Book 23: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's TaleI can’t believe it’s been over five years since I last read this incredible novel. But thinking about it as I write this I’m not too surprised. I last read this while working on a paper for my MA and that paper didn’t go well, because I apparently didn’t “understand how to apply gender theory” and I was given the opportunity to completely re-write the paper.

I was incredibly pissed at the insult, because that’s how I took it, and I spent a lot of time rewriting the paper in such a way as to insult my professors and the program. In no uncertain terms I stated that gender theory does not preempt every other theory and that scholars needed to be incredibly careful of over-stepping their bounds. I did eventually receive a passing grade and they invited back to pursue a PhD (I declined), but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

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Book 22: Too Busy For Love – Tasmin Baker

Baker, Tamsin - Too Busy For LoveI always wonder whether to count novellas as full books when I’m tallying for the year, but why shouldn’t I? I won’t lie and say I requested a copy of this book from the publisher because of the blurb, I’ll be completely honest and say it was the cover. I received a copy of this from the publisher and received no compensation for my honest opinion.

So clearly this is a case where the marketing worked and will probably get the book a lot more readers than the story itself. I mean just take a moment to appreciate it. Now, I don’t want to completely mislead you, the novella wasn’t horrible, it just could’ve been so much better. I think the biggest problem I had with the novel was that I couldn’t tell where the story was set and the language was off. There seemed to be a strange mixture of American, British and Australian English and this really kept me out of the story.

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Book 20: Playing by the Book – S. Chris Shirley

Shirley, S. Chris - Playing by the BookI wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel, but with a southern religious protagonist I knew I needed to read it to see how the author handled this and I am glad I did. I was a little hesitant at first as the last two book I read from this publisher, 50 Shades of Gay and The Hunger Gays weren’t amazing, but this one was excellent. I received a copy of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books and this is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Playing by the Book is the story of Jake Powell and his journey from Preacher’s Kid (PK) in small-town Alabama to an elite summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. This is the first time he’s away from home and needless to say it is the experience of a lifetime. Not only is this a coming out story, it is a true coming of age story. Many young adult novels over emphasis one or the other, but this novel intricately tied the two together.

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Book 18: Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

Helprin, Mark - Winter's TaleAfter nearly a month of trekking through, I’ve FINALLY finished this book. Coming in at 748 pages, this is 250 pages longer than in other book I’ve read this year and it definitely felt like it was longer! I did take a bit of time out to read two additional book during the time I read this, but they were much-needed reprieves. I of course decided to read this after seeing a trailer for the film adaptation released this past February.

I can’t say this was a bad book, because it was excellently written, but I can say it was too damn long. Most striking, however, I chose the perfect winter to read it. This winter has definitely felt as if it was one of the epic endless winter’s Helprin wrote about throughout this novel: the constant snow, the frozen water and the plunging temperatures. The only thing missing from my winter was the romance and the magic!

Aside from the length of the novel, I struggled with the reality of the novel. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if this novel was a historical fiction novel or a fantasy novel and apparently it was both. I knew there were fantasy elements of it, but I wasn’t sure how much of it should have been fantastical or real and for some reason I found it incredibly challenging!

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Book 15: Overcoming Passive-Aggression – Tim Murphy and Loriann Hoff Oberlin

Murphy, Tim and Loriann Hoff Oberlin - Overcoming Passive AggressionTalk about a rough read. The entire time I was reading this, I kept thinking back to that phrase from the 2001 movie A Knight’s Tale: “You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.” Please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t solely from this book or the last few that I’ve read that this thought process stems from, trust me. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for the past year and a half and as much as I’ve improved, I knew I was still struggling with myriad issues.

I mentioned when I wrote about Crucial Conversations that I’d had one recently and that the feedback I got hurt like hell but was something that I needed to hear. And honestly I can’t thank that person enough for having the candor to tell me what they did and spurring me to take a long look at myself. Again, don’t get me completely wrong I’ve not been hiding that I’m a horrible person, but I’ve definitely struggled for some time and after reading this I’m wondering how long I’ve been struggling and not knowing or, more than likely, not admitting it.

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