I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
"As much as I get sick of eating Mexican food every single day of my life, if heaven existed, I know it would smell like fried tortillas."
I listened to I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and initially disliked it. While the narrator is dealing with an incredibly difficult situation (her sister just died, this is not a spoiler), I found I didn't like her very much. Once the plot and character development fell into a good rhythm, I changed my tune. I ended up giving this four stars because Julia was so real. Her decisions and thoughts seemed authentic, she had a fantastic wry sense of humor that came through when you needed it, and she was complicated.
When I was struggling with liking this book, I had an epiphany: this book is YA. Julia is not a 30-year-old, instead, she is a teenager trying to cope with a new reality without her sister. This was actually a great book as long as I kept Julia's age in mind. It should have been obvious, but sometimes I can be a little dense about these things. Especially when I'm trying to identify with the narrator.
The author covers many difficult topics without being forceful. Hard things are dealt with in a matter of fact way which is part of what's driving Julia crazy--we're forced to accept all these horrible things as we move into adulthood. I agree with her, it's just not cool.
This book is gritty and smart. Also, the audible narration was great.
Before We Were Yours
"A woman's past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she chooses. Her own music. To hear the tune she must only stop talking. To herself, I mean. We're always trying to persuade ourselves of things."
I read this at the urging of a friend. You know I really like you if I take a book suggestion because my TBR list is already a mile long.
This is about a woman who steals kids during the depression and puts them in terrible orphanages then sells them to families. It was horrifying to read about, but it was so informative because I didn't know the history. There is also a woman in the present who is dealing with her political family, her aging grandmother, and planning a wedding. The two stories overlap and the chapters alternate.
This book is not something I would pick up on my own. While the historical aspects of it intrigued me, the shifting between past and present wasn't my favorite. Especially because the present sections were about a woman sorting out her love life.
I read The Cottingly Secret last year and this felt really similar to that book. The past is primarily about children, the present is about adults. The past is where the mystery is being built and the present is where the mystery is being solved. Both of these books were nice, and I would send them to my mom and grandma in a heartbeat. I love having a list of books to share with them at the ready. But, they both represent a form of formulaic fiction.
If you like dueling timelines, also check out a YA novel called Dreamland Burning. I think I liked that one the most because the protagonist was not trying to fall in love in the present. Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against love, but I'm kind of over the Hallmark movie versions of love. Unless it's December and my stress levels are off the charts and I need a predictable movie to watch while I wrap gifts. Then I'm fine with it.
In Farleigh Field
"He was the sort of languid and elegant young man one would expect to find at a country house party, playing croquet with Bertie Wooster. Frightfully good fun, but not too many brains."
I purchased this audiobook when it was recently on sale. I didn't have high hopes because I hadn't heard anything at all about it.
I'm hit or miss with historical fiction. But, as it turned out, I loved this one. It wasn't super deep or romantic but it was a story well told with a bit of a mystery. I'm a big fan of British cozy mysteries and there were many elements of that in this book. It reminded me of a less endearing Flavia deLuce novel (those are some of my all-time favorite mysteries).
The novel is set in WWII in Britain. A plane crashes in a rural part of the county and now everyone is wondering why and who is the mysterious (dead) pilot. The characters were great and I love when an author is able to add in a few children who are not too precious.
All We Ever Wanted
I got this ARC (advanced reader copy) on netgalley.com. It was great. Check out my review here.
The Great Gatsby
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
This was a delight. I read this as part of my book club reading for the month. It was a reread because, of course, I had read it in high school.
I usually am vehemently against rereading but every time I actually reread a book it fills me with both nostalgia and new observations. I remembered my teen reactions and the smell of Mr. Schurtz's English room and the greyish blue carpet and the cold, tan desks. I also realized that I am now much closer to the main characters' ages than I was when I was 16.
I talk about it at length in Classics Club if you're interested in more of my thoughts on this classic American novel.
By The Book
"I wondered if my place smelled. I wondered if my breath smelled. I wondered if I could surreptitiously change out of my pajamas and put on a bra."
I was prepared to hate this book. I am not usually a fan of retellings. And, I'm really not a fan of Jane Austen retellings. But this book has my whole heart.
It didn't take a long time to get hooked. Anne, the main character is highly relatable and even more so if you're an introverted book nerd. She is an everywoman and watching her try to balance family, work, and love was a delight.
Anne is based on Anne in Persuasion. I read that this month (June) and will hopefully post a classics club about it soon. Both books felt real and authentic. By the Book can stand alone. It's like a romantic comedy in book form and I needed a little levity.
By the Book felt reminiscent of other Austen works as well and after reading Persuasion I understood: it was like Austen had fine-tuned a lot of her common themes in her final novel. Self-centered families, creeps trying to upset the course of true love, misunderstandings and lots of eventful parties and gatherings--it's all there!
If you enjoyed Bridget Jones's Diary, you should definitely give this fun read a chance. There are fewer swears and the story is totally engaging.
So those are my May books. We are just over halfway done with June and I'm definitely not on pace to keep up with my record-breaking month. But, you never know...time to go read.
What did you finish this month? Anything worth recommending?