Welcome to my book update post sharing which books I recently finished + my honest thoughts and star ratings from them.
My reading goals for 2021
For 2021 I have set myself the goal of reading 3 books per week – 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction book and 1 audio book per week. I know this is a bold goal, but reading is something I love and it is a way to learn, challenge my mind, improve as a writer and communicator, and be refreshed and encouraged by inspiring stories.
I have a couple of shelves full of books (mostly that I got vacant) so I decided to pick 52 books from my shelf to read this year (see my list of 52 books I want to read in 2021). I will also read other books that I find / get mailed that pique my interest. Also, I plan to go through a lot of audiobooks (I get mine for free from the Libby app and I’ve just started trying out the Hoopla app).
Here are four books that I recently finished:
Sweet like jasmine
I read an early edition of these identifying memoirs by Bonnie Gray. It traces her upbringing as a Chinese girl in America and the struggles she went through to find love and belonging. Your story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming and regardless of your ethnicity or childhood, I think you will identify with parts of Bonnie’s story. What I appreciated the most was your honesty and vulnerability in this book!
I also loved how artfully she interwoven so much about Chinese culture and traditions in the chapters.
Rating: 3 stars
This book tells the story of TJ and Jenn’s journey as foster parents. Even though they have a very different nursing history than we do (they have taken in many more children of all ages and have no biological children of their own when this book was written), they still made a deep impression on me. Much of what they experienced are things we’ve been through or have friends who care for them.
In fact, I had to put the book aside for a few days because reading about saying goodbye to a few children who had them at home for a long time was so close to my home. I love their perspectives, the lessons they learned and how open they were to what they struggled with.
If you are a foster family, contemplating caregiving, or just want a better understanding of caregiving, be sure to read this book.
My only criticism would be that the story seemed to skip quite a bit and that I sometimes had trouble keeping track, and I also don’t like it when people use the term “least” when referring to foster children (see Subtitle). To me it just feels like we’re doing a we against them, or a compassionate project, or that we’re doing so much to help “these children in need”. I know it’s semantics, but I think how we talk about foster children is important and our perspective shapes the way we love and who we go with.
Rating: 3.5 stars
When the twilight breaks
So I had high hopes for this book. The premise seemed interesting. I love books about World War II. And I’d heard great things about the author.
But it kind of ended flat for me. It wasn’t terrible, but I just felt like I was fighting through a lot of it. Usually, I really get lost in novels and have trouble putting them down. This one made me feel like I had to keep pushing myself to pick it up, hoping it would get more interesting.
Yes, I probably should have given it up early on, but by the time I hit the 40% mark (because I always assumed it was going to get more interesting!) I felt too dedicated to put it aside.
Maybe it was just when I read it (it was busy to distract me!) I get lost in a novel for hours reading it, but I have more time to turn on an audiobook!) Anyway , I had the feeling that the book was missing something – maybe depth, more character development or something that makes me think more or influences me personally? Overall, it just felt a little too “fluffy” to me.
Rating: 2 stars
The president is missing
Jesse recently listened to this book and encouraged me to hear it too. It’s definitely a departure from the whole World War II story I’ve heard, and I found it was a fun change of pace.
I enjoyed the act overall and found it to be the type of audiobook I didn’t want to turn off because I needed to know what was going to happen next. It was also narrated very well with multiple voice actors.
Additionally, I found the “insider” kind of what it would be like to be president to be fascinating (since a former US president was one of the co-authors, I felt that this gave the emotions and feelings the main character was experiencing more Credibility).
I felt the book was 2 hours too long. I think some of the sections could have been compressed and the end of the book was filled with quite a bit of political rhetoric (wrapped up as a presidential address). I also wish they hadn’t solved one of the book’s great puzzles early in the book (who the mole was).
However, if you like political dramas and well-told fiction audiobooks, I think you might like this book. (Note: there is some PG-13 speech included so don’t listen if you have small ears!)
Rating: 3.5 stars