I have a double dose of book reviews for you today. Since I couldn’t get around to posting about what I read in April last month, I decided to combine the two months into one blog post. There’s a lot, so props to anyone who gets through all of these reviews! 🙂
April Reads (Total count: 5 books)
25. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (4 stars)
This book has been on my “must read soon” list for a while and I finally got around to reading it in April. It was a really good read and I took a lot away from it. I’m not sure I would ever complete my own happiness project (it started to feel exhausting!) but it was a really interesting read on the theory of happiness and how to achieve it in small ways in our life. Finding happiness doesn’t mean make huge, drastic changes to our environment – sometimes it can be as simple as being kinder, starting a blog, or reading more.
26. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (3.5 stars)
I really enjoyed this book, but there was something about the main character that rubbed me the wrong way which is why I knocked my rating down to 3.5 stars. I loved the story itself and the theme of letting love in, even though it has the potential to hurt you… but I didn’t care for Remy that much. I read somewhere that Sarah doesn’t create characters to be role models, she creates real people with real problems and issues and I can respect that. I like that, really. But this book doesn’t hold a candle to “The Truth About Forever.”
27. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (4 stars)
I had been wanting to reread this book, in honor of the movie releasing in May. And when it came up as an option for my book club, I pushed hard for us to read it. I remember reading it in high school and it being one of the few books I actually enjoyed. Ten years later, I still enjoyed the book but not one I would gush over or declare the best book I’d ever read. I’m not one to dislike a book just because themes of cheating are present but there was very little redeeming about the characters and the ending felt rushed and really sad.
28. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (3 stars)
This was a fairly good read, although there were many sections I found myself skimming over because they bored me. But there were some interesting tidbits and it was fascinating to read about how different cultures approach food and eating. I can’t say I learned anything life-changing or he opened my eyes to my food habits, but it was a good read.
29. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (4 stars)
I am thoroughly enjoying reading through The Hunger Games series (taking my sweet ole time, too!) and these are books I can see myself reading over and over again. I’ve heard the second two books in this series aren’t as good as the first but I really, really enjoyed this novel. I felt like the story had a good flow and I enjoyed the give-and-take between Gale and Peeta. And I just adore Katniss and her badassness to the extreme. And the ending! THE ENDING! So intense. I am not someone who is really *into* the dystopian genre, but this series may turn me into a believer just yet!
May Reads (Total count: 11 books)
30. Hot Target by Suzanne Brockmann (5 stars)
This was actually the first novel of Brockmann’s I’ve ever read – and I read it during a time when I was feeling down and very upset so it lifted my spirits and sucked me into the vortex that is the Troubleshooters series. (Still my very favorite series ever!) This is another thrilling novel, filled with humor, romance, mystery, and thrills. And for those who read this series, it is the novel where Jules & Robin meet. (JULES & ROBIN! JULES & ROBIN!) The main female character, Jane, was so sassy and awesome and I just loved her. Seriously. This series. A must read.
31. Love Irresistibly by Julie James (4 stars)
A sweet contemporary romance novel. Julie James is quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to authors when I need a sexy romance with great characters, sizzling love scenes, and a fun plot to follow. I really enjoyed this novel and getting lost in the characters and their issues. The perfect beach read!
32. Breaking Point by Suzanne Brockmann (4 stars)
This book felt a bit long and drawn-out. I kept waiting for the climax to hit and it took forever. It’s still a crazy good book with lots of twists and turns and “how-are-they-ever-going-to-get-out-of-this”-ness. And as long as it was, it was still a book I couldn’t put down when I was reading it and thought about constantly when I wasn’t. I love this series… have I mentioned that at all? No?
33. Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio (5 stars)
I was swept into the worlds of Vera and Claire from the very first page. It was a mystery of sorts, an unraveling of a family’s secrets. It was about forgiveness and trust and the sacredness of time. It was two stories, woven as one. Vera’s taking place in 1933 while Claire’s was present day. I was captivated by these two women. I was drawn to them. I loved them, felt sadness at decisions made, and ultimately wanted everyone to just be okay. This novel touched me.
34. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (3 stars)
Chucking away at Sarah Dessen’s books. I only have three left until I’ve read all her books (which includes her most recent book that comes out in June). Go me! This book started off really slow for me and it was all very predictable. But I really enjoyed reading Colie’s story and I could definitely understand her battles with bullying and fat-shaming. The ending was sweet and left a lot of issues unresolved, but it worked for the story.
35. The Cottage At Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri (3 stars)
Full review of the book can be found here. A slow story where I wasn’t fully engaged in the plot, but the writing was so magnificent that I had to give it 3 stars.
36. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (5 stars)
Oh, this book. When I heard it was about assisted suicide, I wasn’t all that excited to delve into it. I don’t like depressing subjects, no matter how good the plot or the writing is. I was immediately swept away by this book. By the characters, by the story-telling, by the dialogue, by the utter rawness of the subject matter. I never felt depressed or sad or upset or angry. Instead, the author made me feel hopeful and happy. The subject matter itself is heartbreaking but the characters are so real and so personable that you can’t help but love everyone.
This book is right up there with A Thousand Splendid Suns as one of the best books I’ve ever read. Go out and get this book. It is a must read.
37. Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann (4 stars)
This is the 10th book in the Troubleshooters series and I enjoyed it. It had lots of romance and intrigue and just enough crazy-serial-killer-drama to make my heart pound. I really, really loved Lindsey and think she is totally kick-ass, especially taking on a serial killer one-on-one. It wasn’t my favorite book of this series, but still a good story overall.
38. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (2 stars)
I had really high expectations of this book from reviews I’d heard. I knew it would be funny and inappropriately so at times. I was prepared for all the mentions of genitals and the cursing. All that stuff didn’t really faze me, as much as the writing felt very chaotic. Was it funny? Sure, I chuckled at certain parts of the book but I didn’t find it laugh-out-loud funny.
I’ve never read her blog and just recently started following her on Twitter so I went into this book not knowing much about her, other than she’s a mega successful blogger. So maybe that was working against me, I’m not sure.
It just got to be too much for me, too ridiculous at parts, and too all over the place for me to fully enjoy it. It fell short for me.
39. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (5 stars)
Sarah Dessen totally hits it out of the park with this book. I wasn’t all that keen on reading it, since I knew it involved physical abuse but this book is one of her best.
I had lots of issues with Caitlin but I think that’s what made this story so amazing. She was SO flawed and SO unlikeable for most of the novel but I was still gripped by her. I wanted to shake her, I wanted to hug her, I just wanted her to see she deserved so much better! Could I relate to her? No, not really. But I don’t think relating to the main character is necessary in all books. And I don’t think we were meant to relate to Caitlin (unless you’ve been in a situation similar to hers) – or even like her, for that matter. Dessen did such a great job portraying what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship – the panic and the fights and the make-ups and the hiding.
I had a lump in my throat for the last 2-3 chapters and I felt SO much emotion reading this book. I highly, highly recommend this one. Right up there with The Truth About Forever for me.
40. The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte (4 stars)
This book was available for download through my library’s digital page, so I borrowed it. I’m not sure if I would have read it otherwise, but I am so glad I did! This book was so engaging, so full of encouragement and powerful anecdotes and wisdom. I was not a Danielle LaPorte fangirl before reading this book, but I’m totally on the bandwagon now. This book sparked so many ideas and revelations in me. If you’re looking for a book that will light a fire in you for change, this is it.
Total books read in 2013: 40