In the beginning of the month, I had an insane To Be Read pile posted on my Instagram. I went a little crazy with putting books on hold at my local library—I never expected to check out almost 20 books in one month. I thought I could read at least 15. In the end, I only read 6 of the books I checked out.
Overall, I read a total of 9 books, which is average of what I read every month anyway; still a decent reading month for me.
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Another great book in a great series by a great author. I love the characters Cormoran Strike and Robin, his assistant. Both are flawed, but dedicated and moral. Career of Evil was definitely my favorite novel in the series so far. The mystery was dark, twisted, gruesome, and complex. I hated virtually every single one of the suspects Cormoran and Robin investigated when trying to find the person who sent Robin the severed leg. And I definitely did not like Robin’s fiancée, Matthew, for specific reasons you would know if you read this book.
I know there are people that aren’t a fan of the “will they, won’t they” aspect of Cormoran and Robin’s working relationship in Career of Evil, but I ship them. I think they could still manage a professional relationship while in a romantic one. I need the fourth book, like, now.
JK Rowling: please stop writing Harry Potter stories and give us more Cormoran Strike.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
A book I’ve had on my TBR list on Goodreads for a long time. I decided to check Rebecca out of the library after reading about it in another book. While it did not disappoint in the slightest, I still had some issues with it.
I loved the mystery and horror in this story, as well as enjoyed Daphne Du Maurier’s writing. Mrs. Danvers is definitely on the list of my favorite antagonists. The protagonist and narrator, “the new Mrs. De Winter” (we never learn her name), was likable; I could relate to her on certain things. However, I was not a fan of the romantic element in Rebecca. I did not like Maxim. I found him to be insensitive and unromantic. Then again, it would not be a gothic romance without that dark, brooding hero, would it?
Whitefern by VC Andrews
Whitefern is, by far, the most disappointing book of 2016. Needless to say, I am so, so glad I got this out of the library instead of spending the $22 on Amazon for the hardcover.
Whitefern is supposed to be the sequel to VC Andrews’s novel My Sweet Audrina, which was published in 1982. This book was supposed to follow Audrina, now a grown married woman, still living in her family home of Whitefern with her husband, Arden Lowe, and her mentally handicapped younger sister, Sylvia. The book opens up with the death of Audrina’s father, Damien Adare, and the discovery he has left fifty-one percent of his successful business firm to Audrina, not his son-in-law, Arden. Arden tries to get Audrina to sign papers to give him full control over the company and she refuses. Whitefern takes off from there.
The supposed “sequel” to My Sweet Audrina lacked the creepiness and mystery of its predecessor. Instead of a smart, curious heroine, we get a grown woman who does nothing but shop, clean, cook, and obsess over everything. All the characters had either little development or were totally butchered from the previous book, like Arden. The writing was decent enough and made the book easy to read, but I found myself speed-reading through the last few chapters. Overall, I was seriously bored with Whitefern and deeply disappointed.
The Muse by Jessie Burton
After reading two of her books this year, Jessie Burton is easily making it onto my list of favorite authors. I love her writing style and her storytelling in historical fiction is amazing. She writes complex, flawed characters, some of them you’re not entirely sure if you like or not.
The Muse is told in dual point of view of two young women in different time periods. One is Odelle, an immigrant in London during the 1960s and the other is Olive, an English aspiring artist in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Their lives become intertwined by a painting, supposedly created by a mysterious rebel artist, Isaac Robles. And the story takes off from there.
The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass
The Cresswell Plot is another book I’ve wanted to read for a long time and glad I didn’t spend the money on it. When I first heard of it, the story reminded me a lot of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes: a teenaged girl is trapped under the thumb of her fanatically religious father and must find a way to escape him before he forces the family to return to their home in heaven.
The writing was nothing special, but it moved the story along and made it easy to read. I liked the protagonist, Castley, for her thinking process and her determination. Other than that, I was not terribly impressed with The Cresswell Plot.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
My first Kiersten White book and I was not disappointed. And I Darken is a historical fiction young adult novel that is a gender-swapped origin story of Vlad the Impaler. The writing was great and I could picture everything that was happening. The characters were complex but all likable in their own ways. The world-building was fascinating; it made me want to learn more about Vlad the Impaler and the Ottoman Empire. I’m definitely excited to see where the series goes from here.
Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
I really enjoyed this book, although science fiction generally goes over my head. The format was interesting and added a certain element to the story, but I think I would have preferred it if it was told in prose. The characters were funny, yet I couldn’t really connect with any of them. The book definitely could have been at least 100 pages shorter than it was.
I plan on continuing with this series and I will likely check the sequel out of the library once it becomes available.
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
The First Time She Drowned was my first book review up on this blog. It was a dark contemporary with great writing that saved me from a reading slump after finishing Illuminae. Overall, I loved it and it’s one of my favorite books of 2016. If you want to know my full thoughts, go read the review.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
When I started reading A Farewell to Arms, it was right before Banned Books Week started. I own two books by Ernest Hemingway that I hadn’t gotten around to reading and I wanted to read a Banned Book during the week like I always do. Unfortunately, reading A Farewell to Arms has reestablished my love/hate relationship with Hemingway. While I appreciate his realism and his depiction of what was a depressing time in history, his writing puts me to sleep.