I may be a school librarian, but I read a LOT of adult fiction too! Here is a recap of just some of my adult reading in March 2017 – see below for my thoughts on each book:
IF NOT FOR YOU – Debbie Macomber (digital advance reader copy)
I have been in love with the worlds of Debbie Macomber for decades now (have read every single title), and her newest novel If Not for You does not disappoint. This is the third book in the “New Beginnings” series and I always like when there are continuing characters but with a completely new storyline. These stories are my book equivalent to savoring a chai latte while curled up on the couch under a quilt with my dog’s head in my lap ~ sweet and safe and warm and happy. This book may be third in a series, but if you don’t want to start with book one, it will stand alone just fine! And yes, there is a happy ending ~ that’s what I rely on and need with a Macomber book ~ love and happiness.
BEHIND HER EYES – Sarah Pinborough (public library book)
I honestly can’t even review this book. Seriously. All I can say is that you need to read it to understand how mind-bending it is. Pinborough has thrown out all the “you can’t do that!” instructions with how to plot a novel and just runs with it. And with our BRAINS. I hated all the characters but couldn’t put it down!
THE CIRCLE – Dave Eggers (Audible audiobook)
This book was originally published four years ago, but the technology and Big Brother themes are still scarily relevant in 2017. I’m so glad I experienced the book before watching the forthcoming movie.
THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE – Lisa See (digital advance reader copy)
I was enthralled by this story, as I have been by all of See’s books. Kirkus calls this a “riveting exercise in fictional anthropology” which is an excellent way of describing the nature of the writing. If you are looking for a fun, frothy read, this isn’t it. If you are looking for an incredibly well-researched history of tea + the history of a cultural minority in China + a lesson in foreign adoption, you’ve found the perfect book. The only reason I gave this 4 instead of 5 stars on Goodreads is that the ending was just a bit too abrupt for me, but other than that, I absolutely loved it. There is an lengthy and compelling author’s note at the end of the book with a long list of further reading. Goodreads has a new interview with See which also gave good background on the story and her motivation for writing it. For even more insight on See’s research, check out this video from Simon and Schuster.
THE EDUCATION OF WILL – Patricia McConnell (Audible audiobook)
As a border collie lover and a fellow Wisconsinite, I was ecstatic to find this newest book from Patricia McConnell. I had listened to her for years on the Wisconsin Public Radio show “Calling All Pets” so was already familiar with her work in animal behavior. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from this book, as it was titled a “mutual memoir” and the blurb referenced the author’s personal traumas. I was shocked and saddened to read of the events of the author’s life that led to her emotional struggles, but heartened to hear how her relationships with her dogs, in particular her border collies Luke and Will helped her work through her healing process, along with very extensive therapy. I loved hearing about all of the work she does with her border collies and sheep herding as well as the information about border collies and dogs in general. As a dog owner, a lot of the behavioral translations were very helpful, and I could relate so closely to her accounts of living in the countryside of Wisconsin with her dogs. TRIGGER WARNINGS: I need to add trigger warnings for sexual abuse of a child and also acquaintance rape because I was a bit jarred to be listening to the audiobook and have these topics brought up fairly abruptly – if a reader with a history of these began this book not knowing these topics would be discussed in fairly graphic detail it might be emotionally difficult. These topics are a HUGE part of the book, as the theme of the book is working through her traumas while helping her border collie Will through his own traumas. I just want to make sure no reader goes into this book thinking it’s just about dogs.
OUR SHORT HISTORY – Lauren Grodstein (digital advance reader copy)
Oh, the tears. I spent the last 10% of this book trying to read through the tears dropping onto my Kindle, but I just couldn’t stop reading. I inhaled this book in just 2 sittings and it tore at my heart. It gets to the very core of motherhood and womanhood and the very essence of life and just needs to be read. The letter-style makes it incredibly fast reading and impossible to put down. Highly highly recommend.
THE IDEA OF YOU – Amanda Prowse (digital advance reader copy)
A compelling story of the agony of miscarriage and complexity of being a stepparent. I was sucked into the book, constantly hoping for a happy ending and completely surprised by the twist toward the end. The characters were well-developed and the pace was fast.
DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE – Susan Mallery (public library book)
I can always count on Susan Mallery for a happy ending! I loved the new characters in this book and the hotel setting was so much fun. A perfect frothy read to cuddle up with.
THE HOUSE FOR HAPPY MOTHERS – Amulya Maladi (Audible audiobook)
I listened to the Audible audio version of this book – it had excellent narration and the account of surrogate motherhood in India told through 2 different perspectives (surrogate and biological mother) was absolutely fascinating to me. I loved learning more about surrogacy and Indian culture. There is a note on the author’s website about the background on the topic and why she chose to write this book – I found it very interesting. I will definitely be looking for more books by this author!
UPDATE: And a last minute finish for March after I first published this!
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Book of the Month Club pick for February)
Three words: quiet, powerful, dignified – this story will stay with me for a long, long time. I am now spurred to do more reading on the treatment of Koreans in Japan and will also be reading Free Food for Millionaires by the same author.