May 2019: Reading Challenge Reviews

Over the past two years, I’ve heard from many people who want to participate in the Reading Challenge but are scared that they won’t be able to finish a book a week. And I always give the same reply — “More important than 52 books, is setting a goal for yourself and just having fun.”

But this month, if I’m being 100% honest, the challenge has been a bit of a struggle. Less fun and more draining. Life has been busy and has thrown a few curveballs, and some days, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. If it wasn’t for the “buffer” I built up at the beginning of the year, there may not have been five books on this month’s review.

As much as goals motivate me, sometimes we just fall short no matter how hard we try. And that’s okay. This month I had to remind myself that it’s just about having fun — no pressure. And next month? Well, we’ll just have to see. Right now, we’re taking this one book at a time.

No matter how many books you’ve read so far this year, remember that next month is a new start!

Everynoteplayed

Featuring Music
(Week 18: April 30 – May 6, 2019) Every Note Played — Lisa Genova

When world-renown concert pianist, Richard, is diagnosed with ALS, the disease strips him of so much more than just the loss of use of his hands. As the paralysis creeps across his body, he has no choice but to rely on his ex-wife, Karina, for help. Wounded by a lifetime of hurts, this novel is a heartwrenching look into forgiveness and restoration.

Genova doesn’t shy away from the difficult. She writes about ALS in a way that genuinely informs while bringing readers to grow to love two rather “unlovable” feeling characters. The result is something that feels authentic, leaving a long-lasting impression.

A few years ago, your newsfeed was probably flooded with people doing the “ice bucket challenge” to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. But honestly, until I read this book, I had no idea what this disease actually looked like or how it played out. If you participated in the challenge, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a read. Not only is it informative, it’s also written with a lot of heart.

This book is so much more than just a “medical drama” and I leave it with 4 stars out of 5.

Suggestions for books featuring music: **The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks ** The Psalms, The Bible ** Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell ** Vienna Prelude by Bodie Thoene ** Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel **

 


 

A One Word Title
(Week 19: May 7 – 13,
 2019) Chocolat — Joanne Harris

In a little town in France, newcomers Vivanne and her young daughter, Anouk, arrive as if blown in by the wind. Setting up a chocolate shop, Vivanne works everyday magic on the local residents, spreading the gifts of community, friendship, and joy with each chocolate treat. But not everyone is happy with these new changes and the town must decide whether they will move forward or stay firmly rooted in their past.

It’s a strange thing to be able to say that you enjoyed the book and the movie equally (they’re quite different) but that is the case for me and Harris’ work, Chocolat. The writing is chocolatey and delicious, wrapping you up in a big warm hug of cocoa. There’s no fast-paced storyline or intricate plot, but rather, the slow revealing of community and characters. And while there were certain aspects to the story that I couldn’t fully get behind, it was a lovely read nonetheless.

My only warning? Do not read this book while on a diet! Since I’m pretty sure I gained four pounds reading this book, it’s only right that I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Suggestions for books with a one-word title ** Emma by Jane Austen ** Night by Elie Wiesel ** Unbound by Jamie Sumner **  Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst ** Wool by Hugh Howey ** Ruined by Ruth Everhart ** Nemesis by Agatha Christie ** Outlander by Diana Gabaldon ** Wonder by R. J. Palacio ** Silverwing by Kenneth Oppal **

Gathering BlueThe Name of A Colour In The Title
(Week 20: May 14 – 20,
 2019) Gathering Blue — Lois Lowry

This is the second book in the Giver series. Set in a world vastly different from our own, the story follows a young girl named Kira and her special, almost magical, talent.

I re-read The Giver as part of last year’s challenge and thoroughly enjoyed it. This second installment is written with a similar, younger audience in mind. While I appreciated how Gathering Blue further developed the world that Lowry had created, I felt this to be the weakest book in the series.

3 stars out of 5

Suggestions for books with a colour in the title: ** Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery ** The Silver Chair by C.S Lewis ** Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares ** Black Beauty by Anna Sewell ** Dancing Under the Red Star by Karl Tobien ** Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon ** Red Rising by Pierce Brown ** The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie **

 


 

First Book You See In A Bookstore or Library
(Week 21: May 21 – 27, 2019
Artemis — Andy Weir

This is the second novel by the bestselling author of The Martian, Andy Weir. I really enjoyed Weir’s debut novel and was excited when my eyes landed upon Artemis at my local library. While science fiction doesn’t normally appeal to me, I appreciate his scientifically accurate writing and extensive research. (Although let’s be honest, he could be 100% making it up and I’d have no idea.)

The story follows Jazz Bashara, a young woman who makes her living as a smuggler in the moon city, Artemis. The setting immediately captures one’s attention and the novel’s premise seemed to hold a lot of promise, but unfortunately, the book was spoiled by frustrating dialogue and inconsistent characters.

I don’t think I was able to read more than five pages without letting out some sort of involuntary sigh. Jazz’s character is supposed to be tough and gritty but instead comes across as an immature fifteen-year-old boy. These inconsistencies were (at best) irritating. And while I found the structure of the moon city intriguing, the actual plot itself felt forced.

While I look forward to the movie, the best I can give this interesting but ultimately disappointing read is 2.5 stars out of 5.

The Crown and the Crucible Book ReviewA Book You’ve Read Before
(Week 22: May 28 – June 3,
 2019) The Crown and the Crucible — Michael Phillips and Judith Pella

I remember reading and enjoying this book as a young teen, so when I saw a Kobo sale for the entire series, I knew I had to pick it up. As book 1 in “The Russian Collection” this story follows two separate families: a peasant family (specifically featuring the eldest daughter Anna) and an aristocratic family living in a palace in St. Petersburg.

This historical romance, Christian fiction novel is predictable but comforting with its family saga narrative and faith-based plotline. It’s also chock-full of tidbits about Russian history which helped balance some of the fluffier, cheesier moments. The writing wasn’t as strong as I’d remembered and the plot felt a bit lacklustre at times but I still enjoyed this quick and light read.

Since I will definitely continue re-reading the rest of the series, I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

 

 


Have you read any of these books?
In the comments, let me your thoughts on them!

20 (5)

 

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