Fall/Winter ’17 Reads

I read quite a few books the end of 2017 many which I recommend to others looking for a good new book to read. Below is the list from my most to least favorite:


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I loved this book. I liked the plot and the author’s style of writing and how all of the characters were connected leading to a domino effect of events. Ng did a really great job with character development, especially with so many characters involved. It was one of the best books I read in 2017.

My Rating: 5/5

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Once I got a few chapters in I couldn’t put this one down. I sped through it and was entertained throughout. It didn’t have as “sophisticated” style of writing as Little Fires Everywhere, but I enjoyed the story.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I read Ready Player One per my husband’s recommendation. Science Fiction isn’t normally my top genre pick but I actually really enjoyed this novel. It was interesting and not so far out there that I couldn’t imagine. It brought me back to my college days when I had to read books like Neuromancer for one of my Communications courses. I got through this one pretty quickly too and I really liked the protagonist in the story, Wade (/Parzival ;). I’m glad I read the book before the movie comes out in March.

My Rating: 4.5/5


Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

This was on my reading list for a while and I’m glad I finally read it. I liked the main character, Anna, a strong-willed young woman who was determined to become a woman diver in the Navy Yard during WWII. Although I didn’t quite get Anna’s attraction to the gangster Dexter luckily that was only a sub-plot to the story. Overall it was a good feminist novel.

My Rating: 4/5

Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan

Interesting and unlike anything else I’ve read is my best way to describe Sourdough: A Novel. It was weird but in a good way.  A smart, kick-ass woman engineer ends up with a delicious tasting sourdough bread starter with a mind of its own. It’s a fun, light kooky novel.

My Rating: 4/5

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King

I thought it was cool that Stephen King worked with his son on a novel and it was one of my Book of the Month club books so I read it. While it’s not my favorite book it was entertaining and what I would expect from a King novel.

My Rating: 3/5


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I thought I liked In a Dark, Dark Wood which was Ruth Ware’s last novel and it was on the NYT Bestseller list among many other book club recommendation lists so I thought this was going to be good but it was only so-so. (Also, I’m shaking my head at myself because if I would have looked back at my own old book review blog post I would have seen that I did not actually like her other novel that much.) It was a light, easy read but I was annoyed with the main character the majority of the time.

My Rating: 2.5/5

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Another thriller/mystery/suspense novel that winds you up and leaves you a little disappointed at the end. Is there a secret sauce to all thrillers where the women protagonists are weak and annoying for 3/4 of the novel and then miraculously are brave and solve the mystery at the very end?

My Rating: 2/5

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

This thriller/suspense novel was forgettable too.  Maybe this just isn’t my genre?

My Rating: 1.5/5

Books Read (April-May 2017)

I have been reading up a storm lately so I want to share some of the books I’ve read over the past few months. I read most of these on my honeymoon when I got into a reading groove and my reading voraciousness has stayed with me since we’ve returned.

These are in order of my top favs:


I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I loved this novel because it wasn’t like anything else I’ve read. It was suspenseful and had an unexpected ending which left me contemplating the ending afterwards. I also loved the speed of the novel–it was slow going mirroring the long drive to Jake’s parents’s home and then it speeds up and crashes to the end. I wanted to make sure I understood the ending correctly so I did a little research. Here’s a good interview the NPR had with Reid; I like how he leaves many things up to the reader’s interpretation.


The Circle by Dave Eggers

Another eerie novel in a less blatant way than I’m Thinking of Ending Things but more frightening considering how close we actually are from what happens in the novel with today’s advanced technology. I saw the movie with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks after I read the book and the book is 1000000 times better. I definitely recommend reading this.


Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

This novel is frustrating because I wanted the main character, Ingrid, who seemed like a smart young woman to leave her shitty, cheating husband. It was pretty heartbreaking. I liked Fuller’s style of writing and how the story was told oscillating from the present day with Ingrid’s family attempting to deal with her disappearance and the past through letter that Ingrid wrote to her husband and hid for him to find after she was gone. It was sweet revenge she played on him.


All Grown Up by  Jami Attenberg

This was a quick read and I was really into it. I was able to read it in two weeks during my commute to and fro work. It touched on so much–being single, hating work, drinking too much, living in a tiny apartment and struggling, family, growing up–and perhaps I can relate to it more since I live and work in the city.


Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

Perfect Little World is Kevin Wilson’s debut novel. It wasn’t my favorite novel but it was interesting and overall I enjoyed it. Here’s a good review on NPR.


Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Queen of the Night wasn’t exactly what I was expecting when I first bought it but it was interesting enough nonetheless. It takes place in Paris 1982 which was the challenge because it was a different time and style of writing. It brought me back to my literature courses in college as an English major. Chee did a great job describing the scenes as well as the elaborate dresses of those times.


Broken trilogy by L.A. Weatherly

I read two of the books in the Broken trilogy, Broken Sky and Darkness Follows while on my honeymoon. I picked them up at an airport in Borneo for some light reading. They entertained me but not enough to need to buy the third book once I got back to the States. The young adult series takes place in a dystopian 1940s America and is about girl who is a pilot, a “Peacefighter” for America, that uncovers fixed fights and another country’s leader intent to start a war and take control of other territories.


You Don’t Look Your Age by Sheila Nevins

One of my colleagues went to a NY Times Talk and Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films,  was one of the panelists. I was interested in learning more about her so when I found out she has a book I figured it would be the best way to start. The book featured a bunch of short stories/essays and a scatter of poetry. Some of the essays were interesting but it wasn’t quite what I had been expecting.


The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer

This was another fun, easy read that me and Kevin picked up at an airport in Asia. He read it first and then I read it because I had nothing else to read. It was what I expected of a Stephanie Meyer novel. It was interesting enough to get me to finish it but the plot was pretty predictable. I would pass on this one unless you love her other books and have nothing else to read.


Book Review

I have been reading a lot lately and have been enjoying spending more time with  books rather than having my eyes glued to a screen…well, I guess I still do a fair amount of TV watching, but either way, below are some of the most recent books I’ve read. I’ve listed them in order from least to most liked.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – It was fantasy novel which I wasn’t expecting and it isn’t my normal genre pick but it was still entertaining and nice to read something different.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – It is her short story that won an Edgar Award in 2015…I def didn’t realize it was just a short story when I downloaded in on my phone so after I read it in like two minutes I was like, wait, that’s it? Also, am I the only one that was like wtf was that?

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes – Consisted of a bunch of short stories. Honestly, I can’t remember most of them but they all had a similar theme.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Was a book recommended to me since I’ve liked Gillian Flynn novels but it wasn’t that great.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – I really enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t as predictable as I had been expecting and I enjoyed the unlikely friendships that formed. It was also a good “don’t judge a book by its cover” novel.

The Possessions by Sarah Flannery Murphy–I just finished this one today and I only started it last week. It reminded me of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host.

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang – highly entertaining. I loved it and really liked all the characters in the Wang family.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – obsessed with this book and couldn’t put it down. I was sad that I finished it. I also really liked Danler’s style of writing. I will be looking out for more of her work.

 

The Nest and Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty

It just happened that I picked two books to read that had to do with families either born into wealth or that were expecting a large inheritance. Despite being in different time periods with one of the novels, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, taking place current day and the other novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel, taking place in the 1970s, there were many similar themes including love, ones career, motherhood, and mortality.

One of the parallels between the two novels is that money can take over ones mind and change relationships. Another is the inevitability of getting old and how one feels invisible with age. There was an eeriness to protagonist Fern in Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty and her family’s belief to take one out of one’s misery when he/she gets too old to prevent tarnishing one’s image by letting others see the deterioration. Lastly, both novels explored motherhood through women with different parenting styles (some much more involved and maternal than others) and how becoming a mother ultimately alters ones career.

I loved The Nest and I like that the Plumb family’s chase of money and final acceptance that it wasn’t coming forced them to alter the course of their lives and they ultimately became happier for it. Spoiler alert, I was still hoping that Leo would come through at the end either to see the family finally take a stand against him and officially outcast him like he had done to them or to see him repair his relationships and repay his family for what he had taken, but I was still happy with the novel regardless. I suppose in a way I did like the bittersweet ending. I enjoyed Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty as well but I didn’t like the characters or style of writing as much as Cynthia’s. I am glad that I coincidentally read both similarly themed books back to back though to compare and to see how expansive with many different directions novels can go while holding similar themes.

“Nothing was more terrifying than what familiar could do to each other.” – Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty