Tuesday, January 12, 2016

december books

December was busy with work and travel, and not going to work for two weeks meant much less time for audiobooks plus falling asleep at night before I could read more than a few pages. I'm hoping to find some great things for January, though.

(A) Maybe In Another Life: I really liked this book! A woman moves back to her hometown and quickly reconnects with her high school boyfriend who was the one who got away. In one version of her life, she goes home with him the night she sees him in a bar; in another version, she doesn't. Both versions of her life story are told concurrently as that one decision completely changes her future. I thought it would be hard to keep the stories separate, but it wasn't, and I liked the idea behind it. This is the second book I've read by this author (Taylor Jenkins Reid) and I really like her.

Did You Ever Have a Family: I expected a lot from this book. I think it was on the Goodreads Best of 2015 or something? It's one of those somewhat meandering books that's mostly about writing style and characterization. Not much happens. There is a central mystery that is slowly revealed, so that did keep me interested, but it wasn't a favorite. I feel like I just didn't get it.

The Deepest Secret: I liked this one but I wanted more from it. It was compared to Defending Jacob, and I can totally see that. It was a crime drama combined with a family drama, but I think the characters could have been expanded upon, or some storylines omitted completely in favor of highlighting others more (part of the dad's storyline was completely unnecessary, as was the amount of detail about the neighbors). As Steph would say, it passed the time just fine, but it wasn't a must-read for me.

The Book Thief: I hate to sound flippant, but I felt like this book was written just so middle schoolers could read it and look for the symbolism as they learned about the Holocaust. Death is the narrator which just felt gimmicky and took a long time to get into. The story was fine but the novel definitely isn't one that adults have to read.

(A) Summerlong: This book was like an indie movie. I liked the characters well enough, and the existential crisis of it all, but nothing really happened. Life just happened to these people, which I guess was the overall point of the book. I really enjoyed the way that a lot of things were expressed and how the facts of everyday life were conveyed, so I want to read another book by this author - this one just wasn't right for me.

Did Not Finish:

Fates and Furies - I didn't care about the main character. He seemed like a jerk and I didn't want to root for him so I barely got out of his college years. Did it get any better?

My Top Picks of 2015 (since I spent very little time online during the holidays and didn't link up)
Love May Fail
I'll Give You the Sun
One Plus One
Dark Places
The Art of Fielding
(The first four were a little quirky with some feel-good romance, the next two made my list for being unpredictable and interesting from start to finish, and the last one just got me. I loved being in the world that author created.)

I learned that any Texas resident can become a member of the Houston Public Library so I'm excited to have double the digital titles to peruse. Thanks to Steph and Jana for always giving me things to add to my list.

Life According to Steph


  1. oooh i will have to check out maybe in another life. it sounds super interesting. i read one of her books and didn't love it, but i didn't hate it.
    oh i am so sad you didn't love the book thief. it's one of my favourites of all time.
    i've heard that the second half of fates and furies is better, but i haven't read it.

  2. I am a huge Dean Bakopoulos fan (it's kind of a problem, actually), I definitely recommend that you read more of his books but as a warning, they all read like an indie movie (which is funny because Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, my personal favorite, just wrapped filming with James Franco and Rashida Jones. It's going to be an indie film, I believe).

    Fates and Furies got slightly better in the second half, enough that I finished the book. But I wanted to quit so many times during the first half. Did You Ever Have a Family was such a beautiful, heartbreaking book but I get where you're coming from and I enjoy Taylor Jenkins Reid as an author. She's a nice balance to the heaviness of some of the stuff I read.

  3. I feel like I've added Maybe In Another Life but it isn't showing it and now I wonder why. Hmmm. Sounds interesting though.

  4. Checking these out - especially your list from 2015. So how do you become a member at the Houston library if you live somewhere else in Texas?? (I'm in Dallas!)

  5. The second half of Fates is definitely better, but Groff certainly makes you put in work to get there. The first half is like the book that never ended.

    I like books where like if just happening sometimes, and sometimes I don't. I enjoyed Summerlong.

    So is the first book sort of like a Sliding Doors concept?

  6. I'm sorry that you didn't like The Book Thief! I did have trouble getting through the first part of the book, but ended up loving the story. You're the second person to mention that Fates & Furies wasn't one of their favorite books. I think that I might leave that one off of my TBR list.

  7. Adding Maybe Another Life to my list to read!!! I read a lot of reviews of people being disappointed with Fate and Furies so I haven't bothered with it. The Book Thief has been on my TBR list forever and now I am second guessing if I want to bother?

  8. Fates and Furies picked up in the second half but still was pretty blah to me. Maybe in Another Life has been on my to read list. I read Please Don't Come Back From the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos and thought it was just okay....probably won't read Summerlong, since I didn't really enjoy the first book I read by him.

  9. I regularly admit that I often have the mind of a 13 year old, so maybe that's why I loved The Book Thief so much. I read it before jumping headfirst into the blogging world, so I am always interested to hear others' perspectives.

    I felt with Did You Ever Have a Family that it did an excellent job at looking at different reactions to grief and trauma.

    Fates and Furies has been removed from my tbr. I have too many other books I'd rather read.

  10. Ooo, Maybe in Another Life sounds like Sliding Doors. I just added it. If nothing else, this month's link up convinced me to NOT add Fates and Furies. And AHA! Finally someone who didn't love The Book Thief. I have not been able to get into it at all!

  11. Maybe in Another Life sounds good! It reminds me of some of the Hallmark Christmas movies I watched last month with the concurrent story lines haha!

  12. Maybe in Another Life sounds interesting. I have not read any of the other ones, other than The Book Thief. I can't exactly remember my review on it, I thought it was good, but I don't think I was all BEST BOOK EVER :) I'm going to have to look up your best of 2015, and i'm going to have to go back to that link-up totally missed it.

  13. Loved One Plus One!
    Also, I might be the only other person in the world who didn't care for The Book Thief.
    Maybe in Another Life is on my to-read list.

  14. I liked One Plus One!
    I have a few more to add to my list I think :)

  15. Did You Ever Have a Family and Summerlong are both on my book challenge list and I started Summerlong on audiobook and was feeling questionable about it. Your review makes me glad I'm not alone.


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