Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book List 2016

Books I've read this year with a few comments (when I remember to do it)
Some of the books I forgot to write about when I read them so I have added synopsis found online to refresh my memory.

I read a lot of books just for enjoyment this I have most years I would say.  This next year I want to read more non-fiction and more books that will improve me and not just keep me occupied.

Me Before You-- Jojo Moyes
I've actually read this twice.  I discovered that there was a sequel so I reread this one before getting the sequel. A good, if sad, read.  The story of a caregiver for a quadriplegic and how they fall in love.

One Plus One-- Jojo Moyes
I liked her other book so I've been systematically checking out all of her books from the library as they become available.  I liked this one a lot.  Nothing deep here but I'm a sucker for a good love story.

After You-- Jojo Moyes
The sequel to Me Before You.  I enjoyed it a lot.

Silver Bay-- Jojo Moyes
Yes, the first four books I read in 2016 were all by the same author. This one took me longer to get into but in the end I really enjoyed it!  The story of a community really.  A beautiful bay trying to keep from getting taken over by tourists.

A Town Like Alice --Nevil Shute
This book was recommended to me by a friend here in my neighborhood.  It's her favorite book and I found it at a garage sale and then promptly forgot about it.  Found it in my side table drawer a few months later... It's the story of a woman who survives the war as a prisoner of the Japanese and what she does afterwards. A good read.  Different.

The Rent Collector-Camron Wright
February Book Club book. This book is a favorite of a neighbor of mine.  I found it at a garage sale.  It was good, I enjoyed it.  But sad...its about someone living in the dump in India and so many hardships! But then her attitude is so good even amidst the hardships.  So there's definitely a good lesson. One of the characters survived the Khmer Rouge and it reminded me of the people I know from my ward back in Mass who survived this terrible thing.  Strong and resilient people.

The Last Letter from your Lover--Jojo Moyes
My least favorite of her books so far.  The two love stories in this book both involved married people. I can't get into a love story involving infidelity.  If your spouse is a jerk, leave them and THEN find the one you love.  Don't use the jerk of a spouse as an excuse.  The characters did have honest moments of realizing their mistakes in this area but I just have trouble finding anything romantic or lovely in a story of infidelity.

The language of Flowers--Vanessa Diffenbaugh-I have read this one before but it was the book club book for March.  I really like this makes me want to buy flowers and make bouquets with secret meaning to them.  It's the story of a broken girl who has been in and out of lots of foster homes.  She finds love in a woman who wants to adopt her but she is so broken that she manages to ruin even that.  She struggles so much but the knowledge she got from her (almost) adoptive mom gives her joy through her struggles.  I wonder how many of us sabotage our own happiness in much the same way.  I like books with happy endings and this book has one, thank heaven.

The Light Between Oceans--M.L. Steadman-The story of a light house keeper and his wife.  After she loses several pregnancies, a small child is washed ashore in a boat with a dying (dead? I can't remember) man.  They claim her as their own but the decision eats at the man...

Edenbrooke--Julianne Donaldson- It bugged me at first because it feels like a Pride and Prejudice knock off...but the characters grew on me.  And I like this period of time so, yeah, I got sucked in and enjoyed it.

Defending Jacob--William Landay-Interesting and disturbing.  The story of a family and what they go through as their son is accused of a terrible crime.

The art of Racing in the Rain--Garth Stein-Told from a dog's point of view.  I like this one a lot. A dog's relationship to his owner and his owner's wife.

A Sudden Light--Garth Stein-I read this because I liked "The Art of Racing in the Rain" so much. This is an unusual story involving a family coming to terms with the past.  Involves a weird/haunted old house that has been in the family for a long time...and a 14 year old boy learning about the family's past.

The Forgotten Garden--This is a book club book for April.  Turns out I have read this one before too! I liked it...again.  Its one of those books that switches back and forth between characters and even between times, so I would sometimes get confused and then look back to realize that I'd missed the chapter heading telling me that I was now in 1900, not 1997.  Good story though overall.

The Burgess Boys--I had read this author once before so I decided to try another of her books. The first book I read of hers is Olive Kitteridge, which I really loved. Anyway, I really liked this book! Sort of the story of two brothers and the turns their lives took after their father was accidentally killed when they were little.  The interaction between them and their families, their sister and her boy.  Also a town's reaction to an influx of immigrants from Somalia. A lot going on but it all comes together and is quite interesting.

My Name is Lucy Barton--Elizabeth Strout- I really love Elizabeth Strout!  I love how she writes.  Her stories sometimes have bad language so I have trouble recommending her books to friends but I enjoy her stories so much.  She writes differently than any other writer that I have read.  And she makes me think.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up--Marie Kondo- I like being tidy and organized so I knew this one would speak to me.  I did like a lot of her ideas but she's more OCD than even me. haha.  I've started using some of her ideas but not all.

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag--Alan Bradley- The Flavia de Luce Mysteries are irresistible.  I read the first one but didn't realize it was a series until my bother told me there were lots more. So I began to read them all...

The One and Only Ivan--Katherine Applegate-The story of a caged Ape in an old mall and the other animals he's with and a girl.  Really enjoyable.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery.

All the Light We Cannot See--Anthony Doerr-Set in WWII, the story of a blind girl and her father and an orphan named Werner...and how their stories converge.

A Red Herring Without Mustard--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery

Speaking from  Among the Bones--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery

What Remains of Me--From the internet: Alison Gaylin-On June 28, 1980, Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.
Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high-profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent of both killings. But is she?
A good, if frustrating at times, mystery.

The Life We Bury--Allen Eskens- College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same.
Really good.

The Night Circus--Erin Morgenstern-So different! I had read it before but re-read it for book club.  I like it a lot. A duel between magical masters brings two people together in the Night Circus.

The Guise of Another--Allen Eskens-Having enjoyed his other book, I decided to read more of his books.  PG-13 at least.  Here is the synopsis from online:
Who was James Putnam? Answering that question may mean salvation for Alexander Rupert, a Minnesota detective whose life is in a serious downward spiral. A Medal of Valor winner, Alexander is now under subpoena by a grand jury on suspicion of corruption. He’s been reassigned to the Frauds Unit, where he is shunned by his fellow detectives, and he fears his status-seeking wife may be having an affair. When he happens across a complex case of identity theft, Alexander sees an opportunity to rehabilitate his tattered reputation.
But the case explodes into far more than he could have expected, putting him in the path of trained assassin Drago Basta, a veteran of the Balkan wars who has been searching for “James Putnam” for years. As his life spins out of control, Alexander’s last hope may be his older brother, Max, a fellow police detective who steps in to try to save his brother from the carnage his investigation has let loose.

America's First Daughter--Stephanie Dray-From online: In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

Cinder--Marissa Meyer-The first in a series of books that are kind of remakes of fairy tales in a different setting.  The series is called the Lunar Chronicles. I liked easy, fun sort of read.

Food--Jim Gaffigan- Obviously, it's Jim Gaffigan.  This is just a funny book for easy reading.

Scarlet--Marissa Meyer- A continuation of the Lunar Chronicles.

Secret Lives--Diane Chamberlain-An actress returns home to make a movie of her mother (who was an author and strange woman in many ways).  She learns a lot about her mother and about herself.

A Man Called Ove--Fredrik Backman- loved this book! About a cranky old man and the people in his life...he's suicidal and we learn why and watch him return to life.  I loved it.  Just saw that it's being made into a movie so I hope it's done well.

Before the Fall--Noah Hawley-the story of a plane crash and the people in it.  The only survivor is a struggling artist and a little boy. We hear their stories as well as those of the other people in the crash. 
And the aftermath and how it affects them all.

Cress--Marissa Meyer- Lunar Chronicles continued.

Stars Above--Marissa Meyer--Lunar Chronicles continued.

Seagull Book Reading (books from my job)
I'm trying to read books from Seagull book so that I can better tell people about the products.  It's not my usual type of reading in general (mainly the LDS fiction and LDS romances) so we shall see how it goes.

The Orchard--Krista Lynne Jensen- An LDS romance novel.  Decently cute story.  My first LDS fiction since I was a teenager so it was kind of weird to read.  I'll get used to it. haha.

Heaven Help Us!--Kari Rich-Just funny stories about being a Mom.  I like this kind of thing.  I like to laugh.

Sister's Arise! --Lynne Perry Christofferson-A book about how we as women can "rise up" and do better.  Very motivational without making me feel full of guilt over my shortcomings.

Love at first Note --Jenny Proctor-A love story about two musicians.  A cute, fast read.

In Their Own Words (Inspiring Autobiographical Stories from the Lives of the Prophets)--Susan Easton Black and Mary Jane Woodger-Found this hard to get into at first because it's all quotes from the latter day prophets so I had heard them before.  But as I kept going I found I was learning things about some of the prophets that I didn't know.  We hear or read quotes from Joseph Smith all the time but not as much about some of the others.  So in the end, it was good and interesting.  Makes me want to do better (or at least keep up with) writing my personal story.  It's fun to learn about people's lives.

How Four Feet of Plywood Saved the Grand Canyon--Interesting stories from American history.  Each story was only a few pages long so it was a quick and interesting read.  I enjoy history so this was a good one for me.

Audio Books:
Silent Sting by Claire Poulson
A murder mystery/love story.  Since starting to work at the LDS bookstore, I am trying to read some of the books there so I can help customers better.  I listened to this one as I drove back from AZ with my parents.  I haven't read LDS fiction since I was a teenager I think.  Honestly, it is not my cup of tea but I listened to the whole thing and it wasn't too painful.  I felt like the characters had no depth or nuance at all.  This is not an author I will keep reading I don't think.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
A book by a man (and scientist) who is dying. So good.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
The story of a girl who finds out her sister, who committed suicide at 16, is really alive and living under a different identity.

Maud's Line by Margaret Verble
(a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize which is why I chose it)
The story of a Native American young woman.  I didn't love it.  The reader was a bit monotone for one but also I had trouble really getting into this young woman's situation.  Too much sex and I felt like screaming "stop being so dumb!" to the girl. Shows some of the hopelessness of the time and circumstances.

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
The story of a new social worker in North Carolina as she works with the impoverished people of the area.  Takes place during a time of racial tension and state-mandated sterilizations.  Pretty eye opening about things that once took place.  Made me wonder if I could go against all that "my world" is telling me to do and to do the right thing anyway.

Winter by Marissa Meyer
I read and enjoyed all of these books which are sort of remakes of different fairy tales but in a future setting.  Kind of hard to describe but enjoyable.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
If you don't know what this one is about, you should read it.  It's Steinbeck after all.

Britt-Marie was Here by Frederik Backman
A woman who is obsessive compulsive or something...told from her point of view.  She moves to a small town for a job and meets new people and does new things.  I loved it.

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
The story of the rowing team of the 1936 Olympics.  Very good and inspiring.

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
A teeny-bopper book about a stoner boy and an over achiever girl who somehow meet up when she dreams.  How they are each dealing with their issues and helping each other out. By the end, the teenage angst was making me nuts.  I finished it just to make sure those two dummies actually got together.  Too much swearing.

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