Author: Katharine S.

Phone on table

A Dog is a Bicycle with Emotions

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” First things first, I loved this book. After hearing people rave about the audiobook version, I decided to give it a shot. (I mean, who doesn’t want to list to Trevor Noah on their way to work and while making dinner?) I’m fairly new to audiobooks, but this one might be my favorite so far. Noah was able to convey his story as only he can, with perfect inflection, comedic timing, and emotion in his voice. The story kept me engaged the entire time, and my mind tends to wander easily. Noah’s story is an incredible one, and he did a phenomenal job of injecting just the right amount of humor to lighten up even the most intense situations. In fact, (if you’ve read it, you’ll know just the scene I’m talking about) one particular story toward the beginning of the book had me laughing …

book on lap

A Worldwide Tour of Health Care

“On September 11, 2001, some three thousand Americans were killed by terrorists; our country has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But that same year, and every year since then, some twenty thousand Americans died because they couldn’t get health care. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go bankrupt every year because of medical bills. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country either.” As someone with a chronic illness, health care is a necessity. My life depends on medications that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year, not to mention doctors appointments, hospital stays, lab tests, bloodwork, etc. The issue of access to affordable health care has been on my mind for years, particularly during the past 12 months as the current administration tried to repeal the Affordable Car Act. It’s a fraught issue that has become entrenched in politics. But, in my opinion, being able to get the care one needs isn’t political, it’s personal. And …

Commonwealth: a nation, state, or other political unit

“It’s like this enormous tree had just crashed through the house and I was picking up the leaves so no one would notice what had happened.” I read this book early last year, so details are a little fuzzy BUT, I do know that I LOVED it. I read it in one day, one sitting, becoming completely immersed in the lives of the Keating and Cousins family. Ann Patchett is one of my favorite writers (if you haven’t read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, DO IT). She has a way of setting the scene that makes you feel as if you’re right there, which is exactly what she did in Commonwealth. From the first chapter, I could picture myself at Franny’s baptism, I could smell the gin, I could taste the oranges. And I was hooked. While I’m not always a fan of stories where nothing happens, the character development and the relationships between these complicated families — not to mention Patchett’s beautiful writing — had me flipping the pages, eager to …

Detective Easton vs. Memory

The Night Bird grabbed me from the first scene. A girl who’s perfectly fine one second, and then crawling out of her skin the next, and discovering she’s not the only one this is happening to? I was hooked. Psychological thrillers — heck, thrillers of any kind — can be hard for me to definitively rate. While they’re one of my favorite genres when I’m looking for a quick read, they either have me flying through the pages looking for answers, or they don’t. (Stephen King might be the exception, because man, he can WRITE. But I digress.) The two things this book has going for it are the plot and characterization. I immediately liked Frost Easton. His character seemed warm, kind, sympathetic, and just quirky enough. (Shack might have been my favorite character of them all!) He made me feel that if anyone could solve this case, it was him. Through numerous plot twists and some gruesome scenes (reader beware), I was never bored. In fact, I barely put it down, finishing it in …

picture of Salt to the Sea on a bench

Consider My Heartstrings Pulled

For years I’ve claimed to not like historical fiction. This book might be the one to change my mind. I’d heard it was wonderful, touching, a can’t miss, etc. etc., but for some reason I still put it off, fearful I’d have to force my way through. BUT, I am happy to report I was 100% wrong — I was hooked from the first few pages, and flew through the story in five days (which is fairly quickly for me). When I first started, I was worried I’d have trouble keeping track of the characters and their ever-changing perspectives. It turns out that was quite the opposite. The way Sepetys developed each character, slowly revealing their stories — and struggles — made me eager to keep reading, long past my bedtime. Each character was so compelling — yes, even, Alfred — I couldn’t help but cheer them on as they made their journey to what they hoped would be a better future. And can I just say, that last chapter (don’t worry, no spoilers!) KILLED me. …

Confession Time

I have to admit, like Katie C., I was hesitant going in to this novel. I have complicated feelings about Amy Schumer — I thinks she’s funny, but can only take so much of her. 300+ pages of her humor had me a little nervous. But here’s my biggest confession: I didn’t finish it. And not because I didn’t like it, but because I wasn’t in to it. I also have made a new promise to myself to stop reading books I’m not enjoying. With over 300 unread books on my shelf (I’m not exaggerating), it’s becoming increasingly clear that abandoning books needs to be something I’m okay with. Otherwise I’ll never come even close to making that unread number smaller. Maybe at another time when I didn’t have so many other,  heavier books (ahem, Fates & Furies) calling my name I would have been able to muddle through. I laughed out loud a couple times in the beginning, and read some lines out loud to my husband, but like I am with her humor, …

A [Thrilling] Ride Through the Rockies

Most of the time when I pick up a suspense novel I expect writing that’s okay, but nothing too notable–which never bothers me, as long as I’m entertained. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Tim Johnston’s way with words. He does a phenomenal job of depicting each personality, describing the environment, drawing out the tensions–allowing you to really absorb yourself in the story , despite the fact that it’s not your typical edge-of-your-seat thriller. While the story starts in a dramatic fashion, the majority of the novel is a very slow burn, setting up the characters–and I consider the Rocky Mountains to be one of them–in a way that makes you in no hurry to get to the end. In fact, the way in which Johnston incorporates the book’s setting is something at which he’s particularly skilled. There are still some things I’m working through–Caitlin’s mother, recurring themes that I don’t know what to make of, Sean and his role in the family–all signs that this is a book I won’t …

Nothing in Life is a Rehearsal

It didn’t take me long to love this book. The first 50 pages were a bit slow, but once I got to know the characters and the story line started coming together, I was hooked. Avis, Bashkim, and Luis are the center of this tale. Three people who don’t know each other when this story begins, but whose lives become intimately entwined by the end. The book opens with Avis, stark naked while discovering her husband’s been cheating. And while that’s by far the most awkward moment of this story, all three characters have many moments of vulnerability, forced to come to terms with the parts of life that leave us gasping for air. I did guess the ending, but this wasn’t the type of book where a big plot twist is the whole reason for reading. We Are Called to Rise is about the characters–their losses, but more importantly, their triumphs. If you didn’t read along with us this month, be sure to add this one to your TBR pile. And have a tissue …

Revisiting an Old Favorite

I read Perks a long time ago, sometime during my middle school years, and while I remember liking it, that’s about the only memory I have. When we chose it for our May/June read I was eager to re-read it but anxious that it wouldn’t hold up to all the “I loved that book!” comments we received. Thankfully, it did. Admittedly, it took me a bit to get back into it, but once I fell back in love with the characters I was hooked. Via letters to an anonymous friend, Charlie navigates becoming a teenager–something we all can relate to. Shy and quiet, he’s not the most popular kid in school but he soon finds a group of friends that welcome him and make him feel at home. A shy and quiet teenager myself, I was surprised Charlie and his friends didn’t have more of an impact on me when I read it in middle school. While I wasn’t quite as rebellious as he was when it came to drinking and smoking, I struggled to …

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

Quick, Quirky, and Quiet

As someone who didn’t watch “The Office” (I know, shame on me), I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, I just wanted it to be funny. And it was! I found myself chuckling out loud a couple of times, causing my husband to inquire about what I was reading (and then adding it to his own TBR pile). Full of humor and insight on the absurdity of life, these stories vary in length and subject. Most are relatively short, making this a super quick read that I was able to finish in under 24 hours. A couple of my favorite stories: when an elderly man makes it to heaven and can’t wait to reunite with his grandmother… and her reaction isn’t what he expects; when a Frosted Flakes-prize winner sets out to claim his winnings only to uncover a big secret; and a man who wears a red t-shirt every day in hopes of finding female companions. A collection of stories that find humor in both the ordinary and the extreme, they also quietly …