Maria’s 2018 Reading Log, Part 1

Ten Quick Book Reviews

I am a binge reader. I go a couple of months without reading any books (lately these reading droughts have coincided with rather intense periods of creative writing), and then I read so many books so quickly that I have trouble remembering all of them later on. I thought I’d better start keeping track. Yeah, I know I should join Goodreads and link it to my blog somehow, but I’m honestly too lazy.

Confession: I’ve never “read” any audiobooks, which seems silly, considering that I spend almost 90 minutes in my car most days, irritated by the lack of musical variety on the radio (in my ancient car, my only options are radio or CDs; I don’t have an auxiliary port or Bluetooth capability). So how about I vow, here and now, to try out some audiobooks on CD in the near future? That way, even when I’m writing like a madwoman at home, I’ll still get to “read” while I’m in the car. Good idea!

Here are the first ten books I read this year, plus my quick impressions/reviews of each of them:

  1. The Nix by Nathan Hill: Superb! One of those books that makes me insanely jealous (why can’t I be as brilliant and talented as Nathan Hill?). But once I get past the jealousy (Nathan Hill is obviously a literary genius, and we can’t all be literary geniuses), I am simply glad that I read this. The sheer scope of this book blows my mind. WOW!   
  2. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez: I read this in a single day. Intimate look at a grieving Mexican-American family. Absolutely love the bright, perceptive main character, Julia. Big thumbs-up.
  3. The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce: Very thought-provoking. Not a huge fan of the characters, found the dialogue very clunky, but the ideas explored in this book about ghosts and the afterlife and the nature of existence were fascinating. I also liked the stream-of-consciousness flashback sections.
  4. Girls In Trucks by Katie Crouch: I felt like I traveled to an alien planet and got a little crash course in “how to be a proper Southern girl” and “how not to find a nice husband” while reading this. Great characters and realistic dialogue, heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful, very funny at times but always painfully honest. Good book!
  5. Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell: I love Rainbow Rowell. I’ve already read all her novels and decided I should read this short story collection of hers, too. Two cute, fun, adorably illustrated YA stories. I especially liked the one about the Star Wars geeks. Feel-good, very quick read.
  6. My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella: Another fun, breezy novel. I’ve read almost all of Sophie Kinsella’s books, so know exactly what to expect from her. I love her sense of humor. Sometimes her books seem to lack spontaneity—I can usually see everything coming a mile away—but I always forgive her in the end. This story is a little unrealistic, but thoroughly enjoyable.
  7. Remembrance: A Mediator Novel by Meg Cabot: I adore Meg Cabot! I was ecstatic when I found out that she had written a new Mediator book. I read all of the “old” Mediator books several years ago, devouring the entire YA series in a month—such a fun mix of mystery, humor, romance, and paranormal adventure. Remembrance takes place about six years after my favorite ghost-mediating heroine’s high school graduation, and I’m happy to report that grown-up Suze Simon is just as entertaining as her teenage self.   
  8. Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella: I’m relieved to be all caught up on the always-hilarious Shopaholic series now. I especially enjoyed experiencing a county fair in Arizona through the eyes of a foreigner.
  9. Artemis by Andy Weir: I never read The Martian, Weir’s first bestselling novel, but I loved the movie. I checked this book out from the library for my teenage son, but he didn’t pick it up right away, so I did, thinking it would be a nice break from all the contemporary chick-lit I’ve been bingeing on recently. I don’t read much sci-fi, but this book sucked me in and flew me to the moon. What a fun adventure! The characters are rather cartoonish, but the setting—a human settlement on the moon, about 50 years in the future—is incredible. I appreciated all of the technical descriptions and scientific explanations of how things work on this lunar colony. Jazz, the main character and narrator, cracked me up, even if I found it hard to believe that she was a young Muslim woman from Saudi Arabia. Why, I must ask myself, can’t a young Muslim woman be a brilliant, potty-mouthed, smuggler, welder, engineer, detective, action hero? I wanted to believe in her! I love the idea of her! Jazz is not the only feisty, brilliant woman on the moon—we also meet female entrepreneurs/leaders from Africa and South America. I think Artemis would make a great movie, and with the right actresses, these characters will fully blossom. This book is far from perfect, but I enjoyed it and look forward to the movie version, assuming there will be one.
  10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: Incredible, eye-opening true story that challenged the way I think about so many things, and forced me to ask questions I’d never even thought to ask. I think this book succeeds as an interesting family biography, as an up-close look at racism and classism, as a discussion of medical and scientific ethics, and as a history and science lesson. Well-done, Ms. Skloot! And thank God for HeLa! Out of all the books on this list, this is the one I’d mark as a “must read.”     


What should I read next? Leave me a comment below. Thanks!

3 thoughts on “Maria’s 2018 Reading Log, Part 1

  1. I loved your reviews. I too am a reading junky, and can’t imagine having reading droughts, but definitely can have writing droughts. I listen to audio books all the time because I can’t not, I have to try to quiet this crazy mind. When I paint or cook, do dishes etc, I listen to audio books! Love your writing! Now you can read my Sins of OUr Mothers, and drats, it isn’t free on kindle now. It is a hard read, and for you, I would send you one for free if you want to review it, but then stupid Amazon won’t let people review unless they have paid for the book from them! Maybe that isn’t always the case. Oh well sigh.


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