Month Count: 11 texts, 2 audiobooks, 13 total! A new record!
Year to Date: 25 texts (2020 goal – 12), 8 audiobooks, 33 total
Body on the Beach by Anna Johannsen, translated text by Lisa Reinhardt, Audible narrated by Nicol Zanzarella – really grateful I listened to this instead of reading it. I did get the kindle version free during National Book Day; however, I think I would have gotten frustrated and sidetracked by the pronunciation of the words of people and places. The narrator was good, the story was alright, I would recommend the audiobook, though I’m going to run to read the next in the series (which I guess hasn’t been transcribed anyway). Interesting twist I didn’t see coming, but overall I guess it’s kind of forgettable because I’m writing this recap 2 weeks after finishing it and I couldn’t remember what the story was about. Hmmm… I can’t land on a “star rating” for this one. Read or listen if you’re curious, skip if you’re not.
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eicher – I listened to Ashley Flower’s Supernatural podcast episode on this case surrounding the Dyatlov Pass Incident and had to know more! I felt satisfied with the proposed resolution at the conclusion. The author does a great job bouncing between “present day” (circa 2012 when he was researching) and presenting the events. It was a fast read, fascinating enough, and I enjoyed the sprinkle of photographs throughout the text. In February, 2019, Russian authorities reopened the case to investigate – I’d love to know if Eicher plans to write a follow up. 4.5 stars, would recommend but I’d entertain this book after listening to Ashley’s podcast, it was really well done! Eicher explores more in depth but I’m glad I went in with some knowledge prior to reading his take on the case.
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover was another good quick read and I loved that it’s a mom with a teenage daughter named Clara (my 16-month old daughter’s name!). Their relationship is complicated and it terrified me. Although I enjoyed the book and the story was pretty good – it was a bit juvenile and not very complex. At the time of reading it, that’s kind of what I needed. 4.5 stars
Broken Girls by Simone St. James on the Kindle – I think this was a sale on Amazon? I can’t remember… I would actually read this again! I loved how Simone St. James jumped seamlessly between the two plots from 2014 as “present day” and back to 1950 when the girls’ school was still open. The suspense is palpable, I knew there would be a greater connection between the two plots, but didn’t expect what it turned out to be so that was nice! I often try to solve the book or movie as early as possible and it’s nice when I don’t get it right… 5 stars, I recommend reading this one and it’s a pretty quick read as well!
I’m Your Huckleberry by Val Kilmer, Audible narrated by Will Forte, George Newbern, and Mare Winningham – 5 stars! Definitely the best audiobook experience in listening I’ve had. Will Forte is a dream to listen to. Who knew! Without the audiobook, I am curious if I would have liked the book as much as I did. I’m a huge Val Kilmer fan, and have loved many of his movies from Willow to the Saint to the Salton Sea and his version of Jim Morrison (the Doors are my favorite band) blew my mind! I’ve easily seen the movie two dozen times. So hearing him go back and talk through each movie, and talk through his personal life during certain phases was really captivating. I can’t tell if he’s a narcissist, a genius, incredibly devoted to his craft, or a little of all three and more. There’s something really charming about his relationships with HUGE moguls like Cher, Marlon Brando, Tom Cruise, and more.
My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry was gifted to me during this obscenely long quarantine by my sister. She’s been on a reading spree for the last 10-years or so and she’s always offered books up to me. Now I have a reason to take her up on it… Plus who doesn’t love getting mail that’s not a bill as an adult! She even wiped the cover with sanitizing wipes – sad but true! The story is complex, though it held my attention. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten quicker at reading now that I’m 20+ books into the first five months of this year, but I really had to slow down for this one. Often, I had to go back and reread paragraphs to make sure I didn’t miss details. I didn’t mind, but it was a slower read than I’ve been used to lately. I give this one 5-stars.
Unorthdox by Deborah Feldman. Well, during my daughter’s recent 6-week stint of refusing to sleep through the night, there were several nights that I just gave up and sat on the couch with her for hours waiting for her to fall back asleep. I stumbled across Unorthodox during one of those late-night (or early morning) anti-sleep sesh’s and binged the entire series… I was so captivated that I needed to know more! Hasidic Jewish communities are so out of my realm of understanding, and 99% of the time the books are way better than the movies or series, right? Well, spoiler – for me, this was the 1% that wasn’t.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal is a title that begs me to read this book. On sale for Kindle on Amazon recently, and with a title like The Lager Queen of Minnesota, it was basically written for me. I work for the third largest craft brewery in the United States and I was born and raised in northern Minnesota. The first couple of chapters almost had me disappointed, but it was fun to read in my thick Minnesota accent. So many of the little nuances were captured, and I think they’d be missed by people who aren’t from or familiar with the midwest. (I.e., Ope! and Betty’s Pies! ) Ultimately, after the first few chapters established the family dynamic that would make the rest of the book make so much more sense than without it, the book really took off and I just found myself smiling and my heart happy. Really something special to be evoked during week 10 of this never ending quarantine order. I loved the writing, I loved the middle-ground of technical brewing knowledge the author proposed, though I wonder if my friends who have zero brewing knowledge would be annoyed by industry jargon or intrigued? Lautering doesn’t make a lot of sense to the lay person most of the time… Regardless, I fell so in love with this book and the characters, that I went back to Amazon and bought the hard cover to read and re-read, and probably lend out to female friends in the brewing industry. 5-GIANT stars, and if someone without any connection to brewing and Minnesota could read this and give me their opinion, that would be great 🙂 -thanks!
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is a one-seater-reader for sure! Wow, just as My Husband’s Wife above challenged me to slow down, Dark Matter might have had me reading at a record pace! I couldn’t wait to see the next twists and turns and I was so proud to tell my husband that after being together for 8+ years, I finally understand Schrodinger’s cat! OMG and then the Schrodinger’s cat costume FINALLY makes sense! 5-stars… Go read this immediately.
The Price of Paradise by Susana López Rubio, translated by Achy Obejas was a free book during Amazon’s World Book Day last month. I think I got 8 or 9 books from authors around the world downloaded onto my Kindle at no cost! I’m slowly working my way through them depending on what piques my interest. I started this one at the beginning of the month and then took a break, and finished in a fury. It’s beautifully written and makes me crave a visit to Havana, Cuba. It takes place mostly between 1947 and 1960ish, though spans through to about present day in the epilogue. It’s purely poetic and I really enjoyed it. Perfect balance of lust, love, heartbreak, Cubana Mafioso, corruption, intrigue, and I’ll give this a solid 5-stars. It completely transported and captivated me!
Minor spoiler alert ahead…
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite intrigued me from the moment it started showing up on “You Might Like” lists on my Amazon account. It’s a debut novel by a female Nigerian author and it’s a remarkably fast read… Like maybe 2 hours (at my speed!). It jumps right in, no waiting. It starts with the murder and then you get some of the backstory throughout the book as Korede has flashbacks, but not enough backstory in my opinion. There were things I liked about this story, but then there were things I really didn’t like and the ending left me ultimately confused more than anything. What happened next?! It just ends. SPOILER: there’s no resolution! I hated the use of WhatsApp and Snapchat as verbs. The chapters are staccato, which I don’t mind so much, but some of them don’t really make sense and feel out of place for the plot. All in all, I can’t say I’d recommend it.
American Kingpin by Nick Bilton has been on my list for a while and I finally knocked it off. I listened to the Casefile podcast episode(s?) about Silk Road a few years ago and found it fascinating that I’ve never heard of such an infamous true crime. It’s INSANE! Investigations from all over North America, corruption with Baltimore investigators (shocking, right?), sleuthing from the underdogs, and how the hell did he get away with it for so long? He was almost too dumb to believe. The hardest part about this book was finishing it when George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis for possibly using a counterfeit $20 bill. This 29 year old white international male criminal was treated so freaking gently and there’s an enormous disparity we’re living through and witnessing at this very moment. I’d give the book five stars – it’s really well written, just deep enough, the only thing I am missing was a timeline. I know it took place over a couple of years and things get a little lost in the timeline with this.
The Summer Getaway by Tilly Tennant showed up randomly on my Amazon recommendations as a “feel good holiday weekend fantasy read.” Well, perhaps if you’re a 16 year old girl. It wasn’t bad. It was terribly predictable. I found myself skipping whole paragraphs. I waited the entire book for Ashley to be able to tell Haydon when she needed to and of course it blows up the way you’d expect. And then of course it ends the way you’d expect. I wasn’t surprised at all during the book, there’s nothing new, or compelling, or scintillating. There were beautiful moments when Tilly was describing the French Riviera and the countryside, but – meh… Skip this one.
Well, that’s another haul for this month! I didn’t think it was possible to top April, but I beat it by 3 books! I have updated my New Years Resolution of reading one book per month, to trying to read 50 this year. I know it’s a huge jump, and I haven’t figured out what role audiobooks will play in that goal yet, but clearly 12 wasn’t going to be challenging enough.
For the month of June, I’m going to focus on racially activating books. With George Floyd’s recent murder and my home state in ruins, the country divided, I am going to try to educate my white self on some issues that plague us right now. As always, if you have recommendations please send them my way, and you can get real-time updates tracking my goal on my IG: @RunningYogiMom