Hi guy, I just finished my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for 2016 of reading 52 books this year! Woohoo! It's not as much as I used to read, but it's still a solid target for someone who works full time, has a kid, enjoys spending time outside of a book with actual human people I love, and for a person who can't stop watching Leah Remini's new Scientology show or is excited for the latest installment of The Bachelor in January.
So I've got a few book recommendations for you. Maybe you've got some extra time off around the holidays. Maybe you want a good way to hide from that family who is staying in your house and just won't leave after Christmas. Or maybe like me, you've always got a book, or twenty, on your nightstand and you're looking to add to the collection. Here we go, 30 second book reviews or shorter, because no one's got time for more this time of year!
Finders Keepers by Stephen King and End of Watch by Stephen King - I'll review these two together since they are the sequel and final installment in the Bill Hodges detective series. I loved all three of the books in the series, which starts with Mr. Mercedes. They could be read on their own but the character development and intertwining history and plot make they better together. Classic King.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - I like this one just fine. Nothing amazing. A thriller. Something dramatic happens. People die. If you haven't read Ruth Ware's In a Dark Dark Wood, start there instead, it's better.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley- The latest in the Flavia deLuce mystery series. You can pick these up and start reading at any book, but they're better when you start at the beginning. Our heroine is a precocious too smart for her own good chemistry aficionado who keeps stumbling across a dead body every couple of months. This one was lovely as usual, but damn, that ending was harsh.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur- I haven't read poetry in so long. These are small powerful pieces. I could read this ten times and find something new each time.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton- This novel set in 1700's Netherlands started off strong but felt too predictable and petered out near the end. While the writing is lovely, if you love dollhouses and miniatures maybe you'd love this one, I kept expecting more.
The Apartment by SL Grey- I found this book terrifying and a perfect Halloween read. I'll never look at Air Bnb or VRBR rentals the same way again. I don't want to give it away, but read it during the day in your own safe home.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch- One of my favorite books of the year. This sci-fi thriller will blow your mind with it's complex plotting and layered story line. Confounding, confusing and so so so good.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance- I liked this memoir of growing up poor in the Appalachian culture of Kentucky and Ohio, but I also found it to be frustrating and troublesome. Well written and interesting.
Tell No One by Harlan Coben- Murder, intrigue, missing wives, guilty husbands, really enjoyed my first Harlan Coben. Probably won't be my last.
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney- This was fluffy fun. Adult children fighting over a trust left to them by their father, and figuring out how to grow up, solve their own problems, and step away from the drama. Great beach or vacation read.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld-And fun and funny modern retelling of the classic Pride and Prejudice. Now I just want to go watch the movie version with Kiera Knightly.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez- This was a beautifully written story of immigrants to the US who live next door and have struggled, fought and suffered to make their lives better. Heartbreaking, powerful and particularly timely given our current political climate.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley-Great fast paced thriller. Just well written enough to still be fun but have more character development than similar novels. Highly recommended.
Baby Doll by Hollie Overton - This novel starts with a woman escaping from the man who kidnapped her years ago as she walked home from high school. Terrifying and a gut punch for any parent, I liked the characters, particularly the sisters' relationship, and the backward way the story was told.
Things No One Tells Fat Girls by Jes Baker- Self help and self love all in one book. Funny, wry, bluntly honest and deeply refreshing.
I Am No One by Patrick Flanery- A frightening examination of privacy and paranoia in our society. Beautifully written and eerie. Plus Joe went to high school with the author, and he's lovely.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer-Solid. Raunchy. Deeply personal. Sometimes funny. Sometimes inspiring. Pretty good but no Bossypants.
The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle- I'm not sure how to describe this book. Supernatural, high school romance? Klutzy family has a party in an old house? Odd and enjoyable. I wish I'd read it when I was 14, I would have loved it.
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes - If you liked the movie Sleeping with the Enemy you'll like this book.
Summer Knight by Jim Butcher - Perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or other supernatural mystery shows. Great audio book series.
Shrill by Lindy West- One of my absolute favorite books of the year. Yes. A thousand times yes. Pardon my language, but fuck, this book was funny and sharp and bold and honest and inspiring.
Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child- This was a thrilling creepy romp of a novel, some kind of mysterious monster is killing people in the Museum of Natural History, two very different detectives help solve the mystery. Kind of like The DaVinci Code with South American monsters.
The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund- Too dark for me. I just couldn't take the ongoing descriptions of child abuse and violence. So I got about half way through, skimmed the rest and called it quits. I liked the writing, the subject matter was just too bleak and heavily described throughout the book.
The Fireman by Joe Hill- I love Joe Hill. This book is dense and action packed and takes the staid post apocalyptic novel concept and breathes fresh life into it. I loved this book. Again, another one on my top list of 2016 favorites.
Grave Peril by Jim Butcher- Another in the series, this was the best one yet! Really loving this audiobook series, great pacing, humor, action and character development.
An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay-Devastating. Spectacular. Adding everything Roxanne has ever written to my library hold list immediately. She is a power house.
Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer-What am I even reading here? I think I love it. I don't know what to think about this series. I respect it more than I liked it. It has left me thinking about it and wondering what I just read. One of the strangest reading experiences of my year.
Happy Like Murders by Gordon Burn- Nope. Just a big nope. I like true crime nonfiction, but the writing style was unpleasant and meandering. Repetitive, confusing and little to no insight into the murders. I read true crime to have a better understanding of how and why crimes like these can happen while no one notices. This fails in that regard. And these despicable people don't need any more of my time. Skip it.
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher - Again another in the "if you love Buffy you'll love this" series.
The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black-A solid classic noir with a shoot em up ending and a gorgeous dame gone wrong, just like you'd expect. Read by my favorite audiobook actor, it was a dark, smoky treat.
Columbine by Dave Cullen - Detailed, deeply troubling, and a thorough examination of what lead up the Columbine, what happened that terrible day, and the aftermath.
The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad - Eh. Fine, another thriller. More crime against women and girls. It was fine.
Storm Front by Jim Butcher - First in the Harry Dresden supernatural detective series. You might get hooked.
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin- I picked up some helpful tips and ideas about habits from this book, but man, it was boring. Where The Power of Habit was fascinating, educational and well written, this book was dull, Rubin is fairly unlikable to me, and it just felt repetitive and more of that privileged wealthy white lady memoir/self help that I find irritating.
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon- I wanted to like this one more than I did, but I suspect my reading it in dribs and drabs over a month instead of reading it in larger chunks in a few sittings made me less inclined to like it. Not bad but didn't seem to fulfill its early promise. The twists and surprises just fell flat for me. Eh. Not bad just not in love.
Ok, friends, happy holidays, and happy reading!