Reading Roundup: December 2016

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

This was a quick, romantic read that made me want to spend time in Cornwall. Without giving too much away, there is a time travel element that I wasn't expecting and at first didn't like, but after deciding to just go along with it, I really enjoyed the book.

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

I read this for a book club and we haven't had a chance to discuss it yet. I'm looking forward to talking about it with other people who have a love for O'Connor so I can perhaps learn to appreciate her writing and stop feeling guilty that I just don't get it.

Girl at War by Sara Novic

One of the things I found most disconcerting about this book was that it felt historical in the sense that books about the first or second world war feel. However, the events in it took place during my lifetime and I remember clearly when they were part of the daily news cycle. It's a sobering reminder that violence and war are still happening in the world and aren't just part of the past. As a novel, it was well-written and I enjoyed reading it, although I thought that a few of the characters could have been developed a bit more and the ending was too abrupt. 

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

I've liked most of McKenzie's books I've read before, and I'm surprised she's not as well known as similar authors like Liane Moriarty or JoJo Moyes. She's especially good at creating characters and settings, and after finishing this book I wanted to read more about the protagonist and her family. However, actually reading it was difficult because of the way it was structured. First of all, I felt like it jumped around too much in time and between characters; and second, there was not an actual mystery that the characters had to solve. Suspense was only created for the reader because the narrators were withholding information, and I found that to be annoying. It would have been a better book if it just started at the beginning point in time and built up, rather than working backward.

The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

I read a lot of thrillers, and one of my goals next year is to read fewer of them. A lot of them are like this book--I'm intrigued by the mystery and keep reading to the end to find out what happens, but I don't get much out of it or remember the book very well a few days later. This book in particular seems to be like a number of other similar ones that involve a women becoming involved with a rich, powerful man who seems to be the perfect partner, until suddenly he's not and things get crazy. I should have known better.

The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens

The fact that Eskens has experience as a lawyer really shows in this book, where the suspense comes in the legal maneuvering, and by the book's structure that alternates between the two sides of the trial. I thought it was a pretty good read, and then there was a twist I didn't see coming at all right towards the end that really surprised me (in a good way).  I've read another book by Eskens before and also liked it, and I think I'll read another in the future.
 
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

I spent most of the month (and some of last month) slowly reading this book interspersed with others. It's not that it wasn't a good book or that it wasn't compelling reading, but it's too big to fit in my purse to take places and it was so dense that it worked better to digest it in small chunks. I really enjoyed reading it and felt like I learned so much about both Alexander Hamilton and the American revolution. Even if you don't think that you're interested in either of those topics (I didn't think I was), this book may convince you otherwise.

Movies

Saving Private Ryan

I've never actually seen this movie before (I'm not sure why--I'm trying to remember what I was doing in 1998), and since it was leaving Netflix this month I thought it was a good choice for New Year's Eve. I was worried about the violence, and although it was gruesome, it didn't bother me as much as I expected it to. There were many great things about this movie and totally deserves its reputation as one of the best movies about war (and one of Spielberg's top films as well).

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