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May 10, 2017


so some of yall may have noticed i've done a lot of reading in the past five months. or at least i've done a lot of reading for me. i've not done a reading recap post since december seventeenth. at that time my tally of books read since january 'thirteen was forty-eight. that's it -- an average of sixteen books a year. pathetic. since the beginning of this year i've read fourteen, and because i've read so much these past months, i FINALLY felt like i could come to the show us your books table. i'd wanted to in the past, but i'd only read (maybe) one book. and one book does not a blog post make. i figured summarizing what i'd read so far this year'd be a good way to transition from the recap list to participating in this linkup, hosted by jana and steph. this'll be chock full of stories, yall. the next one'll be just one month's worth. promise.

one. my true love gave to me: twelve holiday stories edited by stephanie perkins. i chose this book because of the short by rainbow rowell, who is at present my absolute favorite author. with the exception of carry on, i've loved everything she's written. her story, called midnights, shows mags (short for margaret, i think?) and noel on new year's eve three years in row (i think it's three. i've lent my copy to a friend, so i can't check). they are friends, but mags has fallen in love with the boy. and on this last new year's eve, she can't quite bear to be near him, can't watch him kiss some other gal when the clock strikes midnight. i found myself wishing she'd made this story a novel because i loved the characters so much. as far as compilations go, this one's typical: there's some really good ones in here, and there's some REALLY bad ones. the rowell story gets a five of five. the rest of the book gets a two.

two. the twelve days of dash and lily by rachel cohn and david levithan. i LOVE the idea of having two authors collaborate on a story, love that the chapters alternate points of view. love the premise: lily, a girl who generally has as much christmas spirit as santa claus, has none this year, and dash, a guy who generally has as little spirit as ebeneezer scrooge, is desperate to help revive it. but oh my god, for such a small book, it took me days to read it. for such a fantastic idea and with characters who should be so lovable, this falls pretty damned flat. two.


three. twenty wishes by debbie macomber. a gal who's husband has passed falls into horrible despair. on valentine's day, while she and her single friends are wallowing in despair, they decide to make lists: twenty wishes for themselves that they work toward making realities. not a completely awful idea for a novel. but good god. good GOD it was an awful book, yall. it's one of the worst things i've ever read. don't bother. big, fat zero.

four. i was told there'd be cake by sloane crosley. a memoir, a compilation of fifteen essays just over two hundred pages in length. i loved the title. she has a keen grasp on language and how to use it to tell a story, which is not to be confused with writing well. were she to have written it well, i would've finished it in a matter of hours. the voice is good. the writing is alright. maybe on the whole stories weren't as interesting as i would've liked. i'm not sure what bugs me about this book, other than i wanted to be able to finish it quickly, wanted to love it but couldn't. some of the stories, though, are really, really good. three.


five. thirteen reasons why by jay asher. met this author last year. a friend of mine and i spent time with him before and after a book signing hosted at an independent bookstore i adore in west houston called blue willow bookshop (WHY CAN'T YOU BE CLOSER, dammit!). my friend kept insisting i should read this book. i was wary because i battle some pretty fierce depression and my thoughts like to veer dangerously close to the bring far too often for my comfort, so i don't like to read books about suicidal characters. but finally i relented and am glad i did. when a girl kills herself, her school is shaken and confused by the tragedy. and then one day, a box of tapes arrives at a boy's house -- tapes she had recorded before, the reasons for her death. it's told well. i read it in a couple of hours. five.

six. the shack by william paul young. a man's daughter is kidnapped and killed, her body found in a shack. sometime later, the father receives a mysterious note requesting he return to the shack. curious, he does. he expects to find hell but gets heaven on earth instead. so twenty wishes is one of the worst books i've ever read. this one is THE WORST. don't bother. it's ATROCIOUS. a zero's too good for it.


seven. life after life by kate atkinson. ursula -- that's the name the author chose for her character. ursula. i cringe. anyway, every time she dies, the story resets to the day of her birth, and every time she's reborn one small detail changes everything about that life. i listened to this one rather than reading it. the only time i found myself gripped by the story was toward the end of the fifth disc (hello, library) and the beginning of the sixth. how ironic, really, that the middle should be so exceptional. that's usually not the case. otherwise, all too often i found myself thinking just die already. i know there was one point at which i actually shouted that at my car's stereo. let's see whether the next life brings you some good... but none of them really do. i think there were twelve discs. GAH. how many times and in how many ways can you kill a character? a lot, apparently, and only one of them was all that impressive (the one at the beginning of the sixth cd). a friend of mine pointed out that the main character wasn't ursula at all, but one of her siblings. that pissed me off even more. just put me in that guy's story, then, dammit. two.

eight. we are okay by nina lacour. this one alternates from past to present, which i personally love, but i can understand that past is backstory and most people hate reading that. i'm usually intrigued by it, especially when it's told as though it were its own story... hence backstory. but whatever. this one's about a girl who's left behind everyone she knows and traveled cross country, from warm and golden california to the cold, bleak winter of new york for college. she's dreading the arrival over christmas break of a girl who was her best friend. she's dreading her past catching up with her. it's beautifully written. one of the most well-crafted stories i've ever read. it's gorgeous. that cover, though... BLEH. five.

nine. everything everything by nicola yoon. i opted to read this after suffering through life after life and the shack. i needed something quick and engaging, and this one didn't disappoint. the writing's not phenomenal, but it reads fast, which i liked. the story's not either -- and yet, the ending was, for me, completely unexpected, which i LOVED. i like the characters quite a bit. it's good. four.

ten. the divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood by rebecca wells. surely yall've seen the movie. if not you should because it's got a pretty damned fine cast, and the story's got some wicked power behind it. if not... sidda lee walker's in theater. she was recently interviewed for a magazine article, but the person writing the piece paints a negative portrait of sidda's childhood, which pisses her mother, vivi, off so much so that they're no longer speaking to each other. vivi's friends encourage her to send her daughter their memory book, their divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood. in perusing them, sidda learns of her mother's own childhood, one riddled with tragedy. i went for the audio recording on this one, too. wells reads it, and yall, i swear the film's cast must've listened to her tell the story because hearing wells voice teensy was like having fionnula flanagan read that part. so cool. the movie's better, i think. but the book's alright. four.

eleven. the jealous kind by james lee burke. set in fifties' era houston, a boy in high school's got the hots for a gal who's way out of his league, but when he overhears her having a fight with her boyfriend, he steps in... and gets his best friend and he in a heap of trouble with the mafia and other miscreants. burke said in his acknowledgements that he felt it's his best book yet, which makes me really not want to read anything else by him because this book, for all the conflict and characters in the story, is boring as shit. the writing's unimpressive, the voice uninteresting. one. 

twelve. the obsession by nora roberts. she used to be my favorite author. once upon a time, i could pick up one of her books without questioning whether it was good -- it was. always. and then, maybe a decade ago, that stopped being the case, so i've become more wary. the beginning of this one got me thinking she was back to being badass, and then it fizzled out and never really ignited again. a young girl, naomi, follows her father into the darkness and finds a cellar. when the father's not looking, the girl goes inside to find a girl he's kidnapped and tortured. naomi frees her and helps her find safety, and in doing so alters her life forever. she becomes a photographer, never settling in any one place or involving herself with anyone for too long. then she falls in love with a house on the washington coast... then she falls for a dog... and then a man. and then the killing begins -- women tortured and murdered just as her father had done. it's a good story. the characters are alright. but it's told like every. other. roberts. novel. in. existence. if i wanted more of the same, i'd reread one of her better books. still, the beginning is powerful. three.

thirteen. the secret life of bees by sue monk kidd. lily lost her mother when she was young and has been raised, poorly, by her father and, decently, by a woman who works for her father. when her caretaker gets in trouble and is jailed for her actions, lily decides that she must rescue the woman, and together they hightail it to tiburon, south carolina. there, they meet a woman and her two sisters and learn all kinds of things about bees and humans being. i borrowed the audio from the library. the gal who reads it does a phenomenal job. it's a BEAUTIFUL book, yall. the best-written novel on this list. it needs to be at, or at least near, the very top of your to be read list. so good. so glad erin talked me into reading this one. FIVE.

fourteen. just one damned thing after another by jodi taylor. i needed another book about time travel for erin's book challenge, but both of the ones i'd chosen (time between us by tamara ireland stone and the rose garden by susan kearsey) weren't doing it for me. a friend recommended this one about a gal who's recruited to work as a historian for a super secret agency, traveling through time for research purposes. i was intrigued. i liked the characters. i liked the premise of the story. but it is just one damned thing after another, and maybe it's one thing too many. also there's what i think is a pretty crucial detail with regard to the major conflict that isn't fully addressed, and while i liked the story well enough, i'm not reading seven more books for the resolution. three.

placement in the reading recap queue: bees would be after eleanor and park; we are okay would come after wonder; thirteen reasons would go after that; everything everything then divine secrets would follow one day; one damned thing and obsession would be after a school for unusual girls; twelve holiday stories and cake would come after the truth about alice; life after life and twelve days of dash and lily would go after divergent; the jealous kind would follow all there is: love stories from storycorps; and twenty wishes then shack would be at the absolute bottom.

additions (i'd neglected to include) to the ones i'd started list: the lake househope was herethe death and life of zebulon finch; playlist for the dead; the opposite of lonelinessthe bookshop on the cornerlittle beach street bakery; and wait for me.

additions to the ones (i wish i could've) took back because they bored me list: the absolutely true diary of a part-time indian (in truth, this was donated to a youth shelter at christmas... i might get it again. maybe); althea and oliver (also donated; i won't get it again); a stained white radiance (coincidentally by burke... the writing was better, the story might've been alright but it wasn't one i could read); the storied life of a.j. fikry (i'd been listening to the audio... the dude started saying how he'd missed his wife's armpits... i'll stop there, thanks); time between us (the more i listened to this one, the more i found myself making fun of it); yes please (tried. no, please); the rose garden (i won't read outlander; why would i read its fan fiction?); the sun is also a star (i'm quite capable of sympathy, yall; those who know me well can attest to this. but i can't read a book about an undocumented family and their plight. come to america, yes. absolutely. but don't take advantage of her and don't let others do so). 

tally: sixty-two. i'm going to see if i can get to a hundred by the year's end. one of my new year's resolutions was to finish both the regular and bonus lists for both of erin's book challenges this year. if i do that, i can get damned close.

5 comments :

  1. I loved the Ya-Yas, I read it long before the movie came out though. I also loved The Secret Life of Bees. Excellent book that holds up through the years.

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  2. YAY! I love these lists. So many great reads on here (The Secret Life of Bees) and others that I've heard of but never read. Thanks for this--I'll have to add some of these to my Goodreads list :) Hope you're having a great week!!

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  3. Thirteen Reasons Why was excellent.

    The Shack? Is that the book that movie with Octavia Spencer is based on? Because I have no interest in either (the book or the movie. I love Octavia Spencer)

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  4. The "sequel" of sorts to Life After Life was A God in Ruins and it's definitely about the brother's side of the story. I didn't like it as much as Life After Life, but most people preferred it?

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  5. Debbie Macomber lives near me and her books are always a big hit when they come out, but I've never read one I liked. I'm just not into her. I loved Thirteen Reasons Why! Life After Life has been on my list forever, but I don't think I'm ever going to get to it.

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