December 30, 2015

Book Reviews: Quarterly Updates IV

This year was the first year I've written book reviews quarterly instead of writing one review per book or reviewing books monthly and I definitely plan to keep writing book reviews this way in 2016!

With two days left in the year, I've completed my Goodreads Challenge of reading 50 books but haven't quite finished the Popsugar Reading Challenge I was working toward. Honestly, I'm ok with it. I read a lot of books for that challenge that I wouldn't have normally read...some I loved, some I hated...but the challenge prevented me from reading a lot of books I wanted to read because they didn't fit into the categories. I still loved the challenge so I'm working on one of my own with significantly fewer challenge categories and I'll be posting it here next week! Stay tuned!

Before getting into this quarter's books, I wanted to share my absolute favorite reads of 2015! 

I recommend any and all of these! If you want to stay tuned to what I'm reading in 2016,  be sure to follow me on Goodreads!

Without further ado, here are the books I read to wrap up 2015! You can read past review posts here, here and here.

"The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway - I've been wanting to read this since I read "The Paris Wife" since most of that book is about the trip to Spain that inspired this book, but it was boring. This was not the brilliant story of the "Lost Generation" that it's been called. It was my first Hemingway and, considering it's supposed to be his best, probably my last. A popular author's first book

"Why Not Me" by Mindy Kaling - I like Mindy's books much better than either Tina Fey's or Amy Poehler's. "Why Not Me" didn't disappoint and I definitely recommend it for a light easy read on a plane or on vacation. 

"The Zookeeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman - I really wanted to like this book, but I felt like there just wasn't enough material for an entire book to be written. The Zoo Keeper's Wif of a zookeeper in Poland who hid Jews in the zoo to protect them from the Nazi. The book is less about how the Zabynskis saved Jews in Poland during WWII and more about the day to day operations of the zoo after it shut down during the war. The last chapter of the book really didn't have anything to do with the rest of the story and the narration skipped from the third person to first a few times, which was confusing. A book based on a true story

"All the President's Men" by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward - This book is about the Watergate scandal and the word 'impeached' didn't appear until the last page. Written by the two journalists that uncovered Watergate, this was a cumbersome compilation of the journalists' notes, rather than the process behind the investigations. Don't waste your time. Watch the movie with Robert Redford instead. A book that takes place in your hometown 

"Icarus" by Deon Meyer - This is the worst murder mystery I have ever read. There was no suspense build up and the murderer wasn't introduced (yes introduced, not revealed) until 10 pages before the end of the 360-page novel. The motive wasn't brought into the mix until 8 pages before the end. There was no mystery or intrigue throughout the novel and it lacked everything that makes a crime drama/murder mystery a good read. I've never been to South Africa, but the mix of Afrikaans interspersed with English seemed forced. Skip this one. A book with a one-word title

"White Truffles in Winter" by N.M. Kelby - This book was beautiful! Oh my goodness, I loved it so much! At first, I fell in love with the love story and was surprised to see that this book wasn't going to be about the love story. I've never read food so beautifully written before. The story ended differently than I would have liked, but in a way that really only made sense to the story. I highly recommend it. A book with a color in the title

"The BFG" by Roald Dahl - A childhood favorite that's coming to the silver screen in 2016. If you didn't read The BFG as a kid, you're missing out. Penelope Wilton (Isobel from Downton Abbey) is playing Queen Elizabeth in the film, so it's bound to be good! A book from your childhood

"Dreaming in Cuban" by Cristina Garcia - I read Garcia's book "King of Cuba" last year and didn't like it. Everyone told me I would love "Dreaming in Cuban" and I didn't. The characters were underdeveloped and there didn't seem to be a common theme connecting the characters other than them being related to each other. A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit

"Still Alice" by Lisa Genoa - I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer's in 2013 and was scared to read this book about a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's at 50, but I really hated it. I think the book's biggest failure is that, as Alice's illness progressed, she became blissfully unaware of her surroundings. She didn't know who she was or where she was, but she didn't seem to care. This book failed to capture the fear that Alzheimer's patients so often experience as they advance into the later stages of the disease. A book that became a movie

"Peter and Wendy: Peter Pan, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" by J.M. Barrie - I've always been a fan of classics. Last year, I read Sherlock Holmes. Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories and I wanted to read the original story. Surprisingly, Disney and Broadway nailed it as they both mirror the book, perfectly. A book more than 100 years ago

"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford - This is easily one of the best books I've ever read. It's a beautiful story about a young Chinese boy growing up in Seattle who falls in love with a Japanese-American girl who gets taken away to an internment camp in 1942. I picked this up from the library but definitely plan to buy it. This is easily one of my new favorite books and I will definitely read it again. A book with antonyms in the title

"A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller - This definitely wasn't as good as "The Crucible" or "Death of a Salesman." I wouldn't say it was anti-climactic but the play just wasn't as compelling as it could have been.  A play

"Persepolis 2" by Marjane Satrapi - I'm about 100 pages into this and love it just as much as I loved the first one. "Persepolis" is the first graphic novel I've read that tells Marjane Satrapi's true story of growing up in Iran during the Revolution. The sequel begins after Satrapi has been sent to Austria by her parents after things in Iran have gotten too dangerous. A graphic novel and A banned book (Persepolis 1 and Persepolis 2)

Have you read any of these?
Have you ever attempted a book challenge?
What are some books that you loved this year?

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