Hello everyone! I’m back with another set of mini book reviews!
I feel like my reading has slowed down so much! I do feel that I’m putting off reading a lot. I’m not sure if it’s a slump or if I’m just not interested in reading the books I’ve picked out lately or what. But overall I’m hoping to be able to kick up my reading soon.
My goal is 100 books this year, as I increased it from 50 when I was reading a ton early in the year. After these books in this post, I’m at 55 books read in 2021 so far. Based on my stats the books I end to gravitate towards are more adventurous books with 300-499 pages. I read a ton more fiction than non-fiction but the pace between slow, medium, and fast are all pretty evenly distributed. Most of my picks are young adult fantasies, but memoirs are getting close too. My average star rating is 3.79, which is pretty good!
Note about my ratings: I’ve switched to using the StoryGraph to track and rate the books I’ve been reading. This site uses 1-5 stars, 5 being the highest, in 0.25 increments. Feel free to friend me on the StoryGraph – my username is StarringPamela there!
Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibanez
I finally got to reading Written in Starlight, which is the sequel to Woven in Moonlight, which I read earlier this year. This book was published very recently, but I didn’t get it until a few weeks after from the library and then I just didn’t pick it up until way later. This book was totally different from the first one as it followed Catalina instead of Ximena, and the two characters are very different. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, and I don’t think it was even that well written if I’m being completely honest. I did like the plot and the general world building for the jungle and the magic, but I felt like the characters were a bit flat and simple. Overall though, I did enjoy it when I was reading it so I did rate it pretty high.
I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 by Albert Marrin
While reading another book for the non-fiction book club I partake in, I found myself wondering more and more about different life events. As we are coming out of the global pandemic for COVID-19, and even during the thick of the quarantine last year, I often found myself wondering, what would the history books say about this time in 100 years time. Or even longer. The book I’d been reading was about the dust bowl, which was almost 100 years ago, and despite being a huge life-changing event in the US, I realized I didn’t know much about it. I also didn’t know much about the 1918 flu pandemic that happened right before this time (which was mentioned in the tart of the dust bowl book). I did have to wait some time for this book to become available, as many people did start reading and learning about the previous pandemic when this one started. I was not surprised at how bad the pandemic was in general, having lived through this one, but I was surprised at how badly it was handled. And that is with the experience of this one! During the 1918 pandemic, businesses weren’t closed, theatres didn’t go dark, and gatherings were discouraged but not prevented as government officials didn’t want to risk the economies of their cities and states. The ongoing war also took away vast resources that could have otherwise helped the people suffering from the 1918 flu. This book was filled with so much information on the flu which infected about a third of the global population at the time, and killed an estimated 50-100 million people, although the actually number could be vastly different. I suppose that the book provided a lot of insight to how this pandemic could be remembered too. It’s tough to imagine it but this was a pretty good read. I did rate it a little lower because it wasn’t as informative as I expected. It was a shorter book so I think it glossed over a lot and didn’t go too deeply in parts where I was interested in learning more. It’s a pretty good and powerful overview of the 1918 pandemic though and I would recommend it if you want something shorter and faster to read.
I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Ugh. I am so freaking over Clare’s books! And realizing it had Clary in it… I wanted to scream! Now, if you’re new here you might be wondering why I’m reading the Cassandra Clare books if I clearly don’t like them. Well long story short, my sister recommended them so I’m reading them because she likes them. Yes, I could quit but I won’t. I do think that if I had read them at the age that they were meant to be read at, I probably would have at least appreciated them a bit more, maybe even enjoyed them. But I really hate them. I guess my biggest problem with this one is I was wondering why we needed more Clary & friends. I totally had plenty of their adventures with the first three books of this series. Oh, and about 2/3rds of the way into this book I realized that the other series with Tessa was about the ancestors of these shadowhunters. I was probably supposed to realize it sooner, especially given that the last names are all the same but I can barely remember the character’s first names that it’s no wonder I didn’t connect all those dots. Anyway, I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to spoil the book but I hated it. The magic is still cool to read about and there are some characters I do like (Mangus, Alec, Isabelle, and that’s pretty much it), but I will admit that I skipped a lot of the book so that probably didn’t help.
I gave this book 2.25 out of 5 stars.
Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler
This was the latest book club book for that non-fiction club I mentioned! That club is through my lirbary. I did hurry to read though this book as I had put it off but then I couldn’t even attend the book club because of my new job. I had later hours than I was used to because my new job was operating with Arizona time zones, but I managed to get through the book anyway! The book basically told two stories. One was the rampant use of drugs in the German army during World War II, which pretty much kept the army going and helped them gain as much ground as they did early in the war. The second was that Hitler was actually super addicted to drugs too, as he first started using drugs to try to manage stress and illness, but ended up becoming incredibly addicted. Despite the Third Reich being super anti-drug to show their superiority to others, it seems that drugs were pretty widely used at the time in Germany. I did have issues with the book that it seemed to do a lot of guessing in it’s part about Hitler. Apparently the doctor that gave Hitler the drugs purposefully kept his notes vague and in code to hide what he was administering, so the book doesn’t have too many actual facts to share in that part. That was a little weird to keep reading about how it was just guesses on what the drugs were. In the end, it was still informative but it wasn’t my favorite book from the book club.
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.
The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard
I saw this book recommended on TikTok and I thought it would be interesting to read. I expected more information and less of a preachy book though. I’m not going to lie, the information was still interesting and the layout was good, but it was just not very effective from my perspective. Leonard kept bragging about how her kids annoy their peers in school and at family gatherings and gave me the impression that Leonard and her family are the environmentalist equivalent of what stereotypical vegans are. I just thought the personal stories and examples were too much. In the end, I ended up skipping those and the rest of the book was good. It spoke about how and why things were made the way they are made, what happens after. I do think that the space wasted to Leonard’s personal stories would have been better used by giving solutions and ideas, but maybe that’s just in a different book. I did like that Leonard added in various places to call and give your opinion on why they should be better at the end though!
I gave this book 3.25 out of 5 stars.
Madam Secretary by Madeleine K. Albright
Well after watching the show Madam Secretary and remaining obsessed with it, I thought I’d try to get a book on the first hand experience at being Secretary of State. I found Secretary Albright’s book listed so I grabbed it from the library and started reading. It took forever as it’s quite long but super informative. Albright does have quite the sense of humor and her story is quite interesting. I was a kid when Albright was Secretary so, if I’m being honest, I didn’t know about a lot of the background and events that Albright had to deal with but she was very good at explaining what happened during the Clinton administration. I really loved the little personal stories Albright would share along the way, but as her thoughts on how Chelsea Clinton was a joy to have during diplomatic missions, her friendship with Hillary, her own daughters and grandchildren, and even how she lost touch with many friends as she had been too busy as the Secretary to keep up with all of them. It all reminded me of different aspects of the show Madam Secretary (which I suppose I should explain now is not based on Albright specifically if you don’t know the show) and I would dare say that Albright’s experiences probably did influence some of the story lines as they were quite similar at times. All around, this was super interesting and I quite enjoyed it.
I gave this book 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
I saw this book promoted on TikTok so I picked it up! I really liked the sound of it as it is set in San Fransisco in the 50’s and it was a YA novel. I did like a lot of it, but the main issue I had with it was the typical YA issue that the character felt like she should be at least 5-10 years older than she was. For example, the main character feels drawn to a nightclub because she’s realizing she’s part of the LGBT+ community and has to get a fake ID and everything. I just felt like it would have made a better story and made more sense if she wasn’t so young. I did enjoy the story though and I would recommend to someone younger.
I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.
In FIve Years by Rebecca Serle
I picked this book up because it was part of the Readheads book club, through The Morning Toast. This was an earlier pick from last year but it was so popular that I couldn’t get it at the time. I did go back and look through the old picks to try to get them and then listen to the podcast for that book. I still haven’t listened to the podcast for this one but I did finish it! The idea of this book is that the main character has her life planned out with her boyfriend, career as a lawyer, and more. But the night of her engagement and big promotion she has a dream that is more of a vision of her life in five years where she is with a completely new man, in a different apartment, and she wakes up super confused. Five years later, she starts seeing the vision come true. I honestly thought the book was a little too predictable. I actually started to look up the podcast because I totally thought I’d finished the book but I was only about 40% of the way through. I did like how it was all resolved but it was a bit bland overall for me.
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
So one of my goals this year is to read more books that I already own. This was one of them! I started this book literally years ago, I think around 2015 or 2016 and I was pretty far into it. I finally picked it back up to finish it. When I picked it back up, I realized that the part I was on was at the second half of President Bill Clinton’s first term. I really liked that I had just read Secretary Albright’s book as several events, people, and conversations referenced matched up (of course) and so I was getting two points of view of them. I really liked the book now that I’ve finally finished it and I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get around to it again! This memoir of Secretary Clinton’s ends when she wins her race for New York’s junior Senator, and she does have a lot of other books so I might try to find another!
I gave this book 4.75 out of 5 stars.
Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper
This is a pretty short memoir of Cooper’s mostly focusing on a few stories or experiences he had throughout his personal life and covering major catastrophic events in his career as a journalist. I found it pretty interesting in all honesty, but it was quite short so the time spent on each story was very brief. Cooper mostly focused on 2005 when he covered both the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, all while dealing with grief for losing his father and brother. He also shared a few other experiences he had and it was all very interesting yet brief. I did think the final part on Hurricane Katrina was the most impactful and I almost wish he’d focused more on that part of his career.
I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.
So those are the last ten books I’ve read! Feel free to add me on StoryGraph and share any recommendations you think I’d like.
Thanks for reading!
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