I’m learning more and more about the blogging world and the fun activities people do to be more social with their blogs. Memes are my new thing and I can’t imagine a better meme than Top Ten Tuesdays hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s topic: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015
Here are mine:
- The Black Tongue by Marko Hautala
- The Host (The Host, #1) by Stephenie Meyer
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- The Quality of Silence: A Novel by Rosamund Lupton
- Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
- The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year by Matt McCarthy
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Bloodlines by Lynn Lipinski
- Sirens in the Night by Michael Bradley
The Black Tongue by Marko Hautala (Translated by Jenni Salmi) (Received free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, read to fulfill the 2015 Popsugar’s Reading Challenge item “Book Originally Written in Another Language”, Click here to view on goodreads.com)
The Black Tongue has the most bizarre and awkward sexual content I have ever read (or maybe I’m too vanilla) and starts with a painful first chapter, but this is, by far, my favorite book on the year. This is the first book that has scared me in a very long time and I appreciate it for doing this.
The Black Tongue is built around the urban legend of Granny Hatchet. We follow Samuel who, after his father’s death, comes back to his hometown and reminisces on his teenage years and Maisa, a former classmate of Samuel (although, at the time, she had hoped for more), who returns in order to complete her dissertation on urban folklore.
At first, it didn’t make much sense on how these stories intertwined. Of course, there is the central theme of Granny Hatchet, but the differences between the past and the present and the way paths are crossed is pretty darn impressive. What more? The suspense and ramp up to fear in this book had me sleeping with the light on for a few days. Truth is, I’m not afraid of killer clowns or man-eating insects. Give me a good urban legend, and I’ll be cowering in the corner for quite a while.
P.S. Marko Hautala is considered the “Finnish Stephen King”. I have never found enough interest to make it through a Stephen King novel (blasphemous, I know), but I’m sure as heck looking forward to reading more from this author. Well… once his other novels are translated into English.
The Host (The Host, #1) by Stephenie Meyer (Read to fulfill the 2015 Popsugar’s Reading Challenge item “A Book with a Love Triangle”, Click here to view on goodreads.com)
I put off the love triangle book as long as I could. Romance books rake up all sorts of emotions that I’m not good at controlling so I tend to avoid them. After browsing a few lists, The Host seemed to be the least risqué so hey, what the heck…
I adored this book. I couldn’t stand the fact that I had to work instead of finish this novel. It was unbearable.
The Host begins with a captured rebel human (which is redundant as all humans on Earth are considered rebels) undergoing surgery to insert a new soul (an alien species which requires a host for survival). The host/soul relationship is exactly how you would expect it to be: the soul leaches off of the host for survival. We follow the host/soul’s bitter relationship through the reporting of the host’s past by the soul and the incessant criticism from the host until the soul starts sharing her host’s emotions – including the longing to be back with the host’s beau and brother. I can’t really go forward in explanation, but it’s essentially a long, bittersweet journey that will take your emotions on a ride (dammit).
Downfalls include a girl lying about her age in order to have sex prior to being of age. Not the best role model for a YA novel. (See above: vanilla).
To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper (Read to fulfill the 2015 Popsugar’s Reading Challenge item “A Book You Were Supposed to Read in Highschool, but Didn’t”, Click here to view on goodreads.com)
I confess, the only books I vaguely remember from school are the ones I actually read: The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye. I didn’t exactly care about anything back then, school included. To Kill A Mockingbird was a book from middle school that I honestly couldn’t remember if I read or not.Regardless, I am thrilled to have read this book.
To Kill A Mockingbird follows Jean Louise “Scout” Finch from her first days of school and her many summer adventures with her brother Jem and neighborhood friend Dill. The focal point in these years revolves around Scout and Jem’s father, Atticus. Atticus is appointed to defend a black man in court, which infuriates many in their community and Scout and Jem suffer backlash from both schoolmates and adults.
I usually struggle with old books. From the words to the concepts, it takes me much longer to comprehend. That wasn’t the case here. To Kill A Mockingbird is an easy read that draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the end. We read of an unfair world, watch Scout mature, and see how good prevails despite the bad. It’s inspiring. If you haven’t read it in your adult life, I highly recommend it.
I love learning, but have the hardest time with the comprehension and, if successful there, with the retention of it. So when you hand book chalk full of information that is written in laymen term, I am all in. A Short History of Nearly Everything is as exactly as its’ title suggests. We are taken from the start of the universe to the present as if we are conversing with an old friend.
My problem with this book is that a few tidbits of information learned in this book aren’t actually true. I tend to do light research on information in books that interests me. I stumbled on one, the idea that “all glass on Earth is flowing downward under the relentless drag of gravity”, and am left wondering what else in this book isn’t true.
Of course, one misinformation only makes me want to buy the book and research each individual fact in time. I hope to be able to do this, in time.
The Quality of Silence: A Novel by Rosamund Lupton (Read to fulfill the 2015 Popsugar’s Reading Challenge item “A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit”, Available on Netgalley until 16 May 2016, Click here to view on goodreads.com)
I’m not going to lie, this was one of the few books on netgalley that dealt with Alaska and the only one that took my interest as it seemed to be part murder mystery. Long story short, it’s not much of a murder mystery.
Yasmin and her daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska to give Yasmin’s husband, Matt, an ultimatum: Leave Alaska with us now or our marriage is over. Turns out Matt’s annual visit to an Alaska Natives village may be more than the research trip he always claimed it was. He claims the kiss was a one time accident, but Ruby is not convinced.
Upon arrival in Alaska, Yasmin is informed that her husband is dead. The village he was living in was destroyed by a fire. No one survived. Shaken by the news, in denial, and with hope that this is a mistake as Yasmin received a hangup from Matt’s phone around the time of the fire, Yasmin takes her daughter on a cross state trip in search of her father.
This book is more about the journey than the mystery, a route that I’m not particularly fond of and, overall, I only gave it a 3-star rating. What makes this book great is the main character, Ruby, and the details included in the journey.
Ruby is our ten-year-old eyes and brain of the story. She is very wise for her age, which some definitely will flinch at, and she is deaf. I’ve never read a book with a deaf person as a character let alone as a main character.
As for the details in the journey, there were focuses on all aspects of Alaska. I can’t fully explain how I mean, but the story felt accurate.
While I don’t know much about deafness or Alaska, this book felt well-researched and well put together. I admire that.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin (Received free from goodreads’ First Reads program, Read to fulfill the 2015 Popsugar’s Reading Challenge item “A Book By A Female Author”, Click here to view on goodreads.com)
Everyone needs a good self-help book every now and again. This one hit the spot.
Better Than Before discusses habits: why we have bad ones, why we fail at making good ones, and how we can make habits work for us.
This is an easy and very informative read. I learned a lot about myself and, to my surprise, a lot about my hubby. This book immediately helped our relationship, but, I’ll admit, I haven’t changed my habits for the better.
The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year by Matt McCarthy (Audiobook, Click here to view on goodreads.com)
I chose this book when I was in a rut. It was on the homepage of the Overdrive app and I couldn’t pass up a med student memoir. I have fond memories of doctor memoirs, but I couldn’t tell you which books caused this lol.
The Real Doctor follows McCarthy through his first years on the job at a training hospital. It’s messy, it’s funny, and it’s full of insecurities. Everything you could want in a memoir.
This book has a bit of controversy surrounding it, specifically regarding the purposeful embellishments made by the author. Personally, I don’t care, but I know this matters to others.
It was time to read this story. I don’t know why certain people (ahem.. me) avoid books that find popularity among the masses, but it’s a habit I intend to break sooner than later. Maybe it’s time to reread Better Than Before.
Gone Girl follows Nick and Amy’s relationship after Amy’s disappearance. We learn most of our information through Amy’s diary and dear God, Nick is an awful husband. We read as the case tightens against Nick for her disappearance, but is he really the cause?
Ehh, unless you’ve lived under a rock, you know more than I’ll tell you about this book. For having two awful main characters, this was a book that I couldn’t put down and I couldn’t resist talking to other people about.
I passed this book over the first few times I saw in on Netgalley, but soon ran out of other murder mysteries that interested me so I picked this one up. I’m happy I did.
Bloodlines follows Zane, the most empathetic alcoholic I’ve ever me in a book. After being fired from his job, Zane relapses. He wakes in the morning with no knowledge of the previous night. He soon learns that his mother’s trailer has been set on fire and is now diseased. To make matters worse, a nosy neighbor saw him leaving the house shortly before the flames started. Did Zane kill his mother? He doesn’t believe it, but how can he disprove the police when he isn’t 100% sure about his innocence?
Strangely, this isn’t Zane’s only worry. Soon after his mother’s death, he gets a mysterious text implicating that his father is alive and his mother lied about both her own and his father’s identity. The search for his father turns up a few surprises. While uncomfortable with his thug father, he tries to kindle their relationship, but his father wants him to abandon his half-sister – a task Zane is unwilling to do.
I love books where the main character tries to uncover the truth even though they know the truth may mean that they, themselves, are at fault. What’s more is that the pace of the book and the relationship between the characters are realistic. It brings out a feeling of familiarity and warmth from the reader, which is one of the best feelings a reader can have.
Downfalls here are that the end is quickly wrapped up and the timing of twists are predictable (although the twists, themselves, weren’t.)
This was one of your typical “Oh, what the hell, why not” picks.
Sirens in the Night follows Detective Samantha Ballard and Radio DJ Jack Allyn. Ballard is hunting a serial killer who, somehow, leaves mummies in their wake. The first findings seemed like an elaborate hoax, but as more bodies pile up, the plot becomes a race between the insatiable needs of the serial killer and the hunt lead by Ballard. (Where does Allyn come in? Well.. He seems to be the epicenter of death. Is this a sign or just a touch of bad luck?)
Ballard started this book off as your typical police hard-A, but she soon becomes more personal (or better explained, which allows for more lenience). Allyn is just charming. While the interest is a bit predictable, the rest of the book isn’t.
Only downfall is a repeat of phrases, which gives the reader a sense of déjà vu.