What I’m Reading, May 2015

Golden Son by Pierce Brown: I was really looking forward to this book after Red Rising, but the sequel fell flat. Sure, there was plenty of action, but most of the book was political talking talking talking. When a big chunk of a book is dialogue, the characters need to be easy to tell apart. Not the case here, and Brown complicates this by not using speaker tags regularly. I hear this is a trilogy, but despite the cliffhanger ending, I can’t bring myself to care about the third book. (3/5)

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper: This book was delightfully messed up. The writing is raw and emotional, and all the characters have distinct stories that made me feel for them, which meant I zoomed through this book in an afternoon. If I ever write a book about my messed-up family, I can only hope to tell the story as well as this one. (4/5)

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: I’m a sucker for World War II stories, especially set in France, which meant I really liked this book. The story was complex and moving, the characters were multidimensional and interesting, and the plot grabbed me from the beginning. The story was slow in a few parts, but overall this book was very well done. (4/5)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin: This book was… okay. I enjoyed reading the narrator’s story at parts, but the flow of the story annoyed me. I couldn’t bring myself to care at some points, wondering when the story would get to the point. This just in: I strongly prefer plot-driven stories than character-driven stories like this one. (3/5)

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan: I liked the overall story; think Victorian era with dragons. The main character and narrator is a dragon naturalist in a time when women were not generally encouraged to do much more beyond marry well. This book is the first in a series, and since it’s a life story told in a series, I suspect the good stuff is yet to come. I’d read a sequel. (4/5)

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt: This is the first audiobook I completed reading, and it was an excellent first choice. The book is easy to follow and read by the author. He explains the concepts of moral psychology in great detail, but not so much detail that you feel bogged down. Everything is easy to follow while still remaining research-centric. This book needs to be required reading for everyone who thinks they’re right when it comes to religion or politics. (5/5)

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: I really liked this book overall. It moved slowly in parts, but overall it explained how we think in a way that’s understandable to everyone. I won’t tihnk about thinking the same way again. (4/5)

Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers: This book was a lot of fun. It covers every stage of alcohol, from the yeast to the hangover. Each chapter got its own storyline that made the science of that stage into something entertaining and educational. And while the chapters were dense, they were easy to digest and understand… without the hangover. (4/5)

Blackout by Mira Grant: I finished the second book in the series and made grabby hands for the third book. Book three did not disappoint. Holy crap. My main complaint was that the book just… ended without much in the way of wrapup. I was all set to give this book an easy five and then it ended and I wasn’t sure what to make of that ending. The entire series is worth reading, so go read them. (4/5)

Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian: This book is one part memoir by a founder of Reddit, one part telling the stories of making without waiting on someone to give you permission. I enjoyed reading it, even though the book left me wondering what the focus really was. P.S. Alexis, I still haven’t finished editing my book yet. (4/5)

Vicious by V.E. Schwab: I wanted to like this. I tried really hard to like it, but in the end it fell flat. By the time the characters and story were developed enough for me to care about them, the story was already half over. I loved another of her books, so this may be a case of liking the YA books more than the adult books. (3/5)

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick: I listened to this book, and while it was more technical in places, the history was still easy to follow. My main gripe was that the audiobook was read at a lower volume than was comfortable to listen to while running, which was complicated by my crappy headphones. (4/5)

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: This book was delightful. The plot was simple, the characters were delightful, and the story was believable and real. The 1999 references in the setting were well-done without being over the top. (4/5)

What’s next? I’m not sure. My to-read stack is growing, and some manga has made its way to the pile as well. I’m not sure how I should count those books, even though I’ve already reached my 2015 reading goal… in May. Time to go for last year’s total again.

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