Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January Book Review

As you know...2016 will forever be known as the year of one million New Year's Resolutions/Goals/Intentions. One of my more ambitious intentions is to read one book a week in 2016...totaling 52 books!

Last year I set a goal to read 2 books per month (24 for the year)...and while I cut it close a few of the months in the end I killed my goal. Thank you winter break ;)
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41 books?!? Considering the year before I probably read about 5...this is pretty amazing! Last year I made more of a conscious effort to make the time to read...I set aside specific times for reading. I find myself spending so much time mindlessly browsing social media...that all it took was me making a effort to put my phone down after about 10 minutes and pick up my book instead.

When I look back through my book list from last year I get excited about certain books, I feel sad that some are over, and some I think...ick...I can't believe I even forced myself to finish that book...but mostly I feel happy. I have always loved reading and by pushing myself to read more last year I re-found that love/passion.


As a part of this year's intention to read 52 books I also want to share what I read...what I thought of it...and what I plan on reading for the next month through a monthly blog post. I have always loved getting book suggestions and discussing what I read with other people. So definitely comment with any book suggestions or your thoughts on any of the books that you have read too!

As I sit down to write this post...I'm kind of shocked...and maybe a little embarrassed? When I made this goal towards the end of 2015 I thought I was setting myself up for failure...and now I look at the month of January...and I have read...wait for it...are you sitting down?

12 books....


What? How in the hell did I read 12 books in one month? Don't ask me...I have no idea. I was a reading machine...I choose to blame the cold weather and my TV shows being on winter break ;) I have also been forced to the treadmill for many of my training runs this month...and reading on the treadmill is the only way I can keep my sanity :)

Without further ado...here are January's books!



A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch. 

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My thoughts

You guys...this book...sigh...I could not put it down and was sad when it ended. I have read 3 of Sarah Jio's books and each time I finish one I have a new favorite. I just love the way she is able to intertwine multiple story lines and narrators and make it come together in the end so beautifully!



When small lies have big consequences…

Things are a little rough for Izzy Lane. Still reeling from the break-up of her marriage, the newly single mom moves back to the Philadelphia home she grew up in, five-year-old Noah in tow. The transition is difficult, but with the help of her best friends—and her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman—Izzy feels like she’s stepping closer to her new normal. Until her ex-husband shows up with his girlfriend. That’s when Izzy invents a boyfriend of her own. And that’s when life gets complicated.

Blogging about her “new guy” provides Izzy with something to do when Noah’s asleep. What’s the harm in a few made-up stories? Then, her blog soars in popularity and she’s given the opportunity to moonlight as an online dating expert. How can she turn it down? But when her friends want to meet the mysterious “Mac,” someone online suspects Izzy’s a fraud, and a guy in-real-life catches her eye, Izzy realizes just how high the stakes are. That’s when Mrs. Feldman steps in, determined to show her neighbor the havoc that lies can wreak. If Izzy’s honest, she could lose everything, and everyone. Is the truth worth any cost?

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My thoughts

Eh...I could take it our leave it with this one. While I liked that it was an easy "beach read" I also felt that it lacked any depth. I felt like when I started reading the story I had started a few chapters in and missed something in the beginning. Izzy's blog and "fake boyfriend" felt awkward and out of place in the story...and then her "problems" seemed so easy to fix. Tell the truth, right? The character in the story made what my dad likes to call "a mountain out of a mole-hill"




Thirty-six-year-old Emma Rae Travis has been baking specialty cakes and melt-in-your-mouth pastries at The Backstreet Bakery in historic Roswell, just outside of Atlanta, for the last six years. But here s the rub about her job as a baker Emma is diabetic. When she tastes her creations, it can only be in the most minute portions. Emma is considered an artisan for the stunning creme brulee wedding cake that won her the Passionate Palette Award last year, but she s never even had one full slice of it. When Jackson Drake hears about this local baker who has won a prestigious award for her wedding cake artistry, he tells his assistant to be sure and include her in the pastry tastings scheduled at his new wedding destination hotel the following week. And for Jackson, that particular day has started out badly with two workmen trapped in a broken elevator and a delivery of several dozen 300-thread-count bed linens in the wrong size abandoned in the lobby. But when the arrogant baker he met a week prior in Roswell stumbles into the dining room with a platter of pastries and a bucketful of orders, he knows for certain: It s going to be a really rotten day. Can these two ill-suited players master the high-wire act and make a go of their new business venture? Or will they take each other crashing downward, without a net? And will the surprise wedding at The Tanglewood be theirs?"


As a wedding planner, you'd thinkshe would have the perfect wedding experience...
SherilynCaine has left Chicago behind to marry Andrew Drummond IV, an Atlanta native with a family name that tops all the social registers. Landing the job as The Tanglewood’s wedding planner is a piece of cake for someone with a Type A personality; she’s the perfect fit for a wedding destination hotel known for its attention to even the tiniest details.
But when everything else is going along swimmingly, why are her own wedding plans drowning right before her eyes? One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance?


My thoughts

I'm combining these two books because they are part of a series. These are definitely what I would define as mindless "beach reads" which was great for me because I read them while running on the treadmill. There wasn't a lot of depth to the characters or the story line and parts of it were pretty ridiculous (in a funny way)...but overall I really enjoyed both books and they did their job of distracting me while I was on the treadmill. There are 2 more in the Emma Rae Creations series and while I am not chomping at the bit to read them...I most definitely will.



A clear-eyed, emotionally honest debut about a thirtysomething woman forced to redefine her entire world after her young marriage falters, Love or Something Like It proves we can grow up at any age.

When Lacey Brennan meets Toby, a sweet and talented comedian, she impulsively moves across the country to be with him in Los Angeles. Lacey is unsure of what she is looking for out west—love? a new career? an escape from her fractured family?—but is reassured when Toby proposes on her thirtieth birthday. “I was thirty and I finally knew what I was doing,” she says.

In California, which Lacey calls “the edge of the earth,” she has the giddy, anticipatory feeling that anything can happen—opportunity looms large, and her life may yet turn out the way she wants it to. But soon in her marriage with Toby, from their awkward honeymoon in Paris to their desperate attempts to build careers, Lacey knows that something is wrong. Toby, unemployed, becomes a permanent fixture on the couch, and things are no better at Lacey’s TV job, where a pit bull stalks her, colleagues tyrannize her, and her boss hits on her. Meanwhile, her twin brother has dropped off the face of the earth, and Lacey begins to wonder whether she and Toby should start a family if she can’t even figure out her own. It is only after Lacey has given up on both L.A. and love that she gets an unexpected shot at happiness.

Rich with wry humor and wisdom, Deirdre Shaw’s novel deftly portrays a relatable, unforgettable character in Lacey Brennan, who, after a five-year quest for love and belonging, finds she must live in the moment in order to understand her past and face her future.

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My thoughts

This was one of 2 books I considered not finishing this month...The story line drug on and on and on...with no end in site...and with really no story to tell. The author took a LONG time to tell a very basic story. I felt as if the story were being told by a confused, love-sick, teenager. Basically...of all the books I read this month, this was one of my least favorites. However, after reading some of the other reviews on Goodreads I am in the minority...so I suppose you can decide :)


Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

 Another Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn reflecting on the past year as he writes a holiday letter to friends and family. Though the year has had its share of misfortune and worry, the Quinns have much to celebrate. Kelley, now single, at least is on better terms with his first wife Margaret, who is using her celebrity to lure customers to the inn in record numbers. Their son Kevin has a beautiful new baby, Genevieve, with the Inn's French housekeeper, Isabelle; and their daughter, Ava, is finally dating a nice guy--her devoted colleague, Scott.

Now the Quinns are looking forward to celebrating Genevieve's baptism, welcoming Isabelle to the family, and enjoying the cheer of Nantucket's traditional Christmas Stroll. But just when a peaceful family gathering seems within reach, Kelley's estranged second wife, Mitzi, shows up on the island after souring on her relationship with the inn's former Santa Claus. Soon Kelley isn't the only Quinn entertaining a surprise guest from Christmases past as lovers old and new gather beneath the mistletoe. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it's going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns--and the inn--through the holidays intact.

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My thoughts

I can't figure out how I feel about Elin Hilderbrand...I had heard rave reviews from many people and after reading Nantucket Nights in December I was a little disappointed. I didn't want to give up so quickly so then I read Beautiful Day which was MUCH better.

 Winter Street and Winter Stroll (part of a series) came very highly recommended and I read them one after the other because of the cliff-hanger at the end of Winter Street. I can't say I am "in love" with these books...but I also can't say I hated them. I read them both on the treadmill and while it kept me distracted while running...I also wasn't dying to jump on the treadmill to read. These were easy, humorous, quick reads...not sure I will read the 3rd and final book in this series. We shall see :)





A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

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My thoughts

If you have seen this book and have heard it being compared to "Gone Girl" please let go of that preconceived notion. Yes...this story is about a husband and wife (told in alternating narrators)...yes it's a dark story line with a few twists...but that is pretty much where the similarities end. That being said...I still LOVED it! I couldn't put this book down. The first chapter starts out basically telling you the ending, but you spend the entire book trying to figure exactly HOW it got there. 



A novel about three generations of midwives (a woman, her mother, and her grandmother) and the secrets they keep that push them apart and ultimately bind them together

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world—and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever. Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby’s father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s—a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?


My thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The cover and the description didn't necessarily draw me in...yea, yea...I know...don't judge a book by it's cover...but I do, okay! I read this book on a recommendation and boy am I glad I did! I worried for the first few chapters that I would struggle to stay interested in this book...but turns out I had the complete opposite problem. I read this book in one day...I couldn't put it down. An incredible story told from 3 different perspectives that lead to a heartbreaking twist in the end that I never saw coming. I would say this was one of my favorite books from the month. 


Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus. Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.


My thoughts

Speaking of favorite books from January...this book...you guys...I'm at a loss for words at how to describe it. I decided to check this book out from the library because I had read "Still Alice" years ago and thought I would read another one of Lisa Genova's books...and boy am I glad I did. This book deals with such a heavy (yet interesting subject matter) and really put into perspective the things in life that really matter. This was definitely a heart-wrenching yet inspiring story. I would recommend it to anyone 10 times over! 

 

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

My thoughts

This was another book that surprised me this month. It came HIGHLY recommended and several of my friends had read it and loved it...but for some reason I was skeptical. Not sure if it was the description or what...but I went into it not sure I would like it. The first few chapters were tough for me...the narrator switches between a few different people, but a few chapters in I finally had all my characters straight. I love a story with a "twist" and if you are the same...this is the book for you! Some of the reviews I read on Goodreads said they felt the book was predictable...which in a way it was...but in a way it wasn't...make sense? Predictable or not, this book is definitely worth a read! 

 Told with Beth Harbison's wit and warmth, If I Could Turn Back Time is the fantasy of every woman who has ever thought, "If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd do things so differently..."

Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can't ignore the fact that she isn't necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty.

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off...

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance...It's her mother: "Wake up! You're going to be late for school again. I'm not writing a note this time..."

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she's lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she'll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

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 My thoughts

Remember how I mentioned there were 2 books I considered not finishing this month...well this was one of them. In a word...this book...dumb. I love a light-hearted, easy read...but this was just strange. Ramie Phillips "goes back in time" or "is she dreaming?" and spends several weeks in her 18 year old body thinking about how her life could be different if she had made different decisions. She decides to make some changes...and then "butterly effect" style she is 8 years in the future seeing how miserable she is...then bam...she wakes up. It felt like a disjointed..."and then I woke up story" that one of my third graders would write. Easily my least favorite book of the month. I would feel guilty suggesting this to anyone.



 So there you have it...January's books! Some good...some bad...and others...I can't wait to read again!


February is going to be a busy reading month...I had several books on hold at the library and of course...they all came in at the same time! Obviously, I have finished "The Husbands Secret" and "If I Could Turn Back Time" (yes...I had that book on hold...what?!) but in the meantime 3 more books became available and one e-book.

I'm currently reading

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20484545-it-was-me-all-along

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11045709-when-she-woke


and on my "To be read" list for the month is...


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10032672-the-language-of-flowers?from_search=true&search_version=service 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15507958-me-before-you?from_search=true&search_version=service

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15839976-red-rising?from_search=true&search_version=service

 And don't worry...I have "paused" off my holds for the time being. Having them all come in at the same time put me in a panic...TOO MANY BOOKS, TOO LITTLE TIME!

3 comments:

  1. I loved Fates and Furies. Stick with it, because the beginning kind of drags but it really picks up about halfway through. And I mean REALLY picks up. I just finished the Expatriates and loved it! I read another book by the author of The Silent Wife--the title escapes me--but it was another awesome thriller about a woman who has amnesia and wakes up every day not knowing who she is. OMG.

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  2. Congratulations on getting 2016 off to a great reading start. I've had The Silent Wife on my stacks for way too long! You have some great upcoming reads.

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  3. Wow you had a fantastic reading month, love how you surprised yourself. Don't recognise your upcoming reads but enjoyed some of your Jan reads.

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