January 10, 2017

December Books 2016

#65 Rising Strong by Brene Brown C-
I feel like a person can only read so many of these books. I enjoyed The Gifts of Imperfection a lot. Daring Greatly was fine and all. Rising Strong was just a rehashing and a deep-dive of the other two. Like, I get it. It's just more than I need and want in a self-help book because it forces me to be too introspective. I'm already an ISFJ on the Myers-Briggs. I don't need more reasons or excuses to reflect. It was too specific. Reading the case studies made it hard to apply to my own life. If you like Brown's books, read it. Otherwise, you probably don't need to.

#66 The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton A
I've had such trouble getting into WWII books in the last year or so. This one broke through the barrier. In fact, I had to take a fiction break when I was done because it just pulled me in and was such an investment of time to begin with.
I read The Lake House last year and I didn't love it and couldn't understand why people were impressed with Morton (this was not an Atkinson). After reading The Secret Keeper, I would definitely try another one of her books...maybe The Distant Hours or The Forgotten Garden?

#67 The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware D
I want to say I didn't hate this. I've read the reviews by bloggers and whatnot, but all of that wasn't in my head when I started reading because I more or less stopped thinking whilst on Christmas break. I will say that Lo was the worst...talk about an unreliable narrator. She was a lot like Rachel in The Girl on the Train; always stumbling around drunk/hungover/or trying to remember what happened the night before.
Also, there were way too many characters. It was like a bad game of Clue. But imagine you're actually in it and you're drunk the whole time.

#68 Brave Like My Brother by Marc Tyler Nobelman
This was a middle-grade WWII book. We just did a chapter on WWII at school and these kids have shown next to no interest in anything I've told them since August. However, they seemed to semi-like the discussion of WWII. Therefore, I needed to keep it going. I pre-read this over Christmas break. (The last time I didn't pre-read a book...2011...a main character's father was killed in Iraq and that was not a good twist and I had no way of seeing that coming. I've since learned my lesson.)
This is good for kids because it's historical fiction but tells the true story of the "ghost army" and it plays with point of view because it's a series of letters written to Charlie, an elementary school kid, from his big brother Joe, who is off in Europe.
Ranking it for what it was and adjusting for ability level and content interest, I'd give it a B+.

#69 Faithful by Alice Hoffman B+
I read this in about three days, so that's a win. It was a very easy read. I will say that anything with dogs in it, especially abandoned dogs that are taken in by caring individuals, makes me cry. Scott told me to stop reading the book. But I finished it. And nothing bad happens to the dogs...spoiler alert.
It's a good book. Didn't turn out the way I thought it would. It was just-this-side of engrossing for me. The characters were more likable than I thought they would be.

#70 I Let You Go by Clare McKintosh B
I liked it. I get why everyone else in the world liked it a lot too. I didn't fall in love with it though. I liked the first half better than the second half.
Spoiler in white:
The second half...There was unreliable narration, there was point of view shifting, there was a villain in the form of an estranged husband, there was a new boyfriend/not a boyfriend, there was hidden identity, there was domestic violence, there was a child killed tragically, there was an affair based on power that resulted in that aforementioned child. It was too much! And my summary of cliches doesn't even touch the story of one of the main characters, the detective. That was a whole other series of "typicals".
Also, there was a dog and I was WHOLLY preoccupied with just wanting the dog to be okay. There were moments when I couldn't listen for whole days because I was so scared something was going to happen to that dog. It was a hard listen and I think it would've been just as hard to read in print. Narration was great though. 

Did Not Finish:
Among The Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
I didn't hate-hate it. It just wasn't intriguing me. I got about 1/3 of the way in? Maybe 1/2?
I liked the first chunk but then it jumped forward in time and then back again and that kind of lost me. It was depressing.


I set a goal for 2017 (hahaha) to read 75 books. I ended at 70 for 2016, so I figure I can tack 5 more on, right?

We did a goal-setting exercise at school and my example is below...

Before I showed them this, I had the kids try to guess what my goal was for the year and they kept telling me things that centered around "helping students more", "being a better teacher", "explaining more", and the like. Because obviously (#1) I don't do my job well and (#2) any and all goals I have must involve them and teachers do not ever leave the school.

I screwed up the date a bit too. 

After my sentence structure was corrected ("to provide clarification") by a ten year-old, I came up with actionable steps. These are things I do anyway (but they don't know that) and, quite literally, all I'm going to be doing is trying to add 5 extra books onto 2017.

Reading goals? Anyone?

Linking up with Jana and Steph!


  1. LOL...your part at the end about your goals and students made me laugh. So glad you loved The Secret Keeper! I've heard that The Forgotten Garden is really good. I quite liked The Distant Hours as well but not as much as The Secret Keeper. I'm hoping to get to Faithful and I Let You Go sometime this year.

  2. You always share the best books, I'm slowing compiling my list of books I want to tackle after school is done.

  3. I really need to read some Kate Morton! And also more thrillers. I just forget about reading them! ha :) XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  4. I'm right there with you with The Woman in Cabin 10! I really loved The Girl From The Train, but for some reason I felt like The Woman in Cabin 10 ripped off The Girl On The Train too much, and I just didn't love it like everybody else seemed to. I've only read one Kate Morton book and it was The House at Riverton which I thought was kind of hard to get into. Everybody keeps on raving about The Secret Keeper though, so I think that I'll have to pick it up!

  5. I think I kept my reading goal the same.

    I'm glad you liked The Secret Keeper. Definitely Morton's best effort in my opinion.

    I loved both Faithful and I Let You Go.

  6. Too funny about your student's guesses to what your goal was going to be. I read Among the Ten Thousand things, but had to go back to my Goodreads to be sure because I don't remember it at all-- even after reading the synopsis, I don't remember very much of it, soo probably not a bad one to DNF, haha.

  7. I really loved I Let You Go but agree the second half got a little crowded. It didn't stop my overall love of the book but paring it down a bit would have made it even better. I'm reading The Secret Keeper for Erin's 6.0 Challenge and it's great to see another positive review it. I enjoyed Rising Strong, although it was my first Brene Brown book. Looking at the descriptions of her other books, they all seem a bit the same, which is why I haven't dove into them yet.

  8. You teach 10 year olds. Of course it's all about them.

    I HATED The Woman in Cabin 10. HATED.

  9. I'm so glad there are other people out there who hated The Woman in Cabin 10. I hated it for the same reasons I hated Girl on the Train...I just can't with these alcoholic main characters anymore. When I spend an entire book wanting to slap the protagonist, there's a problem.

    I've also read the same two Kate Morton books and I feel the same - loved The Secret Keeper, didn't much care for The Lake House. I think I might actually read The House at Riverton next. The plot summaries for The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden just don't suck me in.

  10. The Secret Keeper is my favorite Kate Morton book with The Forgotten Garden close behind. The Distant Hours was really slow, though the ending was interesting.

  11. lol I love your synopsis of Cabin 10. I've only heard it's terrible, but I want to read it anyway. I've got Faithful and I Let You Go on my list.

  12. so good to hear you liked the secret keeper! it's next on my morton list. i read the forgotten garden, i think it was my first of hers (acting like i've read so many, i think i've read 2) and i liked it well enough but i actually think i preferred the lake house, so... i don't know.
    i've heard the woman in cabin 10 is pretty bad. i might skip it, or i might read it just so i can hate it along with everyone else haha.
    Faithful is on my list, thank you for the spoiler alert about the dogs. I will still cry haha.
    i really liked I Let You Go. I did feel like a lot happened in the second half. I was worried for the dog as well.
    i love the way you did your goal thing with your students, showing them how to take steps to achieve goals. reading/book goals are pretty much the only ones i ever achieve or surpass haha

  13. Oh goodness, your students! Well, I like your goal for the year and I think you can do it! I hope you lots of great books this year.

  14. I read Morton's "The Forgotten Garden" and I liked it. Not my FAVE but it's a good book.

  15. Reading goals - to read a lot more in 2017!

  16. Good Luck with your reading goal! I lowered mine this year to 12. I read 60 books last year and felt like I was sometimes focused on quantity over quality. My own doing but nonetheless it happened. I'm interest in Alice Hoffman's book, Unfaithful, it's been popping up in the background for me recently. All positive things :)

  17. I keep intending to read a Kate Morton book, but it seems like I always pass her by when I'm deciding what next to read. I'm not sure why.
    I've got Faithful on my tbr and removed The Woman in Cabin 10 after so many negative reviews.

  18. I wasn't a fan of Woman in Cabin 10 either. I thought it was ridiculous and so overhyped

    -- Dara || www.peoniesandhoneybees.com


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