Sarahbird's 2015 Reads

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Sarahbird's 2015 Reads

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1sarahbird
Ene 25, 2015, 5:06pm

Hello fellow readers! My name is Sarah, and this is where I'll keep track of my 2015 reads. I'm a teen librarian, so I read plenty of YA, but I also enjoy adult books of all genres.

Favorite reads of 2014:

Life after Life
Far From the Tree
Dreams of Gods and Monsters
Shades of Grey

2sarahbird
Ene 25, 2015, 5:54pm

1.) The Elegance of the Hedgehog - A lot of the philosophical stuff in this book went over my head, but it was interesting and I found the story surprisingly emotionally moving.

2.) The Girl from the Well - You know, I actually thought that this was a lot of fun. Not super scary, but some creepy/gory moments. The story wasn't perfect, but it was different enough to keep me interested.

3.) And When She Was Good - This was OK. I thought the story was interesting enough, but it was a bit predictable. In the end I just didn't feel much for this book one way or the other.

4.) The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life - This just wasn't great. It wasn't terrible, but there are much better YA books out there.

5.) Mermaids in Paradise -Overall, I liked this one. I thought the main character was really funny and the story was engaging. There is a twist ending, which I'm conflicted about. On one hand, I didn't see it coming at all, and I always love a good surprise. On the other hand, the more I thought about it the more I was bothered by how it seemed to negate the rest of the book. I'm still glad that I read this, but the ending was not my favorite.

6.) Happy Handmade Home -This barely counts as a book, but it's my list so I'm including it. A few cute ideas here, but nothing especially interesting.

7.) The Aviator's Wife - Oh my gosh, I hate hate hated this book so much. I listened to the audiobook, and the whole time I just wanted to slap the main character. Her husband is a jerk, and she's so passive and boring, the story is so repetitive, and the narrator's voice was just so laughably melodramatic. Usually I have at least one good thing to say about a book, but I was SO glad when this was over.

8.) Texts From Jane Eyre - I laughed so many times when I was reading this. So so good.

9.) The Ocean at the End of the Lane - This was lovely. Almost like a dark fable, or like a children's story that's just a bit grown up. Short and sweet.

3drneutron
Ene 25, 2015, 10:10pm

Welcome back!

4sarahbird
Feb 19, 2015, 12:51pm

>3 drneutron: Thanks drneutron!

10.) How to Save a Life - I liked this one! The ending was pretty predictable, but the characters were well-drawn. A step above the average YA book.

11.) What We See When We Read - This was interesting, but I don't know if I can say that I really enjoyed it. Parts were fascinating, parts went a bit over my head, and parts I just plain didn't care about. Still, if you're a reader you'll probably find a few things to relate to in the book.

12.) Mortal Heart - Love love love and adore this series. I'm so sad that this was the last book. The stories are so rich and detailed, and the worldbuilding is just beautiful. I think this YA series is just as good as any historical fiction/fantasy series aimed at adults, and it's something I'd recommend to anyone looking for quality YA.

13.) The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black is just perfection. This is the third book of hers that I have read (the others were The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and White Cat). They're all set in such different worlds - vampires, faeries, curse workers - but they're all so imaginative and enjoyable. She's one of those authors who defies the stereotype that all YA books follow the same tired tropes.

14.) The Execution of Noa P. Singleton - Listened to this one as an audiobook. This book was ok, but not great. I was interested in Noa as a character, but none of the character's actions or motivations really made sense. All I kept thinking was, "No human being would ever react to that situation that way." I mean, the main character is on death row, so I'd expect her actions to be a little bit unusual, but literally every single character in the book did things that made no sense to me.

15.) The River of No Return - LOVED this book! Time travel, intrigue, romance, secret guilds - so much fun. Sure, it stretched credibility in a lot of places, but who cares? It was absolutely delightful. The ending doesn't offer real resolution to a lot of plot points, so I hope there's a sequel.

16.) Way to Go - Unfortunately this book was just really shallow. It's a very short, lightweight story with incredibly one-dimensional characters. I mean, it's not completely terrible, but why waste time with forgettable stuff like this when there are so many great books out there?

17.) Enchantments - I dug this book. I doubt it will end up being one of my favorites of the year, but I enjoyed it. It was kind of hard to get into at first, because the timeline was confusing and I don't think I was expecting the magical realism elements, but once I did I found this book really lovely. It has a sort of dreamlike quality, and the portrayal of the last days of the Tsar and his family was quite emotional. Plus, I ended up doing some online research on the Romanovs to sort out fact from fiction in the story, which was really interesting.

5sarahbird
Abr 7, 2015, 9:43pm

18.) Cold Light - Didn't really enjoy this one. The story was depressing, and everything about the characters and the setting just felt grimy. Sort of made me feel like I needed a shower afterward.

19.) The Silver Star - Listened to this as an audiobook. Honestly, this felt more like middle grade fiction than something written for adults. Just sort of dull and overly simplistic.

20.)Teardrop - This was just hilariously, laughably bad. Exactly what you'd get if you tried to fit all of the worst tropes and most tired cliches of YA fiction into one book.

21.) Gang Leader for a Day - This was really interesting! I liked the book a lot, but I did feel like it was lacking something that was hard to put my finger on. Overall it was really good, I think I just wanted a little bit more analysis.

22.) My Life Next Door - This was fine. Not really good or bad, just ok.

6drneutron
Abr 8, 2015, 9:39pm

>5 sarahbird: I thought the same about Gang Leader for a Day. His latest book about New York was the same way. Which is a bit of a shame since I think he's got some good ideas, just needs more follow-through.

7sarahbird
Editado: Mayo 19, 2015, 7:29pm

>6 drneutron: I totally agree. I'll still probably pick up his latest though.

23.) Big Little Lies - Loved this book - I think I liked this one a bit more than Husband's Secret, actually. I need to go back and read the rest of her earlier works.

24.) Reclaimed - I'm going to be honest, I read this almost two months ago so I don't remember it that well, but I remember that I really did not like it. I think the plot just didn't make a ton of sense and the writing was clunky.

25.) The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - I'm a sucker for any book that promises to organize my life. It didn't completely inspire me to become a minimalist, but I did get rid of a few things.

26.) Slammed - This wasn't bad. A little bit melodramatic, but the story was interesting.

27.) The Girl on the Train - I liked this one. I've been reading a lot of criticism of this title, probably because it was overhyped and people felt let down. I thought it was good though - not quite as good as Gone Girl, but definitely an enjoyable thriller in that vein.

28.) Dairy Queen - This was nice and wholesome, and actually pretty heartwarming. The narrator read a little young for someone who is supposed to be 16, but overall a solid story.

29.) The Other Typist - There were some things I really enjoyed about this book - the setting was interesting, the writing was good, and the whole thing was suffused with a pleasantly creepy sense of foreboding. I liked Odalie's calculating charisma, and the juxtaposition of Rose's character as someone who was both prim and proper and deeply unbalanced. The only thing I didn't like was the ending - what happened there? I couldn't figure it out. I've heard that there might be a sequel - I'd definitely read it.

30.) Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail - I love Cheryl Strayed. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Tiny Beautiful Things - honestly, I got a little bored with the long descriptions of hiking in the middle section. However, the description of the author's grief over her mother's death at the beginning of the book is one of the most wrenching things I've ever read, and the final few pages were incredibly beautiful. I actually would love to read a memoir of Strayed's life after the PCT - I know the hike is the sort of big life journey that fits neatly into 300 or so pages, but I think that she's a super interesting person and I'd like to hear more about her transition from messed-up twentysomething to fortysomething wife and mom.

31.) Coda - Yeah, this was just bad. I mean, it's basically a standard issue dystopian, which I have no problem with. A book can be follow every genre cliche and still be enjoyable to read, but for that to happen it needs to have good writing, an interesting setting, or some kind of unique hook that sets it apart. This just fell flat on every level - plot, writing and characters. A slog.

32.) What is Visible - I wouldn't normally have chosen this book, but I had to read it to lead a book discussion at work. The story was actually pretty interesting, and the characters were well-developed. No one in the book was especially likable, and it was overall pretty grim, but it wasn't bad. The one issue I had was the sexual/romantic subplot - this book was a fictionalized biography of a real person, and this situation was invented by the author to spice up the story. I feel like adding imaginary (fairly graphically described) sex scenes to the life story of a real person, especially someone who lived fairly recently, is in somewhat poor taste.

33.) The Storied Life of AJ Fikry - Loved this book. Just all sorts of heartwarming and really fun for book people. The book is short and covers a fairly long timeline, so the story does have a way of skimming over the top of events and character's emotions without ever going too deep, but it was done in a way that worked for me.

34.) Dark Rooms - This started out interesting, but I ended up really not enjoying it. Something about the writing was really jumpy and awkward, and kept pulling me out of the story. The way the clues were unveiled and the mystery unraveled was clunky. There were also too many characters, or at least the characters weren't well-defined, so I kept having to flip back to remind myself of who was who. The worst part, however, was a rape subplot that was TERRIBLY handled and actually pretty upsetting. Basically, the main character is raped at a party after passing out, and gets pregnant. She later starts dating a guy, and eventually finds out that he was her rapist (he's been hanging onto an item of her clothing from the night of the party). He confesses that he did have sex with her while she was unconscious, and she basically decides that she is in some way responsible for 'seducing' him, forgives him pretty much instantly, and they end the book as a 'happy' couple. No, just no, on so many levels..

8sarahbird
Editado: Ene 3, 2016, 5:10pm

Wow, it has been a while! I've been really bad about keeping track of what I'm reading, but here's the list of what I can remember:

35.) All the Light We Cannot See - I really thought this was fantastic, worthy of all the hype it's been getting. I led a book discussion on this title at work, which gave me a deeper appreciation for the book.

36.) The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles - I think I was expecting a lot more from this based on some reviews that I had read. It was light and fluffy and fun at times, but overall I honestly found it shallow and stupid.

37.) The Young Elites - Read this for the teen book club I lead at work. It was actually a really engaging story with a great ending that sets it up for the sequel. A step above most YA fiction.

38.) It's What I Do - Memoir by a photojournalist who's covered war and conflicts all over the world. Such a fascinating story - I did find it hard to put myself into her mindset and understand why someone would willingly go into such dangerous situations over and over, but it was so interesting.

39.) Modern Romance - Super great. Love Aziz Ansari. This book was so funny, but it wasn't just cheap laughs - there's a lot of information here. Plus, I read this book just as I was making my first online dating profile so it was super timely & actually sort of helpful!

40.) The Woman Upstairs - Listened to this as an audiobook. It was...not very good. The main character, Nora, is a deeply angry person, but she doesn't seem to realize that the things that make her angry are all the result of her own poor choices, and instead blames the people around her for not satisfying her (unexpressed, and frankly inappropriate) emotional needs. And the 'great betrayal' she experiences from one of the other characters...eh, it was creepy and weird, but Nora had violated some boundaries and been creepy and weird toward this person's whole family, and honestly the betrayal couldn't even have occurred if Nora hadn't done something rather creepy and weird in the first place Pro tip: if you're inside your friend's art exhibit, especially if you know there are cameras installed to record visitors, maybe keep your pants on .

41.) Spinster - I really enjoyed this one. The historical women that she profiles mostly don't fall under the technical definition of 'spinster', but they were interesting portrayals of women who lived very far outside the norms of their times. The author also intersperses her own story between the historical narratives - the two parts don't really mesh very well, but I liked both so it didn't really bother me. Overall, an inspiring look at what it means for a woman to create a life on her own terms, without building it on the structure of male companionship or romantic relationships.

42.) Maybe in Another Life - This was pretty good. I was drawn to this title because of the promise that, while different choices do affect the outcome of your life, things do end up okay in most scenarios. This was a light & fun read, the writing was good but it probably won't stick with me for long.

43.) Uprooted - Loved this. It's been a while since I've read a good fantasy book and this was just fantastic.

44.) Academy Street - Short & fast read, but very sad in a quiet way.

45.) The Moor's Account - The premise of this sounded interesting, and it's on the Booker longlist. but this dragged a little bit for me. The actual story was very interesting, but the prose style was flat and emotionally detached, which made it feel like a dry accounting of facts and kept me from getting engaged in the story.

46.) Fragile Things - I have to say this collection was really uneven, but it was full of wonders and I'm so glad I read it. My favorite story by far was the first, 'A Study in Emerald'. I also loved the super-short (under 100 words) story called Wheel of Fortune, from the larger story 'Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot'.

47.) Barbara the Slut - Another short story collection. I liked this a lot, the prose was so clean and spare and the style felt fresh and modern. Contrary to most other reviewers, I didn't really enjoy the title story (too depressing) but I did enjoy a lot of the others, especially 'Desert Hearts', 'My Humans', and 'Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love'.

48.) Between the World and Me - Powerful and important.

9sarahbird
Editado: Ene 3, 2016, 5:11pm

49.) Olive Kitteridge - At first I wasn't enjoying this one - I found it depressing and somewhat boring. But about 2/3 of the way through, something flipped for me. I started to appreciate the gorgeousness of the prose, and by the end I really loved it.

50.) Fates & Furies - My feelings for this were pretty much the opposite of what I felt for Olive Kitteridge. As I was reading, I really enjoyed the book - the story pulled me along, and the writing was unusual and interesting. But pretty much as soon as I finished, I realized how ridiculous a lot of the story was, and the more I thought about it the less I liked it. I have no problem suspending disbelief, but for something that was billed as realistic fiction that was just too absurd.

51.) The Library at Mount Char - Ummm, was this my favorite book of the year? Yes, I think it was. Just so original and weird and gross and magical and crazy cool. I haven't stopped recommending it or talking about it since I read it.

52.) Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - This was interesting but a little too descriptive for a squeamish person like myself. Although the author does warn about that right in the beginning of the book, so I guess it's my fault for not heeding that.

53.) Live Alone and Like It - I'm a little bit obsessed with old-timey advice books for women, so this was right up my alley.

54.) Furiously Happy - I just didn't like this one at all, which is too bad because I was looking forward to it. People seem to find Jenny Lawson funny, and I like funny things, so I thought I'd love this. Unfortunately, it was a real slog for me to get through it. I found her brand of humor less genuinely witty observations about life, and more 'tee hee, look at me I'm so zany and quirky'. This got old really fast. And don't even get me started on her relationship with her husband. The whole 'I want to buy a pet penguin and Victor won't let me because he's a big old meanie'....just wow. She's a grown woman who has a child with this man, so the fact that she continually infantilizes herself in her interactions with her husband just made me really uncomfortable.

55.) The Magicians - Mixed feelings on this. I love me some fantasy, and the worldbuilding in this was really interesting. I just couldn't stand the main character. Quentin's whole spiel seemed to be "Yeah, magic is real and I get to go to magic school, but life sucks anyway". I don't need things to be all sunshine and rainbows, but seeing this world through the eyes of a clinically depressed character who took no responsibility for his actions or happiness was kind of a downer. I hear the next book incorporates some different character's perspectives, so I still have hope for this series.

Looks like that's it! See you in 2016!