What I Read - January 2016

I read like an absolute crazy person in January. On average, I usually read 2 books a month, but this month I read SIX. I attribute this to a few different reasons, those reasons being...

*Post holiday break depression
*Snow. And cold. 
*Downtime on public transportation
*More free time due to losing some classes at the end of 2015 and having to build my teaching schedule back up

Also, the books that I read were not super lengthy, so I breezed through them fairly quickly. Regardless, I wanted to share a little reading wrap-up for the month, so here it goes, in order from the first book I read to the last. 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Harry is waiting in Privet Drive. The Order of the Phoenix is coming to escort him safely away without Voldemort and his supporters knowing - if they can. But what will Harry do then? How can he fulfill the momentous and seemingly impossible task that Professor Dumbledore has left him?"

My thoughts:

When I first began reading the Harry Potter series, I was 10-years-old. I believe I was 17 or 18 the first time I read the Deathly Hallows, which is the last book. In November of last year, I decided to do a marathon re-read of the entire series, and I was able to finish the first six books by the end of 2015, and began 2016 with the final one. Believe me when I say, that reading this series as an adult was just as magical as reading it for the first time as a kid. I especially had a new found appreciation for this last book. J.K. Rowling is brilliant...her story telling, and her character development, and her world building, and her ability to perfect every tiny detail...it's all brilliant. This received a 5/5 stars (again) from me, of course. 

Summary from Goodreads:

"On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island--from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love."

My thoughts:

This book was much different than I was expecting it to be, but I really, really loved it. One of my friends described it as an "unexpected delight," and that really is the perfect description for it. It made my heart swell with so many different emotions. The transformation of the main character is fantastic, and if you are a book lover, you need to read it. Zevin does a really great job of connecting characters through books and reading. After all..."book people are the best people." I gave this one 5/5 stars as well. 

Summary from Goodreads:

"What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

My thoughts:

First of all, The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favorite movies. It's just so darn funny, and smart, and quotable. After reading the book, I completely understand why. William Goldman's writing and humor is just perfection. I love his over-exaggerated characters and his sarcasm. This book is such a perfect take on your typical, overly sweet "happily ever after" story. I gave it 5/5 stars. 

Summary from Goodreads:
"Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.
With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live—and love—a little longer?
From critically acclaimed author Camille Pag├ín comes a hilarious and hopeful story about a woman choosing between a “perfect” life and actually living."
My thoughts:
This book was enjoyable, but it still felt a bit generic to me, despite the difficult subject matter. Pagan is funny, and her writing is very simple to read, but I didn't deeply connect with any of the characters...and they annoyed me more than they enthralled me. Plus, I felt that it was too light-hearted for the content it was dealing with. It's fine to make things humorous, but they also teetered on the verge of unbelievable. I still liked it though, and it would be a great summer read. I gave it 3/5 stars. 
Summary from Goodreads:
"A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows."
My thoughts:
I have been dying to read this book for some time. It looked like a perfect combination of creepy themes, with a dash of historical fiction. Riggs also incorporated real antique photographs that he found at various flea markets and yard sales into the story, which I thought would be a really cool touch. I did really, really enjoy it, but it wasn't everything that I wanted it to be. This may sound strange...but I just don't think it was dark enough. What was inside didn't fully match what was on the cover for me. That being said, I will still be reading the second and third books in this trilogy, and I am excited for the movie that is set to come out later this year. I gave it a 4/5 stars. 
Summary from Goodreads:
"Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever."
My thoughts:
I love contemporary novels, and with Colleen Hoover being the new queen of contemporary/new adult, I figured it was time to read one of her books. I really liked Hoover's writing style, but halfway through this book I was frustrated. It was appearing to be yet another "girl falls in love with brooding, complex boy, but we never quite find out why said boy is brooding and complex" type of story. Then, the switch flipped and everything made more sense. I appreciate all of the themes that this book dealt with, and although a lot of it was quite cheesy, I am glad that I chose to stick it out. I gave it 4/5 stars. 
Whoooo...finally to the end. Did you read any books in January? Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts? 
Vicky Hunt said...

You did read a lot of books in January! I'm sure it was bitterasweet finish up the HP series for the second time. I didn't know you read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I have wondered if it was good. Keep up the reading...and writing! Love you!

Always, Mama

Noma said...

Hi Miranda!
Great review! Last year I also did a marathon reread of the Harry Potter series! I am such a big fan of J.K Rowling! I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of The Casual Vacancy the other day. Excited to read it! I like your Book Nerds Unite page. We have quite a few similarities in our reading lists. :) You have also inspired me to join the reading challenge this year!
Hope that you have a good February!

Kelli @Kellibeans said...

I've always thought J.K. Rowling a genius and wish for just a little of her creativity!

A.J Fickery was one of my 2015 favorites!

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