Erin (glockbell) wrote,

2016 Books

1.  Above the Line, Urban Meyer (audio) 1-2
This book demonstrates what it means to strive to be better. The ideals are universal, no matter what team you favor (or don't). I can't imagine life without negativity, but it's a worthy goal to limit as much as possible. 4/5
2.  The Bride Says No, Cathy Maxwell (audio) 1-3
It's like a less well-written, dirty Pride and Prejudice. Apparently there are sequels. Nothing good can come from a father selling his daughter into marriage. 2/5
3.  Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (audio) 1-8, for book club
I don't buy it. If 99.9% of the population dies, it would still function. There would still be electricians and engineers to keep the lights on. We'd all be in shock and mourning, but not in the old world. I know that wasn't the author's point. It's more a question of what is life like without the comforts of modern technology. I maintain that my apocolypse plan is to die. Being immune to the whatever superbug would suck.
4.  Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Rick Riordan (audio) 1-17
Percy's witty, sarcastic voice gives this retelling of Greek tales a new angle. Riordan always manages to tell mythical stories in a simple, fun way.
5.  I Still Dream About You, Fannie Flagg (audio) 1-21
This book deals with the very real difficulties of loneliness and aging, but interjects humor to cut the darkness of suicidal thoughts. The villain is a little too evil, and the story wraps up a little too neatly, but that fits the message of staying positive in the face of adversity. 4/5
6.  Armada, Ernest Cline (audio) 1-23
This video gamer's fantasy is so complete that I was constantly second guessing whether events were real in the book, or simply a concoction of the main character's mind. Writing style is very similar to Cline's Ready Player One, this time with the focus on gamers and space fans. Interpersonal relationships are less developed than the plot, but it is an enjoyable, easy read. 4/5
7.  Tricky Twenty-Two, Janet Evanovich (audio) 1-27
I'm adding this on 3/23, so I don't even remember what happened. Stephanie missed an easy and difficult FTA, fought with Joe, got a car blown up, went to a funeral home showing where Granda Mazur was embarassing, flirted with Ranger, caught the easy FTA with help from friends, caught the major criminal, at great personal peril, got back together with Joe, etc.
8.  Life After Life, Kate Atkinson (audio) 1-30, for book club
I like the concept of the girl repeatedly dying, then living life again/differently, but it's way too long. And I really wish this poor girl could eventually die for good. The whole family seems to be locked in a never-ending cycle.
9.  Life and Death/Twilight, Stephanie Meyer (audio) 2-6
I really like Beau and Edythe. I don't care anymore. I embrace that I still like Twilight. I still hate the narration of Ilyana Kadushin. Listening at 1.2 (or was it 1.4?) times speed was acceptable. Her monotone isn't so awful when it's not dragging in pace.
10. Breaking Dawn, Stephanie Meyer (audio) 2-9
Same review for Kadushin's terrible narration. I love the way the series ends. It expands and embraces the wider world of vampires. Once I got over the fact that it started like a bunch of (what was assumed to be ridiculously impossible) fanfiction, the new Cullen family is sweet. Renesmee is adorable, not creepy, and I'm okay with the description of imprinting. I can totally conceive of it not necessarily being romantic love. I do wonder about when that changes. One of my favorite lines is when Edward heartbreakingly says goodbye to his "son."
11. Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northup (audio) 2-13
Northrup's first person account of being kidnapped in the north and sold in the south details some of the many challenges and horrors of slavery. He is excessively fair, praising his saviors, acknowledging that some masters are good people who have never been taught that owning people is wrong, and exposing the worst monsters of humanity. 4/5
12. Spells and Sleeping Bags, Sarah Mlnowski (audio) 2-14
Summer camp and glitchy witch magic provide the backdrop for this teen coming of age story. Rachel learns how to be a better sister and friend, instead of focusing all her energy on a boy or the bully. It's pretty predictable, but a funny, fast read. 3/5
13. Empire of the Sun, J.G. Ballard (audio) 2-17
This novelized autobiography tells the story of the young English boy Jim's life in China as it is occupied by the Japanese. He cheers for his captors as well as liberators, with little commentary on the atrocities pictured. His stoicism and desensitization in the face of war speaks more to its horror than the descriptions themselves. 3/5
14. Winter People, Jennifer McMahon (audio) 2-20
This super creepy book was a bad choice to read (listen) during a thunderstorm. While supernatural creatures were about in the book, branches and roof shingles were flying in front of my window (with the blinds open).
15. Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes (audio) 4-18
She's old and she lies. Makes stuff up for a living. I've disagreed with several television choices, but she's unbelievably funny, witty, revealing, brave. It doesn't matter how much is true. She still makes great points about embracing the hard conversations and seeing people accurately. I love the recognition that being healthy/losing weight is never going to become fun. It will always be hard work. That's a much easier way to look at it. I'm not even trying to lose weight, but I struggle with not overindulging in sugar. 5/5
16. Decision Points, George W. Bush
(audio) 4-21
I've always thought history would remember his presidency much more favorably than the present. Time will tell. It's hard to say what another president would have done differently. 4/5 I'm looking forward to hearing him narrate the book about his father. This guy's okay, but I keep wishing it were Bush himself.
17. American Housewife: Stories, Helen Ellis (audio) 4-24
Very humorous, if often nonsensical. 5/5
18. 41: A Portrait of My Father, George W. Bush (audio) 5-4
I love that he blatantly states that he won't be objective, because he loves his father too much to be impartial. This is a nice look at American family history, and the first president I remember, even if I don't actually remember anything of political significance from those years (other than studying it later). 5/5
19. The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeanette Walls (ebook) 5-10, for book club
Her parents are horrible, no matter what she thinks. Even as she's writing condemning stories, you can tell that she's far too forgiving. I was intrigued by the portion of their lives in Welch, WV, which also features heavily in Homer Hickam's memoirs about Coalwood. He was there about a decade earlier, and at the higher end of the economy. The Walls moved back after the mines started closing, and were about the poorest people imaginable. 3/5
20. My French Whore, Gene Wilder
(audio) 5-11 (audio)
I kept expecting more humor, given the author. There's a predictable ending for this absurd premise (American soldier deserts his company and pretends to be a German spy to escape capture), but it's nice to see it play out. 3/5
21. When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win, Carol Leifer
(audio) 5-14
I'm still not familiar with this comedian, but her autobiography is fun and relateable, even if her struggles with aging are more about the fifties than the thirties. 4/5
22. Melissa Explains It All, Melissa Joan Hart
(audio) 5-23
Fun autobiography from a child turned adult star. 3/5
23. American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld
(audio) 6-2
This "loosely inspired" fictionalized version of Laura Bush is a bit hard to take, and harder to imagine as true, no matter how many factual inclusions. The author appears to be a critic of 43, but does manage to portray humanity, which is welcome in the current political climate of "different opinion = evil." 3/5
24. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg (audio) 6-6
Ladydragonspaw says that I previously mentioned this book with something close to ire, but I do not recall (either having been exposed to Sandberg's work or disliking it). I loved listening to this book, after worrying that it would be dull and dry for the drive to and from work. It speaks to all my feminist vitriol. I know that I have to be better about recognizing my own sexist tendencies. I must give Little Caesars credit, because I look around the office and see a good distribution of the sexes in executive and managerial roles. I started by reporting directly to a woman, something Sandberg has never done. She gives a fair account of the choices open to women and men when gender roles are redefined. 5/5
25. The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer (audio) 6-12, for book club
I wasn't previously familiar with this artist. I'll have to check her out in the future. 4/5
26. Anne of Green Gables, L.M.Montgomery (audio) 6-20
Sweet story of adoption and reaching for goals. I always relate to characters who long for home. 4/5
27. I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai (audio) 7-13
Very intelligent young lady. I appreciate that she made the effort to tell her story. It's a very different perspective on "terrorism" than Americans usually see. 5/5
28. The Dead Fathers Club, Matt Haig (audio) 7-23
Very cringeworthy when Philip actually tries to follow the amoral demands of his father's ghost. In looking up a summary to remind myself of the story for this review, I learned that it is a loose retelling of Hamlet, which makes so much more sense now. 3/5
29. Lady Knight, Tamora Pierce (audio) 8-19
Alanna's story is like an old friend. It's nice to visit every once in a while. I've read too many times to be objective.
30. The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarty (First audiobook read through hoopla library system) 9-2
Story about three women who's lives are subtly intertwined. Great until the end, when it's insinuated that the girl should have chosen Boy 1, because then he wouldn't have strangled her when she told him she was choosing Boy 2. Absolutely disgusting. Would have gotten a 4. 2/5
31. Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi (audio) 9-7 book club
Great until the end, when most of the family goes to live with the abusive dad. The nouns in the title are really just proper names, which goes with the theme of nothing being as it seems. 4/5
32. Slade House, David Mitchell (audio) 9-18, for book club
33. Cinder, Marissa Meyer (audio) 9-20
After hating the endings of three books in a row, this was a fun series to explore. It has some of the simplicities of fantastical YA series, especially romance, but it's fun and easy to be engrossed. I tried to start this book a couple years ago when I discovered that Cinderella is my Disney princess, but it was a physical print book, which takes effort, and I learned that it was part of an unfinished series, which is never fun. 5/5
34. Scarlet, Marissa Meyer (audio) 9-21
The advantage of waiting until the series is over: immediately starting the next book when the previous leaves the story unfinished. I was worried that we wouldn't get much of Cinder in Scarlet's story, but I needn't have worried. The stories alternate well. I'm impressed that the author got me to care about new characters so seemlessly. 5/5
35. Cress, Marissa Meyer (audio) 9-24ish
I love that these books unabashedly embrace the very clear romantic pairs. My favorite part of Meyer's writing is that although the story frequently shifts to other characters, it rarely leaves the storyline in the middle of a cliffhanger. It doesn't diminish my suspence. In fact, I tend to forget the excitement when authors leave in the middle of action. 4/5
36. Winter, Marissa Meyer (audio) 9-26
This seems the weakest of the quartet. It's like a totally different story. It's not out of character that the evil queen has a kingdom of restless, oppressed people, but it's a little bit of a cop-out. It's much easier to overthrow the government if it just happens to be killing its people. I appreciate that Cinder is aware of and not crippled by the realities of war. Overall, I love these fairy tales, and that it's full of characters who are strong AND feminine.
37. Stars Above, Marissa Meyer (audio) 9-29
While it's interesting to get these back-stories, there's nothing new. I could have imagined most of these from alusions in the original series. It actually got a little boring, and I was just waiting for the last one to tell me where the main characters are in the future. The wedding story is cute. I only question the speed with which Cinder has accomplished her government goals. 3/5
38. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes (audio) 10-1
Lovely and heartbreaking. I'm a sucker for death stories. 5/5
39. Fairest: Levana's Store, Marissa Meyer (audio) 10-2
Again, a little bit of a cop-out. It's supposed to make the villain more sympathetic, but it just further proves that she is completely incapable of empathy. The author admits it was written for the fans, which explains why it seems like fanfiction. 3/5
40. City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare (audio) 10-11
I think I need to be done reading about Shadowhunters. Clare is incapable of ending a story. (This is Book 6 of a trilogy, so that's nothing new.) After hearing some unfavorable comments about how the author treated others as a leader in the Harry Potter fanfiction community, I'm ready to give up this story. I generally like the stories, but they go on too long and very clearly try to entice the reader into the sister books. 3/5
41. Reckless, Cornelia Funke (audio) 10-28
I've enjoyed Funke's Inkheart series and others, and I intend to read more. I wish I were fluent enough to read the original German. I was expecting another children's series, but was pleasantly surprised by the older reading level in these Mirrorworld books. Jacob Reckless is a noble hero with the usual flaws. I don't really care about his bother, but I like that Jacob does. 5/5
42. Fearless, Cornelia Funke (audio) 10-30
Noooo! I thought there were only two books, so I didn't even know to place the third, which is not available, on hold. Again, this was a fun adventure in a storybook world. 5/5
43. Golden Yarn, Cornelia Funke (audio) 11-5
How do I keep being surprised? Of course the series isn't done yet. I love this book- the way it keeps me on edge, uncertain of a happy ending, what a happy ending would even be. I am surprised that anyone would have sex after being forced to promise away a first-born child, but perhaps that speaks to my naivete. I'm excited to see a Baba Yaga. I had never heard of them until the Reunion game this year when we played "Baba Yaga," "Great Gate of Kiev" with the OSUMB. Now I need to go research more on whether/when there's a fourth book. 5/5
44. After You, Jojo Moyes (audio) 11-6
Nice look at grief after time has passed. 5/5
45. Turbo Twenty-Three, Janet Evanovich (audio) 11-21
Always fun to spend time with Stephanie. This one was a little less formulaic than usual, so it was a nice change of pace. 4/5
46. Stiff, Mary Roach (audio)

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