Books of 2019 Part 2

Hello! As usually, I’m slow at updating this. I read less than I wanted to in the last half of 2019. I finally had to start listening to audio-books while doing other things. This year, I read 25 books. I wanted to read 40. My 2018 goal was 40 as well, and I read 33. I hope to read more in 2020.

PJs and a book after Christmas

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

I have not watched the series. I watched the first five episodes, and kept meaning to go back to it, but have not started yet. I have trouble with new shows because they need all my attention. I saw the book on my library app, and decided to give it a go.

I loved the book. It makes me wonder how the series has gone on for as long as it has because she was only in prison for 15 months. As I was reading it, I did make comparisons to what I’ve seen on the show, and what I’ve heard about the show. It’s Piper Kerman’s story. This book is what happened to her. It must be strange to watch such a fictionalized version on television.

I’m not going to give a recap of the story – if you read my writing about what I’ve read, I rarely do, but in this case, I think everybody knows the basics about the book because of the show. They got that much correct in the show.

I enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching her learn about herself, about life, and about her life in prison. I found the ending both sad and heartwarming. I missed her friends she made. This novel isn’t as exciting as the television series, but life never looks as exciting as it does in an hour long sitcom. I think people should give the book a chance. I may read it again sometime because as I write this, I know I enjoyed it, but I can’t remember many of the details, and I want to remember them.

Just as a side note, this book got a five star rating on Goodreads from her husband, and that makes me happy. He admits that he is her husband and is also in the book. I saw quite a few reviews that were not as positive as his. I guess it’s not for everybody. I liked it. (I always read the reveiws on Goodreads after I’m done the book.)

Gina French is Not a Waste of Roofies by C.J. Anderson

I have a couple of things I need to note before I write about this book. First of all, I know the author. In fact, once he found out I had written a book (yet to be published), he told me some of his story about getting published. I am going to message him tomorrow about his book. The second thing is that I bought this book a long time ago. I bought it in 2017 when my son was about six months. At that time, I was listening to a lot of audio-books. I started it a few times, but kept putting it down. I hate putting books down, and I finally picked it back up and started over this year.

I struggled through the first part of the book, but once it picked up, I had trouble putting it down. The main character – Gina French – smokes a lot. As a nonsmoker, I just wanted her to smoke less. It hurt my lungs just reading it. The start of the book makes Gina French seem a bit like a bad ass. She works at a prison, but was attacked and hurt during a prison riot. She and the man she’s sleeping with (he also works at the prison) decide they need to find the man who escaped prison for the reward money. She wanted to be the hero as well as come out with money.

She also has a young baby and a best friend/roommate. When her male friend can’t come with her because of injuries, she goes alone, leaving her daughter in the hands of her roomie. Possibly more capable than her own.

As the novel goes on, I started liking the serial killer escapee more than I liked the main character. Once again, to write a character that is truly awful, and does not seem to have a lot of redeemable qualities is something I think is great. While reading this, at a certain point I realised Gina French was not going to change. She was going to stay a spiteful and mean person. In fact, she became more spiteful as the novel went on (possibly for good reason.)

There was only one character I truly liked (it wasn’t the murderer). I think somebody who is willing to take care of a baby while her friend is ‘healing’ is pretty kindhearted. I was right.

One thing I’d like to note: the fight scenes made me cringe. In a good way. I felt myself flinching as I read the description of the fight. They are very detailed, and even as I write this, the feeling I got reading it is back.

I want to say this isn’t the type of book I usually read, but to be honest, I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know how to define this book. It’s not really like anything I’ve read before. It’s a very unique book, and I can only think of one other book that made me feel the same. Different plots, but both unique and great. I’ve reviewed it before, and I don’t think I’ll mention the name right now because the comparison has nothing to do with plot. They are just two books that can’t be compared.

If you compare it to the books I’ve added to this post, it does seem like it’s not my style, but that’s not really true. I do enjoy a good thriller, but lately my life has made me want to read the happy novels. Some days, you crave a happy ending.

If the author reads this: I’m really sorry it took me so long to read this.

Although, the best thing about reading a book by an author you know is you get to discuss the book with him.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

I think I need to write about these sooner because I constantly find myself reading about the plot so I can remember what it was I read.

I didn’t mind this book. It was about female friendship. It was about two women struggling to find their place in the world. It really had many things I love including a touch or two of tragedy.

Unfortunately, the more I read, the more I disliked one of the main characters. I want to be clear when I say it’s okay to write characters that aren’t liked. However, this was one of the main characters, and she seemed like a character that did unforgivable things, but tended to be forgiven in the end because of who she was. I just thought she was mean and spiteful, and even when she was in the wrong, she still had a tendency to say, “But it wasn’t my fault.” I can’t handle that. I’m sure she learned something at the end, but it was almost too late.

The other character, Kate, seemed to be the typical mother. I’ve seen it in a lot of books. The mother that does everything for her family and children, but is constantly stomped on by people bigger than them in ego, or by their own children. She spent her life with a man that she believed chose her as second best, and that’s heartbreaking. I spent the entire novel waiting for her to be the strong women she needed to be. I waited the entire novel for her to stand up for herself.

I guess there is a second novel about Tully. I don’t know if I’ll read it. Probably not. However, with all this being said, it was a book that I couldn’t put down. I wanted to know how it ended.

Risking It All by Nina Darnton

This was a good book. It was frustrating at times, and it was sad. There were characters that I wanted to shake a few times.

The book was about a married couple. They both wanted children, but Marcia was not willing to give up on her dream to be a mom. Her husband, Jeff seemed more willing to stop trying. Her heart breaks every time she finds out she’s not pregnant, but she won’t stop trying. The book is honest about the fact that it’s expensive to get pregnant when it doesn’t happen naturally. They were running out of options, and she finally decided they should go with surrogacy. Her husband resists the idea, but she doesn’t give up.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

Both husband and wife are very stubborn. I have to go more into plot than usual in this one because there is so much that happens. They find the perfect surrogate, and she ends up pregnant with twins. During the delivery, they lose both the surrogate and one of the twins. Their surrogate was a single mom to a ten year old. He has nobody else in his life, and Marcia convinces Jeff they need to take him in.

The story is about the struggle they all face. Marcia tries to take care of everybody, and Jeff loves the remaining twin, but can’t trust or let himself even like the ten year old boy. The poor kid moves in to a different city, and doesn’t know this family at all. I probably felt like he had the worst of it.

I enjoyed it. The ending wrapped things up, and sometimes in real life things are more messy, but sometimes you get lucky. I like a book that can see the good.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

I loved Still Alice. However, that doesn’t always mean you’ll love the next book. It didn’t with Jodi Picoult. I liked one of her books, and disliked all the rest by her.

I did love this one though. In fact, I loved it so much I ugly cried.

I haven’t read any others by this author so I’m not sure if all her books are about different diseases that slowly steal your life from you.

In this one, a father of four children, husband, and a police officer finds out he has Huntington’s Disease. I didn’t know a lot about the disease going into it, but I learned a lot. There is no cure, and your kid’s have a 50 percent chance of getting it as well. He also wasn’t told his mother had it, and thought her death was because of her drinking.

The story showed his reaction, and the reaction from his family. It was like Still Alice in that way. It was a similar story with a completely different disease. Either way, she wrote it realistically, and it was heart breaking.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

This is the second book I’ve read by Liane Moriarty.

I read this in the Spring of 2019, and my sister just read it over Christmas. Actually, I listened to it on my library app. I was on an audio book reading for a while. It was fun watching my sister read it because she seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was.

I laughed so much while reading this. The first one I read by her was Big Little Lies. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t quite the same. It had a few funny moments, but I didn’t find it to be a fun book. It had a lot of heavy moments for me.

This book was fun. It made me laugh. It also made me cry. I felt a connection to the narrators. There were quite a few, and sometimes that’s hard to follow along, but it seems to be Liane Moriarty’s style, and it works for her.

The story was absurd at times, and for some reason, it worked. I can honestly say that I would read this book again because I’m sure I missed a couple of things while listening to it.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

This is the third book by Liane Moriarty. I think the fact that I went from one to another says a lot about how much I enjoyed the last one.

I enjoyed this one as well, but not as much as the previous book. This one reminded me more of Big Little Lies. A mix of the perfect wife/mothers with the mothers/characters that clearly don’t have life all together.

To be honest, the story didn’t stick with me quite like the previous novel. Even now, I’m struggling to remember how things were revolved. It was an easy read, and by that, I mean quick and hard to stop listening to. I’d probably read it again, but mostly to remind myself of why I enjoyed it.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this book.

It was full of short stories written by Novak – and if you listen to the audio book, it’s read by many familiar names, and quite a few that B.J. Novak worked with on The Office.

I didn’t love all the stories, but I liked enough of them to make me happy I read the book. I found the book interesting because it felt like he wrote down any strange thought he’d ever had, and wrote it down. It’s nice to get into somebody’s head for a bit. None of the stories were about him, but they all came from him. Frankly, I think it was brave to put all these stories out there. I wonder if they would have been published if it had come from a regular person that nobody had ever heard of. This isn’t written to insult the book, but I do wonder how much that helped him get it published.

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood up For Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

I own this book, but for some reason I ended up listening to it on my library app. I think I finally decided to read it at a time that I didn’t feel like I could pick up a book as often as I liked. I listened to this around the house and while driving.

I really enjoyed it. I love the fact that it was a true story about her life. I hate that she had to go through what she did. It’s so important for people to read books like this, and learn something about other cultures, other countries, other people. Her life was full of things I will never have to experience. She was told she wasn’t allowed to learn, and she stood up for herself, and every other female she could. She gave herself a voice, and her family stood by her and encouraged her.

I knew about her story going in, but this tells you so much more. I can’t wait to learn more about her life.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is my winner for favourite book of 2019. I actually am inspired to at some point to a post about my favourite books during the last decade. Hopefully I get to it quickly before I forget.

I listened to it over my library app. I actually couldn’t stop listening to it. I shushed people when they tried to talk to me. I openly cried at the end with head phones on. Actually, I pulled over while driving with my son to my hometown to cry as well.

I have one favourite book every year, and after reading it, all I want to do is buy the actual book because I know I’ll read it again.

I don’t want to write a lot about the actual plot, I just think it needs to be read. The main character was a strong, brave, sweet, and smart heroine. She became all these things with absolutely no family to support her. She was looked down upon by everybody because of the way she lived, but she kept on learning and discovering life. I fell in love with her story, and I loved those she let in to her world because they fell in love with her as well.

The book does move in timelines. All during the main character’s life, but it does move back and forth. I was happier when it finally caught up and stayed in one spot. This book isn’t for everyone – that’s actually clear from the reviews on Goodreads, but it was perfect for me.

Dark Tribute by Iris Johansen

This is an Eve Duncan book. I haven’t read one in a long time. Quite a long time because Eve and Joe have a son I don’t remember them having.

Iris Johansen writes some evil characters. They are more awful that you’d ever want to believe people to be. She doesn’t just write about them, but she gives them a voice and lets them narrate. It’s not a voice that makes them likeable. They are truly crazy and unlikeable, and are usually trying to hurt Eve or somebody in her family.

Nobody should mess with Eve, but nobody ever seems to learn.

I don’t know if I loved this book as much as I remember enjoying the others, but I didn’t go into it thinking I would love it more than others. It was on my list so I read it. Now, I’ll donate the book. I plan to catch up on the rest of the Eve Duncan novels, but I’ll probably take my time.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Even though it’s not easy to do on Goodreads, I have decided that reading a book over again still counts toward my book count for the year. This was my favourite book of the year in 2017. I wanted to read it again just before Christmas because I knew I was getting the sequel for Christmas. When I read it, I didn’t know there would be a sequel, but I had hoped.

To sum up, the book hits on some really awful things that happen in life. It’s truly heartbreaking to think about all the evil in the world, and especially harder to think about people hurting children. Somehow, even though the subject is so sad, parts of it is written like with a sort of magic. It’s written with beauty in a scary world. I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first time.

Last two reads of 2019

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld

This book was as intriguing and as well written as the first. It followed the same main character as the first, and included another important voice. This one hit harder on the scary things in life. It didn’t hide it behind stories. Kids are on the street, kids are abused, some are raped, and it’s awful, but this story is about finding a light. It’s about finding the one thing to focus on that helps you get through the times that seem impossible.

I liked the first because it had a message of hope, and the child finder is the hope in it. This one we saw strength in different characters as well, and the hope continued.

Parts of the ending I had guessed, but to be honest, I had hoped it would happen, and would have been disappointed if there was any other ending.

I don’t know if there are more books about the child finder, but if there are, I will read them.

Happy Reading. I can’t wait to share my 2020 reads.

©ErinLeahMcCrea All photos I share on my blogs are my own, please Ask Me For Permission Before Using Them.

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