January 6, 2015

December Books

I can't believe I've kept up with this.  I started out 2014 by stating that I wanted to read 3 new books every month.  When I surpassed that over the summer, I thought I'd increase that to a nice even 50 books for the year.  Of course, I decided that minutes before we started remodeling this house and then school started and…well, let's just say I'm not an over-achiever.

#47 Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly A
Another great book, Mr. O'Reilly!  I really enjoy his writing style and use of anecdotes to add to your general knowledge on the subject.  For example, did you know Hitler suffered from end stage syphilis and that causes madness and dementia and that's probably one of the reasons why he was so…Hitlerish?  Also, when his sister died childless in 1960, the Hitler bloodline died with her.  A relief, right?  Though, accounts say she was perfectly normal.  
I will say that there's a lot of military terms and battle scenes in the book.  Generally, that's not my thing, but I do have a particular love for Band of Brothers and have seen it dozens of times.  This book really focuses in on those parts of the war, so my B of B prior knowledge was good enough to help me understand it.  It also devotes chapters to the concentration camps and gives several firsthand accounts.
Even with all of the books I've read on WWII, I never read anything about Patton.  This was a nice expansion to my schema.  I think his death was definitely arranged by the U.S. government. 

#48 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn A-
Go ahead and write my name down as the last person on the planet to read Gone Girl.  Even Scott went to see the movie when he was in Texas!  He was all, "You haven't read that yet?" and then, a week later, without thinking about it, he totally told me the ending.  I was telling him how much I like Rosamund Pike as an actress and he was like, "Oh, she played that terrible chick in that movie…the one who blank-blank-blank".  So I knew what happened at the end long before I got there.  Anyway…
I enjoyed the story.
I know many readers thought that the ending was cruel or annoying or "Eh, seriously?!" but I liked it well enough.
I read lots of reviews online and, with the information Scott gave me, I pretty much knew how this book was going to turn out.  I wasn't personally offended by it the way many people claimed to be.  Perhaps, in this ever-chick-lit-loving culture, readers had a hard time wrapping their head around the idea that it wasn't actually a love story.  Since I don't read a whole lot of love stories (or watch them on t.v. or in movies), this book was just fine to me.
Or…and this is likely… maybe all that time watching Dexter has desensitized me.  

#49 Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn C
It's the books per author phenomenon: when I read one book I like by an author, I must read all their other books (see: Rainbow Rowell) because I automatically know I'll at least somewhat enjoy them.  There's not guessing or disappointment involved.  However, I wasn't crazy about this book.  Without going into gory detail, the main character's cutting addiction really grossed me out.  Like, I was gagging.  So that was a turnoff.  It also wasn't as interesting as Gone Girl and the plot wasn't as twisted, so it didn't hold my attention as well.  Also, I felt like Camille was an unreliable narrator.  Like, she was stuck in her point of view and she couldn't get over herself long enough to open her eyes and live her life.  I didn't find her likable as a character, and certainly not as the narrator.  Don't get me wrong: her family was nuts.  She gets it honestly I suppose.  I just didn't like her. I had more or less predicted the ending about halfway through.  The last chapter and the epilogue were the best parts.  In comparison, I was hopeful for a great story during the first chapter, but it just fell flat.
I think a lot could've been done with this story and it would've been much more enthralling if it had told from different points of view.  Alternating between Camille, Richard, Amma, etc.  That might have been Gone Girl's strength.  I have no desire to read Dark Places.  

#50  Elly, My Holocaust Story by Elly Berkovitz Gross B-
This is a young adult book and it's the memoir of a girl who was 15 when she was taken away to the concentration camps.  She ended up at a forced labor factory making Volkswagen parts in Germany.  It's a series of short snippets (two to three pages) telling of the things that happened to her and her family during the Holocaust.  Most of it followed the timeline, but some of it was out of order and that was confusing to me.  Also, since it came out of the 4th grade book order, there were no grisly details (just the usual Holocaust related horror…no food, no clothes, etc.).  I felt comfortable enough sticking it on the classroom bookshelf and one of my students asked me about it because she, like me, was confused as to how the story was organized.  Overall, I think it's a decent nonfiction read about the Holocaust for kids.  However, if you're looking for some fantastic young adult Holocaust reading:  Anne Frank and Me or One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping.

#51  The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith C+
You can see my Blogging for Books review here.

#52 First Light by Rebecca Stead A
First, one of the best books I've ever read was When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  It won the Newbery Medal in 2010.  It's classified as an intermediate chapter book (grades 4-8), but I've only ever recommended it to one kid and she read it with her mom and they loved it.  I've never attempted it as a read-aloud because it's too complicated for most 10 year olds to understand.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it if you're an adult and you'd like your mind to be blown.
All that to say, I found myself another book by the same author.
This book.  Stead has the ability to make your mind think in ways it never has before.  There's twists and turns and clues along the way but you need to pay attention to them.  I had guessed at the ending about 2/3 of the way through the book because I put the pieces together.  So it wasn't as shocking to me as When You Reach Me was.  However, the fact that someone came up with this idea for a story blew me away.  It's incredibly original, I think.  And I spent a lot of the book cringing, to be honest, because I hate glaciers and ice sheets and ice fields and I'm incredibly claustrophobic.  The idea of what she's proposing in this story made me want to throw up a little.
Here's what Goodreads says (I usually don't like it when people post summaries but I can't explain it):

You should read it.  If I could recommend one book this month, it's First Light.  Also Killing Patton.  However, Killing Patton might not interest everyone.  First Light could be enjoyed by just about anyone.  I think I'll read it to my class. 

So.  There we have it. A year of books.  2014 was the year of books, 2015 will be the year of recipes.  I do plan to keep reading though, so check out my Goodreads.


  1. I wasn't personally offended by gone girl but I did have that moment after I finished reading it just staring out into space thinking "what the hell just happened." I didn't know ANYTHING about the book (as is the case with pretty much any book I read because I refuse to read the backs of books) so it was just a crazy experience. I enjoyed it though!

  2. I think I liked Sharp Objects more than Gone Girl. It was definitely creepy and gross but I think my expectations were too high for Gone Girl. And weirdly, I could relate to Sharp Objects more than Gone Girl. I will have to check out First Light! And I did not know that about Hitler. Interesting.

  3. I enjoyed the year of books, and I know I'll enjoy the year of recipes.

  4. I finally started reading again and am starting with Unbroken. So far so good!

  5. I think we've talked about Gone Girl and my mixed feelings, haha. I liked the suspense and the plot twists but I think both of them are ridiculous.

    Speaking of Band of Brothers - it's on my watch list for this spring!

  6. I could hardly get through 13th gifts... blah

  7. I really loved Gone Girl. Like you said, it's not a love story. Not even close, so I feel like the end made sense. I really love Gillian Flynn, but I know Sharp Objects doesn't really work for everyone. Honestly, Dark Places is my favorite by her.


  8. Sorry, but no. I'M the last person on Earth to get around to reading Gone Girl. As in, I still haven't read it yet. I plan to. It;s sitting here on my bookshelf all "me next! pick me!" Just the way you described First Light has me interested in reading it. I've added it to my 2015 list. I was supposed to read 50 books last year. I think I read 48 :(

  9. You AREN'T the last person on the planet to read "Gone Girl"! It's on my "To Read" shelf, but I'm not there yet!

    1. Also...I just finished "Killing Lincoln". These books are just good!

  10. Just finished Gone Girl last night. I enjoyed it. Now I want to see the movie.

  11. Apparently I'm not alone on the list of "the last person on Earth who hasn't read Gone Girl". It's on my list for this year after hearing from a few new friends that it is worth the read even though pretty much none of the characters have redeeming qualities. That theme in a book isn't something I typically enjoy but I need to suck it up and just read it.

  12. Ha! I suffer from books by author phenomenon, too! I did it with Rainbow Rowell last year and this year, it's looking like Jojo Moyes. I really liked Sharp Objects but I totally understand why you didn't love it as much as Gone Girl. I'm sad you don't want to read Dark Places. It's seriously messed up (like, incredibly messed up) but it was a great book.

  13. I'm definitely adding First Light to my reading list. I haven't heard of it before but I am ready to be blown away!


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