Oh 2016, you crazy little year. Both personally and not personally, this year was intense. I guess the word to describe this year was “shocking.” Things kept happening that I just didn't think were possible (moving abroad, Trump getting elected) definitely did. But to kick off my recaps, I'm going to start with reading. I read 30 books this year, including all of the Harry Potter books (finally!). I'm going to break it down into three categories: best, worst, interesting. The first two are pretty self explanatory. But interesting means they were page turners or something that held my attention, but I didn't want to put them into the “best” category.
The Best and Worst Books I Read in 2016
This book follows the lives of various people on an island near Massachusetts, Madeline, a writer, has writers block and her best friend, Grace is having an affair. Or is she? On this small island, rumors spread fast- right or wrong. Plot twists, funny, and interesting characters is why this book lands on my best list. I could picture each character and the minutiae of their life on the island. If you have an upcoming beach trip I'd highly recommend this.
This book is SO good. It starts off with Emma Blair, who is out to dinner with her family and fiance when she gets a call from her husband…! Her husband Jesse, in their first year of marriage, is supposedly killed in a plane crash and years later, she's now with Sam. Who does she choose? And how can she? It's a well written book that keeps you invested in the characters. They were so relatable and though the story is dramatic it's an easy read. A must read.
I have to admit, I am a huge Liane Moriarty fan. Though this wasn't my favorite book (Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot are my favorites from her) this book kept me guessing. It's a bit repetitive, I'm not sure how many times I head the word, “the barbecue.” But, it follows Moriarty's signature formula, which I love. The story opens with the fact that we know something happened at this family and friend barbecue, but what? And will everyone be ok? Did everyone survive? It follows six characters, their choices, and how it affects their lives.
The Woman in Cabin 10
This story focuses on Lo who is a journalist with a messy relationship and even messier personal life and work. After a burglar breaks into her home, she's set to go on a exclusive cruise ship. But something feels wrong when she sees the Woman in Cabin 10, who apparently is not on the ship. The story follows her trying to solve the mystery . While this can’t compare to Gone Girl or The Woman on the Train, this book is a definite page turner and had me guessing the whole time.
I tend to always choose fiction, but Michael and I listened to this audio book on a road trip. This is a nonfiction account of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the annex in Benghazi, Libya. True, it’s told from one perspective, but it doesn’t seem to be overly slanted or political. Instead it compels me to think about how we handle the military. What it impressed upon me was that things like this can and do happen. It makes you truly appreciate people brave enough to fight for freedom. It’s not for the faint of heart. No happy ending here. But, this eye-opening book attempts to provide a glimpse into the realities of war.
You already know this though, don't you? This year I decided to give in to the hype and read all 7 Harry Potter books. Thank goodness I did. They are incredible. It's not just the story, it's the characters. You truly feel like they are part of your world. I absolutely loved these books and was truly sad when they were over. I know that these are the kinds of books you read again. Sometimes, it's worth the hype!
The Couple Next Door
The most contrived plot possibly ever. I was so frustrated the whole time. The story follows a couple who has dinner next door and leaves their baby at home, but check on Cora ever hour or so. When they finally come home, the baby is missing. While I enjoyed this plot and I kept on reading, it was ridiculously over the top. *SPOILER ALERT* Don't keep reading if you don't like spoilers, skip to the next paragraph. BUT, how in the world would a Dad, who loves his daughter, get rid of his kid? Even if he thinks the kid is safe? He's just going to pop her off for some quick cash? I don't think so. As soon as that was clear (and it was clear early on) I was over it.
Losing The Light
This focuses on one girl who runs into an old love flame. Though she's engaged, she decides to have a drink with him, even though he doesn't remember her. The story is mostly set in the past, in Rome, where she studied abroad with her best friend. The story was fine, but I couldn't comprehend why she would waste so much time on a boy who barely liked her while she could be traveling. Once a book in unbelievable, I am immediately over it. Unfortunately, this was the case for this one.
I always love reading books set in high school. I think it's something that I would like to write about, so I try to find good books about. So far, I can't. The characters and plot were boring. I just kept waiting for this one to be over. The story focuses on the Hawthorne family, who seemingly have it all, but are on the verge of each character coming some what undone. For, in my opinion, silly or trivial reasons.
I can't give you my entire opinion about this book because the truth is, I didn't finish it. I just couldn't take it. Macy is 16 (see also the above, I like books set in high school) and witnessed her father's death and is trying to get over it. Macy is “perfect” but is starting to rebel a bit. I just couldn't connect with the story or the characters and decided to move on from this one before it was over. Life is too short for boring books.
If you like over the top, ridiculous scenarios then you might like this. I feel bad, since this book was a reader suggestion (sorry!) but I just did not like it. I tend to really not like teen angst and despise when things are just built up for seemingly no reason. It's dark in a very disturbing way that was too over the top. I loved the Sea of Tranquility and thought it might have a similar feel. It's a page turner, but the plot is convoluted. If you liked “Luckiest Girl Alive” then you might like this.
The Singles Game
I chose to read this book because it was by the same author of The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger. I did like this, and I thought the plot was great. It follows a professional tennis player and her search for love (tennis pun) and winning a grand slam. I just didn't like the characters that much. But I did think this was worth the read. It's well written and, well, interesting, but I couldn't put it in my “best” category because it just didn't grab hold of me.
All The Missing Girls
Michael always makes fun of me because it seems every book I read is about a girl breaking off an engagement and being with someone else. This is still the case with a lot of “chic lit” but this book is different from that. I like stories that trace the past and are mysterious, where I'm trying to figure out what happens along the way with the character. The plot focuses on Nicolette Farrell who returns home to care for her aging “crazy” father. But the plot thickens as a girl goes mysteriously missing, a similar scenario that happened to her best friend. Again, I didn't love this because I don't like it when books feel forced or contrived and the ending for me on this one is just that. It did hold my attention throughout.
I'm a fan of Emma Straub's “The Vacationers” so much, that I didn't think twice to grab this book. But it was disappointing. It was like watching a reality TV show but there is no plot, just characters. Boring. I do like Straub's style of writing, a lot. I like that the story was modern day with a twist to focus on the parents in the 80s. I read a review that events move “at a brisk pace” but I feel just the opposite. It crawled.
Michael and I listened to this on a road trip when we visited the Smoky Mountains. This is the inside account from one of the organizers himself who did the largest unrecovered cash in history when mobsters in New York robbed Kennedy Airport and stole six million dollars. It was really well delivered and honestly pretty crazy that something like this could happen. Out of all my interesting books, this one is the most worth the read.
Currently, I'm reading my Dad's all time favorite: All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren and I can already tell this is going to be on my “best” list for 2017. What were some of your favorites (or least favorites) from this past year?