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Hosted by Kathryn at Book Date
The end of the school year can be a crazy week or two for everyone. I know parents don’t like it for lots of reasons, but it’s a lot for teachers, too. I’m a person who gets to work really early, but then likes to leave nearly as soon as the kids do. That won’t be happening much the next couple weeks. Almost every day there’s a meeting, student event, or farewell party that I need to go to. Most are fun, but they’ll definitely cut into both my exercise and reading times. Oh, well. I’ll certainly be able to make up for it soon!
Last Week’s Reads
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai was one of those books where you want to know how it ends, but you don’t want it to end. This dual timeline story about the AIDS crisis in 1980’s Chicago and a woman who found herself in the middle of it is definitely one of my favorite books so far this year. It reminded me of A Little Life, but with more of a subtle sadness behind it. I’ll review The Great Believers sometime next week. At first, I was back and forth with Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagán, but in the end I liked it. My review will be part of a “Clearing the Shelves” edition on Friday.
And then the slumping began! Any book after The Great Believers was going to have big shoes to fill, but I was determined to be open. I first tried Dreams of Falling by Karen White, and I gave it a full 25%, but to be honest it felt like a book I might have liked in high school. I know Karen White is beloved by many, but this story of a family with too many secrets just didn’t work for me. I went back and read another chapter of A Place for Us, but still didn’t care for it. Next, I turned to Adrienne Celt’s Invitation to a Bonfire. I have rarely been so lost in a book as I was with this one. It jumped around in time and that combined with the three perspectives made for too much confusion. I quit at about 15%. In between those I began listening to Goodbye, Sweet Girl, a memoir of an abusive marriage by Kelly Sundberg and so far it’s just been okay.
By the start of the weekend I was getting that desperate feeling when you can’t find the right book. Having heard some mixed thoughts about Us Against You I was a little nervous to try Fredrik Backman’s latest. Beartown was one of my favorite books last year and I couldn’t take anymore disappointment. I needn’t have feared. Returning to Beartown was like putting on a pair of comfy slippers after being in heels all day. I’m at 25% and so, so happy to be back.
Likely to Read Next
Too many of the June books I picked for myself have been duds, so next I may turn to one I passed on, The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir. This debut about the pregnant daughter of a fire-and-brimstone reality TV family initially sounded a little over-the-top for me, but I’ve had a lot of luck with contemporary novels this spring. I may even go with the audiobook for Essie because I like that it has three different narrators. After that, I’ll turn to July releases starting with Eagle and Crane by Suzanne Rindell. I really liked Rindell’s last book, The Other Typist, which combined historical fiction with a bit of mystery. Eagle and Crane promises to do the same.
I hope you have a great week in books!
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Sarah's Book Shelves says
Yay – glad Us Against You is working for you! I felt the same – just breathed a sigh of relief with the first sentence. This one has less broad appeal than Beartown, but I still think you’ll like it.
And glad Woman Last Seen in her Thirties ended up working for you too!
As a parent, I hate the end of the school year too! Why do we feel the need to plan so many end of the year events?! I’ve stopped going to some. My daughter’s preschool class had a farewell party at school, which I went to, then the class parents planned a farewell “playdate” the very next day! Why the need for both? We skipped the second one.
Good for you, for skipping events. I’m actually missing one this Friday. I took a personal day so I could head up to Seattle a little early to here Georgia speak and after I took it off an event got moved from last Friday to this. Oh, Well!
Kathy Martin says
I know how hard it is to find the next book when a book is excellent and is still lingering in the mind. I hope you do find another gem in this week’s reading. Enjoy the last couple of weeks of school. I remember how exhausting they were. Come see my week here. Happy reading!
Thanks, Kathy. You have a great week, too.
Laurel-Rain Snow says
I have added Goodbye, Sweet Girl and Eagle & Crane to my Amazon bookmarks. I am also curious about The Book of Essie.
Enjoy your books…I also got a copy of Dreams of Falling this past week.
Here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES
Since Dreams of Falling didn’t work for me, I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on it.
Rachel @ Never Enough Novels says
I’m so relieved to hear you’re happy with Us Against You so far! It’s on hold at the library and I’m checking practically every day to see if I’ve moved up in line!
I’m at 70% and still love it.
Kathryn Trask says
Nothing worse that delving into books that just don’t suit your reader’s taste. I haven’t read Bear town yet or its follow up but its one I want to read. All the best for end of school year, can be so tiring.
Strictly speaking you don’t have to read Beartown before Us Against You, but I still would. Have a great week, Kathryn.
I’m looking forward to your review of The Great Believers! I liked The Book Borrower by her as well, and both the premise and your note that it’s one of your best this year are moving it up my list.
I’ll have to check out The Book Borrower. The Great Believers was my first Makkai book.
I hope you get out of school functions soon & can enjoy your summer break! Happy reading.
Aj @ Read All The Things! says
I hope the crazy time goes quickly so that you can get back to reading. I still need to read Beartown. I’ve read 3 Backman books and liked them all. Have a great week!
He truly is a gifted writer.
I originally bypassed The Believers but your comment last week (or the week before?) had me change my mind. But I’m 13 on 8 copies so it will be awhile. Definitely one I’m looking forward to. But Us Against You, I was the first to hold the ordered book so whenever it hits the library shelf it should have my name on it!!
I’m currently reading my second Jess Kidd: Mr. Flood’s Last Resort. She tells oddly different stories but slowly draws the reader in.
Hang on until summer break!
Thanks, Madeline. Isn’t it frustrating when the library takes days to get a new book on the shelves? I’ll look forward to hearing how you like both The Great Believers and Us Against You.
Even though Us Against You didn’t work for me, your analogy is a perfect one and I felt the same way. Backman knows how to use words to the best effect. He’s going to be in Seattle later this month- are you going to see him?
Your slump is contagious. I’m on my 3rd book, having set aside two, not because they were awful, but because they just weren’t holding my interest. I need Tin Man level prose right now!
Jade @ Reading With Jade says
I hope the end of year school work doesn’t eat into your personal time too, and if it does, I hope you take full advantage of some free time once summer break hits!! I look forward to reviews of some of the books you’ve mentioned. Happy reading & a lovely week to you.
Beth F says
I must get to Us against You … maybe this weekend.