I’ve moved away from the monthly reading posts I did in 2016, and decided to do an end of year post like I did in 2015. The number of fiction books I read this past year has dropped, but I don’t include on this reading list alllllllll of the non-fiction books, the short stories, anthologies, and books about writing. But I just do these posts for fun, and I read fiction for fun, so that’s why we’re here.
If for some bizarre reason you are totally into what I’m reading every month, then head on over to my Goodreads page and check out my bookshelf. (I also have an author page on there!) I try to keep my bookshelf updated with what I’m ‘currently reading’ and what I ‘have read’. I love, love the written word, so please join me in a discussion on a book I’ve read, or recommend your favorite one. You can also find me and friend me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter – stop by and say Hello! 🙂
At the beginning of this year I was keeping my reading on list on my cellphone, and I did a dumb-dumb thing and lost all the info on it. We don’t need to go into all the sordid little details about how that happened, it’s enough to know that I had to reassemble my reading list from memory and may have missed one or two. My bad.
But enough about that, let’s get to talking about Books! ♥
Book One: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Ms. Hawkins, this book! What can I say? It single handedly shifted my perspective on how I view characters, how I view female characters, and what genre I want to write in – this book for me was PROFOUND! No, really!
Here’s why: This was the first time I have been truly aware of how beautiful, writing flawed and morally ambiguous characters can be. All the characters in this book are flawed, I mean jacked-up, messed up, fluh-hawd.
The main character Rachael is a hot, hot mess, and while I am rooting for her, I’m also super frustrated with her for the endless list of stupid decisions she keeps making (and the drinking!). For heaven’s sake lady, stop it! Omgosh (**Spoiler Alert**) When Rachel showed up at the Doctor’s office, the one that Megan had been seeing, I was practically yelling! (I love having strong emotional reactions to books, so this is heaven for me 😉 ) And Megan, while being the murder victim, you soon find out was no angel herself. Really all the characters in the book, even (or especially) the female ones. They are villains in their own right, and I found myself rooting for some, while repulsed by others.
Lest we forget about the plot, the story, fear not. I thought it was very well done. There was tension, surprises, and when one question got answered, two more popped up in its place. Halfway through, I began to suspect I knew what was really going on with Rachel and Tom’s relationship, but was completely lost as to who the killer was! In turn I thought it was just about every character in the book ~ I know it’s him! No, no, maybe it’s her! Omgosh, could it actually be, no, surely not…her? ~ Seriously, every chapter moved the story forward, great pace, kept me on the edge of my seat and loving it for the entire novel. Well done Ms. Hawkins! I went ahead and put her upcoming novel Into The Water in my queue straightaway ::rubs hands greedily::
Book Two: A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston
So, So good. In fact, I found myself writing down quotes from the book to keep. I may be getting ahead of myself here, allow me to back up and just to make sure everyone is on the same page ~ haha, see what I did there? ~ this book is Mr. Cranston’s memoir, and it is so, so good. I was already partial to him as an actor and the characters he’s been, but this book sealed the deal for me. He does a wonderful job of bringing all the parts of his life story together in easy to follow sequence, while highlighting the parts of it that made him, him. He talks about his life from childhood up through having his own child ~ love the adventuring, wandering, motorcycle adventure he goes on with his brother. He talks about how he got his acting career going, what drew him to it and how he got to where he is today. And he adds enough detail about the roles/shows that made him a household name, Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad, to feed the curiousness of what it was like to be on the inside of a show so many are big fans of. Really, Mr. Cranston did a wonderful job on this book, it’s interesting, moves, and feeds. For me, this book was so good and inspirational, I wrote down quotes from it. ~That’s how you know I’m in ♥ with a book!
Book One: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
This book isn’t my normal reading fare, but I’m always looking to branch out and when I stumbled across the movie and wanted to watch it, I decided to read the book first. Good choice! The movie was pretty well done, but nothing near as good as the book. I have to say I admire writers who can seemingly write a book about no specific thing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she is writing about specific things. It’s just so different from the genre I normally read and write, that I’m not sure how I would even come up with an idea for a story like this! That’s a compliment btw, to be able to weave such a magical story from an idea as seemingly simple as: a young girl runs away and ends up staying with 3 amazing sisters who keep bees. Seems simple enough, right? Well, there is a reason this book spent over 2 years on the NYT best seller list. It’s a very well done story. Magical, sweet, simple, endearing, and fun to read. I would recommend. I also watched an interview with Ms. Monk Kidd about her writing journey, and her story is a good one. Well done Ms. Monk Kidd! ♥
Book One: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
After reading and being blown away by The Girl on the Train, I remembered how much I enjoyed reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn a few years ago. This made me go back and start really looking into this genre of writing and reading, and the female authors responsible for them. ~I am being totally inspired to move my writing in a different direction because of these two ladies! Because of this I decided to go back and read all of Ms. Flynn’s books prior to Gone Girl, of which there are only two. Sharp Objects is her very first novel, written in 2006, and is currently being made into a TV series with Amy Adams. I’m not as big a fan of movies and tv series as I am the books they come from, so while I may not watch, I would def recommend this as a read. For me this book isn’t as good as her next two novels, but it is her first novel after all, and I think there is a noticeable progression in her writing – they keep getting better! Although I’ve read a few reviews that think the other way around, but hey – that’s the beauty of books, you’re allowed to like whichever ones you want 🙂 Anyway, Ms. Flynn does a good job in this story. It’s got depth, the mystery unfolds at an okay pace, it moved a bit too slow for me in parts, and I never connected to the MC. That’s just me though, and that does sometimes happen, no big deal. On the other hand, the I did find the story engaging, and Ms. Flynn does do a good job with her characters, great depth and she likes to make her women oh-so-good at being bad ~gosh I love that!~ I mean I really love it! Def worth checking out if you like her writing.
Book One: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
I read this one on the heels of Sharp Objects, and oh my goodness, it’s SO good. Man! Ms. Flynn’s writing really just gets better and better, and imo this book had some big improvements over her first novel. It switches view points and jumps around on the timeline, but I didn’t have a hard time following any of that. In fact, it let her write in some cliffhangers that had me going – NO! while reading it, because some little detail had just been revealed and then – ah! she would change POV. I like that in my reading though, keeps me engaged and entertained. Plus – such a good mystery! And such a good story, great characters, stories within stories, how I felt about Ben in the end (a bit confused and gut-wrenched), and oh-yeah, Ms. Flynn is developing a signature here with her oh-so-good at being bad female characters. Again, a viewpoint I find refreshing and inspiring in my own writing. I think Paula Hawkins did a fantastic job with this VP also, SO GOOD! Anyway, if you got me talking about either of these authors and their book IRL, you’d be in for a rather long conversation. Def recommend this read! I did also find out that there was a movie based on this book with Charlize Theron, which I tried to watch, and could NOT finish. Probably not the movie’s fault so much, I just have a hard time moving from how I’ve pictured the characters while reading, to Hollywood’s version of them and the story…I usually find the transition quite yucky.
Book Two: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
I had some trouble with this book. Again, these types of books, this genre is not what I usually read, but I liked The Secret Life of Bees novel so much I thought maybe I’d like everything Ms. Monk Kidd writes. I was mistaken. Now, don’t get me wrong. She’s a good writer, and she did a great job on this novel. It was just that, for me, it moved too slow and nothing would happen! for chapters and chapters. I am aware this is a fictional account of an actual figure in history, but I just think if I was going to fill in some blanks and write a fictional, albeit slightly historical novel. I’m going to add some big events into the story; bigger conflict, edgier edges, just something more to make it all move, and make me really care about the characters and bring home the point of a the story. I did care, just not enough, and I did like the story, just not enough. I had trouble finishing this one, and podcasts became preferable to having to listen to this audio book in the evenings. Which is an actual shame because this book was well done, and I could see it being truly enjoyed by those who read these types of stories more. For sure.
Both books this month were Non-Fiction, of which I read a lot. Memories, spiritual stuff, how-to writing, craft, books et al. – but these I included on my goodreads list, so here they are.
Book One: The Uncommon Wisdom of Oprah Winfrey
I don’t know why Ms. O hasn’t written her autobiography yet, maybe she is (I hope she is!) and she’s just waiting until she’s older and it’s more complete… I don’t know.
But until she does, I’m forced to read these, uggh! This one is a collection of quotes from Lady O, pieced together to assemble a time-line of sorts. It worked, but wasn’t as engaging as something directly from her would be.
Book Two: The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist
There is something deeply, functionally spiritual about this book. I found it a great read, with concepts – like the myth of scarcity – that apply to a broad range of topics and life experiences, not just money.
Book One: Revival by Stephen King
This book, for me, was just okay. I grew up on Mr. King and he’s one of my favorite authors, but I’m not a fan of everything he’s ever written. This one falls into the forgettable category for me, but it wasn’t bad, like awful, just meh.
Book Two: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
This was the Amazon First book I picked for the month, to try something new. It was okay for what it was, good for a quick vacation read on my kindle. I learned after reading it, and hitting the little cliffhanger at the end, that’s it’s part of a series, so if you’re into these kinds of books, I’d check ’em out.
Book One: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
There are some good parts to this book — twists and turns and while maybe a bit obvious and sometimes frustrating at times, overall I enjoyed it.
Book Two: They’re Playing Our Song by Carole Bayer Sager
I love memoirs, and I can read them (and have) on a vast collection of people and topics, but uggh… I really didn’t like this one. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about it.
Book Three: Mrs. Saing and the Defectives by Julie Lawson Jimmer
This was the Amazon First book I selected for this month. A light read; quick to get through, not much real depth, but it was warm, and sweet, and enjoyable.
Book One: Flashback by Dan Simmons
I mean what can I say, I’m a huge fan of Mr. Simmons, and this book did not disappoint. I loved it. I also thought it was cool that parts of it are set in Denver, and I knew the landmarks and roadways he writes about (made it fun) – especially as he’s describing the MC driving out to Evergreen, (I’m listening to this on audio book on my way to work) and I look up to see that I’m passing the Evergreen Pkwy exit. I got a kick out of that.
The ending was good too. I was yelling at Mr. Simmons, “Don’t you dare, don’t you do this to me.” Then he corrected course and all was well with the world. The story of he and I will continue, haha 😉
I read the stories once through as a reader, to enjoy them. Then I re-read the stories over and over again, studying them. That’s what I do with all of these. Love it.
Book One: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Because I enjoyed her fist book, I tried her second one. Wfff, I could not get through it. I think I ended up flipping to the end to read how the story wrapped up, still wasn’t impressed, and found the ending didn’t impress me much. My opinion, not as good as her first one, but there’s nothing wrong with that!
Mine by Robert McCammon
He’s my favorite author, I’ve read just about every word he’s ever written. This was a throw back study read, to see how he writes, and what about his books I love so much. ♥
Book Two: Good As Gone by Amy Gentry
A quick (and fast) read, and I really liked it. I even passed it along to a friend to share. It was fun, and the mystery was well done – even if I did figure it out before I got to the end, but I think that’s only because I’ve been studying these types of books 😉
Book Three: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Someone compared Park and Eleanor to this book, which is the reason I picked it up. Now, while it doesn’t compare to P&E, like at all, it was a good read. I enjoyed it, had fun reading it, and would recommend it to others. There were flaws, and some parts that were heartwarming and sweet.
Book One: Gone South by Robert R. McCammon
Again, he’s my most favorite author of all time, and this was a throwback, to-study, read. I plan on making my way through his entire collection, again, to study him further. He’s so good, his characters are, for me, perfection, and he drives home fast moving plots and the story – to hit you where it matters most. Damn, he’s good!
Book Two: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Another good read, quick and easy to get through. It also had it’s flaws, and there were some parts of it that upon completion of the story, I have no idea why they were in the story. I’m also not sure I cared for the twist all that much, as it felt less twist-like, and more just like I was lied to about it. I did enjoy the ending, wrap-up, and I think Ms. Mackintosh is a talented writer.
Well, that’s what I’ve got for you guys this year. I do hope to increase my fiction reads for 2018, so I’ll be listening to audio books, reading kindle books, and as always, my favorite, holding and reading those lovely portable little worlds of magic! ♥