Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Books

1. Attachments - Rainbow Rowell
I loved this... right up until the end, not that I hated the end, but it was just too shmoopy for me. I expected it to wrap up neatly, I WANTED that, but it wrapped up too sweetly, I guess, for lack of a better word. It was light chick-lit, but it was smart and witty too.

2. Someone Else's Love Story - Joshilyn Jackson
Ugh, I really wanted to like this, but I just didn't. I really hated Shandi, and didn't really like any of the characters until the end when I came around to the William/Bridget storyline which I enjoyed. I loved A Grown-up Kind of Pretty so much, I had high hopes for this one, but I wouldn't recommend it.

3. Me Before You - JoJo Moyes
I have many undeveloped thoughts on this. I really liked it, a lot, but wouldn't say I loved it. I had no idea what it was about before I started it, which I think was good in this case. It was sad and heartbreaking and I think the arch of falling in love was perfectly written. I guess I'm struggling with my feelings toward the Will character, because I know I can't possibly understand where he was coming from, but I was disappointed in how selfish he stayed throughout the book (hope I'm not giving anything away), although maybe that was the point?

4. Cartwheel - Jennifer DuBois
This was a loosely based on the Amanda Knox story. It was interesting to read someone's idea of what could have happened and how all of the characters surrounding the case reacted, but I wasn't really INTO it. It was long and took me a long time to read. 

5. Domestic Violets - Matthew Norman
Light, easy read that reminded me of Jonathan Tropper. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't life-changing. 

6. The Rosie Project - Greame Simsion
Everyone raved about this, and I enjoyed it, but again, it wasn't life-changing. It seems there are to be sequels to this book, but I don't know if I'd read them. 

7. One More Thing - BJ Novak
I listened to this on Audible while painting and running on the treadmill and I really enjoyed it, especially since Novak himself narrates most of it and it's great to hear exactly how an author wants his own words read. Also, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fisher, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling narrate parts. Fine holiday fun. 

8. Defending Jacob - William Landay
So good. This is the point in my year where I realized I wanted to read mystery/suspense/thrillers almost exclusively. Enjoyed the hell out of this. 

9. We Were Liars - E. Lockwood 
Another mystery that I LOVED, one of my favorites of the year. I had no idea how it was going to end, which is rare. It was spooky and creepy and wonderful. 

10. The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer
Ugh, long and I had to force myself to finish it. I WANTED to love it. I loved the writing, but I just spent the whole book wishing Jules would just GET OVER IT already and stop living in the past. I just wanted her to be satisfied with her own life, and I hope I'm not spoiling anything by saying she NEVER IS. It's nearly 500 pages of a middle-aged woman wishing she were 16 again. I suppose that was the point, but to me it was bit torturous.

11. Tell The Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt
Enjoyed this one too. The narrator and the time period and events all felt authentic. 

12. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin
Oddly light and quick read despite how depressing some of the subject matter might be. I didn't love it, but enjoyed it enough. 

13. The Girl With a Clock For a Heart - Peter Swanson
Another thriller I burned through. Another one I enjoyed. (I'm getting sick of typing the word "enjoy," but it's the truth, so many of these books were good and I had a good time reading them, but they weren't transcendent). 

14. Landline - Rainbow Rowell
So many people hated this. I'm not sure what they were expecting - Rowell is not Hemingway (and doesn't set out to be). I quite liked it! Sure, it had flaws, but I thought it was cute. I read it in 48 hours, so that's a testament because I don't usually have a lot of time to myself to read.

15. One Plus One - Jojo Moyes
Meh. I'm kind of surprised I finished this. I skimmed a lot of it. It did not have the depth and struggle of Me Before You. It was like Little Miss Sunshine in a novel. 

16. Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
Again, I enjoyed it. It's chick-lit but with a bit of a darker tone. 

17. Dirty Love - Andre Dubus
Short stories. I loved the first 3 stories, but the fourth one took me many months to get through. Devon's voice lost me. I don't think Dubus's calling is to write from a teenage girl's perspective. (And, frankly, it made me terrified for my daughters to become teenagers, but that is not the fault of the author.)

18. The Good Girl - Mary Kubica
Loved it. The ending was a total mind-f*ck (for lack of a classier word). I almost want to read it all over again knowing the ending. Kubica wrote from 4 different points of view and managed to have distinct voices. The only thing holding me back from 5 stars was probably what I perceived as editing issues - sentences I had to reread several times to understand who the narrator was referring to or issues with past and present tense. I worry that people might read this as some cheesy 50 Shades of Grey-esque love story, but it went a lot deeper than that.

19. The Paris Wife - Paula McCain
Fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway's first wife. My favorite book of the year. I just loved this book so much, I didn't want it to end. The writing is so so beautiful and authentic and it was just so fascinating.

20. Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel 
Another one I enjoyed. It was a bit hard to read a dystopian novel that feels like it could actually happen. 

21. The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty 
Similar in feeling to Big Little Lies, and in hindsight I'm confusing the two a bit because the characters were kind of similar, but I enjoyed it. 

22. American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld
Loosely based on Laura Bush's life. Very interesting and compelling and I definitely spent a lot of time researching the Bushes while reading, but damn it was long, probably 200-300 pages longer than it needed to be. We don't need to know what every tertiary character looked like and was wearing, and the last 50 pages really seemed to be Sittenfeld waxing on about what it would be like be the First Lady.

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