Reading Wrap-Up | January 2016

The first wrap-up of the year! I read 7 books this month and I really enjoyed most of them. Pretty good start to the year!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

My rating: 2.5/5 Stars

It’s a shame this was my first read of the year. This book made me realize that I probably don’t like Sci-Fi. While this book is physically gorgeous, the actual content left much to be desired for me. I found many parts to be info dump-y, the romance wasn’t believable and the characters were hollow. Not a fan.

Full Review

 

Find Her by Lisa Gardner

My rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This is a gripping mystery novel that gives you a look into the minds of kidnapping victims and their captors. This book was paced really well. There was never a moment that I was bored. It will be released February 9th. Recommend!

Full Review

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 5/5 Stars

This is a haunting debut about a Chinese-American family. The book begins by telling us that one of the daughters, Lydia, is dead. This information hooks you in, but the book is about so much more. I read this as an e-book from my library, but I will definitely be picking up a physical copy. Loved it.

Full Review

 

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

My rating: 5/5 Stars

This book takes place in Nigeria, and it is about three brothers who end up hearing a prophecy from a crazy old man in their town. The Fishermen is very fable-like in nature. Something about it felt very comfortable to me and I really enjoyed it. Super excited for what Obioma writes next!

 

The Secret Place by Tana French

My rating: 4/5 Stars

This book cemented Tana French as one of my favorite mystery/suspense/thriller writer. I just love her style. Her books are always more than a mystery. Her characters are always so well-developed and she is a master at weaving their relationships. The Secret Place was no exception. I do recommend this book, and although it stands alone I would probably read at least one of the others in this series first.

Full Review

 

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

My rating: ⅘ Stars

This book is about the current landscape of dating. Aziz did lots of research with a sociologist and spoke to many focus groups to acquire the data used in this book, which I appreciate. This book is informative, but if it’s written by Aziz you can count on some humor being injected into it, as well. It’s not revolutionary, but I found it to be pretty entertaining!

Full Review

 

The Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 2.5/5 Stars

The Dinner has a really cool premise. Two families’ sons have done something horrible that was caught on camera. They decide to have dinner together and discuss it. The entire book takes place over the course of that meal. Sadly, the execution left a lot to be desired and the more I thought it about, the more unrealistic it seemed.

Full Review

Those are my brief thoughts on all the books I read this month. Have you read any of them? What did you think?

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Book Review | The Dinner by Herman Koch: Needs More Impact

Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Hogarth
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Pages: 292

Synopsis:

A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Review:

This is another one of those books that could have been great. The premise was very intriguing. The entire story takes place over a five course meal and the book is separated into sections that correspond with the meal: apperitif, appetizer, main course, dessert, and digestif. If you see some unusual words there, you’d probably like to know that this book was translated from Dutch!

The Dinner is pretty short, but it manages to spark a lot of ethical questions in the mind of the reader. What would you do to protect the people you love? Is it acceptable to cover their wrong-doings? If you could have prevented it all from the beginning, would you?

This book confused me. I wasn’t sure what to think about these people, their actions or the things they were saying. There were multiple points in the book where I felt completely disgusted. Everyone is unlikeable, but my thoughts on both families did change from the beginning to the end of the novel.

Overall, I thought the plot was pretty weak. Even though the idea of having everything take place over dinner was cool, for this particular story it was unrealistic. No one would have dinner at a posh restaurant, completely out in the open, to discuss the things they needed to discuss. Not to mention, Serge is a wildly famous politician so it’s not like they could go unnoticed. How no one overheard them is beyond me!

When it comes to mysteries, I have to know what the conclusion is so I powered through. There were some parts that were more interesting than others, but in the end, I wouldn’t really recommend this book. When I turned the last page it was like…”So, that’s it?” Needed more impact.

2.5 Stars!

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I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review | Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: The Right Blend of Informative & Humorous

Title: Modern Romance
Author: Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Press
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Pages: 277

Synopsis:

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

Review:

I appreciate that Aziz did not write a memoir. He picked a topic that interested him and wrote a book about it. Not only that, but he did extensive research with the help of sociologist Eric Klinenberg. In Modern Romance, we tackle topics such as: the search for our soulmates (then vs. now), text etiquette, online dating, sexting, digital snooping, dating in other countries and much, much more.

Aziz makes observations about topics in the realm of dating and backs them up with statistics, graphs, pie charts, etc. When I explain it like this it might sound a bit boring, but you can count on Aziz to throw in his one-of-kind brand of humor. I read the book myself, but I heard the audiobook is pretty great. Aziz narrates it, which I can only imagine adds a kick to the humor of the book. Although the book is not about him, he does sprinkle in some of his own dating experiences.

I’m not going to sit here and say that Modern Romance hits us with mind-blowing revelations. I think a lot of it is things we know on some level, but it’s cool to have it all laid out scientifically. It’s nice to have some kind of scientific explanation for why we do the things we do. All-in-all, it’s a relatable book. I think anyone who has tried dating these days will find themselves nodding along at some point because they’ve been there.

The most interesting section of the book was the look into dating around the world. Aziz went to Japan, France and Buenos Aires and spoke with focus groups in each country. The section on Japan was pretty extensive. It delved into the mindset of singles in Japan and how it factors into the critically low birth-rate there. The only lacking part of the book for me was that I wish we got more time in France and Buenos Aires. The France section mainly talked about their opinions on infidelity, monogamy, open-relationships, etc. The Buenos Aires section mainly touched on the aggressiveness of men in the area.

I found this book to be the right mixture of educational and entertaining. If you are a fan of Aziz’s stand-up or his Netflix show, Master of None, I think you will also like this book.

4 Stars!

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Book Review | The Secret Place by Tana French: Chilling and Addictive

Title: The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #5)
Author: Tana French
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: January 1, 2014
Pages: 464

Synopsis:

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

Review:

Teenage girls, boarding school and Tana French? How can I not love whatever comes out of that?

What’s great about Tana French is that her books aren’t just about the mystery. Her books always contain a great level of characterization and are quite psychological in nature. I read the first book in this series last year (In the Woods) and I enjoyed it a lot. The books in the Dublin Murder Squad series don’t HAVE to be read in order. If you do read them in order, you will be more acquainted with the main detective of each book as she features a different detective in each installment.  

Tana French - The Secret Place

A friend of mine and I were talking and she mentioned that she had just bought The Secret Place. I already owned it, as well, so we thought we’d buddy-read it! It was super fun being able to discuss out thoughts and theories together while reading. We both really liked this book.

Honestly, I was a bit worried because I wasn’t feeling electricity from the book when I first began reading. But I’ll say this: hang in there until Chapter 7. The first bit of the book is setting everything up. It’s necessary. But once you hit Chapter 7, you won’t be able to put the book down. I sure as hell couldn’t. My friend and I had planned to read in 5 chapter intervals then discuss, but before I knew it I had read the whole thing. Oops.

I’ve seen criticism of the “teen-speak” in this book. I’ll admit it wasn’t my favorite thing, but I didn’t think about it much. I was able to overlook it because everything else that was happening was so much more interesting than focusing on that small thing. My only gripe with this book was the supernatural element that was introduced, but then sort of left hanging. My friend and I discussed this a lot, but neither of us could really understand why it was included in the book.

If you enjoy the mystery/suspense genre and haven’t read Tana French yet…what are you doing?! She is a pure gem of this genre. I totally recommend this book.

4 Stars!

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I think I will read The Likeness next. That one seems to be a fan-favorite so I’m excited about it. Hope you all have a nice day, and thanks for reading!

Weekend Reads #2

I am so overdue to read and review The Dinner by Herman Koch so I am going to pick that up this weekend! Gillian Flynn blurbed it, saying it is “Chilling, Nasty, […] Shocking” etc. If she thinks so then I am all about it!

If I manage to finish that before the weekend is over then I will move on to Real World by Natsuo Kirino. It’s a suspense novel that was translated from Japanese. And on a sidenote, I can’t say how much I love this cover. Usually I’m kinda “meh” when it comes to faces or people on book covers in general, but the composition and overall vibe of the photo they used is awesome.

What will you be reading this weekend?