Good Reads – January 2013

Hello fellow readers!  January was full of good reads!

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My first read of the month was The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. The first line: “In the middle of my marriage, when I was above all Hugh’s wife and Dee’s mother, one of those unambiguous women with no desire to disturb the universe, I fell in love with a Benedictine monk.”  I really wanted to like this book as it was recommended by two friends – not to mention that I really liked “The Secret Life of Bees” – but overall I felt disappointed.  I was disappointed in the characters, the theme, and the motivations…and found myself plodding along (read at work over my lunch breaks) in hopes that at some point it would suddenly make sense.  All that being said, there are some great passages throughout – which is quite possibly what kept me turning the pages.  Again with the few religious passages…I’m beginning to realize that it is just not my normal “reading for pleasure” category.  (3/5 Stars)

I then finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The first lines: “I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.  The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.  Like many of the extraordinary things to come, it involved my grandfather, Abraham Portman.”  I thought of this book as the younger version of X-Men.  And I love X-Men!  Overall was an intriguing story…definitely recommend if you are looking for a storyline that will suck you in and you don’t mind not knowing where it will end.  I also loved how the plot was interlinked with the peculiar vintage photos throughout! (4/5 Stars)

My third book was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  This was the November Book Club selection from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers. Unfortunately, I did not finish it in time for group blog discussion…but I still think it’s a book worth reading! The first lines: “I’d always vaguely expected to outgrow my limitations.  One day, I’d stop twisting my hair, and wearing running shoes all the time, and eating exactly the same food every day.  I’d remember my friends’ birthdays, I’d learn Photoshop, I wouldn’t let my daughter watch TV during breakfast.  I’d read Shakespeare. I’d spend more time laughing and having fun, I’d be more polite, I’d visit museums more often, I wouldn’t be scared to drive.  One April day, on a morning just like every other morning, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life.  As I stared out of the rain-spattered window of a city bus, I saw that the years were slipping by.”  Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany – “The days are long, but the years are short.”  She decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project – focused on improving her life as it was.  Chronicling her adventures with humor and insight, we watch as Rubin tackles a new set of resolutions each month: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results.  Her conclusions are sometimes surprising – even the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.  You just might be inspired to start your own Happiness Project!  (4/5 Stars)

For my quick and fun read, I selected Wanted (Pretty Little Liars #8) by Sara Shepard.  The first lines, “They say a picture’s worth a thousand words.  A surveillance camera catches a beautiful brunette making off with a handful of gold Tiffany baubles.  A paparazzi shot exposes an affair between a young starlet and a married director.  But what the picture can'[t tell you is that the girl was a store clerk taking those bracelets to her boss, or that the director filed for divorce last month.”  The BEST book of the Pretty Little Liars series to date!   (5/5 stars)

I also tried my first Audiobook – First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) by Darynda Jones.  I’ve always been a lil’ leery of Audiobooks (they feel like I’m cheating!), but I thought the story was well narrated by Lorelei King.  This book is urban fantasy, paranormal romance, murder mystery, and chick-lit all thrown together. Charley is a grim reaper. Or rather, THE grim reaper.  She is the portal that allows the deceased to pass through to the other side.  Charley is also a private investigator, and in addition to helping the deceased pass through to the other side she also helps them tie up loose ends, whether it be passing on a final message to a loved one or solving the mystery of who murdered them.  The best part of the book – Charley is hilarious!  She’s full of snarky sarcasm and delivers so many fabulously funny one-liners.  (4/5 Stars)

I then moved on to the selected book for our local girls book club – Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. The first lines, “This book begins with a plane crash.  We do not want you to worry about this.  According to the U.S. Department of Unnecessary Statistics, your chances of dying in a plane crash are one in half a million.  Whereas your chances of losing your bathing suit bottoms to a strong tide are two to one.  So, all in all, it’s safer to fly than to go to the beach.  As we said, this book begins with a plane crash.  But there are survivors.  You see?  Already it’s a happy tale.  They are all beauty queen contestants.”   The best way to describe this book is that it is a satirical, modern-day Lord of the Flies – complete with sparkles and lip gloss.  The first half of the book was good – following twelve beauty queens who survive a plane crash on an island.  At first glance, the girls come across as stereotypical teenage beauty contestants, but as the book progresses, an intimate portrait of each girl is revealed and you come to understand their personality issues.  Then the second half of the book – what a train wreck!  The story brings in some crazy characters and themes – reality show pirates – a crazed dictator covertly arranging an arms deal for world domination – and a maniacal former beauty queen with her own insidious agenda – but unfortunately, trying to cram all this into one plot creates a ludicrous second half.  I personally loved the overall mockery of today’s pop culture, but this book is definitely not for everyone.  (3/5 Stars)

CURRENTLY READING

I finally got Matched #3 – Reached – from the library!

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And for fun, I’m also listening to Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson #2) by Darynda Jones.

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TO BE READ LIST

Here is a look at what has recently been added to my To Be Read (TBR) list:

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Until next month…

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