It’s time for another edition of The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed, which sounds like a bad country song. 🙂 Seriously, though, this is my favorite post every month because I am a huge bookworm who loves to read and talk about books. Unfortunately, this month was a mixed bag for me. There were highs; there were lows. And lots of swearing and eye-twitching too. In other words, the perfect country anthem. To be honest, I’m not a fan of country music but grew up in a rural community, so I know all about having friends in low places. There were also a few books this month that I’d like to drop-kick to low places too.
Going Out of My Comfort Zone
Like many, I have my favorite authors and genres and can be a creature of habit. Thanks to participating in the Show Us Books link-up hosted by Jana and Steph, I’ve been introduced to so many new authors and great books. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return the favor. This will be a long post, so feel free to jump to my TL;DR list at the bottom.
The Books I Loved (and They Loved Me Back)
The best books I read this month.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
Book Synopsis: Elfrieda is a beloved and successful concert pianist, married to a great guy and desperately wants to end her life. Her sister, Yolandi, is going through her second divorce, can barely make ends meet and is trying to tether her sister to this earth.
My Review: This book does an amazing job dealing with a sensitive topic. We whisper about depression and suicide but they are rarely discussed openly. This is an emotional book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you will feel. Fear, anger, frustration, joy, sorrow, helplessness, acceptance but most of all: you will feel their love.
To Read or Not to Read: Read it. Please note that Toews does something stylistically that annoys me — she doesn’t use quotations marks in her dialogue — but don’t let that stop you from reading this. This is a special book.
The Book of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Book Synopsis: After her older sister tells her that she never says “yes” to anything, Shonda decides to say “yes” to everything and it changes her life.
My Review: I LOVED this book. I loved her honesty about being a mom, especially the nugget that applies to women as a whole — most women have become incredibly good at either feeling ashamed or shaming others. I see this a lot, online and off. I could relate to so much of this book and found it very inspiring, especially her take on learning how to own your accomplishments, which I’m going to discuss more on Monday. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote: “Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.”
Can I get an amen?
To Read or Not to Read: Read it. It is a very easy, fun read that will also have you take a closer look at your own life. I also a wrote more in-depth review on Shonda’s take on owning your badassery.
Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Book Synopsis: The threat of war between the fae and the werewolves looms large after Mercy takes in a human child wanted by the fae.
My Review: I am a big fan of the Mercy Thompson series and book #9 did not disappoint. Adam finally put an end to discontent in the pack regarding his marriage to Mercy, thank goodness. The sniping was not only getting old, it was making some smart characters appear dumb, which is a pet peeve of mine. Zee and Tad also make a welcome return. Overall, if you enjoy urban fantasy books, I highly recommend this book, although suggest you start at the beginning with Moon Called.
To Read or Not to Read: Read it. Mercy is a strong female character and I love that her husband loves that about her too. 🙂
The Books that Treated Me Well
Books I enjoyed and didn’t leave me high and dry.
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
Book Synopsis: Two young girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day, they will be charged with murder. 25 years later, their paths cross once again when one of the girls discover a dead body.
Book Review: This book covers a lot of themes from nature versus nurture, social class to redemption. Can you be redeemed? And if you can, will society allow you to be redeemed and forgive past sins? I like hopeful endings and this book does not have one, which upset me at first. I stomped around and whined about it to my cat (who was unsympathetic), then I went back and reread the last couple of chapters. Marwood gave it the right ending. Any other would have rang false and it broke my heart. This book made me think about how we like to be judge, jury and executioner, which can turn us into villains too.
To Read or Not to Read: Read it. It slows down a bit in the middle, but once the girls truly reconnect, it moves fast. It wasn’t a tearjerker, which actually makes me feel like I should shed a few tears for them now.
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Book Synopsis: Two sisters, Claire and Lydia, have been estranged for 20 years. The murder of Claire’s husband and the disappearance of a teenage girl bring them back together, along with the certainty that these two events are connected to the disappearance of their own sister 25 years ago.
My Review: This book has been recommended so often that I figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about. The killings are depraved and vile, although not the first book I have read dealing with these types of murders (not sure what that says about me). There were times where I wanted to throw one of Claire’s Louboutin’s at her head, but all was forgiven with her take no prisoner’s response once she got her hands on the killer. I also like that the killer wasn’t a cartoon villain but a cunning and worthy opponent.
To Read or Not to Read: Read it if you don’t mind graphic violence.
The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Book Synopsis: Department Q is where has-been detectives go to solve unsolvable, cold cases.
My Review: I inadvertently checked out book #2 first, so I had to run back to the library (only a block away!) for book #1, hence the 2-for1. Because publishers like to name-check other famous authors to appeal to their audience, it didn’t surprise me that Adler-Olsen was compared to Stieg Larsson. Larsson is Swedish and Adler-Olsen is Danish, which somehow makes them similar, I guess. I was a huge fan of the Millennium Trilogy (hated The Girl in the Spider’s Web like Lisbeth hates her father) but they are very different from one another. Carl Morck, Assad and Rose have the potential to be really great characters but currently lack depth. The villains also tend to be rather one-note. However, I like him enough to keep reading and hope the characters become more fleshed out.
To Read or Not to Read: Read them. They are not necessarily beach reads (ya know – murder and mayhem) but are not heavy, emotional reads either.
The Book I Hugged and Hurled
I’m going to start ranting from here on out. You have been forewarned.
In the Woods by Tana French
Book Synopsis: As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
My Review: French is a very good writer, and her descriptions were, at times, breath-taking. The new mystery is not really similar to what happened to Ryan beyond involving a child, and I guessed the culprit pretty quickly. What sold me on reading the book (and why I included the entire book flap description) was the mystery behind the disappearance of his friends. It ends without us knowing what really happened 20 years ago, which didn’t bother me initially. Knowing this was a series, I assumed (and you know what they say about assuming) we would continue to learn more about that fateful day and eventually find out what happened at some point. Wrong. The next book isn’t about Ryan. Nor is the next or the next or ever. I don’t mind ambiguous endings; in fact, I like them, except in a mystery. I can grudgingly accept justice not being served, but not knowing the “who” behind a central mystery makes me mad, especially after I gave the book hours of my time. Thus, my love/hate relationship with Tana French and while I appreciate her writing, I don’t trust her. Henceforth, she has been abjured a la True Blood style from my reading list.
To Read or Not to Read: Skip it if you need a Scooby-Doo reveal like me. Read it if you can stand not knowing and won’t still be twitchy about it weeks later.
Books Who Done Did Me Wrong
More ranting to commence in 3, 2, 1 …
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
I enjoyed the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices books. The world she created was interesting, but I wonder if she is getting bored with it. This book was 720 pages of dullness. A little action would be happen, then lots of yada, yada, yada, followed by furtive looks between star-crossed lovers, blah, blah, blerch, snort, gag, ack. This is YA and I am definitely an adult, but there was more urgency in her previous books and the tropes didn’t feel so … tropy (it’s a word in my world). This book was highly rated so it might appeal to those who are actually her target audience.
To Read or Not to Read: Read it if you’re a diehard Shadowhunters fan, otherwise skip it if you’re an old coot like me.
Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust
I chose this book to be a palate cleanser in-between darker reads. But I knew it wasn’t meant to be when the main character said she had never experienced “calm before the storm” on the first page. I thought she must be very young, naive and sheltered because most teens understand such a basic concept and have experienced it too. On the next page, we learn her husband of 20 years had abruptly divorced her and was dating someone only a few years older than their kids. Just one example of her stupidity. There are more but sharing them would turn me into a raging mini-Hulk.
To Read or Not to Read: I did not finish the book due to extreme stupidity.
TL;DR – My Recommendations
Okay, here’s the short and sweet of it: The must-reads are All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs (for those who like Urban Fantasies) and The Wicked Girls by Andrew Marwood. Avoid at all costs: Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust.
To Another Great Reading Month
Confession time: I did it again. I swore I wouldn’t put a ton of books on hold at the library but ummmmmm …. I currently have 15 reserved. Some will take months to eventually make their way to me due to the long waiting list, but when they do, it will happen at once and when I have no time to read. 🙂 #FirstWorldBookProblems. The life of a book nerd is awesome.
What great books did you read this month? Or ever. I obviously need more books to add to my reading list, so please share. 🙂