Oh gosh, this is so very late!!!! Nevertheless, I had a really great December. I enjoy the holiday season immensely and was able to devote quite some time to reading. My Goodreads reading group did an end-of-decade cramathon and that really spurred me on to finish all (but one) reading goal for 2019. With that and throughout the year, I was able to complete the regular and the advanced popsugar reading challenge prompts and my personal 2019 goals (10 1001-books, 15 ARCs, 10 audiobooks 5 books written in German, and 25 books I own). I don’t remember if I shared my 2019 pledges, which is a short list of books that I must read that year. I was able to finish all but one of those. House of Leaves is making it into 2020. I am really looking forward to 2020. I love the idea of new beginnings.
Books read: 20
Books listened to: 0
Total pages read (includes “pages” from audiobooks): 4967
In the Tall Grass (Stephen King, Joe Hill) ♠♠♠♠ and Throttle (Joe Hill, Stephen King) ♠♠♠
I decided to read more short stories by King and was really looking forward to In the Tall Grass. An intense, imaginative, and dreadful plot was paired nicely with characters I just cared enough about to be engaged. I really enjoyed the storyline as well. The descriptions were vivid and made me feel I too was trapped in the fields. I realize that Throttle is a homage to Duel by Richard Matheson (which I have not read), but it just felt old and not very imaginative. It was well written but didn’t engage me much.
I recommend In the Tall Grass whole-heartedly.
Husband Material (Emily Belden) ♠♠♠
This book promised to be super quirky and cute but ended up just feeling one-dimensional and flat. Too many tropes, too many plotlines that made no sense, and characters that I couldn’t connect with. Read my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads.
I recommend this book only if you are looking for some mindless fun.
Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen) ♠♠♠♠♠
I started this off as an audiobook but quickly felt like I was missing too many of the sarcastic nuances, so I ended up reading the eBook instead. I truly enjoyed this read. Austen, again, does a fantastic job subtly criticizing 19th-century English society and its norms. I enjoyed both main characters, Elinor and Marianne, for both can be found in almost all of us. The plot is fun and in a way light-hearted. I will be checking out the various movie adaptations next.
If you like Austen or her contemporaries, I highly recommend this book. If you have not read Austen, this would be a great (and underrated) book to pick up as your first read.
Otherworld (Jason Segel) ♠♠♠
I read this to fulfill a popsugar prompt. I didn’t connect with Ready Player One but was hoping this book would change my mind about what I perceive to be an odd subgenre of YA Sci-fi. Admittedly I mostly picked this novel because it was written by Jason Segel. I mean, is there anything this man can’t do???? After finishing this book, it has been confirmed. There isn’t much to say except these types of novels are not for me. Segel’s writing and plot were well-done. I was entertained in a sort of apathetic way. I just couldn’t make myself care for the story or characters. I completely get how some readers feel so understood by these stories. It’s simply not my cup of tea.
There is no recommendation for this as I just feel blah thinking about this genre.
Planet of the Apes (Pierre Boulle) ♠♠♠♠♠
As soon as I read the first page, I felt I had just discovered something great and impactful. I love the old Charlton Heston movies and the newer adaptions a whole bunch. Only last year did I realize that they are based on this gem of a 1960s novel. The plot is basically all these movies combined. The writing is poetic in contrast to the heavy science topics. There is something so deeply emotional and human about Boulle’s exploration of what would happen if a seemingly lower species to humans rules over them on another planet that I felt completely drawn into the pages. Don’t get me wrong there were parts in the book that by today’s standards would be considered wrong or inappropriate – it was by far promoting nothing but that humans are best even when the protagonist was faced with completely contradictory evidence. There were creationism and general religious undertones at times throwing off the sci-fi feel. But let’s remember when it was published! This book must’ve been revolutionary at that time. The imagination and incredibleness of the plot must’ve discombobulated the literary community. And this is exactly what it felt like reading this book. It felt revolutionary.
I can do nothing but recommend this book.
Sharp Objects (Gillian Flynn) ♠♠♠
I loved Gone Girl when I read it 3+ years ago and am truthfully surprised I haven’t read a Flynn book since. Sharp Objects sounded right up my alley. And, yes, it was a page-turner just like Gone Girl. The protagonist felt real – she was messed up, had tons of inner demons to work through, and was looking for meaning in her life (and aren’t we all doing that?) – but the story itself was flat. The identity of the murder suspect was painfully obvious. The story development lacked that special something I saw in Gone Girl. And overall, it was really hard to care about any of the characters. I will be checking out the HBO series in hopes visualizing the story will make it more exciting.
I would not recommend this book. Read Gone Girl instead.
The Sweetheart’s Knitting Club (Lori Wilde) ♠♠
I solely selected this book because it had to do with knitting – which is one of my favorite pastimes besides reading. I also figured reading a cute romance right around Christmas would give me this cozy feeling we all yearn for during the holidays and at the very least would just be plain fun. What really happened is that I am pretty certain I just read Gilmore Fan Fiction – in the worst possible way. There was entirely not enough knitting either. In fact, the protagonist can’t knit at all and just fakes it the whole time while in her knitting circle. Her love interests were definitely Dean and Jesse from GG. The town was 100% Stars Hollow including a grumpy diner owner, gossipy neighborhood ladies, and a knitting marathon to raise money to fix a bridge. For this, the author even broke the 4th wall and straight up referenced GG’s episode on their knitting fundraiser.
Don’t even entertain the idea to read this. There is much better GG Fan Fiction out there.
The Rise of Magicks (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠
What a crescendo of The Chronicles of The One trilogy!!!! Book 3 was damn action-packed, to say the least. One battle followed another. Beloved characters die. Roberts had no mercy. It was like diving into the deep sea and barely being able to break the surface to catch a breath. I loved how well Roberts incorporated the strength of the non-magicks and magicks to end the conflict between the ones who embrace the new world and the ones who keep hanging onto their old ways.
I recommend this series, especially because it is not your typical Nora Roberts trilogy.
Siddharta (Hermann Hesse) ♠♠♠♠♠
I read this novella a long, long time ago in high school in Germany aka I remembered nothing from it. A few years back, my sister sent me a Taschenbuchkollektion (pocket-sized collection) of Hesse works and I’ve been slowly making my way through this. I am so glad I got to re-visit Siddharta. Honestly, this is one of those stories you read and interpret differently during each stage of your life. It’s full of wisdom and symbolism. You connect to it depending on your own state-of-mind. It’s philosophical and spiritual though Hesse for sure deviates from certain factoids and puts his own spin on the subject.
I recommend this novella. It is well worth your time.
Red Dragon (Thomas Harris) ♠♠♠♠♠
I have been wanting to read this series forever. In fact, a long time ago I read Silence of the Lambs. The movie with the same title is my favorite of all time. I am dying to re-read the book but the stickler in me just can’t attack this series out of order. Red Dragon was fantastic. I rarely get scared anymore. I read way too much horror, but this one got me. I was completely sucked into the thoughts of the killer. The dreadful atmosphere of the story had me on the edge of my seat. I had to finish the book as soon as possible and I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t hard to guess who the murderer was but that didn’t take away from my experience at all. Thomas Harris is pure genius in this first book of this series.
I really, really want you to read this book.
Dream Country (Neil Gaiman) ♠♠♠♠
This one was a collection of a few stories. I really enjoyed most of them but one I couldn’t connect with. So far, this is my least favorite issue in the series. The artwork, of course, was brilliant as usual and the dialogue engaging. I just didn’t love all of the plots.
This is a series I will always recommend, especially if you like dark comic books or graphic novels.
Snow and Rose (Emily Winfield Martin) ♠♠♠♠♠♠
I had been eying this retelling for quite some time. Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot is one of my favorite Grimm tales and I have the fondest memories of my grandma telling me the story over and over again as a kid. I found this retelling by accident and had left it on my wish-list for far too long. When Powell’s Books had a special sale for Christmas where a wrapped book would arrive at your door on Christmas Eve, I pounced. What better way than to unwrap a book and spend that evening reading it by the Christmas tree?! Snow and Rose was a huge surprise for me. It was so much more than I had expected. It was enchanting. It was beautifully illustrated. It was childish and grown-up at the same time. The plot was enthralling, the characters unpredictable, and the atmosphere was magical. I only wish I could read it again for the first time.
This made it super quickly into my all-time favorite list, so I highly recommend this book.
American Gods, Vol. 1 (Neil Gaiman) ♠♠♠♠♠
As I said a long time ago, American Gods to me, is the quintessential American novel despite (or maybe because of?) the fact it is written by a Brit. Neil Gaiman is brilliant and I love both his novels and graphic novel collections. Thus, the graphic novel adaptation of American Gods was a must-read for me. It worked out perfectly as a comic. I got the same grey and dreary atmospheric doom from it. None of the main plot points or dialogue were compromised. And the illustration captured the tone of the novel wonderfully.
I recommend this graphic novel to anyone wanting to get familiar with Gaiman’s work (and of course to anyone who has already read American Gods). I think this would be the perfect introduction to Gaiman’s mind.
Watchmen (Alan Moore) ♠♠♠
I so wanted to love this. Neil Gaiman (yes I talk about him a lot because I admire him so much) credits Moore with a huge influence on his own work. Naturally, I had to check it out. Watchmen is widely viewed as THE exemplary graphic novel and has driven the genre for years. The topic and illustrations are weird and dark. All of this sounds like it’s made for me, and yet, I found myself not connecting to the book at all. I couldn’t get emotionally invested in the characters. I found myself bored with the plot. This even led me to feel meh about the artwork. I understand why this graphic novel is so revered but to me, it just seemed overly intellectualized.
You should read this book regardless of my feelings toward it.
Das Erbe der Macht Series (Andreas Suchanek) Aurafeuer ♠♠ and 1/2♠, Essenzstab ♠♠♠, Wechselbalg ♠♠♠, Feuereblut ♠♠♠♠, and Silberregen ♠♠♠
If you’re looking for a bit of Harry Potter mixed with a good chunk of urban fantasy, a whole bunch of conflicts, some intrigue, and a mysterious villain (or are there more than one?); this is the series for you. Mind you this is no literary masterpiece BUT the entertainment value is huge. Each book ends on a cliffhanger (which I generally find a cheap ploy but totally works here), so you are just itching to read on. The stories are fairly short and don’t require much attention. It would probably work marvelously as an audiobook. I got used to the characters, even connected with some, and particularly love the sprinkle of historical fiction that bridges these books.
If you’re looking for a fun time and you like the fantasy genre, I recommend this series to you.