(now with handy star rating so you can tell at a glance how much I liked it)
- **** Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (January Book Club) – Finished January 12, 2014 – I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Very interesting, whether you agree with them and their findings or not. – Full Review –
- *** Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – Finished January 23, 2014 – I thought the premise of this book was fascinating and the plot kept me intrigued throughout. I also felt the book was attempting to do an AWFUL lot and that it occasionally read as cheesy, over done and sometimes predictable, but being a young adult novel I can kind of over look the predictable aspects. All in all, I think it was a very funny and satirical look at the commercialism and typical coming of age issues that young girls are faced with, in the midst of a very atypical story.
- ***** Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman – Finished January 24, 2014 – This was such a fun, quick read. terrific illustrations also. I’m looking forward to sharing it with the kids. – Full Review –
- **** A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle – Finished January 28, 2014 – I don’t know if I would have enjoyed this story as much if I weren’t such a huge fan of the BBC series, Sherlock, but since I can’t (yet) go back in time and unsee the show, I’ll just have to base my feelings of the book around the fact that I’ve seen the show also and thus knew the major plot points. However, the original story is actually quite a bit different from the tv show’s version and there were things I genuinely liked about each. I didn’t really care for the middle part of the book where they leave Sherlock and Watson to further explain the back story of characters that I won’t name here, cause you know, spoilers. But at the same time, I think the backstory was necessary so overall, I did enjoy the book and I’ll definitely be reading more of Doyle’s Sherlock stories soon.
- *** Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz – Finished February 4, 2014 – It’s hard to judge this book fairly having already seen the Lifetime tv show based on the book, however loosely. There are some things about the show I liked better and some things I liked in the book, but having seen the show first I couldn’t help but prefer it. I found the characters on the show to be more fully fleshed out and well rounded and a little more likable to boot, but there were aspects to the book that I found really interesting and I love how it intersected with another of Cruz’s series, the Blue Blood books. The cliff hanger ending has me intrigued to read more, but maybe not right away.
- **** The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (February Book Club) – Finished February 17, 2014 – I’m glad I finally took the time to read this book – I started it once years ago and left it unfinished, balking at the complexity of the many stories being told in one book. I think appreciated it now more than I would have back then anyway. This is a fantastic story that touches on a lot of subjects that anyone can relate to – from being a mother to a daughter, a sister, a wife – hardships faced, adapting to new cultures and continually learning to pick up the pieces of our lives and start anew when needed. I think this will be a book that stays with me for a long time.
- ************* Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Finished February 19, 2014 – I read this book basically in one day – it was a mad, crazy, obsessive daylong reading spree in which putting the book down felt painful and wrong until I’d finished. My apologies to the children, husband and pets neglected on February 19, 2014.In many small ways, it felt like this book was written exactly for me – like the author had captured a piece of my soul and put it on paper. While I can’t necessarily relate to the WHOLE story (don’t have a twin sister or a psychologically diagnosed mental illness – also don’t write fanfiction and am significantly older than 18) – so much of it I could definitely relate to and I quickly found myself rooting for Cath and waiting for certain plot events to come about. I, simply put, loved this book and kinda wish I could read it all over again today. – Full Review –
- **** The Last Word (Spellman Book 6) by Lisa Lutz – Finished March 2, 2014 – I always enjoy the Spellman Files books though I’ll confess this one was a little harder for me to get into initially because I was still a little shell shocked by the last book. However, once I settled into the story it was fantastic in all the ways that Lutz’s books usually are. I cannot tell from the way this book ended if it will be the last one or not, but I hope that it isn’t.
- *** Mary Poppins by PL Travers – Finished March 8, 2014 – There were some things about this book that I really loved and other things that I didn’t but I can’t really be fair to the book given that I read it after having viewed the Disney movie at least two dozen times. I couldn’t help but compare the two by both plot and characters and Disney definitely creates a kinder and more likeable Mary Poppins (not to mention a much more frequently appearing Bert). But PL Travers is a wonderful writer and there are some stories in her books that don’t occur in the movie at all that are definitely worth a read.
- ****** Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Finished April 24, 2014 – I think it’s safe to say that Rainbow Rowell is becoming a new favorite author of mine. This book sucked me into the story and its characters in all the same ways that Fangirl did. I found myself anxiously waiting to continue reading the story during the day, as though Eleanor and Park might do something drastic or need me there badly during my non-reading hours and it would ruin everything. And much like Fangirl, I found myself eventually just sitting down and ignoring everything for a few hours so that I could finish it – and then being sort of sad it was over, because now what? – full review –
- ***** A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – Finished May 1, 2014 – How have I never read this book before? I instantly fell in love with this series and this family. It’s equal parts coming of age story / amazing science fiction time / space travel story. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series! – Full Review –
- **** The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (May Book Club) – Finished May 24, 2014 – I think this was a book that will stay with me for a long time. It was slow going at first and the subject matter often kept me up at night – maybe not the best night time reading because it’s a book you can’t help but dwell on. I became very attached to the characters after awhile which made the second half of the book fly in comparison to the first, as I became more and more concerned about how it would all end. Fascinating.
- ****** The One by Kiera Cass – Finished June 18, 2014 – I’ll admit, I totally set aside the book I was reading to read this the day I finally broke down and bought a copy and then read it in like 3 sittings. Like the previous books in this series, it was addictive and completely sucked me in. Though in some ways the end of the book felt a little easy, as though half the obstacles facing them throughout the series just sort of magically worked themselves out, overall I think this is actually fitting. Sometimes when one thing comes together, everything else falls into place. One thing I was struck by was the feeling of hope and optimism that radiate from this story, which is rare for a dystopian story but I think much needed.
- **** Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas – Finished July 10, 2014 – I think my favorite thing about this book was that it really did read just like an extended episode of Veronica Mars, but it didn’t necessarily feel like you had to have seen the show to enjoy the book. It was a natural transition from the screen to the page and the story really pulled me in. I definitely plan to continue reading the series.
- **** Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan (July Book Club) – Finished July 22, 2014 – This book was a lot of fun to read. It felt kinda like a Rainbow Rowell book from a male perspective with lots of computer programming / social media stuff. I thought the contrast of old technology and new was really interesting and the story itself was compelling. Parts of the story felt formulaic but not in a bad way.
- ***** One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde – Finished August 10, 2014 – I was absolutely blown away by this book which is impressive when you consider it is 6th in a series. The fact that the author was able to surprise and delight me in book six is really rather remarkable. There are so many elements to this book (and this series) that it seems impossible to describe but I particularly loved the descriptions of Bookworld and also the description of experiencing the real world for the first time through a Bookworld character’s eyes.
- **** Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch – Finished August 27, 2014 – I really enjoyed this one. I didn’t know much about Rachel Dratch before reading this aside from “that funny girl on SNL” but her stories both made me laugh and truly resonated with me. From the cool tidbits about her time on SNL to stories about her dating life and family life, this had a little bit of everything.
- *** Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon – Finished August 28, 2014 – The artwork in this graphic novel is beautiful and of course I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what happens to all the main characters after the series finale, but the overall storyline was very difficult to follow and overall I just felt it didn’t compare to the television show, not that this is surprising really.
- *** Requiem by Lauren Oliver – Finished October 5, 2014 – I read the last book in this series so long ago that some of the details were fuzzy by the time I picked up this final installment in the Delirium series but on the whole I still enjoyed it. It was interesting to see how the story would wrap up – who would end up with who? Would Lena consider love worth fighting for in the end? I think she nailed the ending perfectly all in all.
- **** Reached by Ally Condie – Finished October 2014 – I thought this was a fitting ending to the series. The concept for the book’s overlying truths was fascinating and struck close to home – there are a lot of small details of this book that made it stick with me and linger throughout the day even when I wasn’t reading and days later I still think of it often.
- *** Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World by Jón Gnarr – Finished November 10, 2014 – I saw Jon Gnarr interviewed on Craig Ferguson a few months ago and found his story fascinating. I finally got my hands on a copy of his book about forming his own political party, The Best Party in Reykjavik. Some chapters of this book were more interesting than others and occasionally it felt a little overly self praising, but overall I found the book interesting and informative and definitely know a lot more about Gnarr, Reykjavik and politics than I did before reading. At the end of the day – it’s a nice short read so if you are interested, definitely give the book a shot!
- **** Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Finished November 11, 2014 – Much like the other Rainbow Rowell books I’ve read, my only complaint with this book is that I’d love to sit and linger over this for weeks but her writing tends to turn me into an obsessive junkie that must read the entire book in basically one sitting. Rowell’s characters have a way of becoming very dear to you very quickly and I cannot help but relate to them, even if we have little in common. This is another one that will stay with me for awhile.
- *** Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton – Finished November 11, 2014 – I remember loving this movie as a child but after reading the book I’m realizing that I either remember VERY little about the actual plot or the movie is vastly different from the book (or books as apparently Bedknob & Broomstick was originally two books). I thought the stories were interesting but something in the writing fell flat for me and it took me awhile to finish reading.
- ***** The Rosie Project by Graeme Simion – Finished December 3, 2014 – This book has gotten a lot of buzz around the internet and I think the buzz was well deserved. I really enjoyed this book. It took awhile to get used to the narrator’s voice which is as methodical and cool as you’d expect from a scientist with Asperger syndrome who decides for scientific reasons to find a wife. Not a girl friend, not true love, just a wife. He makes a questionnaire for potential prospects to fill out to determine their qualifications for said position and conducts the whole thing like a scientific study. Then in true rom com fashion, he meets the perfect girl who doesn’t match any of said qualifications. The story really clings to your heart after awhile – the author does a good job of fleshing out the characters, while remaining true to their inherent selves. I really, really enjoyed this one.
- *** Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery – Finished December 9, 2014 – I enjoyed this collection of short stories about the holidays. There are two “Anne” stories and then several others that Montgomery wrote for magazines and newspapers over the years. And each story is good, but the truth is they all tell basically the same story. Be good to people, even when they don’t deserve it. It’s better to give than to receive. Unexpected kindness is the best kind of kindness. Etc. So it did occasionally border on repetitive, but it was still a nice book to read around the holidays and if you enjoy Montgomery’s writing (and who doesn’t?) you’ll probably enjoy this.
- **** The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson – Finished December 13, 2014 – I think I read this once before as a kid but it was even better reading it as an adult and parent. I read it with my 8 year old who thought the antics of the Herdmans was hysterical and I agree. It’s a really cute story that will remind you of your own family and childhood even if you never knew a family like the Herdmans.
- **** When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – Finished December 25, 2014 – This was a really interesting book. It’s both a coming of age story, a mystery story, a story of time travel and first loves and love of literature. I adored the references to A Wrinkle in Time and how the author laced the novel throughout hers. I found the book gritty in all the right ways, it felt intensely real even when it was fantastical.
The Land of Abandoned Books
*** American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I honestly only didn’t finish this because I’m lazy – I didn’t finish before my book club discussion and blatantly listened to enough spoilers that I lost the motivation to continue. It’s a fascinating book and it has a lot going on, if a bit on the strange side. My husband is really enjoying it so don’t avoid it just because I didn’t finish or anything.
* The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway – I’ll give it one star because the words are properly spelled and there is a legitimate story being told and they used a typewriter instead of crayons.
*** The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – This was another case of “didn’t finish it in time for book club but went to the meeting anyway and had the ending sufficiently spoiled to make me not feel like finishing it. Tsk Tsk. I liked parts of this book but absolutely detested others and I’m not convinced I would have enjoyed the ending anyway.
*** Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I was enjoying this book but somewhere near the middle the story started to wane for me and the sheer size of the book became too daunting. I may finish it someday but for now I’m moving on.
*** I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – Yet another book club book that I didn’t quite finish by the meeting day. I actually read a good 80% of this book and it was good in parts and I’m glad I read what I did but at the end of the day, I had no desire to finish it. The subject matter is obviously heavy and I needed a change of pace. Malala’s story is fascinating though so I’m glad I read some of it at least.
** The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – I read less than a chapter of this one before calling mercy. Nathaniel Hawthorne flashbacks pretty much sums up the experience. I’m told that the story really picks up in the second half but for an 800+ page novel that just seems unacceptable to me.