I had time to read over the holiday…not a lot of time, but a nip here and there. I’ve made my way through quite a few books since the last time I gave you an update, so I feel a few recommendations and reviews are in order (before I forget because, kids= short term memory loss!). I’m not going to give you the plot overview for each, as I feel you can easily read a synopsis on Amazon, or whatnot…I’ll just stick to my opinions. During the last few weeks of November, I read the above four. All of them were chosen from your recommendations. I’ll start with my favorites:
The Snow Child: This was one of my favorite reads of the year. The book is so well written that it practically whisks you away to the Alaskan frontier when it was first being settled by homesteaders. The couple at the focus of a book long for a child, and when the one that they build out of snow seemingly comes to life, it takes them on a magical and heartfelt journey. I simply loved every single thing about this book and would highly, highly recommend it.
The Invention of Wings: This was another favorite for one simple reason: the characters. Sue Monk Kidd brings her characters to life in such a way that you mourn them when the book is over. This book left me speechless with its spanning, historical plot- a brilliant read.
We Are Water: Whoa…this is a heavy book. Perhaps I am just in a place in my life right now where I want to read books that have a redeeming quality about them. I don’t need a super happy ending where everyone hugs it out and flies away on a rainbow… just a conclusion that leaves you with a bit of hope. This was much too dark and ultimately sad, for my taste, though Lamb tries to end the book on a hopeful note. Too little too late for my taste!
Astrid & Veronika: So many of you loved this book that it made me really, really want to love it. I tried, I really did! The writing was just beautiful, but ultimately, the story did not hold my interest. I kept waiting to get into it, and although I made it to the end, it never really caught a hold of me, and I never fell for the characters.
Astonish Me: This was my favorite of the bunch. I really enjoyed Shipstead’s first book, Seating Arrangements, so I was looking forward to her second book. I find reviewers to be especially harsh when it comes to a popular author’s second book- and I’ll admit that the Amazon reviews initially turned me off from reading Astonish Me. I’m glad I gave it a second chance. The book follows the life of a ballerina, and I really felt that Shipstead nailed it; taking us inside the hidden world of professional ballet. I enjoyed her characters as well, especially the relationship between the main character and her husband. I found it fascinating to watch it unfold.
Small Blessings: A very sweet story- not overly intellectual or complicated. I would save this for a beach read, and enjoy it with a cocktail. Fun and well-written, the story moves along swiftly.
Me Before You: I liked this book, I really did. But I felt the ending was a bit cheesy and the plot a bit predictable. What I did love about it was the relationship between the main characters- it warmed your heart to watch it evolve. Here’s the synopsis…but I’ll warn you, this pretty much gives you the whole plot line, so although I liked the book, I never like to be able to see the entire plot laid out before I even begin. “Before Louisa met Will, her plans didn’t reach beyond their tiny English town. Will was used to closing multimillion-dollar deals, blew off steam scaling mountains, leaping from planes, and enjoying exquisite women–until an accident left him paralyzed and seriously depressed. When his mother hires Lou to keep his spirits up, he meets her awkward overtures with caustic contempt, but she’s tenacious and oddly endearing. Their fondness grows into something deeper, gaining urgency when she realizes his determination to end his life, and her efforts to convince him of its value throw her own bland ambitions into question.”
The Cold Song: This book is dark, and lives up to its title as very cold. The story follows a Norwegian family, a quirky family where each member is filled with anger and secrets. The story builds up to the summer where the family’s nanny disappears, and how the event unravels each member of the family. It is a brisk read, with wonderful prose. I liked it…but I’m not really sure it belongs on the list of 100 Notable Books of 2014 by the NYT, which is from where I took the recommendation.
The six titles above are next on my list, culled from a variety of book lists and recommendations…but I really feel like starting my year with a gripping and suspenseful mystery (and yes, dark…I like my mysteries dark and gritty). There’s something about curling up with a chilling mystery book on a dark, cold winters night. I’d love any and all recommendations. Who are your favorite mystery/ crime writers- gritty mysteries, great writing…give me some good stuff here!
I’d also love to hear what’s on your reading list for 2015. I came across this reading list this morning, which looks very solid. I’m going to spend some time diving into these recommendations next.