Hello, happy Monday! I haven’t been sharing book reviews a lot on my blog because I started them with the idea that I’d read books I already own, and I ended up reading a lot of library books over the past few months instead of books From My Shelves (ha see what I did there). But I love talking about books and telling people about books that they should read, so I realized I should break my own rules. Here’s some short reviews of books that I’ve read the past few months from the library.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
I requested this book from the library immediately after reading Anything is Possible back in November. Some of my friends read Olive Kitteridge as an assignment in grad school, and it was highly recommended to me. After reading Anything is Possible, which I loved, I thought that it was most definitely the time to read another book by Elizabeth Strout.
Olive Kitteridge is similar to Anything is Possible in that it is a collection of linked short stories. Every short story has a character that is somehow connected to Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, ranging from her adult son, to her pharmacist husband, to students that she taught.
It’s been awhile since I read this one — back in December — so I’m having a hard time coming up with specific reasons why I loved it so much. The characters were interesting and complex and watching the dynamics between the townspeople and how they changed over many years was well worth my time.
IN SHORT, I really loved this book and I highly recommend reading it.
Winter Street Series by Elin Hilderbrand
These were probably the first books that I picked up solely because I saw that everyone on Bookstagram was talking about them around Christmas. It seemed like everyone and their mother was reading them, and then my mom came home from the library one day with the first two books. It was the week before Christmas and all I could think was yes. Winter Street was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read right then.
The Winter series follows the Quinn family in Nantucket. The family includes Kelley Quinn, the patriarch of the family, his four adult children (Patrick, Kevin, Ava, and Bart), Kelley’s ex wife Margaret Quinn (a famous TV news anchor), and his current wife, Mitzi Quinn. I feel like a recap of all four books in the series is just going to be too complicated, so I’m not even going to try. Look them up for yourself on Goodreads if you’re interested.
Sometimes I just need to take a break from reading classics and literary fiction and read something fun and lighthearted. This series really did the trick, especially for my Christmas-loving heart. I really loved the female characters and their arcs — Ava, Margaret, and Mitzi were all compelling, independent, and caring. I felt like I was really rooting for these characters and this family, and I think that’s so important in a series like this. I will say, though, that I really didn’t enjoy the fourth book (Ironically it’s the cover photo for this blog since it’s the only book I have left). I liked where it wrapped up after the third book, when it was just a trilogy, and it kind of felt like the fourth book was just an awkward add on. There were a lot of plot lines that started and didn’t really go anywhere, and ultimately I felt like the end of the book was rushed. I find myself wishing, maybe, that I hadn’t read the fourth one at all, so maybe if you’re considering this series, see what other people think and potentially skip the fourth one.
Overall, this was such a heartwarming family to read about. I highly recommend reading the Winter Street series, especially around Christmas!
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
If you haven’t read this book yet, you should. I requested it from the library because my friend Kammi was reading it and told me it was fantastic. Also, they filmed the movie here in Pittsburgh, which is incredibly exciting to me.
This book follows Bernadette Fox, her husband, a Microsoft executive, and her daughter, Bee. At the beginning of the book, we find out that Bernadette has disappeared. The narrative is a collection of e-mails, handwritten notes, and official documents that have been gathered and put together by Bee in an effort to find her mother. The novel follows arguments with mothers at Bee’s private school, Bernadette’s architectural achievements and subsequent downfall, and a trip to Antarctica.
While I was reading this book I met a friend for coffee and he asked if I liked Where’d You Go Bernadette and what it was about. I had a hard time answering that question, because I’ve not ever read anything quite like this book. The characters are quirky and fascinating and it is laugh-out-loud funny. Bottom line, you should read this book. It’s entertaining, enlightening, and it expanded my horizons a bit, I think. There’s a reason this book has gotten so much attention.
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Have a great week!