My book reading fell a bit off the wagon in December. The holidays take priority but with plenty of of airport/flight time, I checked out six e-books from my library in anticipation of lots of reading. And I read … none. Zip. Zero. Nada. I started one book but returned it unfinished (not a DNF book though). I also caught a cold during Christmas and spent more time sleeping than reading. Oh well. It’s not a competition. Right?
The Books I Liked and Didn’t Like So Much
This was also a month of average reads with a few disappointing reads. One, in fact, I found to be heartbreaking — pun intended.
Books I Liked
These are the books that I enjoyed from most liked to liked.
The Lost Girls by Heather Young
Book Description: The disappearance of Emily Evans destroyed her family and 60 years later, her sister, Lucy, writes what happened that fateful summer.
Book Review: Lucy’s story, both in the past and present, hooked me from the get-go. It broke my heart a bit thinking about the choices forced on a young girl who then had to live with years of regret over them. What didn’t work so well was the present with Lucy’s niece, Justine. The whole boyfriend problem felt very paint-by-the-numbers and became an unnecessary distraction from the more compelling story between Justine and her mother and Justine and her daughters. I wish their relationship had been explored more deeply as it coupled better with the story in the past. An overall strong debut by Young, and I look forward to reading what she writes next.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. Afterwards, you’ll either call your Mom to say “thanks” or give Justine an imaginary high-five.
Home by Harlan Coben
Book Description: 10 years ago, two boys from wealthy families were kidnapped and now one has come home but what happened to the other boy?
Book Review: It thrilled me to learn that Coben wrote a new book featuring Myron Bolitar and Win and reconnecting with them was fun. In some ways, they were very much the same. Win was a badass, rich preppie who you never ever want to piss off. Myron was his normal, good-guy self. And yet, there was a whiff of trying to make amends, like if we were a bit sexist or politically incorrect in the past, we’re sorry and not sorry, that ran through the story which I found strange. Still, the story kept me engaged and I whipped through the book.
To Read or Not To Read: Absolutely if you’re big Myron and Win fans. This book can be read as a stand-alone too.
Night School by Lee Child
Book Description: It’s 1996, Jack Reacher is still in the army and on the hunt for the American who is offering something worth a $100 million dollars to terrorists.
Book Review: This is a good Jack Reacher novel but not one of his best. Normally, these books move quickly with Jack running all over the place … killing people. He only kills bad people so it makes it okay. Sort of. 😀 His picture should be hanging in post offices, ya know. But I digress, this book isn’t really a prequel but takes place when Jack was still in the army. I liked getting a peek at Jack pre-retirement, although he is pretty much the same guy. This never reached the highs of some of the other Reacher books, but he beats up quite a few neo-Nazis, so you take wins where you can get them.
To Read or Not To Read: For Reacher fans, absolutely. This is book #21 and can be read as a stand-alone.
The Didn’t Like But Not Enough to Loathe
I had high hopes for both of these books but they fell flat for me.
The Wangs vs the World by Jade Chang
Book Description: An original rags to riches story, Charles Wang has lost it all and has corralled his family for one last road trip before he reclaims his lost property in China.
Book Review: This book wasn’t exactly what I expected as it was promoted to be an “outrageous comedy”, so I expected to giggle over their ridiculous antics and really didn’t. Their antics never bordered spectacular and sometimes seemed more stupid than ridiculous. Other times, they were achingly human. The story was okay, but never quite gelled into the sublime or profound as the author likely intended. It felt like the type of book that was meant to be “big” but never quite hit the mark.
To Read or Not To Read: Dealer’s choice. I didn’t love it but you may. 😀 One note of caution: some read the depiction of the father, in particular, as racist. While I didn’t, I also see how it could be viewed that way because he reminds me of Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. You laughed at the time (I did too) but looking back, you kind of cringe now.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Book Description: Before she became the Queen of Hearts, Catherine was girl who just wanted to own her bakery shop but the fates had different plans.
Book Review: Whoa … what a disappointment. Let me preface this with my absolute love for the Lunar Chronicles. Even though Alice in Wonderland is not one of my favorites, I was still excited about Meyer’s re-imagining. But after 300 pages of listening to Catherine whine about wanting to own a bakery and not wanting to marry the King and how Jest was so cool, I was bored and annoyed. The Lunar Chronicles hooked me right from the get-go but it wasn’t until the last 100 pages or so that Heartless finally gets interesting. Jest exists for one reason and I cannot describe him or a character trait. Catherine is no Cinder or Scarlett or Cress or Winter either. She tries to show a little sass (or vein of cruelty) by mocking someone’s appearance but bitch, please. I get that she eventually becomes the Queen of Hearts but nuance people. There is none.
To Read or Not to Read: Fans of the Lunar Chronicles will likely still want to read this. Just know that this doesn’t have the seem world-building, great characters and excitement of those books. Seriously. The only character I liked with Cheshire. Because … you know … cat.
P.S. My opinion is in the minority as many people loved it. I honestly hope you do love it because it truly breaks my heart that I was bored and annoyed through most of it.
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
This month I recommend The Lost Girls to everyone and Home and Night School to their respective fan base. Diehard Lunar Chronicles may want to give Heartless a try, even though it never reaches the heights of Cinder and company.
To More Great Books
One of my friends invited me to join her book club, which should be a lot of fun! I hope talking to people in person about books is just as much as fun as it is online. 😀 As always, I’m participating in the Show Us Your Books link-up hosted by Jana and Steph. Be sure to visit the link-up so you can add a ton of books to your TBR!
Erin’s 6.0 Challenge started in January and I’m excited to dig into my list there as well. And in another Oops I did it again moment, I have eight books on hold at the library. And ummmm … they might all come to me at once because six of them are new releases that …. ummmm …. get released on the same day. Oops.
What books are you adding to your TBR? What was the best book you read this month?
Ahaha I have oops moments like that at the library too. It is honestly impossible sometimes to judge when a hold will come your way. Bummer about Heartless! I loved The Lunar Chronicles but I had sort of shied away from Heartless so far because I’m not the biggest Alice in Wonderland fan. I’m with you on a slow-reading December…it is nearly impossible for me to find time or energy to read during the holidays (unfortunately) – but that’s life!! New year, new reads ahead!
So true. In this case I did know that almost all the books will come in close proximity to one another since they are released on the same date. But I did know that I would next in line if a couple of long-time holds so it will be one of those BAM moments where I have 3 weeks to read a ton of books. Oh well. #BookNerdProblems Honestly, Heartless was a huge disappointment for me and it really pains me to write that. There were a couple times I stopped and rechecked the cover to make sure Marissa Meyer wrote it. The characters in the Lunar Chronicles were so well-developed, which wasn’t the case here. That’s right – new year and new reads! Woot! Woot!
Jenn @ Optimization, Actually says
Awww… :'( I did like Heartless. But I’ll agree that the main character isn’t particularly inspiring. In my mind she was weak and that weakness is what led to her becoming what she did. I don’t remember anymore what I found so compelling about it, but that’s ok. We can have different opinions on that one. 😛
Oh! I did the same thing for holiday traveling. A bunch of library books and then I only read the fluffy stuff from Kindle Unlimited. I should have only brought the book I was working on at the time (The Feminine Mystique) and then maybe I would have actually finished it.
I am in the minority when it comes to Heartless, which is why I definitely encourage Lunar Chronicle fans to check it out because they may love it. Catherine was just boring to me. She didn’t have the spirit of Cinder or Cress or Scarlett or Winter. And I wanted my heart to break since we know who she will become but I was screaming “off with her head” long before those words were ever uttered by her. I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t make it through her traveling books!
kathy @ more coffee, less talky says
I’m reading the red rising series and it’s SO GOOD! i’m on book 2 and can’t put this one down either (first book was amazing).
YAY! I’m glad you’re loving The Red Rising series because it is amazing! I liked Book 2 slightly better than Book 1.
I have a Harlan Coban book on my shelf but haven’t made it around to reading it. I’ll have to pick it up this year. 🙂 Bummer about Heartless. I actually haven’t heard anyone talk about it at all yet. I’ll be interested to see what others say and in how I like it. 🙂 XO – Alexandra
I haven’t read the entire Myron Bolitar series but maybe the last 3 or 4 books. I liked Home because it was like revisiting old friends. 😀 Yeah, I’m really bummed about Heartless because going into the book, I expected to love it and rave about it how awesome it was. So I was totally bewildered by my boredom. It’s not a bad book compared to all books but a disappointment, for me, when compared against The Lunar Chronicles. But definitely give it a try because I am in the minority – there is lots of love for the book too!
hahahah whoops! I stuck Erin’s link in! LOLOLOL 😛
Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things
Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders says
I added The Lost Girls to my list! It sounds so interesting, and I hope that I like it too! I have to admit that I’m not the biggest Harlan Coben fan, so I’ll probably pass on Home, although the premise of the book sounds really interesting! And that makes me so sad that you didn’t love Heartless! Your review kind of reminds me of Fairest in a way because eventually Levana becomes the evil queen, although the book did you make you feel for her just a little bit. I’ll probably still end up reading it though!
I hope you enjoy The Lost Girls. I found the past more intriguing than the present with Justine but the book broke my heart in a couple of places. How we repeat mistakes and sometimes in trying not to repeat mistakes, we make a different mistake. Definitely give Heartless a try as I am in the minority with my disappointment. I found Catherine was a bit of a bore, Jest was a blank slate to me and I didn’t feel the their relationship or connection the way I did with the characters in The Lunar Chronicles. I wanted my heart to break a bit when Catherine broke bad but I was more like “Thank God the book is almost done.”
Rebecca Jo says
I’m intrigued by Heartless. I know its not your fav but I’m always intrigued by anything that takes off fairy tales. Such a sucker for them.
I totally slacked off this month – I didnt even do a book post because 2 books would be boring 😉 haha
Give it a try because I am definitely in the minority. There is lots of love for it too. I just found both Catherine and Jest to be flat characters and it made it really hard to get into the story. I am also a sucker for fairy tale re-imaginings too.
Brittany Pines says
Sorry you didn’t like Heartless 🙁 I just finished Cress and was interested in that one when I finish TLC.
Cress is so good. Winter is also a great ending to The Lunar Chronicles and I also recommend you read Stars Above too. Generally I’m not a big fan of short stories, but these were quite good and the last one takes place a couple years after the events of Winter. And I am encouraging everyone to still give Heartless a try as I am in the minority with my boredom. It’s not a horrible book but it just didn’t have the pop of The Lunar Chronicles in my opinion.
I still have to get back into the Lunar Chronicles. That stinks that you didn’t enjoy that one! I’ve only read the first book. I have those months sometimes where I don’t read anything I’m really crazy about.
I hate those months were everything is just so-so or worse. They make me go into a reading slump. Grrr … Definitely continue with The Lunar Chronicles as it is a great series overall.
SMD @ Life According to Steph says
I love Myron and Win, I had no idea there was a new one out. Definitely going to check that out.
I was surprised to discover it too. I thought Coben had put the series to rest and moved on to Myron’s nephew Mickey. It’s a good book and I loved Win, as usual.
Jack Reacher, hmmm… Was that a movie with Tom Cruise? I can’t remember. I haven’t read any of these, lol 🙂
Yup. And he was terribly miscast. Jack Reacher is a giant, all muscle and intense. Like you look at him and think “errr … I shouldn’t piss off this giant because he might tear my arms off.” I guess Tom Cruise is intense but mostly because he is cook-coo for cocoa-puffs. Can you tell I don’t like Tom Cruise? 😀
Lol, I don’t either 🙂
Mattie Dulka says
Added The Lost Girls to my list! It sounds like a good one! 🙂
I hope you enjoy it, Mattie!
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO heartless really?! that breaks my heart! i have been waiting on the library for months and months so i finally used a christmas gift card to buy it and it arrived the other day. i know it can’t be as good as the lunar chronicles, and i’m going to try and keep my expectations in check. Alice is not even close to a favourite of mine, so i’m hoping i can still like it.. i don’t know.
I know. It totally pained me to write that review, but I am in the minority so you may absolutely like/love it. I just loved all the characters from The Lunar Chronicles and Catherine and Jest fell flat for me. No spark or spirit. And the story dragged on. Seriously, the first 300 pages Catherine whines about wanting to open a bakery, whines about not wanting to marry the king, whines about Jest. Blah. Blah. Blah. Still give it a try and you may feel very differently about than I do!
Jana @ Jana Says says
I feel like Home is either on my TBR or needs to be added even thought it’s #11 in the series.
You can definitely read it as a stand-alone. Win is my favorite and he is his normal badass self and you may also start answering the phone with “articulate”.
Olya @ The Siberian American says
Oh no, I’m so sad about your review of Heartless! I’ve really been looking forward to reading it. The Lost Girls sounds really good and up my alley!
I am in the minority with my review of Heartless. It’s not a horrible or loathe book; it just didn’t live up to the high expectations set by The Lunar Chronicles. Catherine and Jest weren’t the well-developed characters I wanted or expected. Still, it has received a lot of love so give it a try – you may fall in the majority! The Lost Girls is really good and I hope you enjoy it too!
Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue says
I’m sorry you had a ho-hum reading month, I definitely have months that are mediocre from start to finish!
I think the only one of these I might read is The Lost Girls. It sounds like it could be good albeit sad.
I hate ho-hum reading months. They make me lose my reading mojo! The Lost Girls is good. It is sad and a bit hopeful too.
Nancy @ NY Foodie Family says
I read and liked Home as well! It will be in next month’s review! The Wangs vs. the World was a DNF for me. I couldn’t get into and didn’t want to waste my time. Sorry to hear about Heartless! I didn’t finish the Lunar Chronicles series (actually only read the first one so far) but I have this one on my to read list. I added The Lost Girls to my to read list.
Man, I wish I knew you DNFed The Wangs vs the World because I kept thinking it’s going to get better and it never did. You were smart to quit. I’m still bummed about Heartless. It just felt really flat after The Lunar Chronicles to me, but I am in the minority. Hope you enjoy The Lost Girls!
I was sick over the holidays too, so I definitely didn’t read as much as I wanted too. I got through some graphic novels though, because they are usually easy and quick!
Thanks for sharing all of these. I have Heartless, which I will hopefully read soon. Sorry it wasn’t a favorite.
Sorry to hear you were ill over the holidays too. Hopefully you are feeling better! I hope you also enjoy Heartless more than I did. Like I told the others, I was in the minority so you may fall with the majority and love it! 😀
My December reading was a flop. I read 4 books total. I was just wanting more family time than reading. Plus, I didn’t have the greatest book choices. I’m off to a great start in January though. I’m ready quality over quantity this year though. Not enough great books in 2016 for me.
I hate flop readins months and I’m with you – quality over quantity! Most of my books last year were enjoyable reads. And my books (well, I’ve only read one so far) in 2017 have been excellent. Here’s to great books in 2017!
Lauren @ Oh Hey! I Like That! says
Just added The Lost Girls to my TBR! Thank you!
You’re welcome! I hope you enjoy it!
Jill K. says
I have to read a Jack Reacher book.
They are a guilty pleasure for me. 😀
Hold the phone! There’s a new Myron/Win book? Must add immediately!
Yup! I was surprised to see one too as I thought Coben had completed their series. It was great to reconnect with them again!
I have yet to read a Harlan Coben book, and I keep saying I should. I think I have 4 or 5 books of his on my “to read” list. Home sounds like an intriguing concept.
The concept drew me in as well and Coben did it very well. I have not actually read the entire Myron/Win series … maybe the last 3-4 books and they are the type of book where you can jump in and get caught up quickly.