TBR: What’s on Deck for June 2017

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My TBR (To Be Read) List is getting unruly. There are 128 books sitting out there waiting to be picked as my next read. Some have been sitting there since 2012! I have a goal this year to pay more attention to the version of myself who deemed a book worthy of being placed on my TBR List. As such, I am going to prioritize what is out there on my TBR each month. Here is what I hope to get to in June.

Newly Added TBR Picks (< 1 year): 

1. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett: Being billed as a YA “You’ve Got Mail” is a sure fire way to make it to the top of my TBR pile. Date added: May 22, 2017

2. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes: All of Jojo Moyes’ books have been getting the cover redesigns to fall in line with her trademark look and so they have been resurfacing in the new releases section I scour. I was attracted to the hot pink cover – I am not ashamed to admit it, but having Jojo Moyes as author and a historical fiction flashback approach made me decide this was going to be a priority book to read. Date added: May 13, 2017

3. Learning to Breathe by Karen White: I read a Karen White novel a while ago that I enjoyed and have always intended to go back. When her name caught my eye on a recent bookstore stroll, this book in particular spoke to me. This story follows a woman whose heartbreak is tested when her lost love returns to town. The description involves meddling sisters, historic movie theaters, and war time love letters – yes, please! Date added: May 13, 2017

4. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid: One of my favorite authors lately, I have enjoyed her other books, especially this one. This book is about a marriage on the brink and a plan to discover what each of them wants. I am slightly afraid of this in-depth, honest look at marriage, but TJR never lets me down. Date added: July 12, 2016

Long Ago Added TBR Picks (> 1 year):

1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: I think I might be the last person on earth who hasn’t read this memoir. One of my friends has been recommending this book to me for years, stating it to be her very favorite book. And while her enthusiastic stamp of approval should have been enough to get me to open the book (which is sitting on my shelf), I was always afraid that it would be too depressing. The recent preview for the movie version coming out is helping me get over that and I have big plans to finally read this one. Date added: August 24, 2012 – I believe this is the very first book I ever put on my Good Reads “Want to Read” shelf!

Book Club Pick: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden

Image from Amazon.com

Title: Winter Garden

Author: Kristin Hannah

Published: February 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★


Summary: Meredith and Nina are sisters without much in common. Complete opposites and living on different continents has not fostered a strong relationship between them. But this is not a foreign concept to them as they have dealt with a cold mother who has never shown them affection or love. Luckily, they had their warm and loving father to support them, but when he grows gravely ill it requires them to come together and uphold his requests. One such request is to hear the end of their mother’s fairy tale about a peasant and a prince, which they begin to think may be more than just a fairy tale.

My Thoughts: I actually sort of liked this book, despite my 3 star rating. Kristin Hannah is a great writer, and this book is no exception. This is my 3rd Hannah book and I have come to trust her authorship and the story that lies between the cover of books that hail her name. This book had a slow beginning, although it managed to keep me some-what engaged, and it wasn’t until the last quarter or so of it that I really began to get drawn in. This book is at its best when it is in the fairy tale set in Leningrad. I wasn’t expecting it to be such an emotional read or one that would end up being similar to her most famous book, Nightingale. There were many comparisons to be made with the two stories, but Nightingale is far superior. Parts of Winter Garden seemed to be over done, as if it was a caricature. Nina, Meredith, and their mother were extreme characters that didn’t really seem very realistic. I also found the ending to be hard to believe, however, it didn’t prevent me from responding to the extreme emotionality of it. Overall, this was a solid read despite its flaws. Not Hannah’s best, but certainly a glimpse of her powerhouse abilities.

Book Club Discussion: This was the most universally enjoyed book so far. We have not all agreed on (or finished) all of the other picks. We jived on the peaks and valleys of this book, including what Erin called a “trite” ending. We spent a good deal of time considering how truly similar to Nightingale this story was and reflecting on other Hannah books we have read and enjoyed better. Overall, it was a good pick by Janette. On to the next one…

Next Month’s Pick: To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Wrath

Image from Amazon.com

Title: The Wrath & the Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Published: May 2015

Rating: ★★★★


Summary: Each dawn, the young, cruel Caliph Khalid executes his newest bride. No bride has lived to see a second dawn. Shahrzad’s best friend was one of these young brides and she vows to avenge the senseless murder by volunteering as the Caliph’s next bride.

Why I Am Recommending:  I immediately liked this book. Ahdieh describes such a beautiful world full of fragrant flowers, spiced foods, and colorful clothing. I loved her writing and found it to be like unwrapping a decadent dessert. Shahrzad (Shazi) is a great character. She is a strong, independent female with a strong devotion to those she loves. She is also a story-teller, and I was swept up in them along side Khalid. Khalid is another great character. He is misunderstood, brooding, and sensitive, and I loved getting to know him. I completely relished the tension of Shazi and Khalid’s complicated relationship. I wouldn’t change a thing about the pacing or Ahdieh’s approach in telling this story. I will be diving directly into the second installment!