Reading Roundup #3

It’s that time again! This time around I had a lot of books that were just so-so, but these three stood out among those and I liked them all for different reasons. Hopefully, you feel the same if you decide to read any of them. As always, I love getting book recommendations so feel free to leave a comment below telling me what you’ve been loving recently!

#3 Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I wasn’t sure I would like this book. It was a dystopian YA novel that was recommended to me by a friend. My favorite book series in that genre will always be the Giver series. This book reminded me a lot of the first book in that series. The premise is that at age eighteen everyone gets a procedure that gets rid of love. You can no longer feel love for anyone in your life. Love is considered to be a disease that destroys people. They read Romeo and Juliet in Health class (haha) and have their own handbook that they study in school laying out the rules and regulations. The city is separated from the Wilds (where people who survived the bombings live without the cure) and they are said to be dangerous. Lena, the main character, has been looking forward to the procedure. While her family history is a complex one (and one of my favorite subplots) she has a sister who is cured and living a perfectly happy life. She has never questioned whether or not love is as dangerous as they claim until she meets Alex. While a lot of this book is fairly predictable, the characters are well developed and there are no real lulls in the plot. It is always moving. I also just really like the theme. Love is always going to exist even if you try and stop it and watching that concept unfold really makes you think about how important it really is. It is the first book in a series and I look forward to seeing if I like the next book as much as the first!

#2 Hideaway by Nicole Lundrigan

This book is suspenseful, quirky, and pretty dark. It wasn’t what I expected it to be which made me love it even more. Gloria seems like a doting mother to the outside world, but she is actually pretty emotionally abusive. She is going through a separation with Telly who has his own set of flaws. Rowan and Maisy are the typical brother and younger sister, but Rowan does feel more protective because of his mother’s antics. The story revolves around Rowan who runs away with a man named Carl (a really interesting character battling a mental illness) and Gloria trying to win back Telly’s affection. It all goes downhill from there. It gets pretty dark as it continues, but the writing is quirky and you almost don’t notice how horrific it really is. The characters all have interesting arcs and the simultaneous plots are well done. It all comes to a climax that is both unexpected and gut-wrenching. I’m a sucker for a suspenseful book, and this was not a disappointment. It looks into the idea of family and what you’re willing to do to keep it together or to get out of it. It also illustrates that strength can come from unlikely places. Definitely read it if you love the thriller/mystery/suspense genre!

#3 The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My roommate wanted me to read this book and I did no real research into it before I read it. It surprised me how much I enjoyed this book. The book tells the story of Evelyn Hugo, an actress who had a long career and was also always in the news because, by the time she retired, she had seven husbands. At the beginning of the book, she calls on Monique Grant who is a low-level writer at a magazine and says she wants to give an interview for the first time in years, but only if it is Monique. There are two twists in the novel. One comes near the beginning and it changes the tone of the book. The second comes at the end and knocks you off balance. It is incredibly well written. What stands out for me is the character development achieved in the book. The characters are rich and in-depth. You understand them and hurt for them as the story goes on. They feel like real people. It also talks about the complexity of a human being. It plays with the idea that everyone has good and bad in them and sometimes people do bad things because they decide it’s for a good reason. It shows how doing something to save your family from hurting, can hurt somebody else. It also discusses topics that are relevant to today’s society. It talks about the LGBTQ community and discrimination. It talks about the inequality that exists between men and women at work. It looks at depression, domestic abuse, and alcoholism. It doesn’t shy away from anything. Evelyn Hugo is finally telling her life story and she is telling her whole truth. Nothing is held back which is what makes this novel so great. She is unapologetic which means that the book is that way as well. When you read the title and start the book, you may have thoughts on what it might be like, but I assure you that perception is wrong. What unfolds is a story focused on love, both romantically and for your family, and what you would do to protect that love. It is one of the most honest books I have read which makes it a must-read!

Thanks for reading and as always leave some recommendations below! I love discovering new books and reading things I wouldn’t have picked for myself. Follow me on GoodReads to see all the books I’m reading. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/101673175-rachel-hutchings

Rachel (:

Reading Roundup #2

It’s time for another roundup of the books that I loved in the last month. My reading speed has slowed down a little since classes started, but I am reading much more than I have in past years. I struggled with what to put as my number three, so there is an honorable mention this month. These three books are all very different, but they each had something that I really connected with. Hopefully, y’all will enjoy them too!

Honorable Mention

#3 Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

This book was a mix of mystery and drama and was centered around one of my favorite things: a bookstore. The main character, Miranda finds out that her uncle (who she hasn’t seen in sixteen years due to a falling out he had with her mother), left her his bookstore, Prospero Books, in his will. Not only does he leave her his store, but also leads her on a scavenger hunt, like he set up for her as a kid, to find out what exactly happened that caused a major rift between him and the family. Part of the reason I loved this book was the many book references throughout. As a person who loves reading and works at an escape room, the idea of a book-based scavenger hunt was right up my alley. This book is mainly a mystery but also has romance and drama. The idea of family is a major theme. It makes you look at the question: What makes a person family? It also makes you think about where priorities should lie and what actually makes you happy. I always love when a story that you think is one thing turns out to be another and this book definitely felt that way. I really enjoyed this book and think other book enthusiasts will feel the same.

#2 Trust First by Bruce Deel

I decided that I should branch out from reading only fiction and picked up a few nonfiction books. This one was the first one I picked up from the library and I really connected with this book. It is written by a pastor who felt called to take over a church in an unsafe area of Atlanta. Soon that calling became something bigger and he started an organization called City of Refuge. His main philosophy and the philosophy of the organization as a whole is radical trust. The City of Refuge is a one-stop-shop for those who are trying to escape homelessness, drug addiction, joblessness, and human trafficking. They provide housing, treatment plans, doctor visits, career counseling, education programs, and childcare all under one roof. Their idea of radical trust is extended to everyone no matter their past circumstances and no matter how many times that trust is violated. He found that when you give people respect, trust, and love that they haven’t seen before, it can do amazing things. He shares stories of several people who have passed through the program and who have stayed on as staff. The City of Refuge has helped over 20,000 people and they are still going strong. This story was inspiring and made me look at the world a little differently. Why do people turn a blind eye to those in need? Why don’t we just talk to people instead of looking down on them? I found myself tearing up at the way Christ-like love transforms these people’s lives. Not just the people who come through the program, but those who volunteer and work there as well. If you want to feel inspired, this is a must-read.

#1 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

First things first: this was one of the longest books I’ve ever read. I feel the need to tell you that in case you are a person who doesn’t like long novels. It was 771 pages. However, the story it tells is epic and fleshed out in a way that draws you in. It was worth the page count. The book follows Theo, who survives an accident that his mother does not. You follow him from age thirteen into his adult years and watch him grow, make mistakes, fall in love, and try to cope with what he went through as a kid. The one thing he holds onto is a painting, The Goldfinch, that he gets on the day of the attack. It is intertwined with him and his life from the moment he takes it. His life takes many twists and turns, but the painting remains a constant symbol of hope for him. The characters in this novel are so fleshed out, I feel as though I know all of them personally. Some standouts are Boris, Mrs. Barbour, Hobbie, and Pippa. All of them impact Theo in different ways, some positively and some negatively. This book deals with a lot of hard topics because Theo lives a difficult life. Fair warning: there is a pretty big amount of drug use and there are times when he deals with serious depression and suicidal thoughts. It can be difficult to read, but it doesn’t feel like too much in the context of the story. It is a raw and real look at how traumatic events can impact someone’s life. It also looks at what a support system or a lack of a support system can do for you. The imagery is vivid and I felt like I could actually see it all happening. I found out in the middle of reading that it has been adapted into a movie. I’m interested to see what I think. There is so much in this book and not very much that I feel could be cut out, so I hope that it creates the same emotional impact the book does. It’s a rollercoaster from start to finish and whether or not you agree with the final message, it provides a new perspective. I would definitely recommend reading it as long as you can get over the length.

I am always looking for book recommendations so let me know what books you’ve been loving recently. Also, if you want to see all the books that I’m reading, add me on Goodreads!

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/101673175-rachel-hutchings

Rachel (:

Reading Roundup

I have always loved reading. I read all the time when I was younger and fell in love with the way that words on a page could form vivid images in your mind. You could fall in love with a character that wasn’t real but made you feel like they were standing right next to you. Reading was a constant in my life. A way that I could escape the real world for a while. My love of reading and writing is what pushed me to become a publishing major. A job where I can be surrounded by books is a dream come true. While in college, the number of books I read decreased dramatically. After reading textbooks all day, I rarely wanted to read more. But this summer, I have had time to read again and have fallen in love all over again. When I’m feeling particularly anxious at night, I pull out my book and get wrapped up in the story unfolding on the page. By the time I put the book down, I’m calmer than before. I have read a ton of books so far and I am showing no signs of slowing down (I still leave with like five books every time I go to the library) so I decided to start a monthly reading roundup post. Once a month I will talk about the top three books I’ve read. I also want all of you to list some of your favorite books in the comments. I know it can be hard to figure out what to read, so starting this conversation once a month can give us all some ideas. So without further ado, here are my top three books I’ve read this month.

#3 The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

This book is extremely clever. I had read one other book by this same author and his writing style is so interesting to me. It’s very meta. In the book, a detective asks Horowitz to write a book about him solving this case of a woman who walks into a funeral parlor to plan her funeral, and six hours later is found murdered. Horowitz writes a book about him writing a book. It’s clever in its style and it’s clever in its mystery. There are many twists throughout that keep you on your toes. The detective asking Horowitz to write the book is quite the character; eccentric and a little off-putting. The layers to the characters as well as the layers to the mystery are deep. If you like this book, I would suggest also reading Magpie Murders. It’s also pretty meta. I’m always impressed when an author can bring a new angle to a genre that has often become formulaic. Anthony Horowitz does a great job of taking a classic whodunnit and injecting new life into the genre.

#2 Nine Perfect Strangers by Lianne Moriarty

I saw this book on a list for summer reads and decided to give it a shot. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of book it was. I couldn’t tell from the description if it would be a mystery or a comedy or both or neither. It was unclear. After reading it, I would classify it as suspense with humor throughout to break some of the tension. The story centers around nine people who come to a ten-day health retreat. They all come for different reasons that you find out along the way. The head of the retreat is quite the character and has some pretty extreme ideas when it comes to making lives better. What I really love about this book and find incredibly impressive is that each chapter is from the perspective of a different character. Moriarty is constantly switching from one character to another giving you a full picture of every character in the book. The ability to jump from voice to voice seemlessly is extremely difficult, and she makes it look easy. Sometimes with books like this one where there are a lot of characters, things can get muddled and you can lose sight of who they are or where they ended up. Moriarty doesn’t let that happen. By the end, you know each character individually and you know what happens to all the characters. The ending of a book can ruin the whole thing if not handled correctly. But Moriarty finishes this book with ease. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading other works by this author.

#1 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I picked this book off the shelf at the library on a whim because I saw it near another book I was checking out. I’m so glad I did because this book easily catapulted itself into my top five books of all time. I loved this book! It was like the movies The Prestige and The Greatest Showman (without the music) mixed together with a touch of Romeo and Juliet. Two illusionists take on students and have them compete in a competition that is shrouded in mystery. The stage is the circus that they create and the end of the competition seems to be ambiguous. Everything unfolds at just the right pace. It doesn’t give away things too early, but it doesn’t hold on too long. There is never a dull moment. The imagery is staggering. I could picture this circus so vividly that I could have been watching it play out on TV. Honestly, if a movie isn’t made out of this book then Hollywood is crazy. Although sometimes they butcher books, so I’m torn. The book takes place over many years and follows various groups of characters that weave in and out of each other. By the end of the book, I was dying to go to this circus. Man, do I wish it was real. I’m not usually into fantasy type books, but this one blew me away. It has something for everybody. Mystery, suspense, drama, fantasy, romance. And yet, it always feels cohesive. The weaving in and out of storylines keeps you on your toes much like the two characters in the competition. I can’t say enough good things about this book. I truly think everyone should read it.

So there are my top three for this month’s reading roundup. Now it’s your turn! What are some good books that you have read recently? I’m always looking for more to add to my list.

Rachel (: