Book Reviews

Fourth Quarter Reading (and a Link Up!)

You know what makes me feel like my life is a little hectic? Having not finished a book in nearly a month.

Frankly, I’ve hardly read a picture book aside from the Christmas ones.

We did make a library run this week (where I picked up this book about living like a Parisian that I’ve been looking forward to for months and it was so terribly disappointing, I gave it up less than halfway through).

Plus there was an (ugly) bookshelf left in one of the bedrooms of this house so I set that up in Ella’s room and put a few books in there, which makes me feel a little better about life. Bonus! It matches the ugly curtains in her room.

Anyway, before my reading dropped right off a cliff, here’s what I read in October, November, and December (and look for my favorite books of 2014 coming up soon!):

  • Revolution by Deborah Wiles
  • I know people LOVE her, and I really like the premise of these books (filled with art, music, and photography from the 60s to go along with the storyline), but they just don’t QUITE grab me. 

  • The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair
  • This was so interesting and has significantly impacted the amount of screen time in our house (except for on our cross-country drive when our girls watched, no exaggeration, 8-10 hours straight of the same five Doc McStuffins episodes). 

  • Noggin by John Corey Whaley
  • I was super not thrilled by his first Printz-winning book, but the premise of this one (a guy dying of cancer has his head frozen and a few years later, it’s transplanted on to a new body) was so intriguing I gave him another chance. It was medium. 

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (full review here)
  • Why can’t she write about five books a year? Is that asking so much? 

  • Sinner by Maggie Stiefavter
  • This one fell fairly flat for me. It just felt like so much effort to keep reading. But she is pretty hilariously funny and some lines were just excellent. 

  • Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
  • This one felt like Shopaholic lite (which, if you’re read any of the Shopaholic books, may seem like an impossible feat). 

  • Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
  • I listened to this one and kind of loved it, but the ending was. . . .kind of ridiculous. I kept Bart up way late one night lying in the dark explaining the whole plot line to him just so he could affirm that, yes, the ending was bizarre. 

  • Saving Grace by Jane Green
  • I picked this up off the new release shelf at the library in London and it was pretty good. A fun, fluffy read. 

  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
  • It’s no Unbroken, but it’s pretty excellent nevertheless. 

  • This is Falling by Ginger Scott
  • I can remember almost nothing about this book. 

  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
  • This was really a fascinating book about a girl with cerebral palsy and the boy she hires to help her navigate high school without an aide,  although it was maybe a little more mature than I was prepared for. 

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • I wish I’d read this instead of listening to it. C’est la vie

  • Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
  • I loved this book. Definitely do the audio version because he reads it and he is very amusing. 

  • Dangerous by Shannon Hale
  • Someone said it was like a trilogy in one book, and they meant it in a good way. I felt the same way, but in a bad way. This book just would. not. end. 

  • I Was Here by Gayle Forman
  • It was no If I Stay, but that woman can write YA. 

  • The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
  • Unlike Bomb, which I totally loved every second of, I had a hard time keeping track of the main people in this storyline. 

  • Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
  • This was just. . . not that good. When you think the main character is a whiny hack, it’s hard to be really into the book. But obviously both of the hot movie star guys are completely in love with her for no apparent reason. 

  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • Everyone I know LOVED this book, but it took me six months to get through. It just did nothing for me. I’m so sorry. 

  • Love, Lucy by April Lindner
  • April Lindner is kind of hit or miss for me, and this one was more on the miss side. On the upside, I read an entire book on an airplane flight with two small children and no other adult back-up, so. . . .win! 

  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (full review here)
  • This had an interesting premise and I can see why people like her writing, but I don’t know that I’ll be running to pick up her other stuff.  

  • The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley (full review here)
  • Oh man, I loved this book. So fascinating and made me think a lot about Ella’s education starting next year. 

  • Skink — No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
  • Kind of a bizarre, semi-delightful book. It wasn’t painful to read, but when I saw it on this list I thought, “I already forgot I read this!”


Go ahead and link up your posts below with your quarterly reading! I promise to come check them out! And the button is below the link-up if you’re inclined to add it to your post!

Link Round Up
Link Round Up

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  • Reply Carrie January 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Ooh, I'm interested to check out The Big Disconnect. Here is what I read in December: October.

  • Reply Kayris January 7, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I returned The Big Disconnect to the library unfinished. I thought it was wordy and boring. Reviews on goodreads say the second half is better, with concrete suggestions for managing screen time, so I might need to check it out again.

    Have you read Liane Moriarty's Three Wishes? Fantastic. I liked it even more than What Alice Forgot.

  • Reply KT January 7, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I really love Liane Moriarty. I also really enjoyed the Boys in the Boat. While reading A Snicker of Magic I told my husband that it was so sweet I feared it would give me diabetes. Some fun elements, but it was WAY over the top for me.

  • Reply Rachel // Maybe Matilda January 7, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Ditto for A Snicker of Magic. I know SO many people who love it, and I just couldn't handle it. And Big Little Lies–YES. I did not care at all for What Alice Forgot, so I came into BLL very hesitantly, and totally loved it. It kills me that my favorite authors write so SLOOOOWLY. Please pump out a new book every week or so.

  • Reply Ashley January 7, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I'm reading Big, Little Lies now…per your recommendation, and am really loving it.

  • Reply RA January 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    I started reading Lonesome Dove over vacation in November, before I realized that it's NINE HUNDRED PAGES LONG. I really liked it! But it overtook every other reading ambition I had last quarter, so my numbers are low.

  • Reply Paige Flamm January 8, 2015 at 12:48 am

    I'm still wanting to read The Smartest Kids in The World and How They Got That Way, and now I'll be adding The big Disconnect to the list too!


  • Reply Jodi January 8, 2015 at 3:05 am

    oh man, it sounds like you didn't really like a lot of those books. I would hate having too many misses in a row. But I do have 3 books on hold at the library, all recommendations of yours so I'm excited. And the last dozen or so were also nearly all your suggestions, and I loved them all. I think we're about on the same page.

  • Reply Lena January 8, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Not many books you liked this time. So what am I supposed to read now? Usually I pick up some of the books you have recommended 😉
    I read "the Circle" last quarter and I liked it. Maybe you would like it too!

  • Reply Michelle January 8, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I am excited to hear about your education plans for Ella. I have a son starting school this fall, and I'm planning on homeschooling. I never thought I would (I taught public school), but here I am! I have no experience (I don't even know what home school looks like or how to pull it off in a practical sense), but I feel like our kids are similar in both personality and academics, so I have high hopes of gleaning ideas from you! No pressure. 🙂

  • Reply JoLee January 8, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    We are a bit out of sync this time around. I put Love, Lucy and Sinner on my list of favorites for the year! The only other book I've read on this list is Say What You Will, and I agree with your assessment. I'm excited to see your 2014 favorites. You can see mine here:

  • Reply Paul and Rebecca Jones January 9, 2015 at 2:37 am

    how do books take you 6 months to get through? Do you purchase them? Or are you just really good at remembering to renew them at the library?

    • Reply Janssen January 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      I just kept putting it back on hold. It was an audiobook, so I could just do it on my phone, which helped.

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