I’ve been on a mad reading tear the last few weeks because I was horrified to discover that I had fallen behind on my 2016 reading challenge. Now that I’m on track again it occurs to me that I could take this opportunity to fill you in on the books I’ve finished recently. There are 15 so far for 2016 and I have listed them below, along with the number of stars I gave them and my Goodreads review.
After You by JoJo Moyes, 4 Stars
I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel to Me Before You. I think that Moyes describes grief in all facets perfectly (what is up with all of the books I’m reading lately with grief themes, though?) and I loved reading about how Lou handled life after Will and all of the blessings and changes that came her way because of him. Moyes now has the perfect set up for another in this series should inspiration strike and I’m sure I’d eagerly read that as well. Recommended for those who enjoyed Me Before You.
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, 3 stars
I liked this book very much – right up until the ridiculous reveal near the end. It felt forced and contrived but it honestly didn’t spoil the story for me. I liked that the narrator is a young man as so many YA novels seem to be from the perspective of young women. And I liked that Ezra tried, and sometimes failed, to live his life in a new way. Stereotypes abound but the main characters felt real and I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA fiction.
X by Sue Grafton, 4 stars
When I started this book I though, oh ho hum, another Kinsey Millhone story, more of the same. But, you know what? This one is better than the last few and Sue Grafton is definitely not coasting towards the letter Z. Well written, with some of the same characters and settings, but new ones, too, and enough of a mystery to keep me guessing.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, 2 stars
It seems like everyone I know that read this book loved it but it left me cold. I found it repetitive and uneventful and I had a hard time keeping track of all the characters. I am slightly curious about what happens in the other books in the series but I can’t picture myself actually reading them.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, 4 stars
This book is like a real life version of The Fault in Our Stars, a book that I loved but that has a completely romanticized approach to teenage cancer. In this book, there is still a teenager with cancer but she’s not a saint and neither are her friends. No one has a great epiphany about the meaning of life, no one falls in love and there’s no big tear jerker moment. But it’s great. Sad and funny and definitely recommended.
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny, 4 stars
While I didn’t love Still Life, the first in this series, I completely fell in love with the community of Three Pines when I read this one. Gamache is wonderful and the setting is beautifully and perfectly described. The mystery itself had me guessing (almost) until the end. Highly recommended for those who enjoy mysteries.
Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight, 4 stars
I love when you have a whole day to read and a book that is utterly compelling falls into your lap. Intriguing, fast-paced and unpredictable, I highly recommend this one.
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, 4 stars
A companion to Life After Life and, for me anyway, not quite as good but still amazing. Atkinson writes so beautifully and opens up a way for us to think about life in a non-linear way that is eye-opening. Life is truly full of “what ifs” and the only thing that’s real is right now.
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, 4 stars
I’m a sucker for any story set during WWII so it’s no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A little predictable and definitely some stereotyping of characters but a great story nevertheless.
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, 4 stars
This is an awesome book about figuring out who you really are, coming alive by breaking out of your comfort zone, and feeling the sun on your face when it’s your moment to shine. If you happen to love Grey’s Anatomy it’s even better. Highly recommended.
Wreckage by Emily Bleeker, 4 stars
Fast paced and entertaining, a little predictable but I didn’t see the end coming. Recommended for those who like survival stories with a bit of mystery and romance thrown in, too.
600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster, 3 stars
Quite good and rather similar to The Rosie Project. I do sort of feel like Edward’s change is a bit unrealistic but this is entertaining, amusing and heartwarming nevertheless.
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny, 4 stars
My favorite in this series so far. Such beautiful writing, the setting is idyllic and the descriptions of the food make my mouth water. The main story – another murder in Three Pines – is interesting but what’s truly compelling is the back story about Gamache. How I love that man and all he represents! Highly recommended for lovers of well written mysteries.
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, 3 stars
I’m not one to read horror novels (unless it’s Stephen King) and I’m not a big fan of zombie stories but for some reason this book appealed to me. It’s not for the squeamish but it presents a new concept and a ray of hope for the post apocalyptic zombie world and for that reason I enjoyed it.
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers, 4 stars
A beautiful collection of short stories. My problem with short stories, though, remains: I’m just getting into it and it ends. Highly recommended.
Have you read anything great lately? Tell me about it!
You’re really cranking ’em out! Looks like you’ve read some really great books. (Count me in the loved-My-Brilliant-Friend camp. . . ) So far, my favorite book of the year is “The Tsar of Love and Techno” by Anthony Marra. (Yeah. The same guy who wrote “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.”) Right now, I’m reading A Little Life (love). Happy reading!
Judy H says
Thanks for the reading suggestions. I’m not a quick reader like you but do enjoy reading. I think I’ll look for books by Louise Penney at the library today. I love a good mystery.
Thanks for the reading update. I drifted away from Louise Penny after A Fatal Grace, but think I might need to try The Cruelest Month. The last really great book I read was My Name is Lucy Barton. I’ve been looking for my next 5-star, can’t-put-it-down book, but haven’t come across it yet!
I really love the Gamache books. She is apparently going to do a book of recipes from Three Pines – I can’t wait! (I wish I could go there …)
I always love your book reviews – always a favorite! I’ve read some of these, but will quickly put the remaining on my list to read next. I feel as if I’m a fast reader, but I always feel as if you someone willed the gods to give you far more that 24 hours in each and every day…you’re amazing!
so glad to hear that there is SOMEONE else out there left wondering what all the fuss about My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is….. it left me cold…. I can’t even remember if I bothered to finish it.
Kim in Oregon says
I just read “The Lightkeepers” and really liked it.
I loved all four of the Neapolitan novels. They, as well as “The Tsar of Love and Techno”, are my top books for 2015. You have many books on your list I’m going to check out. Thank you for keeping us up to date!
I can’t wait to give Louise Penny a try. I wanted to comment on X. I’m tired of the dated scenario with no cell phone or computer etc. It’s frustrating to me and at this point I think it lacks imagination.
Adding Louise Penny to my reading list! Thank you for the well-curated suggestions. For me, the last books I read that I could not put down were the Child 44 trilogy by Tom Rob Smith. Absolutely fantastic reads! If only every book could be so good.
Thanks for the reading update. Normally mysteries don’t appeal to me (although I did like Gone Girl) but some of the ones you listed sound interesting.
thanks for all the reviews! how is it possible that 2016 is almost 1/4 over?!? my favorite books this year include four of Sarah MacLean’s regency romances, Circling the Sun and When Breath Becomes Air.