November and December Reads

Thanks to the holidays, I got lots of reading done in November and December! My final total for the year was 44, so in 2014 I’m aiming to beat that and setting my Goodreads goal at 45 books. Keep reading to find out what I thought of each book (click the titles for links).

RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA

About- A teenage girl dies suddenly and her mother tries to pick up the pieces and discover what lead to her death.

Why I picked it- At the time I was looking for a little bit of a thriller and I saw this recommended on Grace’s blog.

Grade B This is great if you’re looking for a quick and captivating read. There were a couple twists in there that I didn’t expect. I think I also saw this recommended somewhere for people who are fans of Gone Girl. I didn’t think it was nearly as great as Gone Girl but it was a good read.

THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND

About- Two strong women who face a lot of heartbreak in their lives and a special painting that connects them.

Why I picked it- I really enjoyed Me Before You so I thought I’d read this latest book by Jojo Moyes.

Grade A- This book is set in two different time periods and it was a bit of a slow start for me at first. Then, just when I was getting hooked on Sophie’s story (the first main character), the narrative switches to the second main character, Liv. The author does do a really good job of weaving the lives of these two women together. My only little complaint is that I wish a bit more of the book was written from Sophie’s perspective because I thought her life was more interesting.

THE OTHER TYPIST

About- An ordinary girl whose life is changed forever when she makes a dangerous new friend.

Why I picked it- It was recommended somewhere, but unfortunately I can’t remember where.

Grade B+ This book actually turned out to be more sinister than I thought it would be. Rose, the protagonist, meets Odalie, the villain, at the beginning of the book and then we see how Rose’s life basically falls apart in the span of one year. I really enjoyed the setting- Prohibition era in New York. The most interesting part of this book for me was understanding what motivates each character to act the way that they do.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA

About- A quiet teenage boy named Miles and the girl he loved.

Why I picked it- Both my sister and Hope told me I should read this book. Plus The Fault in Our Stars was so darn good- I wanted more John Green!

Grade A- Ugh, John Green, why are you always pulling at my heartstrings? I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say I was tearing up a bit with this book too. I didn’t hit me as hard as The Fault in Our Stars did, but I was still surprised by the turn of events. There was one quirky thing about Miles that I really liked; he has a knack for remembering famous last words. It’s kind of morbid, but also interesting too- I felt like I learned something.

THE CIRCLE

About- A young woman gets a job at The Circle, a powerful internet company, and her ambition drives her to climb higher and higher up the ranks.

Why I picked it- Many of the early reviews said this was a good read and I thought it would make a good pick for my book club.

Grade B So this actually ended up being a very divisive book for my book club: two people didn’t like it at all, one was in the middle, and two of us liked it. The people in book club who’d read other books by Dave Eggers tell me that his other works are much better. For me, this book was all about the critique of social media and how it’s taking over our lives. As a blogger, this hit close to home and raised some interesting points. This book sparked a lot of discussion and even though it wasn’t everyone’s favorite, I stand by this as my book club pick!

THE EXPATS

About- A stay-at-home mom has a secret that she has to hide from everyone in her life, including her husband.

Why I picked it- A friend was reading this for her book club and I was intrigued, so I borrowed it from the library.

Grade B- This book had a really interesting premise, but it just jumped all over the place. I wanted to love this book, but the disorganization threw me for a loop. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting, but it was often unclear what time it was or what the setting was in any given chapter. Also, once you figure out the main character’s secret, I wanted a lot more backstory. I always want to understand what drives a character and I didn’t get enough of that here.

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND

About- One special book changes a boy’s life and causes him to investigate the mysterious life of the book’s author.

Why I picked it- Recommended to me by a friend at work.

Grade A+ Unsurprisingly, I love books about people who love books. This book would definitely have to be my favorite of the bunch. It’s wonderfully written, the story is intriguing throughout, and I love the gothic setting in post World War II Spain. When I went home last month, I discovered that I had another book by this author in the original Spanish. I hadn’t read that one, but now I’m thinking that I’ll read another one of his books, but maybe attempt to read it Spanish (that would certainly be a challenge)!

DIVERGENT

About- A young girl who lives in a dystopian world where being different is very dangerous.

Why I picked it- Another one that Hope recommended it to me. Thanks Hope, you’re really knocking it out of the park with your recommendations!

Grade A- I’ll admit it- I really like YA fiction. This book hooked me and I read it in one day. I’m dying a tiny bit because I wanted to read the next book in the series right away, but I’m still waiting for it in the library queue. Since I was in the mood for fantasy/dystopian YA fiction, I picked up The Bone Season to tide me over (more on that in a future post!).

THE WHITE QUEEN

About- The War of the Plantagenets and the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a woman who rose from commoner to queen.

Why I picked it- I spotted this in Alex‘s room and asked to borrow it for my trip home last month.

Grade B+ I really like historical fiction. I went through a phase in middle school/high school where I read several Philippa Gregory novels. I didn’t know a lot of the history behind this book because it precedes Henry VIII and The Tudors, so I enjoyed learning about that time period. Also, apparently they made a miniseries based on these books and it aired on Starz last summer, so I’d love to watch it if I can find it.

Tell me: What was your favorite book in 2013?

  • Jenmarie

    I’m not huge into books but I saw the Divergent movie trailer and it seemed very similar to The Hunger Games. What do you think?
    stylethroughhereyes.com

    • http://starcrossedsmile.com/ Nnenna

      It’s similar in that it’s young adults in a dystopian setting who kind of have to rise up and save the world. I think I still like Hunger Games better, but I’ve only read 1 out of 3 of the Divergent novels, so maybe I should wait and see.

  • http://iamchiconthecheap.com/ Lyddiegal

    I love my YA books – they are just such satisfying read. I’ll definitely go pick up divergent.

    • http://starcrossedsmile.com/ Nnenna

      Let me know what you think of Divergent!

  • http://www.rivercityreading.com/ Shannon @ River City Reading

    I recently added The Circle to the list of possibilities for my book club for exactly the reasons you gave, sometimes I think the books that end up being divisive are the best! There’s only so much you can talk about if everyone loves a book. (Plus, I’ve really been wanting to read it!)

    • http://starcrossedsmile.com/ Nnenna

      Yes, I totally agree. I think my book club had its most interesting discussion thus far about The Circle because we all felt so differently about it. I’d love to know what you think if you do end up reading it!

  • krystal/avillagetown.com

    i loooove book recommendations so this is a great post, will check some out!

    • Nikki Odeluga

      Me too! Although I get sad as my “to read” list inevitably grows, while my “have read” list plateaus.

      • http://starcrossedsmile.com/ Nnenna

        Well you’re in school so I imagine you don’t really have a lot of time to read for pleasure (I didn’t when I was in school!).

    • http://starcrossedsmile.com/ Nnenna

      Thanks Krystal! I would love to hear what you think if you do decide to read any of these :)