ext_5285: (FN: Bubbles)
[identity profile] kiwiria.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] moredetails asked... and I aim to please :-)


The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey. A very unusual zombie-story - partly because the zombie is the main character, and the story is (mostly) told from her viewpoint! She's able to think, feel and even empathise, and knows absolutely, positively that eating her favourite teacher is wrong! Brilliant book, fascinating world-building and a story I couldn't put down.

Wish Upon a Star - Trisha Ashley and The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After - Jenny Colgan were two amazingly sweet comfort-books I read this year. Just cozy, feel-good books to crawl into. I really loved both of them.

Britt-Marie Was Here - Fredrik Backman, while also a comfort book, has a bit more substance to it, as an elderly woman - newly divorced - has to learn how to manage on her own and is forced to open up to new experiences and new friends. It made me laugh and cry - such a good read :)

Take it as a Compliment - Maria Stoian, on the other hand, is NOT a comfort book. It's a graphic novel/memoir about how damaging the current trend of rape-culture and victim-blaming. I'm going to issue a trigger-warning right away, to anybody who's been sexually abused - both verbally and physically - but it is such an IMPORTANT book, that I have to mention it anyway. If I could, I'd make it mandatory reading in all high-schools.

The Book of Life - Deborah Harkness is the third book in the "All Saints" trilogy, and one of the best fantasy epics I've read in a long time. There are witches, vampires, werewolves, time-travel, romance and adventure galore. I've loved all three books in the series and was completely book-hungover after finishing the last one.

Another excellent fantasy/sci-fi series is the Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K. Höst. I read the first one (Stray) in 2015 and the rest last year. An Australian girl accidentally steps through a wormhole and travels to a foreign planet, where she's found by humanoid aliens. Brilliant series!

I read a lot of suspense/thriller books this year, and was very pleased with most of them. My two favourites were The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware and The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena. Neither crossed the line to scary-don't-dare-put-it-down, but both were absolutely terrific reads :)

And finally, no faves list of mine is complete without a travelogue. In 2016 my favourite was Wrong Way Round - Lorna Hendry about a family traveling around Australia. Loved it! I'm a huge fan of living vicariously through others ;-)


Unfortunately, I read some real duds this year as well. The worst probably being The Boyfriend App - Katie Sise. It started out well enough, but took a turn for the decidedly strange and actually pro-rape (as long as it's done by a girl to a boy, 'natch). Not a YA book I'd recommend to ANYBODY.

Equally strange (but a lot less harmful) was Down With the Shine - Kate Karys Quinn. I read that with a permanent eyeroll on my face, and would not have been the least surprised if it had ended up with "and then she woke up and it was all a dream".

I was very interested in reading Overcoming Stress - Tim Cantopher as I was on sickleave due to stress in 2014 and wanted to see if Tim Cantopher had any handy hints for me, but unfortunately I think he really missed the mark and made some very problematic statements in this book, that I could ignore, but might be actually damaging to others. So give that one a miss.

Transylvanian Mail Order Bride - Elliott Wolfson was so badly written that it crossed the line to funny (although probably unintentionally so), and turned into a crazy train-wreck style book, where I just had to know what sort of ridiculous thing he'd write next!

In the "disappointing, but not actually bad" category I have Breaking Free - Beth Moore, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce, Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld and Atlantia - Ally Condie

Reading goals
I don't have any particular reading goals for 2017. I want to read 150 books, and have a smaller TBR-pile at the end of 2017 than I did at the beginning of the year (203 books), but that's about it :)

New Year

Jan. 4th, 2017 07:54 pm
[identity profile] moredetails.livejournal.com
Happy new year, community! I didn't read any books in December, hence my non-post. But I am enjoying your posts and I hope some of you might want to share your favs and least-favs from 2016, and/or books you're looking forward to reading this year.

And don't forget your usual book lists each month (or whenever)!

Also: do you have any reading goals for 2017? I do not...in fact, I don't have any specific goals yet.

[livejournal.com profile] silent_soprano wondered if I was going to make a sister community in Dreamwidth, and so I just added one and imported the community content there: https://christianreader.dreamwidth.org/

I mostly did it as a backup, and won't really be tending to it beyond occasional backups when I remember. But you're welcome to join or post there, if you prefer. Someday we might all be over on Dreamwidth, so this is just to make it an easier transition.

Speaking of, I'm also on Dreamwidth as moredetails: http://moredetails.dreamwidth.org/. Again, this is just a backup, but I don't mind having a set of friends in place there if we eventually switch.

Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of your week!
[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Lesley Gould – Courting Cate 4/5
In this Amish novel inspired by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Cate Miller is known for her sharp tongue and fiery temper around Paradise, Pennsylvania in contrast to her sweet sister Betsy. Exasperated by his daughter, their father sets a rule: Cate must marry first before Betsy can court. And when the free-spirited Pete Treger comes working for Mr. Miller, Cate might just have found her match.
Read more... )
[identity profile] hestergray.livejournal.com
I didn't post for October or November because I didn't finish any books then.  I finished one in December.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven 4/5
Libby is 16.  When she was 13, she was named "America's Fattest Teen" and had to be cut out of her house.  Now, she's lost a lot of weight, but she's still pretty big.  She's finally going back to school.  She is confident and excited and loves to dance.  Jack is 17.  He has prosopagnosia, which means he can't recognize faces.  No one knows this about him, except that he tells Libby.  They become unlikely friends, and then maybe more!  Kind of like a Rainbow Rowell book.  I really liked it.  Although I have no idea why it's called Holding Up the Universe.
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[identity profile] kiwiria.livejournal.com
Ten books this month! That's more like it )
Book of the Month: Wish Upon a Star - I can't remember ever before almost shedding a tear because I didn't want the book to end.
Biggest Disappointment: Breaking Free - it wasn't bad, I'd just expected so much more.
ext_5285: (Default)
[identity profile] kiwiria.livejournal.com
I only managed 5 books this past month! No special reason - I've just been too wrapped up in knitting first my Paradise Cardigan and then my HamilKnit hat that I've been more inclined to pick up my knitting rather than my books (also, I'm in the middle of a book that just CAN'T catch my attention, but which I've borrowed off a friend and therefore feel like I need to give a proper shot... that always messes with my reading mojo).

With only one month to go it's looking very unlikely that I'll finish many of my reading goals though :-P

The 5 books )
[identity profile] moredetails.livejournal.com
Winter - Marissa Meyer
Final book in the Lunar Chronicles Series. Way too long with too many unnecessary scenes.

Eligible - Curtis Sittenfeld
A modern take on Pride and Prejudice. This one takes place in Cincinnati and everyone is older with Jane nearing 40 and Lydia around 26, I believe. There are some interesting and somewhat scandalous versions of the different situations from P&P, but I really enjoyed it. I feel like I should've been more bothered by how certain things played out, but despite them not going how I would've chosen, I was still hooked on the story from start to finish.

American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld DNF
This is a novel based loosely on some events from Laura Bush's life. I didn't finish it, but I just thought I'd mention it anyway. It was a little too depressing since I'm so sensitive and my mood can take a turn easily. But if you aren't as sensitive, what I read was well-written and intriguing.

Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld
Violet and Daisy are identical twin sisters with ESP. Violet has embraced this part of herself, but Daisy is ashamed and has rejected it. Their personality and lifestyle differences cause tension in their relationship, and when Violet predicts an earthquake in the St. Louis area, Daisy struggles with how to respond. Sittenfeld is obviously a good writer, and I was sucked into this book immediately. I was really hooked on it the whole time, although after finishing I feel like certain choices the author made were strange, and there may have been too much build up for too little reward. Still, I will definitely keep checking out her books.

2016 books: 32
[identity profile] sk8eeyore.livejournal.com
The past couple months, as it happened, were all about children's and young adult books -- pretty unusual for me!

Read more... )

Total read in September & October: 12
[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Rachelle Dekker – The choosing 4/5
In a Dystopian American city, women have no value unless they are chosen to be a man's wife. Carrington Hale leaves her Choosing ceremony alone and has to resign herself to live the rest of her life as a servant, a Lint, the lowest level of society. But rumours of rebellion and a different truth reach her and resonate deep within her.

This was a very interesting an well-written dystopian novel. It's quite different from other dystopian novels (and movies): more introspective, less action-focused. The world-building is good, with some small chapters interspersed detailing the history of this world. They way the society where Carrington lives, works, can give rise to many thoughts and discussions. I always like it when a book makes you think and ponder. Carrington is a strong and relatable character. I did think the book was a little long and some parts repetitive. It ended up at the same doubts and thoughts for Carrington again and again. And, yes, I know this also happens in real life, but it just doesn't read very nicely ;-)
Read more... )
ext_5285: (Default)
[identity profile] kiwiria.livejournal.com
Read more... )
Book of the Month: Britt-Marie Was Here
Biggest disappointment: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry... although Afterworlds is a very close second.
[identity profile] hestergray.livejournal.com
I never got around to posting these two from September.  October has been a dud so far for books.  I've started a few, but now I'm kind of hooked on listening to podcasts instead.  So there might be no books in October.

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris 3/5
I knew a little about Neil Patrick Harris before listening to this book.  Now I know a lot more, and he seems like a delightful person.  I knew he had hosted the Tony Awards one year, but apparently, it was four years.  I didn't realize he was so involved in lots of Broadway musicals and plays.  He even won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical in 2014.  After playing Doogie Howser, he had a difficult time breaking into other roles, but I'm glad he persisted and was able to do so.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller 3/5
Overall, a pleasant book.  But also weirdly unexpected, with some plot holes that I could complain about.  Olivia (Livvy) leaves her job at a prestigious dinner club in Boston and goes to Vermont where her best friend Hannah lives.  Livvy ends up starting a new job as a pastry chef at an inn owned by an old woman named Margaret.  She also starts falling for Martin, the son of Margaret's best friend.  Based on the title, I was expecting Livvy to be like a fish out of water being in the country, but she really wasn't, so the first half of the book wasn't what I was expecting.  Then the story took a weird turn and the second half of the book became predictable and kind of cliche.

Even though the title says Livvy is a city baker, she didn't seem like a "city girl" to me.  She plays a banjo and grew up attending contra dances.  Her new employer, Margaret, gives her an old sugarhouse to live in, and Livvy thinks nothing of it.  It has to be heated by a fire furnace and there's a bathtub in the middle of the room.  (Although later they talk about how there's no indoor plumbing in the sugarhouse?  But she never complained about that.)  She has no cell service, and she doesn't find it at all frustrating or inconvenient.  She asks Margaret if she can get a landline in the sugarhouse.  Margaret says no, and Livvy doesn't even care.  Sometimes Livvy will have a thought like how she can't imagine growing up in a place that doesn't have any record stores.  But that's about as far as her city girl background goes.  The only thing that shocks her about small town life is how much gossip there is.

I still liked the book, but there were a lot of things that just didn't match up with what a character had said earlier.
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Hell's Corner
by David Baldacci

Final book in the Camel Club series and unfortunately my last favorite. It was huge for this kind of book (700 pages) and a lot of it just felt like filler. There were about a million times where the heroes looked into some lead and it turned out to be nothing. Some of that is fine and necessary, but there were seemingly hundreds of pages of it. And in the end the reveal wasn't satisfying at all. It wasn't a terrible book, just not as good as the rest of the series. 2.5/5

Odd Hours
by Dean Koontz

Next book in the Odd Thomas series. Events take up right after the end of the previous book. Liking the series but I don't think any of the sequels will match the original book that was so great. 3.5/5

The Eye of Minds
by James Dashner

A manager at work that I talk books with a lot mentioned this one and since I like the Maze Runner series I decided to give it a shot. But I was unenthused from page 1 of this book. As soon as I saw it was yet another virtual reality/simulated universe/avatar in the online world kind of thing I was turned off. That's just been so done to death at this point. I did read the whole thing because it was a quick read and I knew there was a big Plot Twist at the end so I decided to see what it was. It was a good one but I'm still not interested in reading the rest of the series. 2.5/5

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
by Leah Remini

My best friend from high school got wrapped up into Scientology in college so I know a lot about this particular cult. I always liked Leah until I found out she was a Scientologist, but then when she publicly left the church I wanted to hear all about it. Fortunately she's not one of those people who thinks Scientology itself is good but the church itself has lost its way; she realizes now what a waste of time and money ($3 million in her case) it is. She also roasted Idiot Boy (Tom Cruise) thoroughly, so that was fun. I know all about Scientology at this point so nothing about that was new to me, but it was interesting to read her story and take on things. 3.5/5

The Traitor's Emblem
by Juan Gomez-Jurado

Wow, great book. This was a Goodreads recommendation and it was a good one. It's a story involving two families, love, betrayal, long-held secrets, and the search for the truth all against a background of Germany during the rise of the Nazis. Fast-moving and never dull, this was a really good book. 4/5

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
by Harriett Jacobs

One of the few (self)written accounts of a female slave from that dark time in U.S. History. An incredible account of how she survives and defends herself and her family from the evils of the time. Riveting and almost unbelievable at times. 4/5

Books for September: 6
Books for 2016: 44
[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
E. Nesbitt - The railway children  4/5
Roberta, Peter and Phylliss and their mother have to change their comfortable live in Edwardian London for a remote village in Yorkshire when their father is mysteriously taken away. Luckily, the children make new friends and have many adventures at the nearby railway station.

Read more... )
[identity profile] moredetails.livejournal.com
Oops, I forgot my book list!

No Promises in the Wind - Irene Hunt
It's 1932, during the Depression, and 15-year-old Josh is struggling at home. Due to poverty and hunger, tensions are high between he and his dad, so Josh decides to leave home and try to make his own way.  This was a book I had to read in school as a teen, and I remembered really enjoying it. I recommended it to Dan a few years back and so it's been on my mind, and I saw there was an audio version. I had forgotten a LOT from the book, and it probably meant a little less since I am older, but I still may have shed a few tears at various points. This book also had me thinking about how dire the situation was for so many people back then, and how unimaginable it is now that we live in the land of plenty. I'm also curious to look up exchange rates since apparently a nickel back then was a big deal and could contribute toward groceries.

Enjoyed it: 3.5
Book quality: 4.5

Elin Hilderbrand - The Rumor
The story takes place on Nantucket Island beginning right before tourist season (summer). Madeline is under pressure from her publishers to write a book, so when her friend Grace begins an affair with the gardener, she uses that as inspiration. That's really just part of the story--I actually think this book isn't titled very well. This was my first Hilderbrand and at first I wasn't that into it, but by the end it was decent. I'll give her another try.

Enjoyed it: 2.5
Book quality: 3

I have had a hard time finding a good book, so I've started and not finished several over the past couple of months! Hence my low number.

2016 books: 29
ext_5285: (Default)
[identity profile] kiwiria.livejournal.com
Lots of rereads this month )
Book of the Month: They were all excellent! I try not to pick rereads though, so will have to go with The Woman in Cabin 10
Biggest disappointment: Søvnen og døden. Not bad, just slow.
[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Kiera Cass – The heir 4/5
In the fourth novel of Kiera Cass's Selection series, we follow the daughter of America Singer, princess Eadlyn, as she goes through her own Selection to find a husband.

On the one hand, this was a nice, simple, happy read like the three previous books in this series. There are many interesting new characters to root for, although Eadlyn herself takes some warming to. On the other hand, the problems I had with the previous books somehow increased in this one. It's all a bit too simple and predictable and the background of the story and world this takes place in is sooo vague. I understand this is YA lit and I shouldn't expect too much, but still. I do still want to read the next and last book, just to find out how everything ends!

Read more... )
[identity profile] hestergray.livejournal.com
A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade 2/5
The third book in the Porter family series.  It's an okay Christian romance story, but for me, this one went over the edge of cliché and preachy.  This one is about Jake Porter (brother of Bo and Ty).  His childhood friend Lyndie moved away with her family when she was ten and he was twelve.  Now it's 20 years later and she's back in town.  Jake is the trainer on the thoroughbred horse farm that Bo manages.  Lyndie gets hired on as an exercise rider.  She and Jake start having feelings for each other, but Jake doesn't want to admit it because he is so closed off from anything that might make him happy.  He's so tall, dark, and brooding that in her mind, Lyndie refers to him as Tall, Dark, and Brooding, like it's a nickname.  I'm also realizing that these book titles have nothing to do with the story itself.  They're so generic, you could switch the titles around on the different books, and it wouldn't make any difference.  (The first two are Undeniably Yours and Meant to be Mine.)

Her One and Only by Becky Wade 3/5
The fourth, and final (I think), book about the Porter family.  This one was back on par with books one and two.  Mostly predictable, but still enjoyable.  Plus, this one had elements of a mystery to solve and some action scenes.  Dru is the fourth Porter child, and the only girl.  She is ten years younger than Jake, the youngest boy.  She's a very tough, no-nonsense kind of girl.  Like her brothers, she had been a Marine.  Now in her mid-twenties, she works for a security agency as a bodyguard.  She gets assigned to Gray Fowler, a professional football player who has been receiving threatening letters from a stalker.  The book is about solving the mystery of the stalker, trying to stay out of danger, and Gray and Dru trying to not fall for each other.  Overall, I liked it.  I'm interested in reading more by this author.

Side note: Dru had been mentioned in the previous books, and when I finally got to her story, I was expecting to learn what Dru was short for.  Like Drucilla or something.  But no.  I guess it's not short for anything.

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant 3/5
This is a cute book - another light-hearted Christian romance story.  Kat is a 26-year-old, living in a small town in Louisiana.  She works in her aunt's bakery where they sell chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cupcakes.  On her own time, Kat experiments with lots of different cupcake flavors.  She longs to sell them in the bakery, but her aunt only wants to stick with the standard flavors.  (Why?  That makes no sense.)  Kat's best friend is Lucas.  He is the high school football coach.  They have romantic feelings for each other, but they're both too scared to do anything about it, for fear of ruining the friendship.  Kat is very insecure about everything because no one except Lucas believes in her abilities as a cupcake baker.  So Lucas surprises her by signing her up for a cupcake baking competition TV show.  The grand prize is a one-year internship at a prestigious bakery in New York City.  Kat agrees to do the competition because she wants to get out of small-town life.  Lucas didn't realize what the prize was when he signed her up, and now he's stuck because if she wins, she'll be out of his life for a year or more.  Oh, what to do...

I thought it was kind of adorable, even though there were a lot of elements that I don't think would happen in real life.  I get that they don't want to lose their friendship, but they're not teenagers.  She's 26 and he's 28, and they've been friends for ten years.  I find it hard to believe that neither of them ever even hinted at something more than friendship.  Also, I don't get why Kat's family makes her feel so worthless, especially since her father is a pastor.  I'd think they'd be more loving and supportive.

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren 2/5
This story wasn't quite what I was expecting, so maybe the only okay rating isn't the fault of the book itself, but of my expectations.  I found this one at the same time that I started the Porter Family series, only this one wasn't available digitally and I had to wait for the CD version.  This is the first in the Christiansen Family series, and I was laughing when I saw all the titles because they're all songs that I know.  (This title is an ABBA song.)  I thought this would be a light Christian romance story just like the Porter family.  I think it was kind of trying to be a light Christian romance, but it had this dark undercurrent of past events that made it a bit of a downer.

The story is about Darek Christiansen, the oldest of six Christiansen siblings.  He is a widower with a 5-year-old son.  He lives in the small town of Deep Haven, Minnesota.  Ivy Madison comes to town as a new county attorney.  They kind of start dating, but they only have like three dates, and suddenly he feels like she's had such a huge impact on his life and he's in love with her.  The back of the book makes it sound like the entire story is about Darek and Ivy.  But no, there are actually two other main characters, Jensen and Claire, who I think have a more interesting storyline.  They're old friends who haven't talked in a while.  Jensen helps Claire with a project, and they start a little romance.

I'll probably try the second book in the series to see if it gets any better.  Maybe the next one won't be bogged down with super sad events.  (Not that books with super sad events are all bad, but it helps to have the right expectations.)

Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting by Darya Pino Rose 4/5
I really enjoyed this book.  The author is basically saying that processed food is bad for us.  Instead, we should eat real food: vegetables, beans, eggs, fruit, meat, and cheese.  Vegetables are the best.  Sugar is the worst.  But she also says that you don't have to eat perfectly all the time to be healthy.  You can enjoy unhealthy things sometimes, but she recommends making sure it's quality enough to be worth the calories/fat/sugar/salt.  Good advice overall.  I also liked the sections on changing bad habits and adopting good habits.  She recommends making changes slowly, focusing on one or two changes at a time, until they become habits.  Then keep those habits and focus on changing something else.

Even though I liked the book, some things annoyed me.  I felt like she was judgmental at times, like looking down on people who don't practice mindful eating.  Also, she seems to assume certain things about people, especially people who want to lose weight.  For example, she talks about cooking a LOT.  She talks about how important it is to cook at home, and how anyone can learn to do it, and how it's not as daunting as it sounds.  She seems to think that overweight people don't/can't cook, and they eat at restaurants all the time, which isn't the case at all.  But I think she talks about it so much because for her, it was a game-changer.  She didn't really know how to cook before, and then she learned how to cook healthy things at home.  Well, it's possible to cook lots of unhealthy things at home too.  I'm not sure if she's thought of that.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg 3/5
This book takes a look at relationships and communication, and comparing today's methods of romance to those of past generations.  It was really interesting, and funny because it's Aziz Ansari.  My only gripe is how he kept saying that I was lazy for listening to the audiobook instead of reading it myself.  I'm pretty sure he was just joking, but I didn't think it was funny.  Jokes like that usually contain at least a half-truth of a person's real feelings.  I found it insulting.  There are a lot of reasons people listen to audiobooks.  I don't think laziness even makes the list.  But other than that, I enjoyed the rest of the book.
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Oh summer, wherefore art thou? : (

The Winter King
by Bernard Cornwell

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Saxon Tales I decided to check out more of Cornwell's work. Rather than jump into his 24(!) book Richard Sharpe series I opted for this trilogy based on the Arthurian legends. It was a little slow at the beginning, with Cornwell's usual throwing 1,000 different names of people and places at the reader, but the more I read the more I got into it and I was really enjoying it by the end. It has Cornwell's usual fantastic battle scene descriptions, along with his take of Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, and all the other familiar characters. It's told from the perspective of Derfel, who starts out as a boy living in Merlin's home and eventually becomes one of Arthur's most trusted and able warriors. Looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. 3.5/5

Smokejumper: A Memoir of America's Most Select Airborne Firefighters
by Jason Ramos

Saw this at the library and thought it looked interesting, and it was. Smokejumpers are sort of the firefighting equivalent of the military's special forces, like Navy Seals or Army Rangers. They're highly trained, highly capable, highly versatile wildfire fighters who are also expert parachutists. They can be dispatched in small groups closer (and quicker) to fires than ground-bound firefighters and can make a huge difference in the fight against wildfires. Ramos tells his story of how he became one and tells the history of the smokejumpers. He also touches on some of the biggest wildfires in history, especially the ones where firefighters lost their lives. The book is very fast-paced and a quick read, which I really like. It's so fast-paced there were one or two times where even I was wanting a little more detail! Most of it takes place in the PNW and California of course, so that made it a little more interesting for me as well. 3.5/5

Stone Cold
by David Baldacci

Third book in the Camel Club series. Oliver's past is catching up to him as his former teammates are being killed one by one. The casino boss that Annabelle bilked out of millions is also in town, ready for revenge. Another good book in the series; I liked Harry Finn, the new character that was introduced and there was plenty of action as usual. The finale with the mob boss was a little anti-climatic but at least it didn't get dragged out into more books. 3.5/5

Divine Justice
by David Baldacci

Fourth book in the Camel Club series. As Oliver tries to escape in order to protect himself and his friends he ends up in the tiny coal mining town of Divine, Virginia. But of course he runs into trouble even there, and has to rely on his friends to save him. Another good character, Joe Knox, is brought it and like Harry he starts out hunting Oliver down but eventually ends up on his side. Good stuff as usual for this series. 3.5/5

The Door into Summer [audio book]
by Robert Heinlein

I think I've read everything Heinlein has written, but most of it's been a long time ago. I may have to do some more rereads. I've read Door into Summer at least a couple times but it's one of his best so I didn't mind listening to it on my road trip. It was written in 1957 and takes place in 1970 and 2000. The 1970 stuff sounds pretty realistic (especially to someone who wasn't actually alive then :p) but the 2000 parts are kind of funny for how off they are. When the main awakes in 2000 from 30 years of The Big Sleep (cryogenic sleep) and wants to look someone up he goes down to the county office to look at microfiche records, hahahaha! It's funny because Heinlein both understated and overstated the technology level we'd be at now. He totally missed computers, the internet, inter-connectivity, and all that kind of stuff, but he also had us all owning personal servant robots that would cook, clean, etc. The story itself is really good but the best part is looking at Heinlein's vision of the future and how close (or far off) he was to what actually happened. 4/5

Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie

I read a little bit of Agatha Christie as a kid but nothing since then. I wasn't super into this book at first but it got going pretty quickly (it's fairly short) and by the end I was really enjoying it. It had a very satisfying reveal and was very cleverly written. It is a little dated at this point, but nothing that can't be overcome. 4/5

Books for August: 6
Books for 2016: 38
[identity profile] sk8eeyore.livejournal.com
Father by Elizabeth von Arnim
Since Elizabeth and her German Garden, I've been on a bit of an Elizabeth kick. I wasn't expecting as much from this book, but it was still a pleasant little read for my commute. Jennifer is a "taciturn, undecorative" thirtysomething spinster getting her first taste of freedom from her tyrannical writer father. I found her an endearing protagonist, even though some of the other characters were a bit too flat and the ending too odd for my taste.

One Second After by William R. Forstchen
This is a disaster novel about what happens to a small North Carolina town after the United States is the victim of a terrorist attack using Electro Magnetic Pulse, permanently shutting down the electrical grid. The premise is interesting, but the writing isn't very good; even though I knew he'd exaggerate the community's descent into chaos for maximum terrifying effect, I still found it off-puttingly unrealistic, and none of the characters are lovable enough to redeem it.

Mr. Skeffington by Elizabeth von Arnim
Elizabeth von Arnim certainly knew how to create interesting female characters. Having just turned fifty, Fanny is faced with the realization that she is no longer a beauty with a succession of men at her beck and call. She finds herself crossing paths with several spurned lovers before having an unexpected reunion with the husband she'd tossed aside in her twenties. It's not quite the reunion you expect, and she reevaluates her whole self-perception in the process. The thing I liked is that, by all rights, I felt I should despise Fanny, yet she manages to be sympathetic, even funny. And she does, finally, mature a bit.

Knowing Christ by Mark Jones
If you are familiar with the Christian classic Knowing God by J. I. Packer, this is a similar kind of book, except it focuses on many different attributes of Jesus Christ. It's quite excellent; I recommend it highly. I appreciated that it isn't an overly introspective book that pressures you to have lots of "feels" about Jesus and your personal walk with him. Drawing on Scripture and historical theology, it just keeps directing your gaze back to the beauties of who Christ is. Best read slowly and meditatively.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Another novel I likely wouldn't have read if not for this community. I loved it! After reading my share of so-so fiction this year, it was refreshing to devour a book like this. Moriarty draws characters well, and I liked the way she dealt with serious topics with sensitivity and humor. I also enjoyed reading fiction set in Australia; I'm not sure that I ever had before. If there is more "chick lit" like this, I'd like to know about it!

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Now, that said... Because I enjoyed Big Little Lies so much, I immediately checked out one of her earlier novels. I didn't enjoy this one as much--I didn't like the what-ifs at the end, and the characters weren't nearly as sympathetic in this book; I really disliked a couple of them. I'm still looking forward to reading more of her books.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My aunt gave me this book years ago, and I finally got around to reading it. Of course it's really clever and charming, and having been on a WWII kick recently, I enjoyed the setting. I'm also on a roll with bookish thirtysomething protagonists, as noted before. And letters! I like epistolary novels. But...it's a tough thing to pull off well, especially with multiple characters, all of whom are "characters" and soon become tricky to distinguish. It also felt like Juliet was too perfect as a character, in the sense that everyone automatically seems to love her (and if they don't, they're probably a loser character). The resolution was too far-fetched for me, and it's hard to to do justice to some of the wartime horrors in this format. So reading it was a fun experience for the most part, and I can see why it was such a hit, but it didn't totally work for me.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
A nonfiction book touted by several bloggers I admire. I didn't think it quite lived up to its hype (in fact, I'd love to read a revised and updated version ten or fifteen years from now--the author is younger than I am!), but it's well worth a read. It's a series of memories and reflections about Vance's upbringing among poor Appalachian migrants and the slow self-destruction that such "hillbilly" communities are facing. I'm not a hillbilly, but I grew up in the greater Appalachian region, and some branches of my family aren't so far removed from what Vance describes. Could be eye-opening for readers who aren't familiar with the struggles (such as cycles of poverty, violence, substance abuse, and serial marriages) of some working-class families, and why they don't find much relief in political solutions.

Total for July and August: 8
Total for 2016: 36


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Christian Reader - Book lists, discussion, writing

September 2017

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