#72 The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock B+
I mentioned this in last month's post. I read it in a day or so and then I read it to my 4th grade class. They were enthralled. I didn't even think they would like it. They don't like most things, I've reluctantly discovered. But they loved it. They clapped at the end. (Though this group of kids is just odd because they clap for everything...they are not necessarily empathetic toward each other ...or me, for that matter...but they applaud everything.)
Since it takes place in 1946, I asked them if they'd seen the "Ralphie and the Red Rider BB Gun" movie. Most of them had, so I told them this took place around the same time and to picture the town, the house, the clothes from that movie in order to visualize what is happening in the book.
I'll read it again next year. It's a quick one. I did it in 10 days.
#73 You're Not So Smart by David McRaney F
This was more just like an article that should be in a psychology journal, not a book. I thought it would be an in-depth analytical look at why we have so many Facebook friends and why constant validation makes us tick, because that's what the cover/title implies. It's not like that. Don't waste your time.
#74 Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella D
There are two schools of thought on this one: If you love Kinsella's Shopaholic characters, you will be delighted with another edition of the story. However, you will be sorely disappointed with the flat/lifeless/deflated versions of previously vibrant characters. You will wonder what exactly happened to Kinsella in the time between the first book and this book. Becky is weird. Luke is a background character. Tom and Jessica aren't there. It's just put together in a really terrible way with a plot that's not worthwhile. There's no flair to it. Listening to the last hour of it (it was 9 hours long), I was actually cringing.
Secondly, if you'd never read a Shopaholic book before and tried to read this as a stand-alone, you will be confused. Without the previous 8 or so books (I don't know how many there are), this book has no meaning and it barely had meaning based on my knowledge of the previous books anyway. It's not the same. Take us back to England, Sophie.
Whereas, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (book #2) was so good that I actually read it first, and it had meaning all on its own.
Disappointment with a capital D. I wish Kinsella would write another stand-alone.
#75 A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson C+
So my biggest issue with Life After Life was that it never gave a resolution. I read something on Goodreads that mentioned A God in Ruins (a sequel of sorts) gives that conclusion.
This is probably one of the weirdest and most depressing books I've read yet. I listened, desperately, hoping for resolution and I would note key words and phrases, repetition, and potential clues. The only clue I heard was the constant repeated phrase "the dead were legion". There was one instance of Ursula mentioning that someone should assassinate Hitler, which ties back to the first book. Other than that, it was the same characters, kind of, and a completely different story. I didn't care about Teddy's daughter. I didn't care about his flying days in WWII. I just wanted to know what magical mystical quality made Ursula live and die repeatedly.
Nothing. It had a story to it, I suppose, and the ending was not mind-blowing. I wouldn't say it's not worth a try, though.
They say you can read this book before Life After Life and there's no particular order. I agree with that. As a stand alone, I would've hated this book though. I recommend Life After Life. This one is optional as a sequel because it's not really a sequel.
#76 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon D- (Only because giving it an F would mean I would encourage no one to read it, ever. It doesn't bother me if YOU like it. I just didn't.)
I gave this one star on Goodreads. I would be willing to make it one and a half because I did finish the book, but there was some heavy skimming going on. Meaning, I read 50% of it in one night, skimmed to 94%, found out what happened at the end, and had no desire to pick up a sequel.
It was just...bad.
Claire was fine as a character in 1945, but she was insufferable in 1743.
I would watch an episode of the Starz show, just to see how they adapted it. But I have a feeling it would be like watching The Tudors or something. Not enjoyable.
Gabaldon needs to hire an editor.
#77 The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans D
This was kind of boring. I had hope...but no. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but that's all I can say about it.
#78 Case Histories by Kate Atkinson B-
Atkinson's books are a conundrum to me. I like them, I don't love them. They aren't the best thing I've ever read, but she does know how to weave a tale. There is SO much time-jumping and period-shifting that it's very easy to get confused. You cannot skim, lest you miss the entire point of the book during that one paragraph in which you were distracted by petting the dog lying next to you (or something...).
This is a true-crime-esque book. Three separate cold cases are woven together and attempted to be solved by a private investigator.
It took me forever to finish because, like I said, paying attention is important.
There was supposed to be a 79th book but I got lazy and didn't finish it and then my iPad died and I forgot to charge it and so I couldn't access my Kindle app...I'll add it to January. 78 books in one year is still pretty spectacular so I'm happy with myself. I'm not setting a number goal for 2016, but I'm still reading. If you put 100 fabulous books in front of me, I would definitely read them in a year. But it takes a lot of time to seek out good books and that is what stresses me out.
Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books!