Book Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

In a Handful of DustIn a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 23, 2014
My rating: 3,5 of 5 stars

This review assumes that you have read the first book Not a Drop to Drink and has spoilers for that book but not for In a Handful of Dust.

Publisher’s Description:

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already, and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through the community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on a daunting journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy feels as small as a speck of dust.

In A Handful of Dust is described as a companion to Not a Drop to Drink. I can see why it’s called that instead of a sequel. It takes place ten years after Not a Drop to Drink and easily stands alone. I tweeted Mindy to ask her if a third book is planned, since I’m pretty sure there is a law that all dystopian YA novels have to be part of a trilogy, but she said there are no plans as of yet. She has a new book coming out in October called A Madness so Discreet that sounds really good but nothing like her first two books.

Anyway, back to In a Handful of Dust. Lucy is a teenager now and has grown into the complete opposite of Lynn. She is social and trusting and naive because she has grown up sheltered and protected from the outside world by Lynn. Lynn hasn’t changed much in the past ten years. She’s learned to trust a small group of people but still assumes the worst of most anyone. This causes a fair amount of conflict on their journey, although they love each other a lot.

Along their way, they run into several interesting people and have some nail-biter problems. However, the pacing between these incidents was too slow. Also, the descriptions of what was going on in their down time became repetitive. It was mostly about how thirsty and tired they were.

The novel is told from Lucy’s point of view. She is more positive and at the same time, more unsure of herself and her choices than Lynn ever was so the general atmosphere is different than Not A Drop to Drink but not in a bad way. The last part of the book takes a deeply dark turn. I would have liked the author to have spent more time developing this section rather than on the journey to get there.
Overall, I think fans of Not a Drop to Drink will like this book and enjoy spending more time with Lynn and Lucy.

Click for my review of Not a Drop to Drink.

(I received this book courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.)

Book Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 29, 2014
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .

A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Madeline, Celeste and Jane are all moms of children starting kindergarten at Pirriwee Public School. Madeline is a flamboyant, flighty mom with no filter. Celeste is wealthy beyond comprehension but that wealth has come at a price. Jane is a young single mom. All of the other mothers have known each other for years making her an outsider when she moves to town right before school starts. Her son is accused of being a bully on the first day of school, making her even more of a pariah.

Big Little Lies is a mystery novel with several mysteries. First, who is the class bully? Secondly. who was killed? A thirdly, who did it? I liked the way the author did this because as I was reading and connecting with the characters, I had the added anxiety (in a good way) of wondering if any of the characters I had grown to love would be the one who was murdered. Because of this, I could not put this book down. I had a few almost sleepless nights up with this book. It’s the kind of book where I look up and the clock and wonder how it’s possible that’s it’s been over two hours since the last time I looked at it.

Interspersed throughout the book are snippets of the police interviews with the other mothers of children who go to the school. These mothers are minor characters and stereotypes of every kind of annoying PTA mom you can think of. That’s what makes the interviews so funny. They inject some hilarious dark humor into the book that keeps it from being too heavy. I find it amazing Moriarty could use humor so effectively in this otherwise serious book.

I have loved the other books I’ve read by Liane Moriarty (see list below) and with Big Little Lies, she has earned a permanent spot on my favorite authors list.

Other books by Liane Moriarty I’ve reviewed:
What Alice Forgot
The Husband’s Secret

Book Review: Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

Vanessa and Her SisterVanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Release Date: December 30, 2014
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.

Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.

But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.

Vanessa and her Sister is an epistolary novel told mainly through Vanessa’s diary entries but also through letters and telegrams between various characters. The Bloomsbury Group and all of its members were real people, most of whom went on to become famous in their fields. In their time they were noted for eschewing the Victorian social conventions of the time. They called each other by their first names for Pete’s sake. Scandalous! There are many characters introduced in rapid succession, most who also had nicknames. It was hard to keep them straight and I was glad for the cast of characters list in the front of the book. I had to refer back to it several times. The primary relationship explored in the book is that of Vanessa Bell and her sister Virginia Woolf. I had of course heard of Virginia Woolf and knew that she suffered from mental illness, even though I’m sad to say I haven’t read any of her books as of yet.

Aside from being mentally ill, Virginia is also a selfish, frustrating person – at least in this book. My stomach was in knots reading the horrible ways she treated her sister Vanessa. And Vanessa’s husband, aye, aye, aye – what a first class ass. Even though I wanted to shake Virginia and Vanessa too for enabling her, I did enjoy this book quite a bit. I wish that the author had showed us more of what made Virginia so charming that everyone was willing to put up with her nonsense. I couldn’t see it.

One thing that surprised me about the Bloomsbury Group was how many gay men were a part of it and how accepting everyone in the group was of them and their relationships. Lyntton, one of the gay men, writes really witty letters that provide some comic relief to what is an otherwise heavy novel. From one of his letters to Vanessa:

“Maynard dropped by my rooms in Belize Park tonight and made a gratuitous reference to my darling Duncan’s very pointy hipbone. A hipbone that I was not aware he was previously acquainted with and now obviously is. Mon dieu. Mother needs her smelling salts.”

Parmar writes Vanessa’s diary entries with beautiful, descriptive prose. The metaphors she uses are crisp and efficient: “I turn the decision over like a dish, checking for flaws.” or “When there was nothing to say, we made room for silence, like a thick blue wave rolling in from the street.”

At the end of the book, there is an author’s note regarding the historical accuracy of the book. It appears that Parmar has done quite a bit of research and it is very accurate. There is also a section about how each character’s life turned out as the book only covers a few years. I’m glad that was included.

Even knowing very little about the Bloomsbury Group before reading this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I imagine being familiar with the characters beforehand would make reading Vanessa’s Sister even more enjoyable.

(I received this book courtesy of the publisher.)

Stitch Fix Saturday: Surprise Christmas Fix!

My sweet husband knows that I LOVE Stitch Fix but he wanted to give me something more personal than a gift card for Christmas. So instead, he surprised me with a Fix! He had to go though some hoops to be sneaky about it since this was a new one for Stitch Fix. But since the Stitch Fix peeps are totally awesome, they were up to the challenge. They created an account for my husband and copied all the info from my style profile into his new account. Then they made sure to assign my awesome stylist Kalesa to his account. Finally, they worked it out so that if I didn’t keep all five items, my account (not Travis’s) would be credited with the difference for me to use on my next Fix. Whew! Can you believe all the trouble Stitch Fix and my husband went to for me? And it worked. I was completely surprised!

If you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix, let me back up and explain. Stitch Fix is a personal styling service. First, you fill out a very detailed questionnaire about your style, measurements, etc. Then you schedule you first Fix. You can schedule them to come automatically at monthly or bi-monthly intervals or just have them come whenever you’d like. Your Fix will include five items of clothing and accessories. (I have my preferences set to no accessories so I only get clothes. I don’t accessorize much.) You have three days to peruse the items, try them on, mix and match them with items from your own closet and so-forth. Then you send back whichever items you don’t want in the handy pre-paid envelope. There is a $20 styling fee that will be credited to your order if you buy at least one item. I’ve always bought at least one – usually two or three.

So what was in my Christmas Fix??

First up is the Skies are Blue Blake Cross Front Metallic Detail Blouse:

I am a sucker for all things shiny and this top is definitely shiny! I love a nice black and silver top for date night. This fits the bill. KEEP!

Next - Dylan and Rose Remington Sleeveless Geo Print Elastic Waist Dress

This dress actually looks better in the photo than in did in person. The top was too boxy – I looked like an inverted triangle. I do love the beading on the sleeves. It looked better with a cardigan but then the cool beading was covered up. RETURN

Next - Creative Commune Anita Cowl Neck Lace Trim Blouse

In her note, my stylist Kalesa suggested that I pair this blouse with the skirt I kept from my last Fix (which I haven’t blogged about yet, I’m all mixed up!) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. I love everything about this top and I love it even more with my skirt. This is a combo I wouldn’t have thought to put together on my own, reason #257 why my stylist rocks. KEEP!

Next – Creative Commune Livie Snake Print Blouse

A great way to make your Fixes even more awesome is to provide your stylist a link to your fashion Pinterest board. Pin pieces you like to give your stylist inspiration when choosing items for you. Kalesa noticed that I had a few animal print tops pinned so she included this snake skin print blouse in my Fix. I liked it but the color just didn’t work with my super pale skin. RETURN

Lastly – Pixley Dalila Faux Leather Lapel French Terry Vest

I’ve been wanting a vest for this winter and had some on my Pinterest board. I like it when pieces have unusual details like the faux leather lapels and asymmetrical zipper on this vest. My stylist suggested wearing it with a sweater from a previous Fix (the green one here) or a plaid shirt. I don’t have any plaid shirts but found a really cute pink and gray one at Target a couple of days later. I love that Stitch Fix helps me add to my existing wardrobe in a productive manner. I bought the plaid shirt knowing that I already had something that would go great with it and then of course I can wear the shirt on it’s own as well. I wore the vest and shirt the other day and got a ton of compliments on it. I wish I would have taken a picture! So obviously the vest was a KEEPer.

Each Fix comes with style cards to give you ideas on how to style each piece. There is usually a casual and a dressy option:

That’s the end of my surprise Christmas Fix. I love the three items that I kept and can’t wait to get my next regularly scheduled Stitch Fix box. If you would like to sign up for Stitch Fix, I’d love it if you used my referral link. I’ll get a small credit towards my next Fix if you do. And then you can start referring your friends and earning credits too! (This is not a sponsored post – I just love Stitch Fix!)

Book Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1)The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: March 1, 2010
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.­

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda was last month’s selection for the Intergenerational Book Club that my sons and I belong to. Both my boys love this book series (Origami Yoda being book one¬ of the series) and I was curious to find out what the appeal was. And now I know. This book is a case file, written by Tommy, of his investigation to find out if Dwight’s Origami Yoda is real. Is Yoda offering wise advice to Tommy and his classmates or is it just Dwight pretending that it’s Yoda? Tommy lets two of his friends read and comment on the case file. One of friends just makes funny drawings in the margins – giving the book the same look as Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, which of course kids love. The other friend does not believe in Origami Yoda at all and offers hilarious devil’s advocate type notes at the bottom of Tommy’s entries. I laughed out loud at some of his comments; they were really funny.

This was a great choice for book club. You can discuss whether or not you think Origami Yoda is real and why Dwight is so strange, among other things. We made Origami Yodas after our discussion which was fun for everyone. There are instructions at the end of the book or you can find easier versions online. We didn’t have snacks this time but Cheetos would have been perfect. One incident that Yoda gives advice on in the book involves Cheetos.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a fun and funny book that any kid will love, especially if they are a Star Wars or Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans.

For more reviews of books for children and teens, check out Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, you can go to her site to leave a comment and your link .

Book Review: Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman

Being Audrey HepburnBeing Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: November 18, 2014
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

In Being Audrey Hepburn, Clarissa Explains It All-creator, Mitchell Kriegman, tells the story of a 19-year-old girl from Jersey who finds herself thrust into the world of socialites after being seen in Audrey Hepburn’s dress from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Lisbeth comes from a broken home in the land of tube tops, heavy eyeliner, frosted lip-gloss, juiceheads, hoop earrings and “the shore.” She has a circle of friends who have dedicated their teenage lives to relieve the world of all its alcohol one drink at a time.

Obsessed with everything Audrey Hepburn, Lisbeth is transformed when she secretly tries on Audrey’s iconic Givenchy. She becomes who she wants to be by pretending to be somebody she’s not and living among the young and privileged Manhattan elite. Soon she’s faced with choices that she would never imagine making – between who she’s become and who she once was.

Being Audrey Hepburn is a fairy tale of sorts. Lisbeth’s Cinderella story begins the night she tries on Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy gown from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and is mistaken for a member of high society. From that moment, she’s swept into the world of the Rich and Famous and learns that that life in that world is very different from what you read in the tabloids and society pages.

I was swept up in Lisbeth’s fantasy world right along with her. She was living the dream life that I would have loved to have had at her age. Hanging out with the rich and famous, wearing fabulous clothes and attending elaborate parties – what more could you want? Of course, everything doesn’t stay fun as Lisbeth gets herself deeper into that world and starts to discover the truth about the people in it. And returning to her Jersey home with her alcoholic mom is always a harsh dose of what her reality really is.

I thought this book was a charming little read. It’s meant to be a young adult book but I enjoyed it and I think other adults would too, especially if you’re looking for a fun, beach type read. I listened to the audio book and thought the narrator, Suzy Jackson, did an outstanding job. Her voice for Lisbeth was spot-on for a 19 year-old girl. She was able to give all of the other characters unique voices. For some, it didn’t even sound like it was still her, the voice was so different from Lisbeth’s. Her voices for the male characters sounded like men. She’s one of the best audio book narrators I’ve listened to.

Recommended if you’re looking for something light and fun and doubly recommended if you’re an Audrey Hepburn fan.

(I received a copy of this audiobook courtesy of the publisher.)

Book Review: Revival by Stephen King

RevivalRevival by Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: November 11. 2014
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that
revival has many meanings.

I am not a Constant Reader of King’s so this will give my review a different perspective then if I were. After perusing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, it seems like most of the five star reviews are from people proclaiming that King is God and can write no wrong. The last book of King’s I read was The Shining so I’m reviewing Revival purely on its own merits, not as the work of a god or compared to anything else King has written.

The book focuses on Jamie’s life and how Charles Jacobs weaves in and out of Jaime’s life throughout the years. Jaime is not a likeable guy once he starts to grow up. He’s a smug rock musician and drug addict. Still, he had an interesting story to tell. There is a lot of discussion about religion since Jaime grows up Methodist and Charles is the pastor at his childhood church and later becomes an evangelical healer. The philosophical questions surrounding religion that Jacobs brings up on various occasions were my favorite parts of this book.

I found the story engaging enough to keep reading it but it took a long to time to get to the “scary” stuff. I wouldn’t have expected anything scary except that the cover promises the most terrifying conclusion that Stephen King has ever written. The “terrifying conclusion” seemed rushed and contrived. I didn’t understand why Jacobs insisted that Jaime had to be the one who helped him. It seemed to me anyone could have. It felt like King had reached the end of the novel and just picked out a supposedly scary scenario at random for an ending.

I think Revival was just okay. Certainly if you are new to King, you would want to choose a different book to start with, probably one of his older classic horror novels.

Book Review: The Hidden Child

The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedström, #5)The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg
Publisher: HighBridge Company
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Narrator: Simon Vance
Length: 15 hours
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among boxes in her late mother’s attic. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig into her family’s past to finally uncover the reasons why.

Her inquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher who had been among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War, but her questions there are met with bizarre and evasive replies. Two days later the man is brutally murdered in a house he shared with his brother, a Nazi war criminal investigator with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, on paternity leave with their newborn child, soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? The answers may lie in Erica’s mother’s wartime diaries, but can they find them before dark secrets from over sixty years ago surface to destroy them all?

The Hidden Child is the fifth book in Camilla Läckberg’s Fjällbacka crime series. It can stand alone though. Some of the characters have storylines that continue from previous books but I was able to follow along without having read all the other books.

This book had so many characters that it was hard to keep them all straight, especially listening to the audio book. Since the cast was so large, the narrator couldn’t come up with a unique voice for each one, which didn’t help my confusion. He did have a great dramatic tone and read with emotion.

I actually enjoyed the subplots involving the secondary characters more than I enjoyed the murder mystery that was the center of the plot. The timeline kept bothering me. I could never figure out how Erica’s mother could have been a teenager at the end of World War II and still have been young enough to have been Erica and her younger sister’s mother when they were born. I also couldn’t follow the revelation that Erica has towards the end that opens the murder mystery wide open. It didn’t make sense to me – it seemed like she came to her discovery out of the blue. So I much preferred reading about the police chief falling in love and learning to salsa dance and the police woman who was starting a family.

I didn’t like this book as much as I did The Stonecutter (the third book in the series and the only other one I’ve read) but I liked it enough that I want to keep reading more of the books in this series.

(I received this audio book courtesy of the Sold Gold Reviewers program at Audiobook Jukebox.)

Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Before I Go To SleepBefore I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Paperback Release Date: February 7, 2012
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I Go To Sleep is the story of Christine, a woman who has both anterograde amnesia, which is the ability to create new memories and retrograde amnesia, which is the ability to recall one’s past. Because of this, every morning she starts over, her mind a blank slate. She wakes up not knowing where she is and who she is. Her husband must explain it to her every day – that she had an accident that left her with amnesia, he is her husband, etc.

Christine starts working with a doctor who wants to help reverse her amnesia. The therapy mostly involves her keeping a journal of what happens to her every day and then reading it every morning to fill herself in on who she is and what she’s been doing. Her husband doesn’t approve of her being in therapy so she must do this in secret. Along the way, she discovers some secrets herself.

I’ll admit that enjoying this book requires some suspension of disbelief. It’s told in first person from Christine’s view point so the narrative of the book is her journal entries. Her journal entries are much more descriptive and detailed than you’d expect but the fact that she was a writer before the accident explains some of that. And it would be a pretty awful book to read if the journal entries weren’t written well. I thought this was the best device to use so that the story could be told in first person. It helped me identify with Christine’s confusion. I was really confused too. In fact, I was surprised at how many twists were in this book. Several times I thought I had everything figured out but I never actually did.

I loved this book – it kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it, going over everything in my mind, trying to figure the mysteries out. A movie adaptation of Before I Go To Sleep was recently released, starring Nicole Kidman. I’m interested to see how this story translates to the screen. I think it would be very hard to do. I definitely recommend the novel.

2014 – The Year In Books

I’ve been doing this meme for a few years now. I like summing up my year and remembering the books I’ve read.

How many books read in 2014?
I read 53 books this year.

How many fiction and non fiction?
I read 14 non-fiction and 39 fiction books in 2014. In 2013 year my percentage of non-fiction was 20 percent. In 2014 it went up to 26  percent. I think that’s a pretty good percentage.

Male/Female author ratio?
I read 40 female authors and 13 male authors. 75 percent female authors!

Favorite book of 2014?
My favorite books of 2014 were Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and The Vacationers by Emma Straub. The Vacationers was the book I recommended the most to other people. My favorite non-fiction book was Dog Whistle Politics.

Least favorite?
No one-star or two star reviews in 2014! That’s pretty amazing – I must be getting better at choosing books. My least favorite of my three star reviews was People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why?
I didn’t abandon any books this year.

Oldest book read?
The oldest book I read was Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary. It was first published in 1952. I need to start catching up on the classics. I’ll set my goal low to read at least one book published before 1900 in 2015.

The newest book I read was Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar. It will be published later this month.

Longest and shortest book titles?

The longest title is People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann and the shortest title is Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan.

Any translated books?
The Son by JoNesbø  and The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg.

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author?
I read three by Veronica Roth.

Any re-reads?
I re-read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper to refresh before I saw the movie adaptations.

Favorite character of the year?
My favorite character was Lincoln from Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. She does such a great job of writing adorable males. I want him for my boyfriend this year. Last year, Park from Rainbow’s Eleanor and Park was my boyfriend.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading?
I went to Sweden, The Virgin Islands, India, England and Uganda.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?
The Bees by Laline Paull which was recommended to me by my friend Kelly. I hadn’t heard of it before she mentioned it to me. I’m glad she did because I really liked it.

Which author was new to you in 2013 that you now want to read the entire works of?

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Which books are you annoyed you didn’t read?
I’m not annoyed that I didn’t read any specific book but I am annoyed that I didn’t read any older classics.

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?

Yes, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. It’s a shame that it took her death to get me to finally read it. But I’m really glad I did; it was fabulous.

How was your year?