January 11, 2014

2013 Reading Round Up, Part Deux

Congratulations to me!  I read 27 books in 2013.  I was shooting for two books a month, so I'm happy with 27.  Picking up where I left off with my 2013 Reading Round Up, Part One, here is a quick summary of the books I read in the last half of this year.  Wait, last year.  Whatever.

Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones, #3) by Helen Fielding

I actually liked this book. It took awhile to get back into the groove of her daily diary writing style, but it's a cute, brainless book & I read it in 2 days. There's a lot wrong with it & I get why it's getting ripped to shreds in the reviews, but I liked it. Sue me.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

As denoted by the four stars, I really liked this book. I didn't love it as much as I anticipated. I think that's the downside to reading it so long after it came out. This book has gotten high praise & I had high expectations. But I did like it. It's a rough start, so much so that I'd almost liken it to the beginning of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But once you get through about 18-20% of the book, it starts to pick up & get easier. The story is compelling, the timeline style writing just makes it a little hard to follow. I think it's a great story & an interestingly laid out book. I'm glad I read it & I definitely recommend it.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

I LOVED this book. It's set in Savannah, GA & all the main characters are strong women. It starts out sad, but ends well. I became really attached to these characters & found myself missing them once the book was over. Highly recommend.

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner


Fairyland:  A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott

Having just finished this book, it's hard to give it a true rating because it's an emotional ending, but I have to remind myself that I spent almost the entire book wanting to put it down & read something else. The beginning is strong & the end is strong, but the meat of the book is long & tedious. I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. The story is more powerful than the book, if that makes sense.

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

It's been a long time since I read a Stephen King book & this one did not disappoint. I've seen the movie The Shining, but haven't read the book. No matter. You can read Doctor Sleep without having read The Shining. This is a typical Stephen King book - well developed characters, most of the action happens at the end, over 500 pages. I couldn't put this book down & read it a lot faster than I expected to. If you've read Stephen King, then you know how scary he can be. This book isn't that. It's a page turner without making you sleep with the light on. Highly recommend.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

This book is laugh out loud funny & you don't have to have kids to get it. I read it on a whim because it was available for free via the public library & I remembered Jen Lancaster saying how funny it is, even if you don't have kids. This is hands-down one of the funniest books I've ever read. It's a short book with a lot of chapters & pictures, which makes it a quick read. I would frequently pass it to my husband to read what I just read so we could laugh together. I loved it & highly recommend it.

We Thought You Would Be Prettier:  True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive by Laurie Notaro

I heard Laurie Notaro at a reading recently & really liked her. She was the funniest author at the event & her reading from her new book was hilarious. This is one of her older books & I read it on a whim for free via the public library. It's okay, not great. This is a good book for traveling when you need something light, funny & doesn't require a lot of concentration. I'm going to give her another chance & read her newest book.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

I forgot to review this book back when I actually read it, so this is now some months later. But I gave it 5 stars, so I clearly liked it. I remember thinking that this book is similar in tone to The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. It's a coming-of-age tale about privileged kids in the 70s & 80s, set in New England, which I tend to gravitate towards. The book follows 5 friends, who's lives stay intertwined, from summer camp to adulthood to death. It's a great book. Long, but worth it.

Satan is Real:  The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers by Charlie Louvin

This book is written by Charlie Louvin & it's the story of how he & brother Ira grew up & eventually became the Louvin Brothers. I read it because John re-mastered Satan Is Real & he really wanted me to read it. I'm glad I did. I kind of loved it. Charlie chronicles their early life on a farm in rural Alabama, their early gospel career, Ira's alcoholism, becoming famous, joining the Opry, etc. If you know anything about the Louvin Brothers, then you already know how this ends. It's a sad, bittersweet ending. Short, good read. Highly recommend.

The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls

I liked it! A lot of people are giving it low scores for A) not being as good as The Glass Castle & B) being too similar to To Kill A Mockingbird. Not being as good as The Glass Castle is irrelevant & I like books that are in the same vein as To Kill A Mockingbird! Five stars!

Oops! How to Rock the Mother of All Surprises:  A Positive Guide to Your Unexpected Pregnancy by Tracy Moore

I read this book because I enjoy Tracy's regular column on Jezebel, "Motherload". Though I've never been pregnant, most of my friends have, so I have a pretty good base of understanding for what it's like. Or so I thought. Apparently I know nothing about pregnancy & all of my friends & family have been holding out on me. This book is hilarious. At 33, Tracy found herself married & unexpectedly pregnant. She takes us on her journey through pregnancy, labor & delivery, postpartum & the early stages of motherhood. She describes, in great detail, all of these stages, which is equal parts informative, terrifying & side-splitting. She does something I really appreciate, she highlights her marriage & offers lots on insight on how to be a good spouse, which is helpful regardless of whether or not you're pregnant. She also offers a lot of real talk pertaining to a woman's body post-baby. As I continue to watch friend after friend freak the eff out over what their body is like after pregnancy, I very much appreciate Tracy encouraging women to accept their new, post-baby bodies. It's a message, I feel, can't be expressed enough. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this uproarious book & have, & will continue to, recommend it to all of my friends. Five stars!


Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4) by Dan Brown

At first, I thought, I'm not going to read this, why did I even request this, but then I started reading it & got sucked in. It's not amazing, but if you're into Dan Brown, you won't be disappointed.

The Tao of Martha:  My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster

I liked this book. For the most part, it's in the same vein as her first books, with one caveat - her sick dog. She focuses a lot more on her sick dog than on Martha Stewart, which would be fine if the title weren't The Tao of Martha. While I'm sympathetic to her losing her dog, some editor at some point should have made her scale it back. Maybe she shouldn't have written a humor memoir while she was grieving. The book is still funny & worth reading, but expect to be distracted by her frequent digressions about her ailing dog's health.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I LOVED this book! It's a story about young love with the added bonus of eighties music & family dysfunction. Reading this really took me back to the angst of being a teenager. It starts out fairly light, but ends with some pretty serious stuff. It's also one of those books with short chapters that alternates between characters, so you read it quickly. I loved it & highly recommend it.

Joyland by Stephen King

This is a weird, little book, but I really liked it. Typical Stephen King, it's a slow build, but it goes out with a bang. And unlike most of his books, this one is super short, so you get to the action pretty fast. After I finished it, I found myself missing the characters, which is usually indicative of a good book. I recommend it!


Beth Hoffman said...

I came across your blog today and was so surprised to see that you've read my novel "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt". Thank you so much for your kind words, I'm delighted that you enjoyed the story!

The Blonde Mule said...

Thank you, Beth! I've never had an author comment on my review (or blog), but I'm so happy you did. I just wish I had said more about your book because I truly did love it. And you should know, everyone I've recommended it to has already read it & loved it as much as I did. Its a very popular book here in Nashville!


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