Today is Show Me Your Books day, which is my favorite day of the month, seriously. It also happens to be election day, thankfully. But I won’t lie — my tummy is in knots. The election even interfered with my reading. That’s right. I DNFed two books because the jerk-like characters felt too real, which left me unable to read anything new for two weeks! Rude!
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed this Month
Thankfully, a couple of good books helped me get me out of my book funk, although I read through a cranky, irritated lens this month, which may be reflected in my reviews. 😀 While no book earned the dreaded loathe title, the last two books were merely okay. And somehow that almost seems more insulting.
Also, I am not disclosing the two books I DNFed because they weren’t necessarily bad books. They just hit a little too close to our current reality and I couldn’t separate real life from fiction. Eventually, I will give them another chance.
Books I Loved
The books that made me squeal with joy and fist pump.
Golden Son by Pierce Brown
Book Description: Darrow ignites a civil war among the Golds to bring freedom to all colors.
Book Review: Second books in a trilogy can be a mixed bag, all filler and no substance. But not here. Darrow continues to grow as a character with favorite characters returning too. Plus, we make a few new ones too. Ragnar! (sort of like Hodor without brain damage and more violent but still kind) There is heartache, betrayal and hope and I love this series so much. It ends on a cliffhanger, and I immediately requested the final book …
To Read or Not to Read: YES. No, middle book curse here!
Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Book Description: After a stinging betrayal and great losses, Darrow must regroup with allies to take down the Gold hierarchy once and for all.
Book Review: It’s always frustrating when you devote hours of time and energy to a series to have it end poorly, and I’m happy to report that Pierce nailed it. I’m also grateful the series was already completed because I have zero patience when it comes to cliffhangers (yes, I am a big baby). My heart broke a couple of times, but war is ugly and good people die. There was a couple of moments where I thought it seemed strange that “kids” (they are 23 years old now) we’re essentially leading the battles and strategy but decided to not be an old coot and roll with it. 🙂 All in all, though, this is one of my favorite YA series.
To Read or Not To Read: YES.
Books I Liked
Books I overall enjoy and recommend, from most liked to liked.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Book Description: Two misfits meet on a school bus and their relationship expands from comics to mixed tapes to first love.
Book Review: Let me tell you a “Little ditty about Eleanor and Park. Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland.” This is a sweet and tragic love story that had more depth than I expected. Generally, I am not a huge fan of YA that isn’t dystopian but I did enjoy this book. Eleanor’s home life is rough, rougher than I expected, but handled well. The ending surprised me, but like John Mellencamp sang, “life goes on” and happy endings aren’t always like in they are in the movies.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. A fast read with great characters.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Book Description: Gretchen spends a year documenting how she improved specific areas of her life to increase her happiness.
Book Review: I did a more in-depth review and my key takeaways in a separate post, but overall I enjoyed this book. There wasn’t anything particularly revolutionary that stood out, but I found lots of little nuggets that made me examine my life and identify little (and bigger) changes that I could make to improve my overall happiness.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes, especially for those who feel their happiness level could use some improvement.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Book Description: A series of Ripper-like murders rock modern London and somehow Rory is the only one who can see the killer.
Book Review: This is the first book in a new series, The Shades of London. And to an extent, it felt like there was a lot of set-up, which maybe wasn’t necessary. We can jump into the action a bit more. Or maybe I’m just impatient. Both are likely correct. It did feel like there was some filler as Johnson maybe dragged out getting to Rory’s abilities, which were fairly obvious, so why bother? I would have rather spent more time understanding Rory’s abilities and what it means for the future. It ended on a certain cliffhanger that was a bit of a mixed bag.
To Read or Not To Read: If you’re a fan of YA and supernatural/fantasy books, then yes. I definitely plan to read the next book in the series.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Book Description: 12 short stories about the world’s greatest sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.
Book Review: I consider myself to be a big Sherlock Holmes fan so it pains me to confess that until now I had never read any of his stories. Fail, on my part. These short vignettes were a great introduction to Sherlock Holmes. The first, story, A Scandal in Bohemia, featured Irene Adler so that made me a little giddy from the get-go. The biggest bummer was no James Moriarty, but there still were some good, classic who-done-its.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes, if you’re a fan of Sherlock and Watson. You should at least read a story or two of the real deal.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Book Description: Two descendants of the legendary Sherlock Holmes and John Watson must work together after they get framed for murder.
Book Review: My biggest complaint is Cavallaro’s use of rape felt off to me and Charlotte’s response didn’t feel true to the nature of Sherlock Holmes. I understand the rape wasn’t meant to be the focus of the story, which is fine, but when the story would have been exactly the same without it, maybe you shouldn’t use it, especially in a story that takes place at a university. (Note: I read this book after the Billy Bush video, so my sensitivity to crude versus criminal was high.) With that said, I’m still enjoyed the book and the new Holmes and Watson’s chemistry. But for the love of Irene Adler, don’t make them a couple, which appears to be happening.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes, especially those who are both YA and mystery fans.
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
Book Description: When her 13-year-old son disappears, Elizabeth uncovers secrets her son hid.
Book Review: You know how some books read as though the author wanted a movie deal? Where some elements simply work better on-screen versus on-page? That’s what I felt like with this book. There was lots of exposition via letters and interrogation transcripts, which grew old reading (all tell, no show) but you could envision the montage they would use in the movie. 🙂 I wish Tremblay had focused more on the idea we don’t know our kids as well as we believe (or whom they connect with), which is ultimately scarier then the maybe ghost in the story.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. I wanted it to be scarier and more intense but I don’t regret reading it.
Arrowood by Laura McHugh
Book Description: A young woman returns to her ancestral home 20 years after her twin sisters vanished on her watch.
Book Review: This was a decent read but not a great thriller. Touted as a psychological suspense, it wasn’t. Beyond a few warnings that leaving the past in the past was for the best (but in the normal sense, not necessarily threatening), there wasn’t much suspense. Some elements were designed to be spooky but didn’t really come across in that way. Maybe I’m getting jaded. It wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t a great one either.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. Just know that it not really a psychological suspense, a la Silence of the Lambs style.
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
I most definitely recommend the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown. It’s a solid trilogy from start to finish with great characters in a complex world. I also enjoyed and recommend Eleanor and Park (YA) by Rainbow Rowell, The Happiness Project (Non-fiction/self help) by Gretchen Rubin and The Name of the Star (YA supernatural) by Maureen Johnson.
To More Great Books
This month I’m doing something different and hopefully fun. I selected a few authors that regularly get mentioned in the link-up that I haven’t read and chose one of their books to read. I also am pleased to report that I successfully completed Erin’s 5.0 challenge in October, even if I didn’t finish until the very last day. 🙂 It was my first time participating too! So yay me! As always, I’ve linked up with Jana and Steph for their awesome Show Us Your Books party. Be sure to check it out and see what everyone else is reading.
What books did you read in October?
Jill K. says
Ugh, yes, I will be so happy when this election is over. Glad you got some good reading in anyway. I finally read some Agatha Christie this year, so maybe I should try Sherlock Holmes next.
I need to read some Agatha Christie too. Mysteries are my favorite genre so it’s not cool at all that I have not read any Christie yet! Definitely give Sherlock Holmes a try!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Happiness Project and Eleanor and Park too. I appreciate your review of the Red Rising series – I am going to move those books up on my list because they really do sound so good!!! Very interested to see which authors you’re picking away at this month!!
I LOVE the Red Rising series and hope you enjoy it too. It’s definitely one of my favorites and I love the world Brown built and the fact that he did not make everything black and white. Good people did bad things for what they believe were the right reasons. And some people were just plain bad too. Just like life. I keep changing my mind on which authors I’m going to read. Plus, my reading mojo is low after Tuesday.
i didn’t read the first two (except for your resounding ‘yes’ to read or not) because i haven’t read them yet – i got them from the library but didn’t get to them in time, so need to try again.
eleanor and park gave me too many emotions. it hit a little close to home to me, and i know people couldn’t have prepared me because it would have been spoilers, but still. emotions.
The Name of the Star sounds interesting.
i have never read a single sherlock holmes story or book, but i do like all the movies/tv shows. i should be ashamed, shouldn’t i? lol
i am not sure about a study in charlotte. i wanted to read it, but i don’t know! i saw a couple of blah reviews. but your review makes me want to add it back to the TBR.
Been there, done that with getting too many books from the library! Definitely give Red Rising a try – I think you’ll really enjoy it! E&P definitely gave me more emotions than I expected and I wasn’t expecting what you alluded to at all. In fact, it took me back a bit but that’s okay. It should make me feel awful, ya know. I’m interested to see where Roxy goes next from The Name of the Star. While I thought there maybe was a little too much set-up, I like the world Johnson is building and I like Roxy and her new “teammates”. Don’t feel ashamed because up until about a little over week ago – I had never read any Sherlock Holmes either and I love all Sherlock movies/tv shows too. 🙂 A Study in Charlotte was good, but I’m not a real fan of making Holmes and Watson a couple but we’ll see what happens. 🙂 I’m trying to be open-minded (and likely going to fail miserably).
Jenn @ Optimization, Actually says
Oooh, Sherlock Holmes… I had wanted to read some classic Holmes and then got confused looking for stories because they’re apparently all short stories? I wasn’t sure where to start or what the “original” version would be.
Most of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories about Sherlock Holmes are short stories, but there are few novel length stories as well. I started with Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which you can get for free on Amazon for your kindle.
Carly Blogs Here says
So many great reads this month! I started A Study in Charlotte a while ago, but didn’t finish it before it went back to the library and I just got off the hold list again and am so excited to finish it! I’ve only read one of Doyle’s Sherlock stories, but want to make it a priority to read another one before the year ends. Congrats on finishing the book challenge!
Thanks, Carly! I’m really proud that I completed the challenge too! Oh, I hate it when I have to return a book before I finished it but I’m glad you got it back. I’d like to try one of the full-length Sherlock Holmes books sometime myself.
kathy @ more coffee, less talky says
my reading has slowed due to getting distracted by other things (crocheting)! I actually forgot today was the linkup :s
Those books by Pierce Brown are def on my TBR list.
I saw the beautiful hat you crocheted for your daughter and can see how that kept you busy! Oh, I hope you enjoy Red Rising as much as I did. 🙂
Nancy @ NY Foodie Family says
I LOVED The Happiness Project, which is where I was first introduced to Gretchen Rubin. I really enjoyed Eleanor & Park. It’s my favorite of Rowell’s books. I listened to it on audio and found it well done. I’ve heard of the Red Rising Trilogy but am not sure it’s my thing.
I’m anxious to try out some of the techniques I learned from The Happiness Project, especially now. I need it more than ever! E&P was my first Rainbow Rowell book and certainly won’t be my last! Hmmmm … I’m trying to decide whether Red Rising is your kind of series. It’s more along the lines of Hunger Games versus Harry Potter, so if you enjoyed Hunger Games, then you might enjoy it.
Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders says
Congrats on completing Erin’s Challenge! I always feel like I end up finishing on the very last day too, but at least we finished, right? I’m adding The Name of The Star and The Happiness Project to my list, and I’m so mad at myself that I still haven’t started Red Rising yet! I’ve heard such great things about it and I’m a huge YA fan! I also really enjoyed Eleanor & Park too! I thought that the discussion of Eleanor’s home life was really well done. I love your idea for next month! I feel like that’s something I should try too since I have so many books on my list that people love but I just never get around to reading.
Thank you, Ashley and congrats to you for finishing as well. And yes – all that matters is that we finished! Woo-hoo! If you’re a big YA fan, I really think you’ll love Red Rising. Rowell did a great job with Eleanor’s home life. It was a bit heart-breaking in fact. I keep changing the list of authors I’m going to read. There are so many, but only so much time! LOL!
Jana @ Jana Says says
Congrats on finishing Erin’s challenge! And your first time participating, too!
I LOVED E&P so much. Attachments is still my favorite but this one is a close second. And I love what you’re doing with the SUYB authors.
I feel that I need to reread The Happiness Project. I think I’m going to put it on my list for January.
Thanks, Jana! I feel pretty darn good about it. It was close because I waited to read my least favorite book until the end. Not smart on my part! E&P was really great and I’m going to add Attachments to my TBR. I think now, more than ever, is a good time to reread The Happiness Project!
Rebecca Jo says
I loved Eleanor & Park… such a cute reminder of young love.
I need to look into some Sherlock Holmes books – I do love the movies.
It was a sweet reminder of young love. Of course, a part of my brain was like why don’t they email/text, then I remember this took place in 1986. 🙂 I love the Sherlock movies with RDJ too. And the tv series with both Benedict Cumberbath and Jonny Miller.
Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue says
I’m intrigued by A Study in Charlotte.
Gretchen Rubin is one of my favorites, I love all her books. The latest one about habits is the best I think.
I liked Eleanor & Park OK but I prefer RR’s books about grown-ups better (Attachments, Landline).
I did not realize Rubin had a new book out! I’ll have to give it a try because I could use some help with building/keeping habits. 🙂 You’re the second person to mention Attachments, so that will have to be my next Rainbow Rowell book. It wouldn’t surprise me if I like it better too. I like YA, but mostly dystopian or fantasy YA.
Yay for Sherlock Holmes!! 🙂 I loved A Study in Charlotte and look forward to the next book in the series. But yes I agree, please don’t make them a couple!
Okay, it makes me feel better than you’re also not a fan of Holmes and Watson becoming a couple. I believe the next book comes out in early 2017, so be on the look out!
Brie @ A Slice of Brie says
Oh, I adored Eleanor & Park. I’m not a huge YA reader, but I’d say it was definitely one of the best I’ve read. I really loved how it was set in an era I grew up in – made me miss the simpler way of life and I just found it was easy to relate to the characters even though I’m way older than them, lol.
I think that is one of the reasons I enjoyed Eleanor and Park so much. I was close to their age too in that era, so it felt more relatable. Sometimes, I have a hard time with young love in YA because I’m an old coot and it makes me roll my eyes. 🙂 But not here. It felt very real and earned and sad, like most first love.
I think I am going to add The Name of the Star to my TBR! I did a separate post for The Happiness Project last month too, too funny! I think I am going to get her next book too, Better Than Before.
I honestly had not looked at what else Rubin has written, although I visited her website. It seemed so heavily focused on The Happiness Project that I had not realize she had written additional self-help books, although it seems rather logical when I think about it. 🙂 I need to check out what else she has written. I hope you enjoy Name of the Star – I really liked the characters overall and I’m anxious to learn more about their “world”.
I’m not always into supernatural/fantasy, but The Name of the Star intrigues me.
I loved E&P.
Congrats again on tackling and finishing my challenge!
I was drawn to it because of Jack the Ripper, which I guess interests you too. 🙂 Thank you again for hosting the challenge!
I also liked Eleanor and Park but it’s not my favorite Rowell book.
I picked E&P for Erin’s 5.0 challenge and I’m definitely interested in reading more of her books. Which was your favorite?
Olya @ The Siberian American says
You read some great books! I really need to read Eleanor & Park!
Thanks, Olya! Yes, definitely give E&P a try. I think you’ll really enjoy it!
I enjoyed Eleanor and Park. I also read Landline and enjoyed that as well. The Happiness Project was really a favorite. I buy extra copies and give them to friends!
That is so awesome that you give friends copies of The Happiness Project, what a great idea! There were lots of great nuggets in there that can really have a big impact.
SMD @ Life According to Steph says
I was pleased with the execution throughout the Rising Son series. That doesn’t happen often.
Me too. I almost always get a little nervous when I go into a final book, because it can really make or break how I view the series overall. Red Rising was really well done and I’m anxious to see what Brown does next.
Alexandra Consolver says
This sounds like a great reading month overall! I have the Red Rising books on my TBR already, I really want to read E&P, and anything by Gretchen Rubin. I will have to look into The Name of the Star. It sounds super interesting! 🙂 XO – Alexandra
Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things
I am definitely going to check out Rubin’s books on habits because that is an area that needs some work in my life! E&P was really good. I thought it would be really light and fluffy (and there is nothing wrong with that) but it had a lot more depth than I expected. Red Rising is great. One of my favorite YA trilogies.
My heart definitely hurt after this election, but I was the opposite: I turned to reading to distract myself from this (and other shitty things). I could imagine that reading a book or two that hit a little too close to the current reality might have forced me to take a reading break too, though … So I get that.
I’ve had Eleanor and Park on my “To Read” list for a long time. I read Fan Girl last year, and I really didn’t like it … So I’ve been putting off reading any additional Rainbow Rowell books. I want to give her another chance, though, because everyone seems to really love her. Plus, she’s from Omaha (I’ve lived in Omaha for the last 7 years). 🙂
I hate when books read like the author wanted a movie deal! I’ve read a few like that, and they all received a 1 or 2 star rating from me. Blah.
Normally, books are my solace too. It just a couple books where there were some real jerks doing jerky things and I couldn’t deal with it. E&P was my first Rainbow Rowell books. I’ve seen mixed reviews on Fan Girl, it seems like people either loved it or didn’t. I was really bummed about Devi’s Rock because the premise sounded good and there was some good bones but it just felt like it was meant to be a screenplay, not a book. Blah.
Rose @ Ramblin' Rose says
I’m obsessed with The Red Rising trilogy. Brown is such a superb author between the world building and character development, all three books were well done.
Brown did an amazing job crafting great characters and building a very interesting world. The series was top-notch and I cannot wait to see what he writes next!