What I Read in December 2019
December was a “slow” reading month for me. I only finished eleven books and a couple of them were duds. I felt I was ending my reading year on a low note. Although, I managed to end up with a total of 180 books finished this year which is a personal best!
Here’s a review of the books I read in the final month of 2019!
The Neighbours by Nicola Gill
Advanced copy from NetGalley, expected publication January 23, 2020 This book had potential to tell a great story about female friendship, but it didn’t get there. I kept reading because I kept thinking it would get better but it didn’t. I don”t recommend this one.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Advanced copy from NetGalley, expected publication December 31st, 2020 This is a complicated novel about race and class. It’s a powerful, compelling story told with humor and grace, even when it’s pretty sticky. I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction.
The Nix by Nathan Hill
*I recommend the audio book for this one.* I started in that format, then switched to the physical copy but it wasn’t as enjoyable so I switched back. This a long read, and it’s gets pretty weird toward the end. But it is so worth sticking with. The way Hill weaves together past and present, history and fiction, is well done and makes for an epic, compelling story. There’s also a little magical realism tucked in there that kept the narrative from being as heavy as it could have been I highly recommend this one for readers of literary fiction and historical fiction.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
This is my local book club’s read for January. While it’s labeled Self Help, it’s a beautiful memoir chronicling one therapist’s need for therapy. We get stories of Lori’s life and past, alternating with stories from four of her patients. This book made me laugh, then was also quite sad at times. It’s a moving account of human connection and personal growth. I highly recommend it for readers of memoir, and anyone who values therapy!
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Okay, so I recommended this book on a list of holiday romance novels, and I need to go back and replace it with something else! You can read my full rant of a review on Goodreads. The only reason I didn’t give it less stars is because it was interesting enough to keep me reading. It’s supposed to be a story about fate and true love and all that jazz. Instead it comes across as being about two entitled idiots who are dishonest and too cowardly to speak up for themselves. There are lots of romance novels out there that are much better. I recommend you skip this one.
Conviction by Decinse Mina
I listened to this audio book and found it difficult to follow and confusing. The plot is compelling, so if you want to give it a go I recommend trying the print version. The premise is, a woman listening to a true crime podcast and recognizes someone from her past in the story. I kept hoping I would figure it out and enjoy it, but that never happened. There were too many characters, too much back story and lies, too many switches between past and present – it was just a big mess to me.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
This is the follow up to The Kiss Quotient, which I read last month and absolutely gush over to anyone who will listen! They don’t necessarily have to be read in order, though I recommend you do. In Hoang’s novels there’s a spin that personal development. In both novels, the main characters are Autistic, high functioning adults. They have families who love and support them, yet encourage them to get outside their comfort zones. Then the love interest comes in and accepts them as is (maybe with some time) and it’s really beautiful. This is a fun, sexy, romantic book (not nearly as much sex as The Kiss Quotient). It’s a fast, easy read that’s an emotional roller coaster for the readers (and the characters.) I highly recommend it for readers of the genre and also for general fiction readers looking to expand their reading comfort zone.
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
This is a unique novel, written in the first person as if the narrator is speaking directly to her best friend, who is recently deceased. At times it feels like a memoir, the writing is so deeply personal and honest.She becomes the new owner of her friend’s dog, and the two of them wallow in grief together. The writing is almost poetic, it has a rhythm to it at times. The book is full of literary references, and factoids about death and grief in regard to humans and animals. I recommend it for readers of literary fiction.
Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman
Advanced copy from NetGalley, expected publication January 7, 2020 This is the follow up to Steadman’s 2018 debut Something in the Water, which was a freaking great thriller and had huge success. This one is on a lot of lists of highly anticipated books of 2020, so of course my expectations for this one were pretty high. I found this to be an absolute dud. I started out liking it, but by the end I was hating it! It had the potential to be a compelling story but it was too long, too slow, and had WAY too many plot points. It felt like the author was trying so hard to make it “thrilling” and pack in surprises. Instead it eventually felt too far fetched and had me rolling my eyes. The female protagonist’s backstory is revealed in small chunks, probably intending to be mysterious, but it was annoying and confusing, all the flashing from past to present. It’s a mediocre thriller. I say skip it – there are plenty of others out there in this genre that are much better.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
On the surface this is a fluffy story about a fat girl who enters a beauty pageant. Underneath though, it is so much more. It’s about body positivity and body shaming, for sure. It’s also about family, belonging, and acceptance – that of self and others. It asks what it means to love someone, whether that is a best friend, a romantic interest, family, or self. The writing is simple and Southern. This book was a breeze to get through and a joy. I highly recommend it for readers of YA fiction, and also women’s issues.
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
This story has so much going for it. I appreciate how complex the main male character is. I appreciate how complex the main male character is. He’s got his own side story going on involving his past as a NFL player and the controversy about head trauma. He adds a lot to the story besides being a love interest with a hot bod. Our female protagonist is strong, independent, and a brilliant entrepreneur. While it is a breezy read, it tackles some heavy subjects, which I wish had been addressed with a bit more depth. Overall, this is a fun read and I recommend it for fans of the romance genre.