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?