Read in 2016 So Far

3.11.2016


Somehow I have read 7 books this year already! I can't even tell you how that happened, but I'm not complaining. Before I get to the reviews, spoiler alert: this year of reading has been a dud for me so far. At least, I would say that I haven't found anything that's blown me away. I hate it when I read a book everyone loves and don't like it because it makes me question everything. 

But let's talk about it... 

Note: most of these reviews are copied/adapted from my Goodreads, so follow me on there if you want to see more!

5+++ stars. 
I started 2016 on a high note with one of my favorites! This is a reread of a reread of a reread. Love. (Do not love this cover...)

4 stars 
The main character is a boy who is allergic to electricity, and he has a pen pal: a boy who is basically made of electricity. The plot is unique and creative, and the back-and-forth style of writing (letters between the two main characters) was actually really good. Typically I don't tend to like that style. I sort of guessed some of what was going on as the story unfolded, but it wasn't extremely obvious. Very quick and easy read!
3.5 stars
Kate Morton's plot lines and characters are so creative and unique, and I just love her. Her books are always hard to get into initially because there is so much switching back and forth in time and also with character perspectives. This book in particular included almost a lot of the characters' points of view, which didn't seem useful in some cases.

There was a secondary plot that I wasn't sure was entirely necessary. I did see the point, but I just think it took up a bit too much of the main story for me. And since I did see a few things coming, this one didn't have quite the mystery aspect as a few of her earlier novels. However, my rating was due mostly to the last part of the book (see below).

ATTENTION!!!!
**Thoughts on the ending below, so don't read this paragraph unless you want a spoiler!**

I was surprised that we actually found Theo and that he was alive! As someone who enjoys happy endings, that made me happy. However, as I do for all the Morton books, I felt sad because there was so much happiness in the beginning, and now we see characters at the end of their lives, and it just seems like there is so much they missed out on by keeping secrets. And although I did like that Bertie was reunited with his sisters, I found the ending a little too perfect to be believable, which lessened my overall positive impression of the book that I had going most of the way through.
3 stars
This is a memoir written by a fifteen-year-old girl who spends a school year following guidelines for being popular from an old book from the 1950s her dad finds in a resale shop. I thought this was a cute book--a very quick read and a fun concept. It's impressive that the author is so young! I found it inspiring that she actually kept up with the entire year of challenges, and I liked what she learned at the end of all of it. Of course, there are some things I would have changed in editing, and I sometimes found myself getting a little bored with it in the middle parts, but the chapters are short enough that it held my interest.
3 stars
(Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books.)

This book is all about habits. It was a quick read, and the author definitely had some interesting points. I wouldn't say this is the type of book you would buy and read to underline and glean a whole lot of life-changing ideas (like how I felt about her earlier bookThe Happiness Project), but a few points here and there definitely made me think about my habits and the way I do (or don't) form them.

Her conclusion seemed to be that there is one "one way" to make or break habits because there are a lot of different types of people who are motivated in different ways, which, okay duh. But she outlined a number of different personality types, and that was fun to read and see which one I thought I was and which one I thought Jordan was.

One line in particular from the ending stuck out to me: "Often, when we try repeatedly to form a habit that we desire, we fail because we want to reap its benefits without paying the price it demands." (p.261) I thought of my desire to get back to doing pull-ups. I really want to get into the habit of doing daily pull-ups, but I keep failing. I realized it's because I don't want to pay the price this habit demands: i.e., the burning and sore muscles! This revelation doesn't really help me make pull-ups a habit but at least explains why I've been unable to get into the habit of doing them.

**If you are interested in reading Better than Before, I will mail you my copy for free! Just leave a comment on this post saying you want it, and I'll randomly pick someone to send it to. Just make sure I can easily find your email address to get your mailing address.

2.5 stars
Okay, I know everyone and their mom loved this book, but I just wasn't that big of a fan. I had mixed feelings about this book. The pros include the writing style (pretty funny), plot (creative), and structure (unique way of storytelling with parents interviews scattered throughout). But the cons for me kind of overshadowed that. For one thing, the quick, easy writing style was a contradiction to the very serious issues that come up in this book about domestic violence, marriage, and bullying, to name a few. It's not that I'm against the book because it explores intense subject matters, but I couldn't really fit that with the writing style and characters. I also found myself getting kind of bored in the middle with all the drama and just wanted to get to the trivia night. I know everyone loved this book, but I preferred The Husband's Secret.

ATTENTION: SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!!!

The other con was the ending. Even though I felt like it ended the only way it probably could have, it still disappointed me. It was too easy to kill off the one character you were sure to dislike, and even though Celeste is sad about it, for the reader it's kind of like, yeah but he was a terrible person so she's better off and it's okay he died. For me it was dissatisfying.
2 stars
I just didn't like this one. I'm sorry! Almost everyone in my Goodreads feed gave this 4 or 5 stars, but I thought this book was boring. Don't hate me.

It's about an American girl who goes to London for college and ends up meeting the prince and falling in love. It was over 450 pages long and could have been condensed into half that. I have no idea why it takes place over such a long period of time (nearly ten years!), and half the book is spent with the characters being drunk or at a party of some kind or running away from the paparazzi. I really didn't care what happened to either Bex or Nick and ended up skimming the last section just to be done with it. 

I didn't care for all the sex, drinking, and cursing in this book either. I've said this before, but I can accept those things in a book if I feel like they fit the plot and are necessary, but I just didn't care of all of it in this book. I also had a hard time suspending disbelief to get into the "world" of the story, so it just didn't capture my attention. And at the end of it all, after so many pages, there were still some small plot lines that were left open. I found the writing and structure of the chapters very formulaic with the ending line of almost every chapter being a short cliffhanger of sorts. It just got old. My favorite parts of the book was when the dad and Bex talk about the Cubs! This review summed it up for me pretty well.
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So those are the books I've read so far! As you can see, I haven't been overly impressed by any of them besides the Francine Rivers book, which was one I've read many times before. I need recommendations! Have you read anything good lately? Hit me up. 

And please share your thoughts on my reviews! Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you agree or disagree with me?

32 comments:

  1. I always wonder how much those type of self help books actually help, I suppose you have to go into it with the mindset that it will which I think I would always be too skeptical to get real help.

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  2. So is The lake House the same story of the movie with Keanu Reeves & Sandra Bullock - because that's in my top 5 all time favorite movies

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  3. I just finished Troublemaker by Leah Remini about her life in Scientology and leaving it. I thought it was pretty intersting, mostly because I had no background knowledge about Scientology - other than Tom Cruise. I also really liked Kitchens of the Great Midwest, although it could be confusing at times.

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  5. So, I've read both Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret. I agree with the dissatisfying end of Big Little Lies - it just wraps up too nicely. And you're right about the reader's response - the reader is meant to feel like "he was a terrible person so it's okay that he died." I don't like how that is supposed to tap into some area of questionable morality - like you're supposed value life except for when it's a terrible person. With all that said, I preferred it to The Husband's Secret. :)

    As far as book recommendations, my March book club is reading Defending Jacob by William Landay this month and I really liked it. I also HIGHLY recommend A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - hands down my favorite book I've read in the past year.

    I'm going to find you on Goodreads now! I love book buddies who are also working moms and bloggers!

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    1. Also, my favorite Liane Moriarty book is What Alice Forgot. It's much better than the other two in my opinion.

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  6. Yay for reading!! I've been doing SO much reading this year, too! I might have liked Big Little Lies a tad more than you, but I agree that it touched on many very serious concepts in a quite odd and somewhat disturbing manner. I haven't read any of her other books yet, but have a few on my list. I really love Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love, but haven't read the one you reviewed. The memoir sounds cute! And I recently read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg...and really enjoyed it. If no one else takes you up on the Gretchen Rubin book, I'd be interested in reading it. I love the idea of passing along Blogging for Books books to other readers...may have to employ that same offer on my blog :) As far as suggestions, I highly recommend Mitch Albom's The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto - just finished it for a book club recently...great story!

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  7. I read a great mystery/thriller series starting with "Measure Twice" by J.J. Hensley. The author is a runner so each book includes running references (and "MT" is set against a marathon with each chapter being a mile!) Awesome book. The second was good also but the third was lacking.
    For fluff I enjoy the Mrs. Jeffries mysteries by Emily Brightwell. It's Nancy Drew for adults, but they're quick, fun reads. :)

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I love Nancy Drew! Need to check these out.

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    2. I believe the comment refers to the book RESOLVE, rather than Measure Twice. :)

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  8. I loved Big Little Lies so much more than The Husband's Secret, but I totally understand about not being able to fit the writing style with the heavy subject matter. I love Francine Rivers books so much! I've read the first Mark of the Lion series, but I obviously need to read the second very soon!

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  9. I love Francine Rivers so much! And that book is absolutely excellent! :)

    I feel the exact same way that you felt about The Royal We. I was so disappointed with it.

    I think I'm going to add Popular to my to-reads list. It looks cute. :)

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  10. I definitely prefer The Husband's Secret to Big Little Lies. And I agree with your assessments of The Royal We and Popular.

    I'm reading two non fiction books currently! So rare for me. Baby Led Weaning and Blood and Thunder. Both are good, but I'm moving slowly through each of them. Fiction is my jam, for sure!

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  11. I also read "Little Big Lies" and didn't like it as much as some of her other books--"What Alice Forgot" was sooo good! I just read the book "Rebecca" for the first time (it's not new but was new to me!) and I loved it. Definitely would recommend it!

    I'd love to read your copy of Better Than Before--I've been wanting to read that for awhile. That is so nice of you to offer to send it to some random. :)

    My email address is erinrafferty1483@gmail.com. :)

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  12. Oh my word - I TOTALLY agree about The Royal We. I just couldn't get into the story. I figured it'd be one of my favorite books. I'd heard so much hype but it definitely fell flat. Very boring. Too long. I also felt the same way about Big Little Lies. Too much hype. I do recommend Liane Moriarty's book What Alice Forgot - that's a good one!

    I would love to be randomly selected for the Better Than Before drawing :) I really enjoy listening to her podcast, Happier. My email address is dianeboden.2@gmail.com

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    1. Congrats, girl! You won my book drawing :) I'll email you!

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  13. Oh nice!!! I love book posts. I already had 1 of these on my list, and now I've got a few more! ;) thanks!!!

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  14. A couple that were favorite books of mine since the New Year started... I'm listening to "The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan (listening while I declutter my closets) - it's about three sisters, who aspire to be members of a ballet cadre... it's not all about ballet, and also includes one sister who is painted by Degas. Another favorite, "The Girl Who Wrote in Silk" by Kelli Estes... it takes place in Seattle, WA & is about two young women & the history of an embroidered silk sleeve. Our book club also read, "In the Unlikely Event" by Judy Blume... yes, the children's author. Another book that was written by a friend of mine, Elie Axelroth, "In Thin Places"... she retired from our local state college & used her experiences as the school psychologist to write this book about young adults & the challenges of adulthood (& the impacts of family on their decisions)... Let me know if you read any of these books. Would love to hear your comments about any of them!

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  15. I've wondered sometimes if I liked Better than Before so much because I read it while trying to teach my students how to foster habits, and so many of her strategies really helped me teach that unit better. I definitely agree it's no Happiness Project though!

    I've actually never read Kate Morton, but since I'm tired of everyone else talking about her stuff and me knowing nothing, I've *finally* put a hold on one of her books at my local library. We shall see!

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  16. I couldn't stand "The Royal We" either! I enjoyed the idea of a parallel universe of a different royal family, but otherwise it was long and not worth the read.

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    1. Glad you agree with me! Good to know I'm not alone :)

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  17. I will totally take your book!

    I actually liked What Alice Forgot best of the Liane Moriarty books, maybe because it was the first one I read. A great novel this year- Fates & Furies, which Goodreads did not love, but I thought it was fantastic! I also just read American Housewife, which was short stories that were hilarious and also kind of twisted.

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  18. I read Popular for work last year and also found it cute!
    I wish I could say that I've read 7 books this year, but for the opposite reason: I've already read 25 books for work since the beginning of the year and none for myself. Argh. I need a book-break but they won't gimme it. :)

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    1. It's hard to find time to read for pleasure when you already read so much for work. I know the feeling!

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  19. I haven't read any of those books! Now I have a few suggestions to add to my already huge list! I've been really good about reading this year too. I would love to get Better than Before! It's on my list, but I am number 200 something at the library. Haha! I did love her other books. Have you read them?

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  20. The Lake House is already on my summer reading list! I've tried a few Kate Morton books and haven't LOVED them, but I have big hopes for this one! :)

    This is the first time hearing about Popular. I'm really interested in it!

    I've never read Thomas' book, but it sounds similar to a YA book that I read several summers ago called "Navigating Early" by Clare Vanderpool. That's one I definitely recommend!

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  21. Oh I love some Francine Rivers. I need to read that book!

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  22. ok I loved Big Little Lies. until I read your review. then I realized there was such a disparity between the issues at hand and the narration. and the ending. UGH the ending.

    have you read What Alice Forgot? i adored it. it's a poolside read, fun and lovely, and had me contemplating my own life choices and what would happen if I forgot a chunk of time that was very transformative for my person. :)

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  23. i haven't heard of ANY of these books!
    i also love that you started from your favorite book up top to the bottom where you didn't really enjoy!

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  24. I'm
    Pinning this for future reference of books to read since I'm majorly slacking this past month! I've had The Nightingale on my nightstand for 2 weeks and only have read 2 chapters. Big little lies took me a little bit to get into but I enjoyed it once the plot was unfolding.

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  25. i am so sad you didn't like the royal we or big little lies, i loved them both (i might be biased on big little lies because aussie aussie aussie!). however, i think we have very different tastes, so i'm not surprised haha. the lake house is on my list, so i skipped the spoiler ending, but i'll go into it with expectations lol.

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