Anxious People by Fredrik Backman 4.5 stars –
If there is one thing that Backman knows how to do it’s write characters. We have a large cast here, yet, they are properly developed and all individuals of their own. They all have their own story and insecurity. They might not be likable but they are real.
We are locked in one small apartment and then a police station for the majority of this story but you never feel like you’re in a stagnant situation like our characters.
The writing was a bit confusing at times, just following the timelines and what not and then making sure you have the connections right. I think this could be a full five star on reread! I highly recommend keeping notes as you read this!
There are many themes here to uncover. None of us are perfect and we’re all trying to do good and do our best even if it doesn’t turn out as planned. Another could be the stages of life and what they bring.
The Overstory by Richard Powers 4 stars –
The characters were all unique and interesting. There is a lot of representation in this book from disability to race and that is always great to see in such popular books! At the beginning, I was really worried that none of these stories would combine but all of that was for nothing and the branches connected beautifully. Nick and Olivia were my favorites.
You are one with nature when reading this book. Obviously a book where nature is the main focus you will have descriptive writing, therefore, hopefully, a great atmosphere. Here you have all of that.
As stated before the writing was very descriptive and impactful. So many of the quotes left me pondering and I am still thinking about them. The pacing was off here, though. The first section was almost like a short story collection and then the latter sections are told like a regular novel. I would have given this book a 4.5 (therefore a 5 on Goodreads) if it had been shortened. This could have been 200 pages shorter than it actually was. Just towards the end I really didn’t care what was happening in the story or with the characters because it went on for far too long.
The plot brings up a lot of important topics that most people probably don’t think about. My main takeaway was that we should appreciate the smallest things even if they’re large in a physical sense. So many of us take for granted the beauty of the nature around us and it’s quite sad. This book will give you a new appreciation for trees and I now find myself looking at them more.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin 3 stars –
I connected with the female characters ever so slightly but there was not a tremendous love for them. The males, I thought, were more on the one dimensional side. Maybe if we got more time with each person it would have worked out better.
The setting is really cool how we have almost a different time period with each character and usually in different locations but the same location can be different with time.
The writing was slightly above average.
The themes here are the most important part, life and death. Is there free will or a set destiny? It left me thinking a lot. However, the ending was a little too open for my taste.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino 5 stars – This is a character driven novel at its finest. Cliff was still the coolest and Rick’s POV still the most boring. If I could be dropped into one story this would be it. I think that that says a lot about the atmosphere. My only complaint for the writing was there was some head jumping but it improved as the story went on. If you are thinking that you don’t need to read this because you have seen the movie, you are wrong. The book adds so much more.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr 5 stars –
Great, great, great character work here. Zeno is the character arc that I want to say stands out the most but it’s so hard to choose. With Zeno we see his life all the way through where the others we don’t get as much time with. You get so hooked on a section and don’t want it to end and then you just get enthralled by the next one. All these stories are all connected, I was scared they wouldn’t be but the author knew what he was doing here.
I wasn’t certain how this would go atmosphere wise. We are given a lot and it might be overwhelming to some. In chronological order we have two characters in Bulgaria and Turkey in the 1400s, then two in modern day(1930s?-2070s) Idaho, lastly a character in the near future on a spaceship. That is a lot to take in and I didn’t know how it would all come together but they did. Each setting was like something I had never read before and has given me so much more knowledge on the world and different human experiences.
The writing was like that of a Greek epic. It was just told like a classic story, fairy tale like. This felt like a story as old as time and that is very poetic as stories and time are two of the main themes here. The chapters were short so I never felt bogged down like I had to keep in this one place forever. It was quick for a six hundred page book. I read along with the audiobook and that really enhanced the experience for me.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid 5 stars – If there’s one thing that Taylor Jenkins Reid knows how to do, it’s making compelling characters. In her two previous books, I did not like the characters as people but I loved reading from them. The Riva siblings, they are characters I can pull for and like. The side characters are developed enough, even with so little page time, that the reader knows who each one is. Really, they could all get a book like Carrie Soto did. Malibu became a character of itself, especially in the earlier parts of the book. I just had such a vivid image in my head of what it might have been like in the past as I’ve only visited in the 2010s. This is the best writing I’ve seen from this author, it’s just different from her other works. The themes of nepotism were covered and if someone is really famous because of their family or if they have an actual talent. Another main theme was generational trauma and how the way someone’s raised overall impacts their mentality as a person. This book might only take place in one day but the characters develop and come to terms with who they are as people. I love everything about how Taylor Jenkins Reid writes her books!
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 5 stars-
Best nonfiction this year.
I felt for these people. You could really see them as humans and could feel their emotions. We see sides of good and evil. It gives you hope in this world and then some just make you feel pure rage at how some treated others. Rebecca Skloot brought these people to life and really humanized Henrietta Lacks, showing that she and her family are more than just cells under a microscope.
When I first opened this book, the writing blew me away. It felt like I was reading an actual novel rather than a work of nonfiction. The storytelling was just amazing. I highly recommend the audiobook as it feels like you’re hearing an actual story from someone and not just having facts thrown at you. Nonfiction is always a hit or miss with the writing, it can be boring and dry or a whole worthwhile learning experience. This is accessible and easy to read. It is so worth it to learn about this woman and her contribution to the world
This plot is so important and I don’t know why it’s not taught in schools. There is actually a young adult version of this book and I think it should be read in schools. Believe it or not Henrietta Lacks has impacted all of our lives. The story shows the morals or lack of morals in science. It brings up so many things that seem to be hidden away in American history. Most of us assume it was only the Nazis doing experiments on people when it was happening here in the United States in the last century. It’s disgusting and needs to be brought to light. I am glad that the Lacks family finally got respect from someone like Rebecca Skloot and were able to have their mother’s story brought to light.
She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer 4 stars –
‘She Has Her Mother’s Laugh’, starts with the word heredity; where it came from and what it means. After the etymology, it is then explained how heredity was first used. Oftentimes it was used to describe the descendants of a king and who the heir to the throne would be. It went from Roman times all the way to the modern day with eyes pointed at the future of how genes can be engineered and if it’s ethical.
I think it best if the reader goes in with some prior knowledge on the subject matter. It got dense at times and just too much information. I did learn a lot and I still recommend it but some stuff did go over my head.
Heard it in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves 2 stars – Could this be the biggest flop of my five star prediction project? So far, it has been and the project only has one book left. Let’s talk about my feelings on this book, though. At the start, I could definitely tell that Josh was going to be the more developed of our two characters because we were getting more page time with him, funny that it is the female character, Layla, on the cover of the novel. Josh’s story had a lot more background going back to his teenage years, whereas Layla we still see her early twenties but we are only seeing her stage life as a musician and then her romance, nothing else. That being said the characters were a Gary and Mary Sue, making them one dimensional. The writing is what got me through, ‘Heard It in a Love Song’, easy and quick to digest, the formatting of the flashbacks was a bit awkward as in the character would be in the middle of an action and then go into flashback and then would ‘wake up’ from said flashback from the other character being like “hello, earth to Josh.” Just awkward and strange. The plot sounded like something that would have interesting dynamics as it is two characters coming out of long term relationships to a dating scene that is completely different than it was twenty years ago without the internet. However, this is the most boring romance that I have ever read. This is why character work is so important!!
After the Flood by Kassandra Montag 3 stars – Surprisingly, the characters ruined this whole book for me. Myra was a holier than thou kind of person, like she was the last good person left on the planet. Her daughter, Pearl, was annoying but she is only a child so I won’t fault her too much. The world building is where the author had success. The setting is always so important in the fantasy and science fiction genres as these are worlds we as humans are not familiar with and need the knowledge of to navigate the story. The writing was average. The plot sounds like it would have been intriguing, the world has been flooded and a mother is on a mission to find her daughter, that sounds great and the story started off great. However, it got less gripping as more time passed and the characters got more and more annoying. I liked the book though but I would not recommend it if you’re not a big fan of dystopian science fiction.