Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 Reads

One of my 2016 resolutions {which are admittedly pretty loosey-goosey and most assuredly #basic} is to charge my phone out of reach of our bed so I spend more time at night reading books and less time perusing Buzzfeed listicles on the Full House reboot.  I pick up whatever I happen to be reading nearly every night, but many a-time, my eyes are so fried from absorbing 48 Things You Never Knew About Joanna Gaines' Hair Brushing Routine that I barely make it two pages before conking out. 

Here's to lofty goals, yes?


In the meantime... 2015's snapshot book reviews {listed in order of consumption}! Per usual, asterisks for my yearly Top 5.  


The Wicked Girls - Every damn thriller wants to be "the next Gone Girl." Guess what is not the next Gone Girl? The premise is right up my alley, but it just didn't flesh out the way I hoped. The "twists" were predictable, and bouncing back and forth between present day and the past didn't do this particular story line any favors. 

Descent* - Easy Top 5 -- maybe my favorite of the year.  Johnston's writing is spellbinding; the entire novel reads like poetry -- not something you often find in {what seems to be at first glance} a SVU-type mystery. I walked around telling relative strangers to read this book months after I finished. 

Station Eleven - I think I read this one too close to my White-Privileged Ebola Anxiety Attack, and, while I enjoyed it {and generally love a good post-apocalyptic tale}, it made me super duper nervous from start to finish.  Global Pandemics are the pits, man. 

The Girl on the Train - Why do people like this book so much?  Everyone in it is absolutely horrible.  Especially dumb, busybody Rachel.  Drink just slightly less vodka - and I mean, JUST A SMIDGE LESS - and you probably wouldn't be in this pickle. 

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness - I could not put this memoir down. The psychology and the science were completely fascinating. 

The First Bad Man - I'm pretty much C/Ping from my Spring 2015 DitL... While I enjoyed the writing overall, I can't really imagine who I'd recommend this one to. If you can get past some really, really unsexy sex stuff {or perhaps it's sexy to you, NO JUDGMENT...but, um, ew} and a Lolita-esque subplot {a very minor one, but still... pretty pedo-y, y'all}, you might also enjoy it for the quirky {that's putting it nicely} main character and original narrative.

Ready Player One* - It's been a while since a book has transported me so completely to another world {or, technically, two other worlds -- dystopian USA vs. the virtual reality video game OASIS}, and this was such a wild, fun ride. Mega Bonus Points for all the 80s pop culture references {although most the gaming ones were lost on me}.  I cannot wait to see what Spielberg does with the film adaptation. 

The Royal We - Entirely too much fun.  Chocolate-biscuit-and-Cadbury-Dairy-Milk delightful. 

Three Wishes - I usually love Liane Moriarty, and I do remember enjoying this as I was reading it {in a mindless, fun fluff sort of way}, but I can't for the life of me recall much of the plot, aside from the action revolving around triplets.  And I think there is an unfortunate incident with a butter knife.  Everything else has gone POOF... so take that for what you will. 

Everything I Never Told You - I feel like this is one of those books that will inevitably wind up on AP English reading lists as filler for the "contemporary literature" spots.  And I've rarely met a high school lit pick I didn't enjoy, but this just didn't resonate with me in any meaningful way. 

All the Light We Cannot See* - You've read this book, right?  So I don't even need to tell you how beautifully captivating the whole thing is? And you also feel quite strongly you'll throw yourself off a very high bridge if Hollywood screws it all up with a movie?  Excellent. 

The Likeness - Finally! A Tana French novel that I felt was worth powering through the mountains upon mountains of requisite dialog and seemingly unnecessary descriptions. In this case, more was more for me. 

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion - Really, really enjoyed some of Daum's essays and felt others were suuuuuuuuper self-indulgent and whiny. 

Crazy Rich Asians* - Unfathomably wealthy people behaving quite rottenly! Couldn't be more entertaining. 

The Kind Worth Killing* -  A thriller that is actually thrilling!  Dark and twisty without taking itself way too seriously. 

Luckiest Girl Alive - Most folks with whom I've discussed this book were not particularly fond of it.  I went into it afraid it would be another Girl on the Train for me but was quite pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.  The narrator seems a bit horrible at first glance, but not hopelessly so in the context of adolescent trauma{s}.  The ending could have used a bit more punch, but I was satisfied {and entertained!} overall. 

China Rich Girlfriend - See: Crazy Rich Asians

Something Blue - Every 5 or so years, I read an Emily Giffin book to see if they are still rubbish. {They are still rubbish.} 

Broken Monsters - I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as Beukes' The Shining Girls, which was a bummer.  But if you'd like to do an acid trip without sullying your urine sample, read the last 40 or so pages after 2 glasses of wine!  

Why Not Me? - I prefer Kahling's first memoir to this one, but MK can really do no wrong in my book so the difference is de minimus. 

After Birth - What a depressing way to end the year!  I appreciate any book that attempts to honestly examine PPD and the post-first-child-identity-crisis, but this is a major downer if you're at all bummed with how your birth experience turned out.  And, I'm guessing, a major downer if you're at all bummed with how your breastfeeding experience turned out.  Very WOMP-WOMP overall.

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I have Brooklyn {which I've actually partially read but then we saw the movie and I lost steam... highly recommend the film!}, Leaving Time {also partially read... I'm the worst}, Good Omens, and Carry On on deck... Anything else I simply must add to my list?

Past Lists: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

Amazon links are affiliate, per usual.

18 comments:

  1. Have you read the book Carol was based on? The Price of Salt? I saw the movie at our local Film Festival and it was incredible. Also, my aunt raves about all of the books by Beatriz Williams so I'm going to check some out

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  2. YES TIMES A MILLION on Girl on a Train. Rachel, get your sh*t together. Maybe just take a different train? Maybe join Coffee Meets Bagel? I could not stand this book - so happy to see it's not just me!

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  3. Don't expect short commentary when it's a post all.about.books. 100% agree about Girl on a Train. If I don't like the main character(s) I have a hard time enjoying the book, and she was the WORST. I didn't like Luckiest Girl Alive for the first 95% (and agree about the ending) but was glad (less disappointed?) that she kinda redeemed herself? Three Wishes was my least favorite of Liane's books - the triplets were for the most part annoying. Ready Player One was AWESOME. Station Eleven was super creepy - the stuff w/ the guy who got the heads up and was at the convenience store buying everything and then had to leave the apartment after his brother committed suicide? So creepy. Ugh Tana French - I read Into The Woods this year and just don't think I can try anything else she writes - talk about a terrible main character and too many convoluted storylines. I loved The Royal We too. I think my favorite book of the year was What Alice Forgot but I also really loved Ghettoside and The Night Circus. I am on the waiting list for Brooklyn - LOVED that movie. LOVED.

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    1. Into the Woods was the WORST. You seriously made me read 800 pages and there's no conclusion? So pissed at that book. The Likeness is the female (Cassie? Is that her name?) partner from Into the Woods, and it's not really a sequel at all. There is mention here and there of her past history with Rob (was that his name?) but it is totally stand alone. Really intriguing plot. Maybe give it a year and try this one in 2017 ;)

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    2. AGREE 100% that Into The Woods is drek, but the other Tana French ones are marvelous... I've read 1 - 5 in that series. 5 was meh but 2 - 4 are terrific.

      Just started THE NIGHTINGALE and am loving it. Like ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, it has all of my key components -- French (or British) setting, wartime, smooching and or swooning, smart female character.

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  4. Just finished fates and furies and loved it!

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  5. I hated Girl on the Train. And not just bc she was a horrible person- I can get over that. But of ALLLLLL the people in London (and there are like SEVEN MILLION) she picks the woman her spoiler alert spoiler alerted?!?! What are the odds?!?! I also hated Kind Worth Killing Though. Now I'm all riled up about Girl on the Train. Did you know the AMAZING dude from Leftovers is going to be in the movie?!?! Did you even SEE the part on Leftovers where he sings that Simeon&Garfunkle song?!?! How can he want to have anything to do with that awful book!! And I agree with Broken Monsters- I loved Shining Girls SO MUCH and Broken Monsters was just meh. I loved all the Tana French books...except the Likeness. Whomp whomp. Really? If I died and someone who looked just like me came over, everyone would think she was me? REALLY? No. PSA- don't read Broken Harbour if you're newly pregnant, pregnant, were pregnant, have kids that you love, have kids that you hate, or know kids at all really.

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    1. I'm just super made GotT is being made into a movie and actors I love are involved -- so disappointed in you, Emily Blunt!

      And yeah, Broken Harbor was my first French novel...ick ick ick

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  6. Ugh, GOtT. And I am anti-Luckiest Girl Alive as well.

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  7. I look forward to this post every year! Time to add a few of these titles to my library list...thank you!

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  8. Read the nightingale! It's unforgettable

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  9. Ashley's War-remarkable, true story of the first US women in Special Op combat. So good. Plus, it makes you want to go work out a bunch after!

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  10. END OF THE YEAR BOOK POST TIME!!! Just a wee bit excited. So excited I want to resurrect my blog to write one, then let it die off again. :)

    So, I hadn't heard of Ready Player One but now I'm adding it to my list. Shared your love of The Kind Worth Killing, All The Light We Cannot See, and Brain on Fire. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Station Eleven - it knocked my socks off. Not sure why but GoT didn't bother me despite the retched main character. You hit the nail on the head with Unspeakable.

    I join in the recommendations for Fates and Furies - the kind of book that makes me yearn for a book club, so much to discuss! Also really enjoyed Euphoria and I Am Pilgrim. If you like crime/thrillers I think you'll like I Am Pilgrim. Smarter and more complex than your average thriller. I was gripped from start to finish.

    Next on my list is A Little Life. I'm concerned it's been so hyped it can't possibly live up to its reputation but then I read another glowing review... We'll see!

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  11. Completely agree with Girl on the Train and all Emiky Griffin novels. Waste of time and brain cells. Not sure if you like historical stuff but Double Cross and The Boys in the Boat were both fantastic (Boys one was superb actually). Also The Gilded Hour was interesting but know it's the first book of a series (I didn't know this and at the end I was like WTF until I figured this out).

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  12. This is always one of my favorite posts - just went through and updated my To Read list. Agree on GotT; I hated everyone in that book. Loved Brain on Fire and was also super depressed by After Birth. A few of my standouts from the last year: Fates & Furies, Dirty Life, We Are Called to Rise (so. good.), Blackout, and When Breath Becomes Air.

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  13. I hope this doesn't come across as creepy, but I've gotten so many good suggestions from you over the years that I always come back to these posts and add your favorites to my library e-queue. Thank you SO much for Liane Moriarty, by the way! Leaving Time was FANTASTIC-I enjoy Picoult on the whole, although tend to find her rather formulaic by this point....EXCEPT FOR THIS BOOK! A total departure from what she usually writes. I can't wait to hear what you think of it. Have you read Finding Audrey? It's by Sophie Kinsella, but don't let her chick-lit persona steer you away from this one. It was an excellent read.

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    1. Not creepy at all! I will have to put Finding Audrey on my list!

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happy little comments!