Books I Read: May 2014

38.  The Smart One

the smart one

I read this because I really really loved Girls In White Dresses.  I liked this book, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as Girls In White Dresses, and one of the characters was so incredibly annoying that she almost ruined the book for me.

39.  The Museum of Intangible Things

museum of intangible

I liked this.  It was a little weird.  Think “The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake”, lite.  If you hated that book, I don’t think this book is for you.  But this was definitely some of the better YAF I have read in awhile and one of the better books I read this month.

40.  Young God

young god

Well this isn’t light reading, let’s put it that way.  If you liked Salvage the Bones or Winter’s Bone, it reminded me a little of that, although those were better.  I’d say this was uneven.  I am glad I read it, and I made Erik read it, which means I thought it was interesting and I wanted to talk about it with someone, but we both had some issues with it.  And it’s not for the easily upset – the main character is 13 years old and is doing a great deal of things 13 year olds should not be doing.

41.  Since You’ve Been Gone

since you've been gone

So these two girls are best friends and one of them leaves with no explanation except a letter telling the other one to do a list of stuff.  Which is all well and good except that the girl is who left behind is such an incredible dud that this boring list of boring dud type activities throws her into a complete tizzy. I mean, who wouldn’t have their world ROCKED by picking an apple IN AN APPLE ORCHARD?! I know, crazy pants.  The second problem is that the reason that the other girl left is a GIANT SUPER DUPER EXCITING MYSTERY and then turns out to be an extremely stupid reason for anyone to disappear and to never talk to their best friend again.  Not a fan of this dreck.

42.  We Were Liars

we were liars

This was no Frankie Landau-Banks, I’ll tell you that.  I mean, it was fine, but FLB was a MASTERPIECE, and this is two hundred pages of overwrought foreshadowing and super obvious melodrama.

43.  What I Thought Was True

what I thought was true

I read her first book (My Life Next Door) and was underwhelmed.  It was fine, very Sarah Dessen Lite.  But I REALLY liked this book.  Really really a lot.  Like, I’d read it again.  There was a slightly stupid plot point that you have to be able to ignore, but otherwise it really is a great summer YAF romance.  My favorite book of the month.

44.  Boy, Snow, Bird

boy snow bird

Hmmm.  This was interesting, and enjoyably weird in that flowery overwritten sultry style that I always like, but the ending was ROTTEN.  Seriously seriously bizarre and jarring and super creepily written.

45.  City of Heavenly Fire

city of heavenly fire

I mean, I read the first five, I had to read this one, but perhaps it did not need to be 752 pages long.  Everything wrapped up satisfactorily, but I still think there are better books in the series.  It was so drawn out.  Also,

 

SPOILER ALERT:

 

 

 

props to Cassandra Clare for promoting safe sex and all that but seriously? Your character brings a condom to a demon realm? Just have some unsafe sex and leave me with my illusions.  YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL ME ABOUT THE FOIL CRINKLING IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE THAT IS ACTUALLY HELL.

 

 

 

Spoiler Ended.

 

46.  All the Summer Girls

all the summer girls

I wanted to like this but in reality by two thirds of the way through this book all three of these ladies could have drowned in the ocean off the Jersey Shore and I still would have yawned because that’s how boring they were.

 

 

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Books I Read: April 2014

29. Dept. of Speculation

dept of speculation

I accidentally requested this from the library yesterday when I’ve obviously already read it, if that shows what kind of an impression it made on me.  I rated it four stars and I have NO idea what it’s even about.  I just read the description and I still can’t remember it.  I guess I liked it. ???  It seems pretty clear this didn’t rock my world, though.

30.  Far From You

far from you

I believe I also have this on request, so I’m doing well keeping my shit together, clearly.  Maybe send me some ginkgo biloba or something.  Oh, yes, this.  This was fine.  I had nothing else to read at the time and it didn’t violently annoy me, so yeah. It was perfectly fine.

31.  Why Is It Always About You? Saving Yourself From the Narcissists In Your Life

why isit always about you

I found this book helpful.

32.  Dreams of Gods and Monsters

dreams of gods and monsters

Loved it. Totally redeemed my dislike for the second book in the series. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is still my favorite of the three, but this was a great ending book.  I had a ton of fun reading it. It wasn’t like the first book where I told everyone I knew to read it RIGHT THE HECK NOW, but it was a very satisfying finale.

33.  We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

we are all completely

Hmmmm. I didn’t hate it. Some parts of it were very good, some parts of it were merely ok. Uneven, I guess we call that.  Amazon would have you believe it’s the best book ever written but I didn’t wet my pants over it or anything.  I wouldn’t say I was completely beside myself over it.  HA SEE WHAT I DID THERE!?

34.  Four Seconds to Lose

four seconds to lose

Smutty book number three in the “Ten Seconds To Something Or Other I Forgot What” Series. Meh.

35.  The Stone Girl

the stone girl

I thought this was a pretty realistic depiction of what it’s like to have an eating disorder, but it was sort of one note, and there was no real resolution. The end got weird. Also, holy pushover, Batman.

36. Spellbound

spellbound

This was one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time. Lucky for us it’s listed on Goodreads as Spellbound #1, so there will surely be more piles of unreadable dreck in this illustrious line.

37.  How to Love

how to love

This was my favorite book of the year so far. I ABSOLUTELY think this is the kind of book that you love or hate, and I ABSOLUTELY understand why someone would hate it.  I even kind of think maybe I SHOULD have hated it, but I didn’t. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. It reminded me of why I read YAF, how much it means to me when it just WORKS. I want to buy it and read it again and people, that NEVER happens.  NEVER.  If you don’t like sort of jerky unnatainable love interests (CALL ME JORDAN CATALANO) and quirky shy heroines who have a hard time standing up for themselves…oh, I’m making this sound just terrible.  I just…well, you might hate it. I loved it. Let’s leave it at that.

 

 

 

 

What I Read This Month: February 2014

14. Lost and Found

lost&found

I have to make a teeny little embarrassing confession which does not cast me in the best of light, which is that I put off reading this book because as we all know, I hate everything, and I was worried I wouldn’t like it even though I really like Shalini and then we would have awkward times. You can see I have a lot of faith in my friends.  P.S. It’s just great knowing me.

The good news for all of us is that I really really liked this book.  Is it perfect? No, but I enjoyed it more than most things I have read for quite some time, and I thought it was fun and I loved Oliver and I loved Delaney and I loved her friends.  Highly entertaining.  Am a fan.

15. Knight School

knight school

Oh, god, this was just stupid, but at the same time? I can’t lie, it was entertaining. It was probably 50-100 pages too long and it ended in a very annoying cliffhanger, but it was perfectly serviceable vacation reading.  Although I did tell Erik “This book is so stupid” about a hundred times while I was reading it. And every time I told someone the title or the plot premise, we all laughed our asses off.  Also, if you want to read a book about school wars and you haven’t read either Jellicoe Road or The Chocolate Wars, don’t be wasting your time on Knight School.

16. Midwinter Blood

midwinterblood

Oh god,  this won the Printz Award. All hope is lost.

17. Thank You For Your Service

thank you for your service

This was amazing.  Amazing. With the caveat that if reading really depressing things about people with anxiety and major life stresses makes you anxious, maybe don’t read this one.  But seriously, I generally don’t with the non fiction and I loved this. I agree with every rave review I’ve read of this so far.

18. Maggot Moon

maggot moon

I kind of liked this book? I think I did. It was very odd, but I liked it. Although it reminded me of that tiger book, um, Life of Pi? Where I thought I was supposed to be getting something very obvious that certainly everyone else gets but that I so did not get.

19. The Obvious Game

the obvious game

Meh. Speaking of obvious, this was obviously…not that great.

Why I have I shoddily read only 19 books so far this year? I blame my wretched children and the internet.

Books I Read This Month: January 2014

Here we go.

1. Maisie Dobbs #1

maisie dobbs

This book was so incredibly boring, and yet so many people rave about it! I had to ask on Instagram if it was just me, and nope, it’s not just me.  No more from you, Maisie S. Dobbs.  (The S is for Super Boring.)

2. Rose of No Man’s Land

rose of no man's land

I wanted to like this but the descriptions of the main characters epically disgusting personal hygiene was something I could not get past.  Ugh.  Still grossed out a month later.

3. Timebound (The Chronos Files)

timebound

This was very entertaining, although I had to ignore the confusing time traveling parts because they either didn’t actually make sense or I’m not that smart.

4. These Broken Stars

these broken stars

I loved this.  I can see all the problems that people had with it, and it is sort Titanic in Space, and also it didn’t really make sense at all, but whatevs, I still loved it. Favorite book of the month.  Girls kissing boys and wearing fancy shoes! My favorite.

5. Being Henry David

being henry david

This read like a school project where you were supposed to write a paper about Thoreau but you didn’t want to write a paper so you tried to write a clever story. It’d be fine as that, but as a novel, oh my god, stfu about Thoreau already.

6. Mermaid in Chelsea Creek

mermaid in chelsea creek

Oh yeah no. I tried, I really tried, but no.

7. On Such a Full Sea

on such a full sea

There was something very odd and off putting about this book. I think because it’s written in first person plural (we).  We find that really distancing from the story, somehow. We are not a fan.

8. The Impossible Knife of Memory

impossible knife

This is another one of those teen issue books, and I guess they can be ok, but I always get the feeling halfway through that I know exactly how everything is going to play out, and it’s always exactly how everything plays out and I’m over it, dudes.  I want a story, not a thinly veiled lesson on PTSD and its ramifications on everyone.  Yawn.

9. Reality Boy

reality boy

I loved “Please Excuse Vera Dietz” so much that I always find it surprising when I don’t like A.S. King’s other books, but this wasn’t for me.  It was super weird and I couldn’t get into it.

10.  Fiend

fiend

Speaking of super weird. It was definitely entertaining and different, I’ll say that for it. If you don’t want to read something that’s super gory and super violent and all about meth addicts and sex with loooooooots of swearing, this is not the book for you.  If you do, buy it right now! It’s got all those bases covered.

11.  &Sons

This novel was told from the point of view of a person so annoyingly unpleasant that it completely ruined the book for me. No, I don’t want to read a 500 plus book told by a pathetic losery wet blanket, thanks.

12.  The Ocean At the End of the Lane

ocean at the end of the lane

Oh man, I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated this book. I hated it so much I don’t know if I can put it into words.  LOATHED.  I don’t usually give one star reviews on Good Reads and I am aware that every other person in the world loved it, but I wanted to light it on fire. God, what an irritating book.

13. The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

the examined life

A psychoanalyst of 30 years relaying some of his cases. I thought it was interesting but I’m still not sure what the point of it was, exactly.

 

The Best Books I Read In 2013

(As usual, please note, these are not necessarily the best books YOU read in 2013, or the best books some critic at Salon read in 2013, they’re the best books I read in 2013, and some of them weren’t published in 2013, so in no universe do I claim that it’s THE DEFINITIVE LIST OF THE BEST BOOKS WRITTEN IN 2013.  It’s just the Best Books I READ in 2013.  And that maybe you didn’t like. Or won’t like.  Or hated. Or will hate. Got it? Ok then.)

Also to be noted is that this year was BLEAK in the world of Elizabeth’s Literary Trials. Last year I had a difficult time narrowing a list to 13 books and I had a ton of runner ups.  This year I had a hard time finding 10 and I don’t really have any runner ups.  I don’t know if it’s because I read less or just because I was in a bad mood or what the deal was, but I did go through all the “Best Of” lists put out by everyone and I’d read almost all the books on those lists and nope.  Just nope. I mean, Night Film? ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THAT?

Hold on a minute, I have to pause to throw some random italics in here.

Whatever. Here’s my favorite books from this past year.

1. Blind Sight

blind sight

I loved this book.  I just loved it.  It was that book that connects with a place you’ve been in your life as if the author knows that place, and has been there, and then writes about it and somehow fixes it a little bit for you simply with the writing down of it. With the exception of a tiny thing at the end, which I did not love, it really was a favorite this year.  It just hit home for me. I really hope Meg Howrey keeps churning out books because I am a big fan.  (I just found out she’s half of the alter ego Magnus Flyte and wrote this book! Best news ever!)

2. Eleanor & Park

e&p

This book has my heart.  It was, for me, perfection. Tied for my favorite book of the year.

I still remember having this book on hold at the library for ages, before anyone was really talking about it, and even though I was excited to read it I assumed it’d be either of no consequence or terrible.  The author’s name was RAINBOW, for god’s sake.  And then I read it and it lodged somewhere in my soul like a shard of glass, and then everyone else read it and people talked about it everywhere, Twitter and blogs and I sent copies to people I love and then Rainbow Rowell wrote a new book and then all of a sudden our world had been changed.  By someone named Rainbow, and the books she wrote.  And man, I just love that.  Today is different than 364 days ago because of BOOKS.  Best.

3. The Interestings

interestings

This was one of those books that I wasn’t sure about until after I finished reading it and gave it some breathing room, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the more I thought about it the more I liked it.  It was no Prep, but it was definitely worth a read, and the characters were fantastic.

4. Me Before You

me before you

I could not love a book more than I loved this book.  I loved every single thing about it. I am sad that I’ve already read it so I can never read it again for the first time.  This is my other favorite book of the year.  Absolutely the best in every way.

5. Life After Life

life after life

I’ve told everyone I know to read this book, and no one hasn’t liked it.  It’s really just wonderful. Fascinating, interesting, spellbinding, all the good adjectives.

6. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Bookstore

mr penumbra

God, I thought this was just such a great book.  Funny and smart and clever and interesting and fun. Finally a fun book! And I loved it.

7. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

constellation of vital phenomena

I will remain bitter to the end of my days that this book did not win the National Book Award. This is my high faluting literary favorite book of the year.  Seriously, this book.  A tour de force. Not a fun book, but nevertheless, amazing.

8. Fangirl  

fangirl

The other Rainbow Rowell book of the year.  While it did not hold my heart in its hand the way E&P did, I still really really really liked it.  I think most people prefer one or the other, and E&P is the one I LOVED, but this was still a really good book. For me, it was not EXCEPTIONAL the way that E&P was, but it was still better than 9/10th’s of the other crap I read this year.

9.  Heft

heft

I have no idea why I had never heard of this book, it was published in January of 2012, but my neighbor loaned me the paperback and I looooooooved it.  So heartbreaking and wonderful.

10.  The Orchardist

the orchardist

This was the first good book I read in 2013 and so it earns a spot on the list just for that.  I think I would describe it as a bit of a hard read, it’s not endearing, I wouldn’t say.  But to me the writing was so impressive and the story so heartfelt that it was worth the work of reading it.  I never would have thought it was the kind of thing I would love but I found myself thinking “Damn. Now that’s a writer,” the entire time I was reading it.  It’s a long, quiet, strange book, but it’s also majestic, in its way.

Don’t forget to go enter my give away if you haven’t yet, and thank you for all the good book suggestions over there! Here’s hoping 2014 is the Year I Love All The Books.

Books I Read In November and December. And a Give Away!

So one of my goals after gazillions of dollars worth of therapy is to read less.  I think it’s a healthy goal.  I know it might seem counter intuitive to say this while the rest of the world is resolving to read more, but for me reading had become a weird thing I was doing to meet a quota. I was reading books I hated just so I could add them to a list.  And worse, I was using it as a retreat from my family.  I’d go into my little bedroom cave and ignore everyone while my husband did bedtime and wrangled two high strung children and then watched tv by himself.

My life needs to not be a retreat, and it needs to not be lived  just so I can put on my blog that I read so! many! books! aren’t I AMAZING? My life needs to be something I love.  This is the year I do less things I think I am supposed to do so I can do more things I love.  Reading will always be a huge part of my life but it needs to be not a box I am trying to check off for imaginary life points, and not an everyday retreat from the real world.

So I don’t know if I will continue on listing out what I read every month. I don’t even know if I will continue writing here.  I didn’t WANT to write this post but I felt like I wanted to finish out my year of books, so I did it, but I am not going to spend a lot of time in 2014 making myself write blog posts I don’t want to write.  I do have a lot of thoughts but they seem really personal. I am holding things close to the vest, it seems. I am changing, I think, for the better, but it’s a gritty, strange, unknown process.  Who knows what will emerge in the end. Anyway.

This is what I read in November and December.  It’s barely anything, go me.

128.  The Husband’s Secret

the husbands secret

I have no idea why I read this, since I didn’t like What Alice Forgot.  Spoiler Alert: I didn’t like this either.

129. The Secret Keeper

the secret keeper

I tried so hard to like this because Janssen loved it but it just didn’t do it for me.

130. Cupcake Decorating Lab

cupcake decorating lab

Meh.

131.  Warm Bodies

warm bodies

Oh wow.  I SUPER SUPER SUPER HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATED this book.  The rage, it is still strong.

132.  The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

unseemly education

Full disclosure, one of my Super Friends, Jennie, sent me the galley of this book, but regardless of that, I really really really really liked it.  I loved the main character and it was such a fresh read after all the derivative YAF crap I have read this year and even if my friend did not work for the publisher, I promise you, I would have liked it. In fact I was rather stressed that I would not like it because then WHAT WOULD I SAY but no worries. It’s good,  and I loved the twist at the end which I did not see coming although probably you are smarter than I am so I make no promises. If it had a weak spot it would be the love interest who I thought was slightly a drip, but still.  Totally recommend if you like Fantasy YAF.  AND if you leave me a  comment on this post telling me your favorite book you’ve read in the past two months you can win a copy of your very own, providing you live in Canada or the United States.  Yeah!

133.  Songs of Willow Frost

songs of willow frost

This was just SO boring.

134.  This Song Will Save Your Life

this song will save your life

I liked this, but I did not love it.  It was a quick entertaining read, but it had a lot of plot holes.  The title was the best part of the whole book.

135.  Something Like Normal

something like normal

I really enjoyed this book, actually.  It’s not perfection or anything but it’s a perfectly serviceable YAF romance. I loved the girl interest so that helped. It reminded me for some strange reason of Magic Mike, which I was a big fan of.

136.  Where the Stars Still Shine

where the stars still shine

After I read Something Like Normal I finally found Trish Doller’s new book at my library.  Spoiler Alert, it’s this book.  Anyway, this was also slightly on the idiotic side, even for YAF, but it was saved for me by the romance, which I loved, actually a lot like her first book.  She writes that sassy girl/cocky boy thing really really well.  I could see how it’s not for everyone but it pushed all my “super hot bad boy likes me” buttons.  Also, I read it in a night.  It’s no best book of the year but it worked.  I look forward to whatever else she writes.

So! If you want to win a copy of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, and you live in the US or Canada, just leave me a comment on this post by Friday January 3rd telling me your favorite book of the year.  My 2013 Best Books of the Year post should go up next week, as well, provided I don’t lose my mind between now and then after being trapped in the house with these two ankle biters for six days.  Funsies!

 

 

 

Books I Read This Month: October 2013

116.  Someone

someone

I had the lofty goal of reading all the books on the National Book Awards Long List, (before I realized that I didn’t care for 75% of them), and this was one of them.  It was beautifully written but a little boring. It felt like one of those books that critics love but that I had to force myself to finish.

117.  Steelheart

sttelheart

I have no idea where this book came from (I mean, it came from the library, but why I reserved it I have no idea) and I was sure as soon as I saw it that it was going to  be awful.  I mean, look at the cover. Just look at it.  And it was sort of awful, but awful in a “fun goofy YAF superhero twist and turns” kind of way that I sort of enjoyed. I liked it, actually.  I’d read another one! I would! Crazypants.

118.  Men We Reaped

men we reaped

I was SO excited to read this book because I think Jesmyn Ward is just the greatest thing, but then, in the immortal and timeless words of Randy Jackson, it was only alright for me, dog.

119.  The Good Lord Bird

good lord bird

What was this even about? Someone send me some ginkgo biloba.  Geez.

Oh yes, that.  I was halfway through this book when I realized I just didn’t care.  Probably it’s a great book, at least according to whoever judged the National Book Awards, but I was just bored and life is too short for me to read books that don’t make me want to read them.  Meh.

120.  A House In the Sky

a house in the sky

So this is a memoir by a woman who travels all over the world, including to super dangerous places where people tell her not to go, and then she gets kidnapped and held for ransom for some horrible period of time and it’s…not a cool time she has, let’s just say that.  And while no one, obviously, deserves to get brutally kidnapped and assaulted, it’s also hard to read this because EVERYONE TOLD HER NOT TO GO TO THIS TERRIBLY DANGEROUS PLACE AND SHE DID IT ANYWAY.  So, that was a weird line, for me.  P.S. Don’t go to Somalia.

121.  The Rosie Project

the rosie project

I bought this to read on the plane because I wanted a SURE thing and it had about nine million positive reviews on Amazon and it was fine.  It was a totally acceptable airplane book, but it was nothing life changing.  I wouldn’t put it on any lists.  Bad or good.

122.  The Road From Gap Creek

road from gap creek

This was perfectly enjoyable, I liked it.  I wouldn’t run out and tell you to buy it, but it was fine.

123.  The Goldfinch

the goldfinch

I have been waiting to read this book for a freaking year, people. A YEAR. The Little Friend is one of my favorite books of ALL TIME and it’s been TEN YEARS since Donna Tartt wrote a book and I paid CASH MONEY (not really I had a gift card but you know what I mean) for this book and I waited breathlessly by the door for the UPS man who always comes late at  night when I really want something and then it turned out to be the MOST DEPRESSING BOOK OF ALL TIME.  Seriously.  Also it’s 756 pages long (not an exaggeration) and somewhere around page 715 I had the worst depressive episode I’ve had in six months and I called my therapist in tears and I cried four times in the grocery store and I had to wear sunglasses to school pick up and then I stopped reading this book and I instantly felt better.  I can’t even use it as a doorstop because it stresses me out just to look at it.  Yikes.

124.  The Hive

the hive

Look, maybe you’re into this scene, but I just really have no interest in reading about moms being bitchy to each other at their children’s schools.  Could not be less interested.  I’d read like, a VW Bus Repair Manual, gladly, before I’d willingly read that shit.

125.  Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy

bridget jones

The NYT said this was good.  It was not.  It was just sad.  Just re-read the first book and re-watch the first movie and go back to a life where this book never existed and Mark Darcy is standing in a hallway saying “I like you very much Bridget, just as you are.”

126.  News From Heaven, The Bakerton Stories

news from heaven

It’s not you, it’s me, I just hate short stories.  Always have, apparently always will.

127.  Coming Clean

coming clean

It was fine, if you like to read about hoarders, but after she used the term “rod iron bed” in a PUBLISHED NOVEL AND NOT ON SAY CRAIGSLIST WHERE IT BELONGS something went out of the story for me.

Next up, I have reserved a bunch of Pulitzer Prize winners from the library, so one can only assume I have a snoozefest of epic proportions on the docket.  Won’t that be fun?