it started to feel long.  But up until that point, I enjoyed it.

It begins as the story of a Korean girl moving to Japan and though her life remains a constant thread throughout the story, it does expand past her and manages to find a balance between telling the personal stories of its characters and the larger picture of life as a Korean in Japan.  I was completely ignorant to that narrative so I found this book so informative and eye-opening.  The characters go through so much pain and keep pushing on in such an inspirational way.  However, towards the end, there was A LOT of jumping from character to character and generation to generation in a way that left me wishing I was hearing about the characters I had spent the previous 300ish pages with instead.

For what it’s worth, the rest of my book club loved it!


Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

I love a good coming of age story but they can be very heartbreaking and this one certainly is.  I’m at a loss for how to describe the plot of this book because, honestly, I was caught off guard by how it ended.  I’ll tell you that much of it is about a high school senior named Niru, living in D.C. with his devoutly religious Nigerian parents and their discovery that he is gay.  I cringed through the following chapters, where his father hits him, his mother takes him to church and then both parents decide a trip to Nigeria is necessary.

The story twists toward the end and the last chapters are narrated by Niru’s best friend, Meredith.  While I sincerely felt for Niru and didn’t mind the writing, the plot of this book felt a little too complicated to fit into such a tight frame.  I don’t regret reading it though!

Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris by A.J. Liebling

Can I just start by saying this memoir was not what I thought it was going to be?  It’s just over 150 pages but the language is smart and complex in a way that had me re-reading passages quite a bit.  It also gave me the impression of a work in progress that someone had pieced together.  Each chapter read like an essay that may have mentioned things from other chapters but could have just as easily stood on its own.  The first chapter could just have easily been the last chapter and vice versa.  Also, there was a lot of talk of food (and wine), but I didn’t find any of it all that descriptive.  Maybe I’m not cultured enough, but Liebling lists a lot of French dishes that I had no familiarity with and he offered no explanation, so I sort of glossed over it.

All this being said, I got absolutely lost in writing that seemed from another time and a version of Paris that will only ever exist in memories and that was a pure delight.

What are you reading?

A Book Review: Outlander

A few weeks ago, Joey and I stopped into Barnes and Noble so he could find a book for himself. While strolling through the aisles of the fiction section, I saw a big thick book propped up on one of the lower shelves. I pointed at it and very jokingly said, “There ya go, Joey, read that little one.” Then I gave the book a closer look, and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I’m reading that!”

Oh the joys of reading something on your Kindle and not being able to see a physical copy of the book.

I found Outlander by Diana Gabaldon in my mom’s Amazon collection (I believe it came highly recommended by a client of hers) and yes, it’s very long. I find it so much harder to review a lengthy book. There’s so much going that I basically find it impossible to deem it all good or all bad. And this book, how do you even classify it? It is a book about time travel? Is it a love story? Is it an action novel? Or is it a historical fiction that takes place during the 18th Century in Scotland? All of the above!

I won’t bore you by recapping the entire plot, but I’ll give you the gist. The main character, Claire, accidentally time travels back to 18th Century, where she meets the ancestor of her husband. He becomes the villain of the story. She goes on to marry and fall in love with a younger Scottish redhead named Jamie and the rest of the novel revolves around all the trouble they constantly find themselves in.

Overall, there was plenty to enjoy about the book. By the end, I felt like I had such a clear sense of who all the characters were and genuinely liked most of them. The romance between Claire and Jamie was very endearing and I loved the historical aspect of the book. I was a few credits away from a history minor in college, but I couldn’t get the hang of writing those history papers. Something about my writing being too “flowery.” I don’t know what those professors were talking about, considering how short and to the point this post is…

What I didn’t like, however, was all the rape and violence going on. I know that was typical of 18th Century Scotland, but it just isn’t my thing. And the book was a little, ahem, long. Did I mention Outlander is a seven book series? I just didn’t love it enough to read the other six. I guess I’ll just forever be in suspense about what happens between Claire and Jamie.

On to something shorter and less violent.

Do you mind reading a long book?

If you start a series do you finish it no matter what?

What are you reading right now?