February 2019: Reading Challenge Reviews

So, BIG news this month.

**Drumroll….**

I have now learned that you can rent library books directly onto your e-reader!

(Haha, you should see the look of disappointment on your face right now. Like, Liz, come on! That is definitely NOT big news. Quite the opposite. We’ve been renting books for years!)

Fine. Not big news for you but it is HUGE for me. This discovery resulted in me finally tip-toeing out of the “paper books only” camp and casually crossing over into the “e-readers are okay too.” As a die-hard, “readers are for overseas travel only,” sort of person, this was a big deal.

And since it’s February and I didn’t feel like tramping through the snow to the library, I therefore promptly stole my husband’s Kobo and irritated the heck out of him by messing up his reader stats. (Honestly, he should just be grateful I improved his reading speed.)

Long story short, guess who ended up with a new Kobo reader for Valentine’s Day?

This girl.

So while I figure out my new device (and spend way too much money on “bargain books,”) here are four of my February reads. As always, this is part of my 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Books in 52 Weeks. It’s not too late to join us, so check out the Facebook Group and get reading!

Once We Were Strangers -- Shawn Smucker

A Character That Is An Immigrant
(February 5 – 11, 2019) Once We Were Strangers — Shawn Smucker

This is the real-life story of a blossoming friendship between the author, Shawn Smucker, and a Syrian refugee named Mohammad. The story is the slow forging of friendship and the everyday acts of walking life together. This quick read is a genuine response to the age-old question, “Who is my neighbour” and “How do I love them?” To read my full review, click here.

I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Suggestions for other books with a character who is an immigrant: **Brooklyn by Colm Toibin **  The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi ** The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda **Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton **

Educated by Tara Westover

A Book That Everyone’s Talking About
(February 12 – 18, 2019)
Educated — Tara Westover

Educated seems to be on everyone’s “must-reads” lately. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen this book pop up in my Facebook Challenge Group, not to mention the 700+ person waitlist for it at my local library. With limited bookshelf space, I try to choose my “forever” books carefully, but this is one book that will reside in my home very happily.

The writing is poignant and gripping, while the story itself is equally astounding, maddening, and inspiring. It’s a rare book that manages to stir up such intense feelings, but Tara’s memoir is one that cuts at a reader’s heart.

Westover grew up under the shadow of Buck’s Peak Mountain with parents who prepped for the apocalypse and eschewed things like traditional healthcare, birth certificates, and public education. Until the age of seventeen, Tara never stepped foot in a classroom. Her story is heavily weighted with painful childhood memories of physical abuse and neglect — a result of the ongoing mental health issues and religious beliefs that her parents clung to so firmly. Ultimately, this story is about a young woman who fought to overcome incredible obstacles and hardships to follow her own ambitions. She struggles with guilt, self-worth, the shifting of memories over time, and the ties of an unhealthy family that pull so strongly. A difficult but incredible read.

5 stars out of 5

Suggestions for books that everyone is talking about: **Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman** The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris ** Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan ** Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell ** The Alice Network by Kate Quinn ** Beartown by Fredrik Backman**

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

A Sports Related Book
(February 19 – 25, 2019) Beartown — Fredrik Backman

This book has been in my “to-be-read” pile forever; but surprisingly, despite the amount of hype it’s received, I knew very little about the actual story in advance.

Beartown is the tale of a small hockey community and the sport that both binds and destroys them. With the entire town rooting for the junior hockey team, they know that a win in the semi-finals could be the difference between saving Beartown or losing it to the forest. But when a violent act tears at the very foundations this town has been built upon, accusations and secrets run rampant and lives are forever altered.

This isn’t just a book about hockey — this is a story about people. It’s the story of a community fighting for hope, fighting for more. It’s a heartwrenching look into the attitudes and pressures of today’s society, and the motivations and values we hold — all weaved together under the common thread of hockey.

With is excellent writing, diverse characters, and candid conversation, Beartown is the type of book that leaves you feeling both angry and inspired.

5 stars out of 5

Suggestions for sports-related books: **The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger ** Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie ** Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer ** You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott **

The Reckoning by John Grisham

A Beach Read
(February 26 – March 4, 2019) The Reckoning —  John Grisham

John Grisham is one of my all-time favourite authors. His books automatically end up in my bookshelf as classic re-reads and I was excited to dive into this new novel. Unfortunately, The Reckoning was one of my least enjoyable Grisham reads.

Set in the late 1940’s, the book begins with Pete Banning, a decorated war hero, calmly walking into the church and killing the local pastor. Pete refuses to give either explanation or defence for his action. While this plot sounds like a regular Grisham storyline, the second part of the book goes back in time and gives a very historical account of Pete during the Second World War. The book then concludes by exploring the effect the post-war murder had upon Pete’s children and their fortune.

I know that there are a lot of mixed reviews on this book: some loved Grisham’s departure from his norm, others, not so much. I, personally, found the book very difficult to get into. The historical look into the Bataan Death March in the Philippines made the second half of the book much more enjoyable, but it also felt rather disjointed. I was expecting the third part of the book to tie the two storylines together but it didn’t — there was no big “WOW” conclusion for me. While Grisham’s writing style is excellent (as always) the actual book just left me wanting more than what was offered.

This is probably the worst review I have ever given a Grisham book (even worse than Rogue Lawyer) but I’m giving this book a very sad 2.5 stars out of 5.

Suggestions for beach reads:
**I’ve had a lot of questions about what exactly this category means, and truthfully, there are SO many directions you could take this book. A beach read is anything that you might read at the beach (whatever that looks like for you.) Typically, they’re light reads that don’t involve too much effort or thought. It could be a paperback or bestseller, a classic, or even a book SET at the beach. I included this category as a bit of a free-for-all, so have fun!**

 


So tell me in the comments, what do you read from most often?
Paper books? or E-readers?

February Book Reviews: 52 Books in 52 Weeks

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