Category Archives: Rachel

Quick Takes: The Humans

The Humans by Matt Haig (3.5)

16130537Some parts of this book were definitely a four, others a three, so I’m settling at a 3.5! The Humans is about an alien that comes to Earth in order to complete a somewhat heartless mission but ends up falling in love with the human race instead. The beginning of this book was quite hilarious as he acclimated to what life on Earth was all about, but it started to drag a little bit. The rest of the book settles into more of a heartwarming tale of becoming part of this family of his.

Although I thought it was a good story with a lot of clever observations on the human condition, the novelty of the story started to wear away and parts of it did start to drag. I also felt at times that I was being hit over the head with all those clever observations. It seemed like Haig was trying to cram all the ones he thought up into these pages without realizing that fewer well-placed ones could have a much more significant effect on the reader. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more had I not come off a five-star book that also had similar themes. Still, a fun quick read!

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Rachel’s Favorites of 2017!!


2017…oof, what a year. Let’s just leave it at that, kay? Now to focus back on books! Many books have been read by us as a collective this year. Between the three of us, we have read…105 books!!! Here we are to share with you some of our favorites from this past year!! These are not in any specific order for any of us, just as a heads up!

  1. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey: Though it took me a very long time to get through it, Sometimes a Great Notion is an amazing piece of American Literature! It was enjoyed all the more by starting it during my PNW vacation. If you love character-driven stories, ignore the seemingly boring summary and dive right in!
  2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer: I definitely did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did! Nonfiction isn’t usually my thing, but Krakauer does such a good job of laying out the story. Chris McCandless seems to be the deciding factor of who loves or hates this book, but I am 100% in the love it category.
  3. Schooled by Gordon Korman: This was probably a bigger surprise than Into the Wild! It was honestly the cutest story and I’m surprised it isn’t more popular. Schooled had an original concept and didn’t feel like a cliché middle school story–definitely an enjoyable read!
  4. Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon: this is like a more modern day On the Road with more traveling stories and less drugs. I’m honestly shocked to find two nonfiction books in my top five…maybe that’s something to consider for the coming year!
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Make that three out of the five are nonfiction–wow, 2017 really was a bizarre year. Still, this book is like way super important for people to read in this day and age. It’s by no means an easy one, but I think I agree with Toni Morrison when she calls it “required reading”.

There you have it! What were some of your favorite reads from 2017? 

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Survival is Insufficient

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandelfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.”

I’m telling you; if you want to kick off the new year in that bright-eyed, optimistic, hope-against-all-hope mindset, read this book. It’s easy to see the past year as one giant burning heap of garbage, but books like this help remind me of all that we have to be grateful for. Apparently a book about the end of the world is just what the doctor ordered.

“Jeevan found himself thinking about how human the city is, how human everything is. We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt. No one delivers fuel to the gas stations or the airports. Cars are stranded. Airplanes cannot fly. Trucks remain at their points of origin. Food never reaches the cities; grocery stores close. Businesses are locked and then looted. No one comes to work at the power plants or the substations, no one removes fallen trees from electrical lines. Jeevan was standing by the window when the lights went out.” Continue reading

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Quick Takes: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Listen; Neil Gaiman could write a book discussing different  procedures used in making primitive ceramics and I would eat it all up. This man can do no wrong and I freakin love him for it. He’s the kind of author you can turn to when you want the assurance of a good read.

The Graveyard Book is no different. It is fun, creative, and engaging from start to finish. It even has some Romanian representation (holla) that doesn’t even involve vampires or gypsies! I’ll take it. Fun fact: Miss Lupescu’s nickname for Bod–Nimeni–is Romanian for Nobody. And her last name hints at wolf (Lupu).  Though her heritage was never specified, well, now you know.

The only reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is because at times I wished I was reading the same story at an adult-level complexity. There is room for growth in this tale, and I would have loved it more had it not been for the childhood flavor of some parts of the story. Still, a good read from a great author!

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Quick Takes: Hallelujah Anyway

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott

31693028Anne Lamott always feels like a breath of fresh air to me. She polishes the lens through which I view life. This book has the same format and feel of her book Stitches, which I also quite enjoyed. This one probably a bit less so, as in some parts her thought process was vague and hard to follow, though this could be due to that post-Christmas pre-New Years haze.

As an aside, the book itself is quite beautiful; thick, creamy white pages with elegant plum purple ink for the text and cerulean blue for the headings. It made for a pleasant reading experience. And I do plan to go back and reread this, particularly so I can better digest her wonderful writing at a slower pace.

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Quick Takes: I’m Not Scared

I’m Not Scared by Niccoló Ammaniti (3.5/5)

110428This book was a random inheritance I was eventually going to get to, so I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable a read it was! The writing was both simple and lyrical, and the short sentences helped mimic the way a child narrator might sound. I do think, however, that the point of view kept me from feeling the full weight of the story and the horrors kept within. This may also be because of how short the book was. Although it was an interesting story and a good read, I think it didn’t live up to its full potential. Apparently there’s a movie adaptation, and I think this story would ultimately wind up being a better fit for the screen, so maybe check out that instead.

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Quick Takes: Portuguese Irregular Verbs

Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith

97902Hey, nerds! This one’s for you!

If you’ve dipped your toe into the world of academia and enjoy having a good laugh at its expense, this is a fun little book a handful of stories about a pretentious German professor of philology (yes, it’s a thing). While some parts I definitely found amusing (a terrible game of tennis; Irish cursing) I’m pretty sure some of the more subtle humor went over my head. Even so, I enjoyed the cute (is that bad to say? cute?) tales and musings of Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld.

Plus, I finally now know how to spell Portuguese correctly.

(Quick little update: As of this point I have now read 26 out of the 30 books I pledged in the 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge, so I’m trying to knock out a few small books to reach my goal! Be prepared for a few more Quick Takes in the coming days 😀 )

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