With my recent blogging break, I was able to conquer a huge portion of my 2016 reading list. Since I wasn’t blogging during the summer, I want to give a quick review of the ones I finished. Unfortunately, some of the ones I had high hopes for were super disappointing.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
If you were to check Goodreads reviews, you’d never know this book was a total bore. People love it.
I am not one of those people.
It was not my cup of tea. This was Coplin’s debut, and it feels like she may have wrote this to get her M.F.A in Creative Writing. You know what I mean? I could tell she was trying to find her style – and the book is written in a unique way – but the story was lost within said style. I spent the first couple of chapters trying to figure out how to read the story so that I could gain momentum.
Mostly, I don’t think I knew what I was getting into. The narrative is a timeline of the Pacific Northwest’s urbanization through the 1800’s rather than an actual plot-driven story. The characters are twisted in and out and none are very likable. I tried so hard to enjoy it. In the end, I was glad it was over. The ending is a bit sad and tragic, but was possibly the most well-written part of the entire book. It flowed well and moved at just the right pace to close the book.
Should you read it? I guess. It’s long though, and if you don’t enjoy it… Well, you’re on a long road.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
I liked this book… At first. I flew through the first hundred pages, anxious to see where it would lead, and then the plot took a twist I wasn’t expecting. It added shock factor, for sure. Then I quit liking it as much. Still, it was well-written and enjoyable until the last hundred pages.
It takes place in Amsterdam, back in the day when you still had to marry for money. A young girl named Nella is ready to do her deeds as a wife when she marries Johannes Brandt. Little does she know that her life with the traveling sea merchant is full of secrets, hypocrisy, and lies.
Basically, this naive girl learns a lot fast, and has to mature quickly so she can keep up with her new counterparts. Like all novels of this time period and era, there is much forbidden fruit that each character tends to partake in. I was upset reading it because the beginning was excellent. I was hooked. But as the story progressed, I felt more and more let down. The ending was a sham.
I would say… read it if you want to be utterly disappointed.
Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan
I did not enjoy this book one bit, which is sad because I had such high hopes for it. When I first began reading, I stopped about 84 pages in and said I could go no further until wintertime. I didn’t want to waste my beautiful spring days reading such a sad and hate-filled novel. I changed my mind the next day and finished it in just two days. Was it compelling? Absolutely. Was it a light, Sunday read? No.
It was too sad, and it was heavily cloaked in magical metaphors. I struggled to understand when the author brought in the magical parts of the story, and the “magic” ended up being more annoying than actually creating a fantastical element. The story is full of sad and revenge-filled descriptions of family, marriage, and youth. I don’t know how to describe it in words.
In my Goodreads review, I mentioned that maybe these horrid descriptions and plot lines of marriage came from the author’s own experiences. I don’t know, but I hated it. I don’t recommend.
The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding
Ahh… Bridget Jones. If you’ve ever seen the films or read the first Bridget Jones’s Diary, then you know that they are hilarious. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I was moving along nicely with my 2016 reading list, and then I realized something. Every book I read was becoming darker and darker and I HAD TO STOP. I don’t do “dark.” I needed a break. So I picked up where I left off with Bridget Jones’s life. I read the first book about three years ago and enjoyed it, so why not keep going?
The Edge of Reason is pretty good, though not as good as the first. I enjoyed it though, and moved through it quickly. If you want to laugh at someone who never seems to get it quite right, then this is the book (and series) for you.
Fluffy romance, a bit of career, and a lot of laughs will keep you turning the pages.
Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding
Save yourself the trouble and skip the final book in this series. It’s awful. I never in my wildest dreams saw this series taking such an appalling turn, with everything you hoped and dreamed for in the first two books being crushed and trampled in the dirt. I don’t know why the author did this, and I think I mildly hate her for it. The book isn’t even written in the same tone, not near as funny, and FAR too many pop culture references. Bridget is in her 50’s now, and a lot of your favorite characters are GONE.
You’ll hate it. I hated it. DO NOT READ. It’s no wonder they’re making the third movie with so many creative liberties. If they followed this story, it would be a bomb.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Wow. That’s all I can say. This is the first book I’ve read by Neil Gaiman, and I’ll tell you that everything you’ve heard is true. He is a powerful writer. American Gods is the best book I’ve read in 2016 – hands down. It is a little dark and has some messed up story lines, but it wasn’t as horrifying as people made it out to be. I read through it in about 6 days. In short – you follow the journey of Shadow, and ex-convict trying to rebuild his life. However, after his release from prison, his entire world is turned upside down when he meets Wednesday – a dirty, but powerful old man. If I tell you anymore, it will ruin the story.
You should definitely read this book about the new and old gods of this world, fighting for a way to make it in ever-changing America.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I adored this book. The first line had me captivated and I couldn’t stop reading.
If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.
I think I read it in three days, but could have read it in one if adulting wasn’t a thing. This novel takes place in France during World War II. It fits the build of your typical WWII novel, but something about the way it was written made it better. The story follows two sisters trying to survive the War after Germans invade France. One wants to be a martyr; the other wants to keep her head low and simply make it through.
Many people compared this to “All the Light We Cannot See,” which I hated, by the way. It is nothing like that really, other than it takes place in Paris and surrounding areas during the war. Hannah went above and beyond to expand on the important characters, but not so much that we had to analyze every person’s choices. Overall, it was a great read with some twists and turns, highs and lows, and (what I felt) was a fairly accurate portrayal of what France may have been like during that time. I enjoyed every moment of reading it. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
That sums up what I read through the summer. I’m sad I didn’t get through more of my reading list, but I was juggling my CDC’s for the Air Force and beginning new college classes. This will probably be my last book review for a while. So, have you read any of these? Tell me your thoughts!