Every year I make it a goal to read more… a goal I failed miserably in 2017. I’m pretty sure the only books I read related to childbirth or parenting and even then it was maybe two books. (But I did a ton of googling!) I’m off to a very solid start of surpassing my goal of reading 24 books in 2018. I’m also making a point to read through unread books that I already own as well as utilizing my local library to help achieve another yearly goal of spending wisely.
I read SIX books in January! I started off the month with two really heavy mystery/thriller books so I lightened things up with a bit of children’s literature and YA fiction and even squeezed in a horror book, a genre I don’t typically read.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins – ★★★★☆
I loved The Girl On The Train so I was excited to read another book by Paula Hawkins. And Into The Water was just as good, if not better than The Girl On The Train.
Into The Water follows the mysterious death of Nel Abbott in a small town plagued by the Drowning Pool. Nel’s sister Jules is is called to care for Nel’s daughter, Lena. Unconvinced that Nel committed suicide, Jules and Lena work on their own accords to solve the mystery behind Nel’s death, to which the book spirals into stories from the past, secrets, and the history of the Drowning Pool.
I enjoy Hawkins writing style of presenting each chapter as a different character’s perspective, though there are a lot of characters to keep up with in this book which frustrated me. I felt like I needed to draw a diagram to keep the storyline straight. But as I got deeper into the book, it was easier to remember who was who. This book literally kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. And even then Hawkins hits readers with another twist. A great book to kick off my 2018 reading!
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – ★★★☆☆
I struggled through and ended up abandoning Gone Girl. I saw the movie, does that count? But after seeing the movie I was disappointed that I didn’t finish the book because it was a really good story. So, I didn’t want to make the same mistake with Dark Places even though I wanted to abandon the book multiple times.
Libby Day’s mother and two sisters were murdered in their house by her brother, Ben, in what the media dubbed The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas. Twenty five years later, Libby is propositioned by the Kill Club, a group obsessed with the murders and convinced Ben did not commit them, to investigate and find the real killer. As Libby delves into her past and the dark places of her mind, she discovers the truth and comes face to face with her family’s real murderer.
And the verdict was… meh. This book was really dark, too much so for my liking, with many references to drugs and Satanic worship. I was disappointed with the ending; I was hoping for a bigger twist. I would give this book two stars for enjoyment but three stars for the writing style. Flynn’s descriptions were so thorough throughout various points in the book that I was left feeling disgusted and disturbed. I may not have enjoyed the subject matter of the book but the fact that the author elicited such strong feelings had to count for something.
Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville – ★★★★★
And after reading two really heavy books, I opted for something lighthearted. This is one of my favorite – if not THE favorite – books from my childhood. (I didn’t read the Harry Potter series until I was a teenager.) We read Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher as a class when I was in fifth grade and part of the curriculum was taking care of a stuffed animal as if it was our own real life dragon. (My stuffed animal actually was a dragon but that’s because I’m an overachiever.) I took this responsibility so seriously, that I made sure to include the dragon in my fifth grade school photos much to my parents dismay.
While trying to avoid a kiss from his secret admirer, Mary Lou, Jeremy finds himself in an unknown part of town with a magic shop. He convinces the shop keeper to sell him a glowing orb which ends up being a dragon’s egg. On Midsummers Night under the full moon, the dragon egg hatches and Jeremy names her Tiamat. Over the next few months, Jeremy takes care of Tiamat until he must help her return home.
This was obviously a quick read. Still one of my favorites! I haven’t read it in years so it was fun to spend some time with Jeremy and Tiamat. If you have kids that are interested in fantasy stories or dragons, I would highly recommend this book.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – ★★★★☆
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was making it’s rounds on Goodreads last year and a lot of my friends said it was a lighthearted YA book so when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I grabbed it without knowing much about the book. And I was pleasantly surprised at the story.
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean writes love letters to her crushes and keeps the letters in a hat box her mother gave her. When the letters find their way into the hands of their unintended owners, Lara Jean has to embarrassingly face all five of the boys she’s loved.
I enjoyed this story, though it is definitely teenage fluff. Lara Jean is a naive teenager that I related to a lot because I was very similar in high school. Funny enough, the only part of the book that really bothered me is how Lara Jean and her sisters refer to her parents as Daddy and Mommy. (But maybe that’s a cultural thing? I don’t know.) Otherwise it was a quick, fun read. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Lost Boy by Christina Henry – ★★★☆☆
I grabbed Lost Boy on a whim after noticing it on the new books shelf as I was leaving the library. I remembered seeing that it was a nominee in the Goodreads Reader’s Choice Awards for 2017… but I guess I forgot it was in the Horror genre, ha! This could be interesting since I’m not a fan of horror movies much less horror books. But I decided to give it a read anyway.
A Peter Pan story like you’ve never heard before. Peter is selfishly stealing boys from the Other Place for his own enjoyment. And when they’re no fun anymore, he disposes of them. He loves Jamie and is jealous of his relationship with the other boys. But when Jamie realizes the truth about Peter, they become mortal enemies and Captain Hook is born.
Ugh, I just… I don’t know what to say about this book. I almost abandoned it but after finishing 70% of the book, I decided to suck it up and finish. And I’m glad I finished, though it was kind of a slog. The story is told through Jamie’s eyes and paints Peter as a selfish and jealous sadist. Unlike the Disney versions, this fairy tale is filled with violence and rage. Frankly, I found this version more believable… though I still didn’t particularly enjoy the story. I wavered between giving this book two or three stars but I felt like the writing pushed it over to the third star.
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan – ★★★★★
Another book out of the children’s department but don’t be fooled into thinking this was an easy read. I was a bit shocked when I picked Echo up from the library because this “children’s book” weighs in at 587 pages and is basically four books in one. But five stars just doesn’t seem like high enough regards for this enchanting and beautifully written book.
Echo weaves a tale between folklore and three children who are connected through the magic of a harmonica. Friedrich works in a harmonica factory and dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor. His family is torn apart as Hilter gains control of Germany and he must make brave decisions to bring them back together. Mike is an orphan with an instilled love of playing the piano thanks to his Granny. When he and his brother, Frankie, are adopted by a woman who seemingly does not want them, Mike creates a plan to run away to New York City. Ivy is a Mexican farmer’s daughter with a budding love of music, though her papa thinks it’s a pointless hobby. When the family is hired to care for the farm of Japanese family in Fresno, Ivy learns a valuable lesson about segregation, patriotism, and music.
Echo was incredible! I cannot say enough good things. Each child’s story was uniquely written but the real magic happened in the last part of the book when all of the stories come together. I would highly recommend this for children and adults alike. I also loved the historical aspects of the books, though I am a sucker for anything relating to WWII. It was recommended to listen to the audiobook version since music plays such a major role throughout the story. I did not do this because I have a hard time focusing on audiobooks but now since I’m familiar with the story, I’m tempted to listen to it with the accompanying music.