What I Read: December Edition


what i read christmas

 

I slowed down a little during December, thanks to the holidays, my health, and all that fun stuff. I enjoy sharing these short (sometimes long) reviews with you, so you might get a good book recommendation. I am still playing around with the format, to make the list easier to navigate. Would you like my top book recommendations at the top? Or mixed in, so you can give every book a fair chance?

I am separating the contemporary reads from the Classics, as I work my way though my 50 Classic Books Challenge.

Contemporary Reads:

Simple Genius

book recommendations: simple genius

Rating: ***

Definitely not my favorite book. I read this book because I really did love the first novel in the series and the second novel was good. I read that this novel was the worst of the series, but in order to make sense of the series, I had to read this. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. I got a deeper look into the mind of Maxwell, the female investigator. It gave her more depth than just a former Secret Service Agent, but it was rather implausable, plot-wise. This novel, just like the next novel in the series, was about an investigation of murders, but it was buried very deeply into the “intelligence community.” So, for people who are unfamiliar with the inner-workings of the IC might find it hard to understand.

Winter of the World

book recommendations: winter of the world ken follett

Rating: ****

I loved this novel, but not as much as the first of the trilogy. The first part of the trilogy had more character development. This novel follows all of the children of the main characters of the first novel. It was interesting how their children still managed to intertwine during WWII, in the same way that their parents intertwined during WWI. Unfortunately, the character development was not as strong because there was so much plot to stuff into the novel, which was already very long.

The Silent Wife

the silent wife

Rating: ****

This book was a really fun read. It was an interesting look at a very strange union. The wife rationalizes and denies absolutely everything, while her husband cheats like nobody’s business. Since the main character, the wife, is a psychoanalyst (or psychologist–something like that), she thinks about her own life expectations and motives in a way that is very foreign to my own thinking. It was fun to get into the main character’s head.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

jazz age january: the girls at the kingfisher club

Rating: **

Ok, so I picked this one based on the cover. It is set during the prohibition-era, which I think is a fun time period to read about. However, this novel did not live up to the cool cover. It was far fetched and odd. I’m not giving up, so I’m participating in Jazz Age January in order to read some more books set or written during the Jazz Age or about the Jazz Age.

The Truth About Alice

book recommendations: the truth about alice

Rating: ***

This YA read was quick and fun. It definitely deals with dark subjects, but the twists and story were engrossing. I couldn’t put it down.

Dollbaby

dollbaby

Rating: ****

I enjoyed this novel, too. I like novels, movies, and books set in New Orleans because it definitely seems like its own world. This novel is set during the 1970’s and the main character’s grandmother, who has progressive ideas, carefully kept secrets, and a huge heart, was a great character, who really kept the novel lively.

The Rosie Project

the rosie project

Rating: *****

Kicking myself for not reading this sooner. I’ve had a copy of it for months, but I just didn’t read it. Oh my gosh. I could not stop laughing out loud. I couldn’t put it down. I loved, loved, loved it. It’s smart AND fun.

The Rosie Effect

the rosie effect

Rating: *****

You can read my full review here before you go read BOTH novels in this series.

Longbourn

longbourne

Rating: *

Don’t read this. I read a negative review from another Goodreads friend, but I read it anyway. I have never read a Pride and Prejudice spin off, so I thought that it was a neat idea to read about the servants. I wanted it to be Downtown Abbey meets Pride and Prejudice, like it is marketed as, but it wasn’t. Then another friend read it and hated it just as much. If you want to preserve your love of the wonderful Mr. Bennett, I will repeat, do not read. This re-imagining of the characters were boring and horrible for a real fan.

Station Eleven

station eleven

Rating: ****

I really loved this novel. I didn’t think that I would. I mean, I knew that it was award winning, but the post-apocalyptic type novels usually aren’t up my alley. However, it felt so realistic. Like, if a killer flu really did hit, I could see this happening. And the importance of maintaining the arts, while being bombarded by murderers, people who are trying to survive, and the people who were born after the flu was very thought provoking.

First Family

first_family

Rating: ***

Ugh. Baldacci, you killed me here. First of all, I hate when I know who the bad guy is. Well, at least who part of the bad guys are. It’s like when Criminal Minds lets me know who the unsub is. Not cool. I want to guess. I enjoyed the first two novels because I was guessing at who the bad guys were. While there were still surprise “bad guys,” it wasn’t like there were any clues. Also, not cool.

And let’s talk about audio production. I had to laugh SO hard during this novel. Whoever decided to add music was probably on drugs. Like, the novel before had transition music. That’s one thing. What’s not cool? Music to emphasize tense scenes, sound effects of gun shots, and just way too much mood music. Just. Read. The. Book. If I was Baldacci, I would be horribly embarrassed.

The Sixth Man

sixth man

Rating: ***

Ok, I know that I’ve been complaining about this series, but I can’t stop. The relationship between King and Maxwell is very interesting. It finally came to the most interesting kind of scene, if you know what I mean, at the end of First Family, so of course I fell for it and read the next novel. Again, this novel really explored the depths of the intelligence community and government contractors. If you haven’t worked inside the belt-loop (I actually used to live inside of the belt-loop– I-495 actually wrapped around the side of the back of my condo complex) it would probably be even harder to follow than it already was. Obviously, it was a little bit hyperbolic with the homicidal tendencies of government contractors, the business is probably pretty cut throat. But, all of the murders are somehow connected to a specific intelligence project and corruption high up the chain.

I also listened to the audiobook of this. While the producer really eased up on the music (yay!) the addition of a female narrator was so annoying. One reader read all of the prose and the dialogue of all of the characters except for Maxwell. He read in the same voice for absolutely everything. No differentiation, which is probably for the best because there were a lot of characters. The rest of the book was ruined by a woman reading Maxwell’s dialogue in a horrible Southern accent. While I always knew that the character was from Tennessee, I would not have insulted her with that accent in my head.

Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell

mr kiss and tell

 Rating: ************

You can read my full review of this novel here, before you pick it up on January 20th! Because you REALLY need to read this, if you love Veronica Mars. I wish I knew when the next one is coming out! I highly recommend this one!

 

Classic Book Recommendations & Reads:

Lady Audley’s Secret

lady audley's secretRating: ****

This classic book was fascinating. The story was good, but the best part was that it was crime novel with cut-throat woman who will do anything to get what she wants (which is a foil to her angelic look) that was written and published in the mid-1800’s. I just don’t ever think of that type of literature being written and published at that time because it challenges a lot of proper stereotypes!

These Old Shades

these old shades

Rating: ***.5

Not my favorite Heyer novel because it wasn’t very funny. It was a good story that is actually part of a trilogy of novels.

Katherine

katherine

Rating: *****

Yes. Finally a romantic historical novel that is not raunchy. Also, I’m sick to death about reading about King Henry VIII and all of his mistresses. This novel is about Katherine and her lover, who is a more minor member of the royal family, although he has aspirations to rise higher, through a marriage to another woman. I do find their attitudes towards marriage and relationships fascinating because they are very different from the accepted views of today. While, in practice, a lot of people probably live like this, it was more culturally acceptable for married men to have multiple families and treat the “legitimate” and “illegitimate” children almost equally. Anyway, I found Katherine a fascinating character. My friend, Kate, is named after the main character of this novel. I had to laugh because her mom named her after the girl on the side 😉 But, it really was a very well researched love story.

A Kiss Before Dying

a kiss before dying

Rating: ****

This was a great novel! On one hand, it seemed far fetched, but on the other hand, it seemed plausible, because people are c-r-a-z-y. The novel was also interesting because of the way that Levin incorporated a twist, but instead of waiting until the end of the novel, he lets you in on what’s really going on about 1/3 of the way into the novel. That way, you feel like a co-conspirator with the narrator.

The Awakening

the awakening

Rating: ****

This is the first novel from my list of 50 Classic books that I read! It was a short, but good one that I had always meant to read, but never did.

Daisy Miller

DaisyMiller

Rating: ***

This novella by Henry James was fun look at cultural expectations placed upon women, which A Portrait of a Lady, which I read earlier in 2014, explored more in depth. (This novel was also read as part of my 50 books)

Little Men

little men

Rating: ***

I’m sorry. I can’t not compare this to Little Women. It’s like half as good, so 3 stars was a generous rating.

If you like good books:

Don’t forget to check out the Blogger 2 Blogger Book Club that I am Co-Hosting this month. We’re reading my ALL TIME FAVORITE NOVEL! I Capture the Castle
.

i capture the castle

You cannot read this book and not love it. I’m fairly certain that is a fact. Link up your thoughts on the book at the end of this month!

What I Read

You can check out more of my monthly reading roundups here!

Also, here are some links to reading challenges that I’m participating in during 2015, so if you are looking to get started, now it the time!

A challenge that you can start anytime, if you like classic books, is right here!

Feel free to add me on Goodreads, so I can get ideas of books to read from you… I mean… yeah, let’s be friends.

Linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit today!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: Reading, What I Read Last Month |
  • I can’t wait to read the next Veronica Mars book!

    • I’m dying to know when the third comes out! When I sent my “feedback” to the publisher, I just wrote that they need to publish a third!

  • Elisabeth

    I really want to The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect so I’m glad to see you really liked them both 🙂

    • You really should! They aren’t long reads and you’ll laugh a lot!

      • Elisabeth

        You’ve absolutely convinced me!

  • ok, first off about the layout. i like the good and bad books spread out, otherwise i will probably skip the bad ones except for mentally making a note note to read them. i would love for you to write the title somewhere or even have a clickable link – i’m lazy, and if i see a book that i want to read, i can just highlight the title and ‘search google’ or whatever but if i have to manually type it myself- yeah i told you i’m lazy. i still do it for the really interesting ones but just a thought.
    ok. seriously longbourn was horrible. i wish i could unread it. i love P&P spin offs (sometimes the raunchy kind) and it was so disappointing, i am SO glad i didn’t buy it. I’d be so mad.
    sucks about the other georgette heyer book, i am trying to space out the reading of hers so i don’t overdose.
    adding a few more to my list, of course! love your reviews 🙂

    • I did think that if I put all of my recommendations at the top, people might just read only that. I think you are right about linking to the Goodreads page. I might go back and add those today! That would give a better synopsis that I can do–sometimes I have to go back and look at my notes/the synopsis, if I read the book at the beginning of the month. Maybe that will help me keep the draft going all month, instead of doing it all at once. I think it’s my own laziness… 🙂
      I totally agree–I wish I could unread Longbourn. Mr. Bennett is the BEST! I’m just going to try to stay in Heyer’s Regency Romance series. Her evil character scare me. I like things that are fun like The Grand Sophy!

  • Why I have still not read the Rosie Project?!? Oh because I’m slow and I’m still reading Unbroken! Which is good so far.

    Also…I like your layout. Kristen was right that I’d want to skip the ones you thought were bad. I like being surprised. But I would like to be able to click them and buy them. I’m impulsive like that.

    • You are IN LUCK. I am adding the titles and links to Goodreads RIGHT NOW (as I watch The Good Wife). I tried the Amazon affiliate program, but it was really annoying to add the links and they canceled my account because no one bought anything. I could reapply, but I’m going with Goodreads so that people can read the synopsis/add it to their “to be read” list. This is always my most popular post each month, so maybe I should go back to the affiliate program? #conflicted

  • Wow you read a ton! I haven’t read in a really long time. I will need to check out some of these!

  • glad you liked the Awakening!

  • a6colorado

    I would like to see your top picks at the beginning and in some sort of order…it would just be easier to follow, I think. How do you find the time to read so many books in one month? Amazing! I can only get in about one a week. So jealous!

  • Ali

    ugh i’m jealous of the number of books you read. i was able to read 2 in the month of december along with a ridiculous number of student papers. haha! i definitely need to check out a few of these – need to start my summer reading list ASAP!

  • Oh nooo I’ve had Longbourn on my TBR list forever now, but now I’m feeling like I should skip it for sure. I need to re-read The Rosie Project, I started it a few months ago but it had to go back to the library before I got around to finishing it.

  • I’m putting a bunch of these on my reading list! I’ve had Rosie Project on there for ages, but never got around to picking it up, it looks like I’m picking it up now though!!

  • Jess

    Great list and I love the honesty, I am also impressed by the sheer volume of books you read! I’m really looking forward to getting back to reading regularly (good riddance grad school!) and The Rosie Project seems like a great place to start.

    • Ahhh yeah, school and pleasure reading don’t really go together. I was an English major and I doubt I read one thing for fun in those 4 years of undergrad. I did read for fun when I was preparing for grad school (also English), but I neded up having to drop out when I got sick. So now it’s all fun all the time. I do plan on incorporating more literary theory (I actually own the books, so I should read them), in case I ever go back. The chances are slim, but I still enjoy it!

  • Nina Robinson

    First of all, you actually read all of these?? I’m in serious awe. Secondly, there are so many books on this list is never heard of that I want to read now. Thanks!

    • I did read all of them! Mostly audiobooks, but several were paperback or on my Kindle. When I review advanced copies, they always come digitally, so I have to suck it up, even though I prefer audiobooks!

      • Nina Robinson

        I always tell myself I need to go the audio route so I can listen in my car, but I’ve actually never tried an audio book before. Maybe this will be the year!

  • I loved Dollbaby! And Station Eleven is on my nightstand. I really need to read it. I keep hearing great things!

  • I just had a conversation with a friend yesterday about Longbourn; she said it was OK but she did use the word “boring” — so I’m not rushing out to read it. I think the Kate Chopin book looks good; I remember reading some of her stories a number of years ago. And like many other MMD readers, I loved I Capture The Castle. Thanks for sharing this great (long) list!

  • Dawn

    Doll Baby sounds really fun. And I can’t wait to get my hands on Station Eleven!

  • Cassie Rauk

    I enjoyed The Silent Wife too, I have a soft spot for shifting narratives. Station Eleven is next on my list! I have been hearing about the Chopin book so much over the last couple of months. Maybe it is a sign.

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