Hello everyone! Welcome to BirthMay 2020! Today, I wanted to share ten more mini book reviews with you.
The last ten mini book reviews post did so well, I figured I should share ten more! Since the quarantine was extended in Illinois through May, I have had time to continue to read more so here’s some mini reviews on the books I’ve read so far, and some that I didn’t finish. There are going to be a few spoilers here and there because they are reviews but nothing that would completely spoil the entire story. Of course, you’re welcome to skip any of the reviews if you don’t want to risk it!
As for the books that I didn’t finish, I wanted to put them on the list anyway because I figured that it was better to put them in here and explain why I didn’t finish them instead of ignoring them. They, of course, don’t count as “read” on my Goodreads because I didn’t complete them but I figured I could still do a mini review and explain why I gave up reading those.
In case you’re new, BirthMay is my annual birthday celebration where I blog every day for the month of May. This is the fourth annual BirthMay and no matter how many BirthMays you’ve been here for, thank you for your support!
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by James C. Collins
Every classmate and professor that I had during my MBA program that I looked up to loved this book so I wanted to read it for myself. Good to Great is basically a research book that explores various companies that were good and either rose to greatness or couldn’t make that jump. I thought it was going to be more of an analysis of the background and stories of those companies but it ended up being more of a math analysis than a story one. For that reason, I just didn’t really enjoy it. It was still a great read, and had some really great insights but it just wasn’t for me. Oh! And it is an older book so while some of the companies and their stories are now outdated (example, Circuit City is a “great” company based on the research when this book was written), the stories and decisions the companies made can still be very interesting and educative.
I gave this book three out of five stars. Like I said, it wasn’t for me but it was still really informative and gave great insight into these companies.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
After following the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel for years and after meeting Hank Green at VidCon last year while I was working the event, I was really curious about his new book. (Hank’s super nice and funny btw, exactly the same as on his channel. Both Green brothers are!) Anyway, I checked out Hank’s book and while I’ve watched Hank’s videos about it, I hadn’t really known what to expect out of the story. It took me a few chapters to really get into it but after awhile I found that I was really enjoying the story and wanted to know what happened next. I do think Hank was super creative with his book and I really liked it. It’s too bad VidCon was cancelled this year (and that I was furloughed) as now I won’t be able to mention it to him but I’m sure plenty of people have already told him it was a fun book!
Anyway, about the actual book, the main character, April May, discovers a cool sculpture in NYC and gets her friend to make a YouTube video with her about it that very night. She names the sculpture Carl in her video and then is suddenly the center of the story as her video with her friend was the first documentation that appeared on Carl, which has various copies around the world. April then decides to jump all into her newfound fame and we follow along on her journey as she tries to both remain relevant in the fast-paced social media fame circuit and continue investigating Carl’s origins.
I gave the book four out of five stars.
Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
I read this one for the ReadHeads bookclub that I’ve previously mentioned. This was a really fast read, I think I finished it in just under three hours. I thought it was such a cute story! The book revolves around two main characters, Matt and Grace, who fall in love in school but after a summer apart lose touch until fifteen years later when they spot each other in the NYC subway. The book is written with about half of it in their present day, and half of it in their past. The story is mostly told from Matt’s point of view I felt, probably because Matt is really the one that opens the story. In reality it might have been closer to 50/50 towards the end but I did feel that Matt was the primary story teller while reading it. I did find myself more sympathetic to Matt at the end, because I felt that Grace could have tried a little harder to reach Matt or somehow let him know that she was going to be gone when he returned home after his internship, and I did find it weird that they were both so completely obsessed with each other but just sort of gave up searching for the other for so long. Even with the explanation that Grace and Matt each had for why they weren’t able to find each other, I just felt that there were other options that neither of them really explored, such as reaching out to other people around each of them to get to the other. Even so, that obviously worked for the story’s goals and it was still a really cute story overall.
I gave the book four out of five stars.
Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly by Deborah Noyes
After seeing a Drunk History video on YouTube about Nellie Bly, I looked her up on Google. I originally tried to find Bly’s own books on Libby but didn’t see her work on there, so instead I checked out a biography on her. The book title made it seem like it would mostly focus on her time in an asylum, so I expected more of a lead up into her acting prep to get checked in, more details on her time in the asylum, and then more information on what reforms came out of her work. Basically more details on the story Drunk History told. But instead it as an overview on her entire life, along with tidbits on the people close to her. It was still a good read, but just not what I expected. Also, the formatting of the book didn’t lend itself well to the ebook version and I found that distracting as I read it.
I gave the book three out of five stars.
Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
This is the third book of Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series. It’s been a long time since I read the first two books so I admit, I found it really difficult at first to get used to the characters and remember what was going on. If I’d read the first two books recently I probably would have liked it more but I found it to be a little confusing and thought it dragged out a bit because things that didn’t seem to mean too much were happening, but later I realized it was because I had forgotten the part of the plot that went along with that chapter. I did put the next book on hold because I do want to know what happens to the sisters but the story is getting pretty weird now. My guess is it’s because this was supposed to be a duology and it’s turned into a four book series. Anyway, the series as a whole features a fictional island that has been ruled by triplet queens until they are of age and expected to basically assassinate their sisters. Whoever is left at the end is the Queen Crowned until she gives birth to the next set of triplets. Oh, and the island is full of factions with different magical abilities so each queen is raised by the faction that matches the ability they are born with. It’s a really great idea and the first two books I did enjoy a ton, but I feel like the third falls victim to being a continuation of a story that wasn’t meant to be continued, which is why it took me so long to read it too.
I rated this one four out of five stars.
Maybe This Time by Kasie West
I randomly found this book on Libby, and I was looking for a lighter read to enjoy so I thought it’d be perfect. The book centers around Sophie, a high schooler working for a florist in a small southern town, dreaming of moving to NYC for college. Her best friend Micah, who works for her father’s small catering business, introduces her to Andrew, who is the son of a famous chef helping Micah’s dad grow the business. Of course, Sophie and Andrew butt heads immediately and the story follows them for a year as they all enter young adulthood and make moves towards their life goals. It was a cute little story although I was constantly surprised when I was reminded the characters were 17-18 in the book as they seemed to come across as more like 21-23 year olds. Sophie’s biggest issues stem from her mother and several people in her small town that belittle her and tell her to have more “realistic” dreams than going to NYC to study fashion design. Throughout the year she and Andrew clash because she’s used to having to push past people’s projected insecurities on her while Andrew gets annoyed as he feels Sophie didn’t give him a chance to get to know her and make the decision to support her. Micah is basically Sophie’s biggest fan but Sophie’s attitude does wear her down, causing issues for their friendship as well. I did think that the biggest conflict really didn’t start until too late in the book, so the resolution happened later than it could have and the story cut out suddenly, so I’m not sure if it’s meant to have a sequel or something but it was still enjoyable and a nice, light read.
I gave this book four out of five stars.
Damnation Island by Stacy Horn
I picked up this book because it was also about the asylum where Nellie Bly was sent to. The book ended up being about the asylum as a whole, not just about Bly, which was what I had been looking for. I found myself getting bored honestly, because I wanted to read about Bly, not the asylum in general. Even the description stated that Nellie Bly was sent there so I really thought it’d be more about Bly. I think that there just wasn’t much about Bly’s time there, beyond what Bly herself wrote, and I didn’t get far enough to find how it all was addressed unfortunately.
This book is a DNF.
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
I had this book already because I had read Fun Home by the same author and wanted to read some of her other works. I couldn’t really get into this one so I ended up putting it down after awhile since I really didn’t get it. Also, she starts the book off by saying her mom didn’t want her to write this, and the book is supposed to be about her relationship with her mom. It felt weird reading it knowing that part of the subject didn’t want the story to be written. I’m guessing that the end was probably some scene about her mom reading it and finally giving her blessing for the book? However, it just didn’t feel right reading it when it was clear that Bechdel’s mom didn’t want her to write the book and Bechdel was ignoring her mom’s wishes.
This book is a DNF.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
I totally thought this book was a lot shorter but it was pretty sizable! I figured from the cover it was more of a less in-depth book but it actually detailed a ton into RBG’s life and career. I really enjoyed it although I did find the pacing a bit strange but that might be because I’m really bad at dates. I pretty much instantly forget them as soon as I read them so I wasn’t really sure what the timeline was for many things, and it felt like the same moments of her life were being repeated but just through a different focus. I also kept getting confused on the cases, because although I knew the major ones from US History classes or law classes, I didn’t know a lot of them and the book didn’t really explain them. It mostly just mentioned them and gave a date, and then said it was important but didn’t say why. The few that it did try to explain I didn’t really get the explanation so it still wasn’t helpful but knowing about RBG’s life was super interesting.
I gave this book four out of five stars.
Me: Elton John Official Autobiography by Elton John
I mostly picked this one up because I had seen Rocketman on a plane back before the Q. I haven’t really listened to Elton John’s music but the film was so interesting that I wanted to read the autobiography too. I did really enjoy reading through it and felt it was a really good pace, a good amount of details, and very well thought out. This book was released fairly recently and was meant to accompany the farewell tour, which was meant to end this year (not sure what the current status of it is), so it covers pretty much everything in his life. I did find myself getting fairly confused at mentions of other people, mostly the guys that are all seemingly named “John” or “David” or something common like that so I appreciated that they were repeatedly introduced with their full names but it was hard to keep track sometimes anyway! In any case, Elton John’s life certainly was interesting to read about and I did actually end up recognizing more of his songs than I thought. I did think various times while reading “geez, how many albums and songs did he write??” because it felt like every few pages he was talking about how his newest album had performed! I looked it up and the answer is a lot, especially because of his very long career. But like I mentioned, I am not very familiar with his work, and I still found the book interesting so it’s worth reading in my opinion!
I gave this one four out of five stars.
And those are the ten books that I read (or at least attempted to read) in the past month or so! Let me know what you’ve been reading lately, I’d love to know.
Thanks for reading!
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