Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What I Read in January

Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend.
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.

 Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan 

Rating: 3
 Grieving for her werewolf lover, Jake, whose violent death has left her alone with her own sublime monstrousness, Talulla Demetriou is pregnant and on the run, fleeing to a remote Alaskan lodge to have her child in secret. There, with her infant son in her arms, it looks as if the worst is over. Until the door bursts open and she discovers that the nightmare is only just beginning. Tormented by guilt and fuelled by rage, Talulla is suddenly plunged into a race against time to save her son.  Pursued by deadly forces, including (rumor has it) the oldest living vampire on earth, the odds seem hopeless.

I listened to The Last Werewolf back in November.  This is the second book in the series. I just started reading the last one, By Blood, We Live. I liked the narrator from The Last Werewolf over the woman from this book.  Her voice was a little high pitched during certain parts. I will say this, Duncan knows how to leave you wanting more. He did it with Werewolf and here it is again. Plus he introduced a pretty interesting character, Remshi, a 20,000 year old vampire. I'm interested to see how the series concludes.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Rating: 4
A forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro—the Father of Impressionism.Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel’s mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel’s salvation is their maid Adelle’s belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle’s daughter. But Rachel’s life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father’s business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Frédérick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.
There's a reason why Alice is one of my favorite writers.  I've loved the evolution of her storytelling and that she's really writing historically based novels now. The Dovekeepers is imo, one of her best books. I was instantly transported to St Thomas with the smell of bougainvilleas and warm tropical breezes. I had no idea that St Thomas was a refuge for the Jewish community during the 1800's because their religion was recognized by the Danish. I had never heard of Pissarro's art and after I finished reading, I was intrigued enough to Google him.  I love when a book is based on a true story. I liked that Hoffman chose to focus on Rachel, Pissarro's mother instead of him. Marriage of Opposites is a story of love, heartbreak and loss. Love more, not less.

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Rating: 3.5
 Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence.
A year later, Sylvie is living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened to their parents. Now, the inquisitive teenager pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night—and to the truth about her family’s past and the secrets that have haunted them for years.

I breezed through Help for the Haunted. A page turner with family secrets, murder and some demonology thrown in. It kept me guessing right up to the end. If you've seen the movie The Conjuring, the parents remind me of Sylvie's parents in that they are demonologists who keep "haunted" artifacts in a room of their house.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Rating: 3
Audio-Book 2 of The Chief Inspector Gamache series
CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone in the hamlet of Three Pines, right up to the moment she died. When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache begins his investigation, it seems like an impossible murder: CC was electrocuted on a frozen lake, in front of the entire town, during the annual curling tournament. With compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find long buried secrets, while his own enemies threaten to bring something even more chilling than the bitter winter winds to Three Pines.

I listened to Still Life back in November and am currently listening to the third book in the series, The Cruelest Month. The murder mystery, for me at least, is really the backdrop to the novels while being the main plot, if that makes sense.  I just really love the characters in these books and their stories that are woven through each book. As the series progresses, you get to learn a little more about each character. There's some characters you hate (ahem, Yvette Nicole) and some you love (Claire and Ruth) but they all play their part.  I've been wondering if I would feel the same way about these books if I was actually reading them and I don't know.
CC was a horrible, ugly person on the inside so it was really hard to not feel like what happened to her was her was just. There were a couple moments at the end where I was unexpectedly moved.  I didn't see those moments coming and I just find myself more and more connecting with the characters.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Rating: 3-3.5
E-book via Netgalley 

Read my summary and review here.

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Rating: 3.5
 An irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.
The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common―they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

A Little Something Different was so stinkin cute.  I first saw this reviewed on Kristen's blog and was slightly interested.  It was on BookOutlet's Boxing Day sale so I snagged it for like $3. I pretty much read it in a day.  It was short and sweet and I loved the multiple viewpoints, from a squirrel to the baristas and even a park bench. I loved that this love story was told from everyone's POV except who the two people falling in love.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Rating: 4
 Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. 

I will read any book that is set during WWII, particularly around the Holocaust. Sarah's Key did not disappoint. Sarah's story was so heartbreaking. I mean, how do you live with the fact that you left your brother to die when you thought you were saving him? And how when Julia was investigating the round up 60 years later, the French citizens still would not acknowledge their part in the story. I usually find myself loving the past part of books when they alternate between past and present but I liked how the two stories blended and really connected with each other. I loved the full circle of the story.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Rating: 3
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

The coming of age story of Junior, who takes the leap to follow his heart and leave the rez, which is unheard of.  You live on the rez and you die on the rez. Even though his community was upset that he left, like he was better than them, I think they were a little jealous of him and admired his determination.
Part Time Indian is on the banned book list and it a big part of why I wanted to read it. The reasons behind it are "anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying” I mean, really (?!) anti-family and gambling?? Obviously I do not support banning books. If you are offended by something, don't read it. But this is a post for another day.

Love It:The Marriage of Opposites, A Little Something Different and Sarah's Key
Leave It:There really isn't anything I wouldn't recommend to the right person.

Life According to Steph


  1. I have to admit that I always enjoy seeing your book lists. You seem to read a wide berth of books and topics, and not necessarily ones that everyone else are reading...and I like that.

  2. That marriage of opposites book looks interesting! I recent went to a lecture on how eye disease informed the history of visual art- it was fascinating!

  3. yayyy i'm so glad you liked a little something different! it was so adorable. i haven't read sarah's key, but it is on my shelf at home, i think i bought it a couple years ago actually. hopefully i get to it one day. hmmm i might add marriage of opposites to my list, i don't think i have read any of her books.

  4. I'm very into different points of view books lately so I'll be putting A Little Something Different on my list.

    I'm currently waiting for the Readers of Broken Wheel to arrive from the library.

  5. Oh, I loved The Marriage of Opposites too! I read it last year, and I remember feeling a bit sad that it was over. Such a beautifully written book and fascinating storyline.

  6. I need to get around to Sarah's Key.

    I totally agree with your banned books stance. I would love a post on that!

  7. I totally thought I had already commented on this post, but I must have just read it on my phone and thought, "I'll comment once I get home to my computer," but never did. I'm sorry about that!

    I'm adding Sarah's Key (I'm not sure how this isn't already on my "To Read" list, but it's not) and Help for the Haunted. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian are already on my list.

    And I agree with Steph ... I'd love to read a post on your thoughts about banning books!