Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No.89: My Latest Reads // February

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THE PARIS ARCHITECT by Charles Belfoure
My Rating: ★★★✰
"Let me explain something to you, Monsieur Bernard. Back in 1940, when this hell began, I realized that my first duty as a Christian was to overcome my self-centeredness, that I had to inconvenience myself when one of my human brethren was in danger—whoever he may be, or whether he was a born Frenchman or not. I’ve simply decided not to turn my back.” (6%)
I had high hopes for The Paris Architect.  The premise is really interesting: an architect is commissioned to create hiding places within homes to protect Jews.  I loved imagining the process of hiding someone in plain sight and enjoyed the descriptions of design.  The book itself, though, was good but not great.  An interesting twist on WWII, but there are definitely better choices out there.  And are the French really so cavalier about love-making and having affairs?

COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen
My Rating: ★★★★
When all his bombs fizzled, everything about his attack was misread. He didn’t just fail to top Timothy McVeigh’s record—he wasn’t even recognized for trying. He was never categorized with his peer group. We lumped him in with the pathetic loners who shot people. (60%)
This book was eerie and disturbing, but from a psychology standpoint, also extremely fascinating.  I learned so much and definitely have thought about it after the most recent shootings.  While Cullen claims that psychopathic behavior is to blame, I'm still not totally convinced that there wasn't a small bullying component too.

REDWALL by Brain Jacques
My Rating: ★★★★
Suddenly the spell of the snake was broken. The young mouse’s eyes snapped open, clear and bright. He swung the ancient sword high and struck the giant adder.
He struck for Redwall!
He struck against evil!
He struck for Martin!
He struck for Log-a-Log and his shrews! He struck for dead Guosim!
He struck as Methuselah would have wanted him to!
He struck against Cluny the Scourge and tyranny!
He struck out against Captain’s Snow’s ridicule!
He struck for the world of light and freedom!
He struck until his paws ached and the sword fell from them! When Log-a-log awoke from out of the trance he saw his friend Matthias the Warrior. (p.304)
Our first read aloud of 2018!  Redwall is the story of peace-loving mice who are forced to defend their Abbey from an army of rats led by the evil Cluny the Scourge.  The story was beautifully written, well-paced and engaged the kids from the start.  I enjoyed it much more than I expected too!

THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner
My Rating: ★★★✰
“You learn something new everyday."
"What are you learning?" Sophos asked.
"To keep my mouth shut, I hope.” 
I think The Thief would be considered YA fantasy, which is a genre I don't typically read.  I had a hard time with this one - I liked the story itself, but also felt like nothing really happened.  I enjoyed the beginning and the end, but had to slog through much of the middle.  Obviously, I'm in the minority here because most reviews are glowing.  I also read somewhere that the later books in the series are even better, so maybe I need to give Book #2 a chance.

My Rating: ★★★✰
As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
No ... eight days a week.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the story of an 11-year-old girl who becomes an amateur sleuth when a crime is committed on her property.  She is definitely a quirky character!  This book also started strong, lagged a bit in the middle, but picked up at the end.  A cute and different type of whodunit.

HAPPIER AT HOME by Gretchen Rubin
My Rating: ★★✰✰ (more like 2.5)
I didn't want to slow down but, rather, to change the experience of the pace of my life. "Speed is not part of the true Way of strategy," legendary swordsman Miyamoto Mushashi observed in A Book of Five Rings.  "Speed implies that things seems fast or slow...Of course, slowness is bad.  Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy."  I wanted a pace of life that was deliberate - that felt neither fast nor slow. (p.132)
Happier at Home was our February choice for book club.  I've read a few of Gretchen's books before and enjoyed them (my favorite probably being Better Than Before) but this one fell short for me.  I'm not sure if it was the way she attacked the pursuit of happiness or because our mindsets are so different, but I had difficulty relating to her this time and struggled to keep reading.  There were a few good tips and ideas there, but it mostly seemed like a lot of repetition from her first Happiness Project.  Just okay for me.


Books Read: 13
Fiction: 9  // Non-Fiction: 4
Kindle Books: 7  // Paper Books: 6
Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 439


  1. Happier at Home is the only book I've disliked so much that I wanted to chuck it at a wall. ;)

    1. I was surprised because I really did enjoy Better than Before! It felt like she just kept referring to herself - "My Splendid Truths", "My Be Gretchen commandments" blah blah blah...too much, haha!

  2. Okay you HAVE to keep reading The Thief series. The first is necessary for the setup and the author kind of lulls you into thinking it's rather boring, but if you keep going you will 100% be rewarded. :) I'm a big fan of them!

    1. The more I think about The Thief, the more it does feel like it is the beginning story, leading up to something. I'll keep going!

  3. Well now I'm glad I didn't join in with Happier at Home! LOL. I think I started it a couple years ago and didn't get very far...

    1. Unless you're a Gretchen fan, I'd say pass on this one. Better than Before was MUCH better.

  4. Haha, the two time a I've read Gretchen Rubin I've found it glaringly obvious how different our personalities/temperaments are!

    1. I would say that I'm similar in temperaments with her (goal driven, gold-star oriented, underbuyer, etc etc) but even I couldn't get behind this book, haha!

  5. I am LOVING your monthly book reviews. You're inspiring me to keep up with mine!


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