Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent is a short, spare novel about a stranger who shows up in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Pennsylvania and befriends lonely Kathleen who has her own mystery surrounding her. It was a quick read, and enjoyable, but not the best read I’ve had lately. While I liked it, I wouldn’t say rush out and grab it, but it isn’t a bad read to add to your TBR pile.
Sugar Run by Mesha Maren has been getting a lot of press lately. Frankly, I’m not sure why. It’s the story of Jodi, who has been released from prison after serving 18 years for murder. Alternating chapters tell the story leading up to the murder, and the story of her search for the murdered woman’s brother after she is released from jail. While I got more into it while I read, overall, this was certainly one I would have rather skipped. And, if I hadn’t had a dedicated snow day to read it, I might have abandoned ship.
While Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is not a new read, I have heard it’s a must read, so I thought I would add it to my TBR pile for 2019. And, boy am I glad I did. I was completely sucked in, and I don’t even like video games. In 2045, Wade Watts spends his days in virtual school and playing in the virtual OASIS world. He devotes his life to trying to solve the puzzle left by the creator of OASIS which would achieve an ultimate prize of millions of dollars. Along the way, he makes friends and dodges death. This is absolutely not the kind of book I would typically pick up, but I loved it. It was completely engrossing, creative, and fascinating. If you haven’t read it, I would grab it. You won’t be disappointed.
I started How to Walk Away by Katherine Center about a year ago when I was stranded somewhere with only the first chapter to read. I had read somewhere that it was a good summer choice and had downloaded an excerpt to my Kindle. All this time passed, however, without my finding the book at the library (and it has to be the most amazing book for me to purchase it!). However, earlier this week, the book was on the shelf at the library and I grabbed it. It was, indeed, a great summer read, but also a great cold-evening-in-front-of-the-fire read. In fact, I read the whole thing last night. There’s nothing deep here, but it’s reminiscent of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. Margaret has a seemingly perfect life – great boyfriend who is about to propose, a great prospective job, and everything seems to be headed into a great future for her. However, as her fiance proposes while piloting her in a private plane, the plane crashes, killing all of these dreams at once. The novel focuses on Margaret’s recovery in the hospital, her relationships with her family, her fiance, and her physical therapist. As much as I hate to say it since it’s a bit cheesy, it’s a great read and well worth picking up if you like a quick and satisfying beachy read.
A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua was a great first read of 2019. Scarlett is sent from China to America to wait out her pregnancy (she was the mistress of her factory boss) since this baby is to be a boy (his first after three girls with his wife). Scarlett ends up in a secret maternity home for other mothers-to-be sent from China for better medical care and US citizenship upon birth. However, she and pregnant teen Daisy strike out on their own. Their lives in San Francisco’s Chinatown after giving birth are the focus of the novel. It’s a wonderful, engaging, and seemingly realistic look at the trials of desiring American citizenship and the drive so many have to achieve such.
Every year, at the end of the year, I look back on all the books I have read the year before and list my favorites overall. This year, I again topped my 100 books in a year goal and made it to 114 (including five books on tape, which I think should count). The added bonus of this post is that you don’t have to bother to read any of my other posts over the course of the year!
There were three five-star books this year:
And here’s the bulkier list of four-and-a-half stars:
As usual, there were lots of fours this year – too many to include among the favorites. As I say every year to those three fans I have, thank you for reading my thoughts on books and keep the recommendations coming – any great reads for you in 2018 that I need to add to my TBR list?
Almost Everything by Anne Lamott is a slim volume that’s been on my TBR list for a while. It took about an hour to read. Its chapters are filled with Lamott’s musings on life and God. It was a little too preachy for me, but Lamott has had a tough life and I admire her strength admit what she has battled. It was a nice, quick read, but not a favorite this year.
I usually reserve Elin Hilderbrand for summer reading candy. But, Winter in Paradise came up from the library and I thought it might be a quick last 2018 read. And, it was. As expected, this was nothing challenging, but the story was entertaining. It’s the only book Hilderbrand has written that didn’t take place on Nantucket. In this story, Irene Steele discovers that her devoted husband has been leading a double life. When he dies unexpectedly in the Virgin Islands, she and her sons travel there to figure out what happened. The setting is gorgeous and it made me long to return to the islands. But, all in all, this was a fluff read, leaving me ready for meatier choices in 2019. Happy New Year!
This year, rather than post about books I didn’t finish, I simply added them to a list. Keeping the list throughout the year saved time and effort and meant an easy publish on December 31! Sometimes abandoning is about the time or place where I was reading. Usually, after about 50 pages, I give myself a pass if the book is really not grabbing me. Sometimes, I push through, especially if someone has given me a compelling review. Let me know if any of these are worth another try.
The Last Castle
Everything Here is Beautiful
Love and Ruin
The Maze at Windermere
The Mars Room
Stay with Me
The House of Broken Angels
Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison has gotten great reviews, but it’s taken me a while to pick it up. Jessilyn’s mother died when she was born and her brother basically kills off her father and disappears. As an orphan, alone on their homestead, Jessilyn realizes she won’t survive for long. She transforms into a boy and sets off to find her brother. The bulk of the book describes her adventures along the way. I enjoyed this read, one of my last of 2018. It was engaging and fast-paced, though I think that some of my speed was due to my desire to be finished before the end of 2018. Nevertheless, it’s well worth picking up.