Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 Reading in Review

Two and a half weeks ago, my husband accepted an new job and it's very exciting and a very wonderful opportunity. So, it's been a whirlwind of crazy activity in my house. The job is at a small college in a very small town almost two hours from where we currently live. It will require a move for our family. So, we've spent the last weeks trying to celebrate Christmas, get our house ready to sell and find somewhere to live (no luck). Rand starts his new job on Monday and I still can barely wrap my brain around it all. Sigh. I'm tired.

I've barely read a single page of any book in the last two weeks. I didn't recap my reading year. I didn't pick my top ten books. The only thing I've been doing with books lately is packing them since our realtor really didn't like that all the shelves are double stacked with books. And I may be going slightly crazy.

Last night I hosted book club in my house for the last time. Some friends and I started a small neighborhood book club over eight years ago. For almost six of those years, I've hosted it in my home. Every first Tuesday of the month, my friends (sometimes gets to be a large group now) gather to discuss books and talk and talk until the wee hours of morning. I've made such wonderful friendships that have been strengthened by our shared love of books. Over the years, many of my book club friends have moved away and I miss them like crazy but it still feels surreal that I'm moving now. As my friends left last night around 3:30 am, I really felt like there should have been some sappy theme song playing like in the finale of a beloved sitcom. I'm going to miss them.

2016 Reading Recap

I read 63 books. 

  • 8 ebooks
  • 2 audio books (I am so close to finishing a third. This was my first year listening to audio books just for me and not for the kids on a road trip. It was a little adjustment but I like it.)
  • 54 books for review 
  • 60 were fiction--mostly historical fiction, contemporary lit and psychological thrillers
  • 49 were written by women
  • I read 78% of the books I received for review (but didn't write reviews for 4 of them)
  • I started but did not finish 6 books (I'm in the middle of Lonesome Dove and The Underground Railroad and fully intend to finish both of them.)
  • I bought 23 books for myself and countless more for my kids. 

Favorites published in 2016 :

Favorites published prior to 2016 :

Everything You Want Me to Be - Book Review

Growing up in a small Minnesota town, Hattie Hoffman is the charming, talented and beloved girl that everyone expects to go far.  Hattie has high expectations for herself and plans to head to New York City as soon as she graduates. All those dreams and aspirations die when Hattie is found stabbed to death in an old barn near the lake on the opening night of the school play.

Every Thing You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia is a psychological thriller told through the alternating eyes of  the local sheriff, the young new English teacher at the high school and Hattie herself as the novel recreates Hattie's last year. Leading a secret life, Hattie was much more than the lead actress, the reliable employee and the girlfriend of the star football player.

With taut prose and a quick pace, Every Thing You Want Me To Be kept me guessing and second guessing the suspicious and the guilty until the very last page. It really was everything you want in a psychological thriller as the characters' private desires and personal weaknesses are exposed. I couldn't put it down and it was the perfect distraction to keep my mind off all the recent personal stress.

I wasn't expecting to be impressed. I'm frankly tired of all the books being compared to Gone Girl. I've been disappointed so many times. But honestly, Every Thing You Want Me To Be surprised me by being so much better than I hoped.

Every Thing You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia is published by Atria Books and released on January 3, 2017.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Idaho - Book Review

It's so hard to describe the beauty of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich into words. My words just can't compare with the lyric and intensity and heartbreaking of Ruskovich's words.

Ann and Wade live together on the mountain. They are secluded from nearly everyone. Wade is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's so Ann is everything to him as his memories slowly fade. He is losing everything, even the painful and crushing memories of the murder of his youngest daughter by his first wife Jenny and the loss of his older daughter who simply vanished into the woods that horrifying day. Is it now up to Ann to bear the memories of this tragedy?

Idaho is as lovely as it is frightening. Her characters are not larger-than-life or stock characters but authentic people changed and affected my moments and actions, thoughtful and impulsive. Ruskovich is a marvelous writer who weaves the lives of her characters together with her words and leaves the reader emotionally conflicted and changed.

The novel doesn't run in chronological order but arranges snippets from time and characters throughout and yet I was completely immersed in the story. This novel is so many wonderful things and is completely unforgettable. I'm sure to be pressuring people to read it for a long time.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is published by Random House and released January 3, 2017.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**