Tuesday, June 14, 2016

May 2016 Book Review

Oh hai, it's me, just showing up today for my favorite post of the month. Every week is fulled with good intentions until work steals all of my brain power for that day and then the day after and so forth. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things since I do have some great posts swirling around in my brain, it's just putting the energy into writing them. I had a pretty good month reading wise and ended up reading one of my favorite books of the year so far. So onto the reason why you are all here...

Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it. Would recommend
3- Decent/solid read.
2- Would not recommend. Barely finished
1-Didn't like, DNF. Gave book away.

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

Rating: 3.5
It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they're not alone. The Finney family―rich, cultured, and respectable―has also arrived for a celebration of their own.
The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax. 

The fourth book in Penny's Inspector Gamache series did not disappoint. I'm really loving this series and the characters. A Rule Against Murder was the first book I've read that has not had Three Pines as the back drop. The girls I work with said this was one of the not as good ones but I really liked this book. I've always thought there was something off with Peter and this book helped to develop his character and show the reader why he is the way he is. I also enjoyed learning more about Gamache's history.

 Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg

Rating: 3

Joy has no one. She spends her days working the graveyard shift at a grocery store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune. When Joy's immunity gains her admittance to a hospital in rural Kansas, she sees a chance to escape her bleak existence. There she submits to peculiar treatments and follows seemingly arbitrary rules, forming cautious bonds with other patients--including her roommate, whom she turns to in the night for comfort, and twin boys who are digging a secret tunnel.

The first half of this book started really strong. I was devouring it and invested in Joy's story and then the second half of the book happened and I questioned if I was even reading the same book. It was disjointed and random. I thought the premise was strong and found the Alzheimer's like epidemic interesting. I think Van Den Berg lost her momentum and the ending was really abrupt. I gave it three stars because it was a decent read, I just think it could have been better.

The October List by Jeffery Deaver

Rating: 2.5-3

Two days ago, Gabriela's life was normal. Then, out of the blue, she gets word that her six-year-old daughter has been taken. She's given an ultimatum: pay half a million dollars and find a mysterious document known as the "October List" within 30 hours, or she'll never see her child again.  

Another book I wanted to love but didn't. This book is told in reverse so the ending is the beginning and the beginning is the end. I did keep wondering how they were going to wrap the story up if it was going to start at the beginning but Deaver did end up pulling it together. I haven't read anything else by Deaver and according to reviews, this was not a good book for him. I genuinely think certain people would like this book, provided they can follow the confusing timeline. I think the concept was inventive but I think the actually story is where it lost it for me.

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Rating: 4

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing? 

I loved, loved Still Alice and still think about it. I enjoyed Inside the O'Briens but it no way near wrecked me the way Still Alice did. For some reason, Still Alice resonated more with me. The book alternated between Joe and his daughter, Kate's story. I much preferred Joe's parts of the book and found Kate's hemming and hawing over taking the HD test annoying. And then to make so much of the book about her decision and to end it the way it did?! Seriously! Like does she or doesn't she? With that being said, I still enjoyed the book and thought it was a solid read while bringing light to a horrible disease.

Lark by Tracey Porter

Rating: 2.5

When sixteen-year-old Lark Austin is kidnapped from her Virginia hometown and left to die in a snowy forest, she leaves behind two friends who are stunned by the loss. As Lark's former best friend, Eve can't shake the guilt that this tragedy was somehow her fault. Meanwhile, Nyetta is haunted each night by Lark's ghost, who comes through the bedroom window and begs Nyetta to set her soul free. Eve and Nyetta realize that Lark is trapped in limbo, and only by coming together to heal themselves will they discover why.  

This was a pretty unmemorable book. I just had to reread the summary above and still only vaguely remember. I did jot down a note while I was reading it about something the grief counselor said to the school after Lark's disappearance. She basically said that how you dress, present yourself and act gives off vibes and you need to be careful what vibes you are giving off. I have a huge problem with that statement, let alone that this message is in a YA book. Do men have to make sure they are not giving off a vibe like they want something lest they get sexually assaulted? When do the excuses for men stop? The fact that our society still feels the need to place blame on the victim of a sexual assault is blood boiling. Men are grown ass adults. How a woman dresses should not determine how they handle themselves around us. Instead the message we are perpetuating is that as a woman, you are worth less than a man and men can do with you as they please because men will be men. No, I find that unacceptable. We will never be seen as equal if we can't even, as a society, say no man shall touch a woman without her consent and provide adequate punishment for such offenses. Just my two cents.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Rating: 5

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne's home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive. 

There's a reason this book is on everyone's list. Nightingale ruined me in the best possible way, like I was sobbing the last 40 pages or so. So much so that Errol was like are you going to be alright? This is by far the best book I've read this year. While All the Light We Cannot See was so beautifully written that it moved you, this is the kind of book that sinks its hooks in and doesn't let go. It makes you question how far you would go and what your moral compass would look like in the time of war. I gave it to my co-worker to read and she's hooked. I know I'm late to the party but if you haven't yet, you must read this book. 

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

Rating: 2.5-3

In a house under renovation in Charlotte, North Carolina, a plumber discovers a forgotten cellar, and some rather grisly remains—the severed head of a teenage girl, several decapitated chickens, and a couple of cauldrons containing beads, feathers, bones, and other relics of religious ceremonies. In a river not far away, an adolescent boy’s torso carved with a pentagram, is found. Are these crimes the work of Satanists and devil worshippers?  

On paper, this should be a book that I like. It has forensic crime scene investigation, murder mystery and some dark magic thrown in but it just didn't do it for me. Maybe it's because I picked it up in the middle of a series (this is the first Reichs book I've read) or maybe it just wasn't the right time to read it but I couldn't get into it. Even the conclusion to the mystery was lackluster. I was expecting and hoping for more.

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor

Rating: 3

Abigail Reed and her younger sister, Becky, are always at each other's throats. Their mother calls them the September Sisters, because their birthdays are only a day apart, and pretends that they're best friends. But really, they delight in making each other miserable. Then Becky disappears in the middle of the night, and a torn gold chain with a sapphire heart charm is the only clue to the mystery of her kidnapping. Abby struggles to cope with her own feelings of guilt and loss as she tries to keep her family together. When her world is at its bleakest, Abby meets a new neighbor, Tommy, who is dealing with his own loss, and the two of them discover that love can bloom, even when it's surrounded by thorns.  

Let's just get this out of the way, the cover is horrible. I had an ARC of this from back in the bookstore days so I didn't know what it looked like until I looked it up for this post.  September Sisters was a decent book showing a sibling processing her sister's disappearance all while growing up herself. I loved Abby and Tommy's friendship and thought Abby's parents were selfish, particularly her mom. Why does it always seem in these kid disapperance books that the parents forget all about the other kids and fall apart? I mean I get it, your kid was just abducted but try and atleast remember your other kid/s and how this is on them please.
Love It: The Nightingale and Inside the O'Briens
Leave It: Devil Bones and Lark

Life According to Steph


  1. I was on the library wait list for Inside the O'Briens...got it...and it was one of those times that I kept passing it over because I wasn't sure I was ready for the subject matter. I don't mind "heavy" books. Actually, I enjoy them when I'm ready for them. I returned the book, and I'll pick it up again sometime.

    I'm with you...The Nightingale deserves all its praise.

  2. The Nightingale was such a good book and probably one of my favorite books ever! I was so glad that I finished reading it at home because I was definitely crying and would have been embarrassed for people to see me like that on the bus!

  3. inside the obriens is on my list but i just keep skipping it for some reason. still alice really resonated with me as well, and i'm not getting the same pull to read obriens like i was with alice. who knows. seirously though the nightingale was absolutely one of the best books i read last year, i wish i read it this year so i could say it about this year haha. it was amazing. i am scared to read more of hannah's books because there is no way they can compare!

  4. I am going to get on the Louise Penny series. Sounds up my alley.

    I don't think I'm going to read Obriens or Alice.

    I will read Nightingale, but probably not this summer.

  5. I loved the Nightingale! Inside the O'Briens has been on my to read list. I really liked Genova's Still Alice and Left Neglected.

    1. I totally get the love that Nightingale has been getting! I'm on a mission to make everyone I know read it!
      I haven't read Left Neglected. I'll check it out!

  6. I LOVED the Nightingale too. I almost returned it unread because I wasn't sure about it. Not that it would be a bad book, but whether I was in the "mood" to read a heavy book at that time. But once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. Ummm ... that's a big no On Lark. I'm so tired of women being held to a higher standard than men. That we are to blame. Why is this still happening in 2016? While I am not a parent, I most certainly would teach my son to treat women with dignity and so on. Makes my blood boil too. I have not read Still Alice and really need to.

    1. Nightingale was literally the perfect book. I understand why it's gotten so much attention!

  7. I am totally addicted to Louise Penny's series and book 4 is next up for me, so I was happy to read your thoughts and surprised that it doesn't take place in Three Pines...although I was kind of thinking that there seems to be a lot of crime in that tiny little village! haha. I plan to read all of the series this summer, it's SO good. I, too, spent the end of the Nightingale SOBBING my eyes out and a few parts in the middle weren't much better. Amazing writing but extremely sad.

  8. Inside the O'Brien's and Nightingale are both on my to reads list. I picked The Nightingale for Erin's reading challenge, so they should be read sooner.

    I hate books that start out strong, and then lose steam. "I questioned if I was even reading the same book" made me LOL.

  9. I have similar feelings about posting sometimes. Blogging is such a fun hobby, but it’s also really fucking time consuming. (Case in point: reading and commenting on a bunch of posts from this link-up! Haha.)

    Find Me sounds intriguing, but I really hate when books start off really promising and then just fall apart in the end. It’s like, “Why did you waste my time with this shit???” I’m going to add it anyway, though … I mean, why not? If I get to it, I get to it.

    Same thing with The October List. I’ve not read that author before, but I love stories told in reverse … So maybe I’ll like it.

    I’m so glad you also loved The Nightingale! I loved the strong female characters, the realistic approach to the atrocities of war, and the fact that Kristin Hannah really made me care about her characters. It’s absolutely one of my favorites this year as well!

  10. I still have to read The Nightingale but last month I read Winter Garden and wanted to give myself a break between those two. You're the second blogger this month with a Louise Penny book and I don't think I'd heard of her before. I might have to check her out.