March Reads | The Life of K: March Reads

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March Reads

It's Wednesday and March is over. I'm not one for April Fools jokes and hope my kids aren't either though they're still little. Moving on!

I'm still reading book after book and always looking for suggestions. Right now I'm working on a serious birth book and I have another to review after this so I'll be looking for a great fiction novel when I'm done. What are you reading?

Here are my March reads.. if you pick up any of them, make it Station Eleven.

14. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

From Goodreads: What happened to the girl you left behind? In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time. Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened... 

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most - whatever the cost.

My thoughts: I had seen the name Jojo Moyes on Facebook and Twitter so I started reading this book without knowing anything about it. I don't normally read anything about war time, preferring instead books set in the present or the future (but not too far in the future), so I wasn't sure about the first half of the book being set in the early 1900s. But it was a compelling story with characters I started caring about, though Liv got a little much for me. I'm not even sure I would recommend this book. I will probably still check out another of her books.

15. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

From Goodreads: Most parenting guides begin with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?" and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them. In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking, "What do kids need—and how can we meet those needs?" What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them. 

One basic need all children have, Kohn argues, is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they screw up or fall short. Yet conventional approaches to parenting such as punishments (including "time-outs"), rewards (including positive reinforcement), and other forms of control teach children that they are loved only when they please us or impress us. 

Kohn cites a body of powerful, and largely unknown, research detailing the damage caused by leading children to believe they must earn our approval. That's precisely the message children derive from common discipline techniques, even though it's not the message most parents intend to send. More than just another book about discipline, though, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from "doing to" to "working with" parenting -- including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.

What I thought: I'm always thinking about how I parent and reading about different parenting styles to see if there's anything I can adopt. I'm not an all-or-nothing type of girl and I liked that Unconditional Parenting, which is all about treating your kids with respect and stop using punishments and rewards as ways to influence their behaviour, talked about constantly trying to be better. That resonated with me and I will take away some ideas from the book. Will my kids still get time-outs? Most likely. Will I try to reason with them and give more detailed explanations about my rules and decisions? Yes. I'd call that a win.

16. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

From Goodreads: Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

What I thought: I didn't realize this was the second book of a three book series. Thankfully they stand on their own well enough. The story was cute. A nice, quick read.

17. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

From Goodreads: Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last? Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

What I thought: The third of a three book series. Again, it was a nice enough story, but by the end I was craving an adult book. Young Adult fiction is great because they are typically quick reads, but a tad repetitive. I also wanted to shake the characters for being so dumb. Not a rave review I'm afraid.

18. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

From Goodreads: A long, hot summer... That's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy's father. 

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

What I thought: I can't remember where I heard about Sarah Dessen, but I'm glad I found her. Another YA book, but a really good story about loss and life going on, making choices that are best for us at the time, and doing new things. It was nice watching Macy grow throughout the book. This is one I would recommend.

19. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

From Goodreads: An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. 

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. 

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. 

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. 

A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

What I thought: Oh man, this book! I've read a lot of dystopian books in the past few years where the world is unrecognizable because of whatever event, but this book did it so much better. The idea of a flu wiping out the majority of humans and the aftermath is just so believable and scary. It could happen and it would probably go down a lot like this book with settlements forming, people dying without medicine and modern technology, but life going on.

The characters in the world after the flu pandemic have no technology yet they keep teaching their children about the world before. It's all around them: iDevices, cars stranded where they ran out of gas, airplanes abandoned on runways. But should they? Does it matter if we remember the world before? How long would it take society to rebuild things like electricity and flight?

For the time that I've spent thinking about this book while not reading it, I have to say it's my favourite so far this year. The author has a way of describing a simple thing like a phone call and making it seem incredible. What a gift. Read this book.

Currently reading:
Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read

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1 comment:

  1. Man, Kamerine, it amazes me how much reading you do - how do you fit it all in?? I'm envious! That said, I just finished Station Eleven myself and it was SO awesome. I agree with you - I have spent hours thinking about it since I finished it. Doesn't it make you want to rush to download the entirety of Wikipedia and print it off, JUST IN CASE? Also I feel like I should have a LOT more bottled water on hand.