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Saturday, February 4, 2017

2016 in Review Part 1


So per the agreement with my Lawyer, “Client Agrees that so long as Attorney represents Client and the case is an ongoing case and there has been no final orders entered in this matter, Client will not discuss the case or post the status of the case on any social media including, but not limited to, Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tweet, or any other chat line.  Client understands that any such puissant or discussion may have a negative effect on this matter as it proceeds in the court system.”  Hence none of this will be posted until after everything is said and done, I don't want to take any chances.

2016 has been a bit of a shit storm.  A very nasty and high conflict divorce has really taken up my time.  So sadly I did not get all my books written up as I read, but I did read and take notes, so instead, you are getting a year in review in 2 parts!

Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp through the Extramarital Adventures that Rocked the British Monarchy by Leslie Carroll (Read 2/3/16 to 2/13/16) - 4 Star

This is a history of scandals of the British Royals for the last 1,000 years.  It was broken up by reigns and affairs.  It was a fun read.  Very light and well written.  I enjoyed it, but don't know that I would necessarily quote it or recommend it.

Angel's Share by Garfield Ellis (Read 2/17/16 to 2/20/16) - 3 star

This book is about Everton Dorril, a Jamaican man who goes on a search and eventually a road trip with his father and the evolution of their relationship.  This was a slow read for me.  I wasn't as invested as the characters, nor did I want to be.  I loved the imagery but the story line wasn't engaging to me.  I like the book ok, I thought it should have been more of mystery, where was his father, instead it was more of a journey of discovery.  Discovering who his father is/was and who Everton is.  The writing was good, the dialogue threw me off some, but I got used to it.  I'm not sure this would be a book I would recommend, but I wouldn't say don't read it either.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman (Read 2/16/16) - 4 Star

This is the Sequel to "If I Stay."  It takes place three years after the first book and is written from Adam's point of view.  The story wasn't as great as "If I Stay," but it does give the reader some closure as to what happened to the characters for which I am very thankful.  I felt the storyline wasn't quite as intense as "If I Stay," but I still really enjoyed it.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (Read 2/13/16 to 2/28/16) - 4 Star

This is timeline wise the first in the Narnia series, but I think it falls more like # 6 in the published dates.  Essentially this is the story of how Narnia was created.  There is a ton of foreshadowing, which would make sense since most the rest of the series had already been written.    I hate the Uncle, he is sucha coward.  I never really thought I got I the Christian theme in the any of the Narnia books, but it was a bit more prominent in this one.  Usually the theme is subtle and you really have to want to see, but there are a few scenes in this story that are overt. 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Read 3/7/16 to 3/21/16) - 2 Star

In a future world, Controllers have created an ideal society through brainwashing and genetic engineering.    In some ways it reminded me of divergent.  The manufacturing as an idea makes sense now that I think about it because of all the references to Ford.  This takes place in AF 632, which is about the year 2540, not that far in the future.   The story line is incredibly raciest, but since it was written in 1931 it makes sense.  Although there were some comments that shocked me.  I didn't care much for the jumping between points of view in the first chapters.  It made it really hard to read.  Once Huxley picked a single point of view to follow, it became easier.  But after a while the reading felt tedious to me,  I had a hard time seeing the point of the book, besides to bash consumerism, which at this point is a worn out theme in my mind.  By the end I didn't like the book, it is totally my genre, but it just didn't do it for me.  I was happy when I finally finished, maybe it is where I am in my life and my divorce, but a bleak future portrayed here with no change just depressed me.

Room by Emma Donaghue (Read 3/23/16 to 3/29/16) - 4 star

This about a 5 year old boy Jack and his mom.   Room is Jack's entire world, then one day Ma helps him escape rolled in a rug, and he helps rescue her.  And the world is suddenly infinite.  The whole book is written from Jack's point of view, which could have been an epic fail, but it works.  I really enjoyed the book and the innocent and naive point of view.

Smarter Than You Think:  How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson (Read 2/22/16 to 3/30/16) - 4 Star

This is a nonfiction book discussing how technology boots our cognitive thinking.  I found it extremely well written and informative.  It made me re-think some ideas I had about how technology was dumbing down society.  That actually it might be doing the opposite, by changing our way of thinking.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene (Read 3/8/16 to 3/31/16) - 2 Star

Hazel has a terminal tumor, she accepts her inevitable death, and then she meets Augustus Waters and her entire life changes.  I think that because I have seen the movie and I know what is coming I can't seem to enjoy the book as much.  I just want to see if the book and movie endings are the same.  Additionally, love stories turn my stomach some right now, so I am especially disinterested.  I must be grumpy.  It followed the movie very closely.  I think I should have read this at a different time in my life to appreciate it.  I didn't, I found it to be a depressing read and it made me sad when I wanted to be anything but sad.

Ready Player One by Earnest Cline (Read (3/31/16 to 4/2/16) - 5 Star

OMG OMG I love this book, it has shot onto my top 10 favorite books!  It is set in 2044 and the world is ugly, almost everyone lives in virtual reality and the book follows Wade Watts as he plays a VR treasure hunt.  It is full of 80's pop culture references, and made all my geek senses tingle.   The storyline isn't that fresh, but Clive's writing and all the geeky references make the story!

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel (Listened to 3/31/16 to 4/3/16) - 3 Star

This is translated book from a Denmark Author, it is #7 in the series, but it's ok that you haven't read the others.  It makes me want to go back and start at the beginning, but I can't read Dutch.  I think translations start at book 2.  It was a great thriller and kept me guessing to the end.  It was an audio book and I enjoyed the narrator.

The Humbug Murders by L.J. Oliver (Read 4/7/16 to 4/30/16) - 2 Star

This is a murder mystery where the detective is Ebenezer Scrooge.  I loved the idea and the twist, but the reading was very slow for me.  It was such a slow read for me, I had a really hard time getting into it.  Almost like Dickens had written it.

Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis (Read 4/30/16 to 5/7/16) - 3 Star

This is the first in a new series, Reign of Secrets.  The Heir Allyssa appears to be an ideal princess, but she fights crime at night.  This of course gets her in hot water when she has to marry to stop a war.  It was good, I liked it, a bit predictable but good enough that I want to read the second book.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green (Read 5/14/16 to 5/24/16) - 4 Star

This is the story of a recovering alcoholic who is trying to follow her program and make amends.  There are twists and turns and betrayals.  I found this interesting because it made me wonder how much I would forgive my ex if he came to me further in his recovery and truly was sorry and wanted to make amends.  Would I forgive him for the pain he caused while under the influence or would I want to exact revenge?  I would like to think I would be the bigger person.

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (Read 5/1/16 to 5/25/16) - 3 Star

This was not my first read of this book.  I really like Lessa, she is hard and sometimes cold hearted, yes but sometimes to reach ones goals and means to a better end the actions are not always nice.  She spends a good deal of her time looking at the greater picture.  And yes she probably caused some harm, but I truthfully think the harm would have happened with or without her.  The dragons are not a soft species and they need a ruthless queen, and I think Lessa will be one.  Not ruthless as in rule the world, but ruthless in a way that will save lives when the Thread falls.  And Thread what an ambiguous and scary threat, not much is said beyond its deadliness.   As this was not my first read, I know that there is a ton of foreshadowing for the series end in the prologue which I totally missed on my first read through.  So the first time I read the series, I read in chronological order not publishing order so this was actually like book #15 or something.  Having the back story made this book make more sense, especially knowledge of the historical riders mentioned.  With that being said I could see how some of the story could be confusing as to what is happening for a first time reader.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (Read 6/25/16) - 1 Star

This is actually a short story.  Sadly I can't even remember what the story was about, it didn't go along with any of the other Gillian Flynn's I read, and it just was forgettable.

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakely-Cartwright (Listened to 6/20/16 to 6/28/16) - 2 Star

This is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.  It was an audio book and let me tell you the narrator makes all the difference, the narrator of this ruined the book for me, I just couldn't get into it or even care about the twist.  It was awful.

The Witness Wore Red:  the 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser (Read 5/31/16 to 6/28/16) - 5 Star

I seem to have developed a slight obsession with polygamy stories since I discovered Sister Wives on TLC.  I don't understand sharing your husband, I totally get sharing household duties and child care, but sharing a husband baffles me much the same as the swinger lifestyle baffles me.   I don't judge, but I don't understand either which is probably why I have an interest.  I thought this was an interesting insight from a woman who got out, and how much courage it took her to leave.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Read 6/17/16 to 7/7/16) - 3 Star

This was an ok read, I liked it better than The Secret History, but it was still really slow for me.  I had a hard time getting through the reading.  I really struggled throughout the whole book with boredom.  The storyline seemed static and full of social commentary; loveless marriages and everyone is a cheat or a fake.  It just felt very cliché to me.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Read 7/1/16 to 7/14/16) - 5 Star

I loved it and I want a sequel!

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing By Marie Kondo (Listened to 7/12/16 to 7/14/16) - 5 Star

I liked it, the tips were interesting and I really wanted to go home and declutter after listening to it, I may even buy an actual copy of the book.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Listened to 7/14/16 to 7/19/16) - 3 Star

It was ok, I had a hard time paying attention though, I am sure I missed huge swaths of the story because it was audio and I zoned out.

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee (Read 7/8/16 to 7/29/16) - 4 Star

I liked the story it was engaging and interesting.  I did have to remind myself sometimes about the era that this book was written in, and not get my liberal panties in a twist.  I liked the book, I thought it was good, and I was a little sad that I had missed it in high school.

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray (Read 8/1/16 to 8/11/16) - 4 Star

I liked the story, I know from the author's note that they tried very hard to make it accurate historical fiction but some parts of course were not.  It made me want to read more about Jefferson.

Priest by Sierra Simone (Read 8/11/16 to 8/13/16)

Wowsa!!!  This was an interesting twist and man was the sex HOT!

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (Read 7/30/16 to 8/18/16) - 5 Star

I actually liked this one better than To Kill a Mockingbird, I don't understand what all the hollering was about.  I thought it was a really good book.  I could see where To Kill a Mockingbird came from, although this book had some of the facts, such as the outcome of the trial, different.  I thought the person Scout grew up to be was very reasonable and possible.  I was sad with her romance choice.  I felt the book did a great job of showing how conflicted people could be in the 60's especially in the south.  

The Martian by Andy Weir (Read 8/21/16 to 8/25/16) - 5 Star

I loved it.  Storyline, the language, the science, all of it, I did a happy dance.

Wreckage by Emily Bleeker (Read 8/25/16 to 8/29/16) - 3 Star

This was an ok book, but the plot twists were very transparent from the start and it all wrapped up a little too neatly for my taste.

Little Black Dress by Susan McBride (Listened to 9/21/16 to 9/23/16) - 5 Star

I liked this book alot, I have a special place in my heart for magical surrealism.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Listened to 9/18/16 to 9/26/16) - 5 Star

OMG this book hit me in an emotional spot.  I saw the ending coming from a mile away but still I cried like a baby the whole time.  It wasn't a typical love story, and I think that was part of the appeal.  To love and to have lost, really hits me right now.  I am still grieving the loss of my marriage some, and I have said to many people it was as if my ex had died, because he is so different from the person I married.  I could totally relate to Louisa at the end.

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Plahniuk (Read 9/7/16 to 9/30/16) - 3 Star

This was an outrageously satirical book.  Not in a lets laugh at ourselves and society, but more of a Hey took a good long hard look at yourself way.  I thought it was an ok ready, I didn't care for the style of writing, the multiple point of view and timeline jumps ere had to follow.  I didn't' see a moral of the story per se.  I felt like Pkahniuk wanted us to become aware of and reflect on society and its view of beauty and the damage that view does to us.  It was very random and wow every character was fucked up!  I wonder if the narrator is a monster because she is missing her jaw or because she is missing her compassion.  Is that the whole point?  That she is a more of a monster on the inside than the outside?  But then again none of the characters are nice; I can't name a single decent person as a character.  I wonder if it a social commentary that we all have a little monster in us, and Plahniuk just exaggerated and highlighted those traits to show us our own reflections.  Our Narrator seems to accept herself monster and all, I'm not saying that we should celebrate our monster traits, but maybe Plahniuk is saying we should embrace ourselves , flaws and all.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Listened to 9/28/16 to 10/3/16) - 5 Star

This was a great book, and spent the entire listen trying to figure out who died.  I loved the characters; they were developed and very relatable.  I spent almost every chapter praying this character would not be the one to die.  I could especially relate to Celeste.  I have come to admire Moriarty's writing, her stories are never predictable and the characters are always well developed, even when they are not likable, they are at least relatable.

*SPOILER*  I am a domestic violence victim myself.  I was he breadwinner and seemed such a strong independent woman to everyone on the outside.  My Ex-Husband used to cut me down at every turn.  I could completely relate to having a "perfect" marriage to the outside world and living in a your own personal hell inside your home. 

Armada by Ernest Cline (Read 9/28/16 to 10/6/16) - 5 Star

This was just as loveable as Ready Player One.  I love the old school video games and 80's references.  It seemed set up as if there could be a sequel.  I wouldn't be disappointed if there was one.

From Ashes into Light by Gundrun Mouw (Read 10/6/16 to 10/8/16) - 2 Star

This was a slow and sad read.  It was an ok story, but it really had no movement.  It seemed like an endless cycle of discrimination and pointless violence and no sign of things getting any better by the end, just a shared historical experience.