Welcome to Friday Reads. Each Friday, I’ll review any books I’ve completed that week, as well as share what I’m reading right now. And by “Each Friday,” I mean “some Fridays.”

So it’s been almost a month again. And I’ll post my November update on Monday. I’ll wait until then to share how behind I am and how I plan to catch up. But for now, here we are.

Finished:

The Songs of Willow Frost – Jamie Ford – 3* (Nov 18)

I wanted to love this because I love Jamie Ford. But this was a hard read. No specific spoilers but there’s so little happiness to be found in the stories of Liu Song and her son, William. Each time there’s a glimpse of hope, everything crashes down worse than before.

What I appreciate about Ford’s stories, both in this book and his other novels, is that he’s writing from a place of great authenticity when he shares the stories of Chinese immigrants and Seattle. These are the stories of his grandparents and his city. I recognize that life was hard for them and that many didn’t get happy endings. Also, I don’t need a perfect happy ending with all loose ends resolved and all characters feeling warm and fuzzy.

This particular story felt overwhelmingly sad so despite loving his writing, I can’t say I loved it.

The Way Life Should Be – Christina Baker Kline – 3* (Nov 24)

Yet another case of “I read a book by this author that I absolutely LOVED – and nothing I’ve read by them since has even come close.”

This book is the third I’ve read by Christina Baker Kline and my least favorite by far. However, this is one of her earlier novels so I’ll assume she’s human like the rest of us, honing her craft as she goes along.

“The Way Life Should Be” reads like a rom-com/chick-lit for the first half and that’s just not my genre. The second half picked up substantially with the protagonist finally done mooning over the guy and instead putting her life together. Around the 75% mark (because I was reading on my Kindle), I was excited about where she may be going and what may develop leading up to the end.

And then it ended. At 80%, it ended. There was a full 20% of the book that consisted of recipes and acknowledgements and reader guides. I don’t mind that these items are included, but it really throws off the pacing of the story for me when I expect there’s 1/4 of the book remaining and it turns out to only be another dozen pages.

Facing the Sun – Carol Beth Anderson – 4.5* (Nov 29)

Full disclosure: YA and fantasy are not really my thing. YA Fantasy is DEFINITELY not my thing. Also, this book was written by a friend but I’m still going to give honest feedback.

Despite what I said above about this book being in the fantasy genre, it’s really a coming-of-age story. Just instead of a girl impatient to grow up and kiss boys and excel academically, this girl has been born into the promise of magic. This magic affects all of her relationships, for better or worse, and greatly complicates everything in her life.

The world-building is solid and despite a lot of intricacies, it’s not difficult to keep characters straight. I found the pacing a tad slow at times, but I prefer that for this genre as opposed to the break-neck pace that’s impossible to keep up with.

This book is the first of three in the series and as an impatient person, I’m glad all three are available at once. That means I can read them at my pace rather than waiting years for the conclusion.

It’s an impressive outing for a debut author and I’m interested to see where she (and the series) will go from here.

Current:

Bad Dreams and Other Stories – Tessa Hadley – 53%

It’s OK. The last couple of stories I read were interesting, especially the one about a little girl who trashes the living room while everyone sleeps and her mama blames it on the father. Classic overthinking.

Touch Not the Cat – Mary Stewart – 24%

This novel was the first selection sent to my as part of my Heywood House book subscription back in February. The setting feels quite gothic though it seems the story is set in near-past (80s?) Great Britain.

Up Next:

Caroline: Little House, Revisited – Sarah Miller

This was on some end-of-the-year list, along with a book about Marilla from the Anne of Green Gables series. I was at the library and this was available so here it is.

 

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