Recent Reads – Updated October 2015

I love to read. And I l choose specific books for various reasons, the most common being: heard about it on NPR, saw it at, a friend highly recommended it, chosen as a book club pick, or previewing it for my teenage son or daughter. In case you are interested, this is what I’ve been reading recently.

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My Profile Page shows my recent reviews:

From most recent (1) to least (10):

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (liked it)
I’ve seen this book everywhere and finally decided to read it. A girl on the train and a couple of others as readers learn the series of events leading to a woman’s disappearance. It reminded me a lot of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

2. Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar (liked it)
A small group of friends and acquaintances have formed a new book club. This title was our first pick as a foursome and is the story of a friendship between a therapist and one of her patients.

3. The Last Starfighter by Alan Dean Foster (liked it)
This summer, I picked up several books for my former bookworm, now reluctant reader teenage son, including Armada by Ernest Cline, who wrote Ready, Player One (a book we both enjoyed). Reviews on that book mention this one, at least I thought so until I ordered the book and realized it was actually based on the movie…groan. My son wasn’t interested in this, but I read it because I hate to waste things and I’d already paid for the book since our local library didn’t have it. At least it’s better than the super archaic seeming movie.

4. Man in the Woods by Scott Spencer (it was okay)
When our book club was still forming, we chose a few titles, including this one. I’m not a big murder mystery reader, so it was a nice change and I loved some of the writing (especially the similes) though I wasn’t a big fan of the plotting.

5. Bad Feminist (Essays) by Roxane Gay (loved it)
This was one of my two book kit picks when we first started talking about forming a new book club. Of all the books I’ve read this year, it was one of the top five that really made me think about things in a different way, especially about race in America especially the portrayal of African Americans in certain books and in movies that Ms. Gay discusses in detail.

6. Re Jane by Patricia Park (liked it)
My former high school classmate turned writing chair at a university recommended this, so how could I resist? My only regret was not re-reading Jane Eyre first, since I couldn’t really make a proper connection between the two connected books.

7. The Martian by Andy Weir (liked it)
This was another of the several books I chose for my son, hoping he’d return to reading. He did love it (I liked it) and even passed it on to a similarly science-minded friend. It’s super face paced and interesting, but I was over the main character’s obnoxiously witty banter-y narration early on in the story. I do look forward to seeing the movie.

8. Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz (liked it)
Apparently, when you share an email address on your profile page at, persons will ask you to review books and other items for them. This was the first (and only so far) book I reviewed at the request of the author, though, in fairness, I actually chose to buy it rather than receiving it for free. The level of violence surprised me in a story about high school kids who live in an inner city area. I admire the author for her efforts to raise awareness about teen violence and suicide.

9. Welcome to Utopia by Karen Valby (it was okay)
Ingratiate yourself into a tiny community, find its flaws, and then share them with the world (losing the townsperson’s respect in the process). Such was the case in the creation of this book, which began as an article. The title was one of two first picks for our newly forming book club.

10. Up Ghost River by Edmund Matatawabin (loved it)
Because we live so far north, I sometimes listen to CBC (Canadian Broadcast Company) radio, which occasionally discusses subjects such as this dark part of Canada’s education past. It’s a disturbing story, but one worth reading.

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