2016 Reading List - The First Four Months

I really had intentions of having a quarterly book buzz, and I actually had started this post several weeks about, but here I am in the middle of May. I guess I’ll just chop the year into thirds instead, and call it a day.

I decided to set a goal for the Goodreads challenge back in January. I set my goal at 30 books for the year, and I am doing surprisingly well. According to my latest stats I’ve completed 19 books, for a total of 5,899 pages. I’m not gonna lie; I’m totally impressed with myself.

Following is a list of books completed and a few notes:

Children’s

I have read all 7 books in the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi this year. My students are OBSESSED, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. These books are beautiful to look at, and I think that is definitely part of the appeal, but I honestly found the stories challenging. This has made me spend some extra time conferencing with students who have selected them for independent reading. I recently had a conference with a student who read the whole series, but it now going back. I was glad to hear he was getting a lot more out of it the second time.

I don’t think graphic novels are necessarily my thing, but I am glad I took the risk and stepped out of my comfort zone as a reader. Overall, I did enjoy the series and liked the challenge.

Various Titles by Roald Dahl

I never got into the Roald Dahl craze as a kid. I think it requires that a teacher reads at least one of the books to you aloud to get you hooked, and I never got that. Some of my students though have been really into the Roald Dahl collection so I recently acquired a little set, and finally got around to reading a few. Esio Trio is a cute little, innocent, love story about a man, a woman, and a tortoise (well, many tortoises actually.) It’s a quick, easy read and just delightful. This would make a great read-aloud. I also read The Magic Finger. Also a cute, quick read, but you may have to consider the audience because the story revolves around a little girl who is upset about the hunting habits of her neighbors.

Young Adult

Back in December, I was on a YA kick, and read several great books. I’ve only read one during 2016 though and that was Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman. I LOVED it! It is a historical fiction set in Germany on the eve of WWII. The protagonist, Gretchen, is torn between a family friend, Adolf Hitler, and her growing understanding of what the National Socialist ideals really were. The novel really addresses some tough issues that arose at the time.

For me, YA books can turn really teen-cheesy quickly with the romance fluff, but this one was well worth the read. The sequel, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, is definitely in my TBR list.

Mysteries

The vast majority of the following books were for my book club at Murder by the Book. Actually, all but one were for book club…

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

In this espionage novel a US CIA officer and a Russian “Sparrow” get tangled in the web of intelligence work. Usually I enjoy a good espionage, I’m a huge fan of Le Carré, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberøl and Agnete Friis

Our protagonist is Nina Borg, a nurse who just has to help everyone around her even if her own world is falling apart. She gets stuck in the middle of a big mess when an old friend meets up with her out of the blue and gives Nina a key to a locker at a train station. Let’s just say things go from bad to worse, even though there were many things along the way that Nina could’ve done to make the situation a whole lot better. What’s funny about this book is that my book club could not agree to recommend the book, but we had one of the liveliest discussions we’ve had in a while over it. A few weeks after we discussed it the authors were and town and we discussed Nina a bit more. I feel like I got to know her better through the authors and now I have the latest from the Nina Borg series, The Considerate Killer, in my TBR pile.

Taken by Robert Crais

Though it is the same name, this is not the book version of the movie with Liam Neeson. This is another edition to the Elvis Cole series. It’s a darker story, but rather relevant, centered on the dangerous situations surrounding crossing the Mexico-US border. There’s way more going on than I realized. This is the second Elvis Cole book I have read, and I have enjoyed both. Not a demanding read, which is sometimes just what I need.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This is one of those books that I like, but I don’t like to protagonist. It seems to be a trend, like with Gone Girl. I couldn’t stand Amy Dunne, but I really wanted to know how it all worked out in the end. That’s how it is with The Girl on the Train. I thought the protagonist was pretty idiotic, but I wanted to know “who did it?” I won’t tell you anything else except, keep track of who is telling the story.

Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly

This book is from the Harry Bosch series, and I was told that the plot from this book is part of the series on Amazon Prime. This is the second Harry Bosch story I have read and I would say it’s a series I can recommend. Harry definitely falls into a lot of cop character stereotypes, but it’s entertaining getting to know him. In this installment, Harry is being sued by the widow of a suspected serial killer. While court is in session, another body matching the same “signature” as the previous victims is found, which should be impossible since the original killer is dead. An exciting “who-done-it” ensues, and I did not predict the ending.

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

This novel takes place in the Shetland Islands and it’s one of those books where the setting itself is a character. The story couldn’t have worked anywhere else. Raven Black is the first in a series, so in this book there is much time spent familiarizing the readers with the nuances of the characters and their small town. The mystery itself was quite dark, but is interestingly juxtaposed with the continual light of the summer months. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman

This mystery takes place in Pennsylvania amongst the changing environment of the land and community due to fracking. It is an award winner, but I have to say it didn’t speak to me. In the book the main character gets a concussion, and I kind of felt like I had one too. I must have missed a page or something because I was just confused, and didn’t get too attached to any of the characters.

Narrative Fiction

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I hate the overuse of this word lately, but this book definitely falls into the EPIC category. It’s the winner of a Pulitzer, has beautiful, sweeping descriptions and really does have a cool story. The name of the book comes from a small painting, of a goldfinch, by a Dutch master. At the point that you are introduced to the painting and the main character, Theo, you are aware of the paintings fascinating journey through history. This story can get a little rough around the edges. It starts out with a very intense, violent act of terrorism and then doesn’t really turn towards the hopeful until the very end. Ultimately, for me, I found this book to be a story of survival, so I did enjoy it even though it was a challenging read.

And that brings us up to date….

I’m currently reading The Scent of Secrets by by Jane Thynne and am LOVING it, and as you can see from my TBR pile… I’ve got a busy summer ahead of me.

 

Happy Reading!