January 12, 2016

December Books

#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!


  1. You have been a reading machine!!!! I go through peaks and lulls with my reading. Sometimes I rip through books back to back and other times I don't have anything that really makes me want to read. Im kind of in that rut right now so I'm glad to have the link up and find some good ones. Stinks you had so many duds recently!

  2. I know this is unpopular to say but I have zero interest in the Shopaholic books. I dislike every single synopsis I've read.

    I didn't have a great reading month last month either. A little better than you, but nothing spectacular.

  3. oh thats a bummer about the shopaholic book. i am hopefully gonna start the first one today or tomorrow, we'll see how far in the series i make it. i haven't read any of kate atkinson's books, but life after life is on my list.

  4. I also like but don't love Atkinson's books.

    I do not like Shopaholic books. I read them in my early 20s and have no desire to ever read any more.

    No interest in Outlander although I know people who love them.

  5. I wasn't able to get through Outlander either. I've tried. Maybe I'll try again because so many people rave about it.

    I enjoyed Shopaholic to the Rescue though.

  6. Oh man, I love the Outlander books so I'm disappointed that you didn't like them! Diana Gabaldon does get rather lengthy in some of her writing, but the story is just so wonderful, or maybe I just really fell in love with Jaime...

  7. Oh man, I have Outlander on my bookshelf. I tried reading it awhile ago, but the length scared me off, not the storyline. I know so many people love the Outlander series, I may have to try giving it a go again.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed what you had to say about Outlander. It's not one that has interested me. I respect the passion and opinions of others, but sometimes a story is just not for me. I think I'd be right there with you if I attempted to read it.

  9. I'm actually glad to see a negative review about Outlander. It's still on my TBR list, but everyone raves about it, and I like knowing that there might actually be bad parts that aren't enjoyable beforehand so I can power through them.

  10. Ouch. When you said you didn't like Outlander, I didn't realize how bad it was! I just finished book 4. I agree with Ashley, I may be a bit in love with Jamie! Haha

  11. I enjoyed the first Shopaholic and think I liked the second one a little bit better, but I've never liked them enough to read any more of them if that makes sense? I could see them getting to be a bit much I guess. Someone just recommended Outlander to me- I had obviously heard about it, but didn't really have any idea what it was about.

  12. I'm sad about Outlander :P

    I read Life After Life and really liked it, but also felt like it just sort of ended without much explanation or cause for what happened. And did she change the past to make the perfect future so her family was alive? I don't know.


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