Recent Reads / 07


Recent Reads is a series for me to feature the last few books I’ve read (or experienced) along with my verdicts.

I’ve based my reading goals for this year on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge (listed here). Here’s my 2018 Reading Challenge list if you’d like to take a look…

Far from the Madding Crowd

by Thomas Hardy

Reading Challenge Category:
A classic you’ve been meaning to read

I’d never read Hardy and I enjoyed the 2015 film adaptation of the novel with Carey Mulligan, which is why I added this classic to my reading challenge list.

I liked the novel, although I felt it was bogged down with the extended townie conversations and gossip. I loved Gabriel Oak, and even though Bathsheba was frustrating her growth is interesting and realistic. Seargent Troy is the WORST.

What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty

Loved it. Another great read from Moriarty. As in Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret, Moriarty tackles weighty subjects with a lighthearted precision.

I began to ask myself questions like, Would my younger self like who I’ve become?, Am I a good wife?, Is what’s important to me now actually important?

The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

Mango Street is our school’s pick for summer reading, so I snagged the audio version to refresh my memory of the novel. Cisneros narrates, and her voice is so sweet.

I forgot how dark these stories are, but I loved Cisneros’ language. She’s one of the best at capturing a child’s voice.

I enjoyed this novel more as an adult. I was able to hear the world-weariness in Esperanza’s voice, realizing just how bleak her situation on Mango Street really is.

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys

Reading Challenge Category:
A book recommended by someone with great taste

Between Shades of Gray is the precursor to 2016’s Salt to the Sea. Sepetys is a master of historical fiction, and she follows a Lithuanian family through the genocide of Baltic people during World War II. Lina is a sixteen-year-old artist who is taken with her mother and brother to a Siberian labor camp. Lina uses her art to cope with the horrors she experiences, leaving her sketches and drawings behind for her father to find.

I liked Between Shades of Gray, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t read Salt to the Sea first — that book is hard to beat.

The Likeness
by Tana French

Reading Challenge Category:
A book by a favorite author

I didn’t enjoy this novel, but I do like Tana French’s writing. She has such a great ability, and her sentences have a poetic quality.

Case in point:

“I wanted to tell her that being loved is a talent too, that it takes as much guts and as much work as loving; that some people, for whatever reason, never learn the knack.”

“When you’re too close to people, when you spend too much time with them and love them too dearly, sometimes you can’t see them.”

But it was slow. So slow. And so much exposition. I may have enjoyed it more if the final third of the novel were condensed. I probably should have abandoned this book, but I stuck it out and I’m not so sure I’m glad I did. My opinion is in the minority, though, so if you like tense psychological thrillers (i.e., The Secret History) and if you liked French’s first novel In the Woods, then you may enjoy The Likeness

Looking for more great recommendations?
Here are volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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