101. An Idiot Girl’s Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List by Laurie Notaro
My book club likes to read Christmas themed books for our December meeting. It’s often hard to find Christmas themed books that aren’t romances. I came up with this book of humorous Christmas essays. It’s a short quick read that I found amusing. I can see some of the other members of my book club not liking it that much, but I enjoyed it well enough. I’ll be interested to see what other people thought during our meeting next week. I give it a 6 out of 10.
100. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
*Trumpet sounds* Upon finishing this book I reached my goal of reading 100 books this year, and with almost a month to spare. I actually can't review this book here as I received an advanced reader's copy through Netgalley and the publisher requested it not be reviewed on blogs until April. However, they did say it could be reviewed on Goodreads prior to that for some reason, so I guess go find my review there.
99. Also Known As by Robin Benway
I received a copy of this young adult novel as an advanced reader’s copy through NetGalley. The publisher asked that reviews for the book not be released until a month prior to publishing, which wouldn’t be until the end of January. Thus I can’t write an actual review of the book now. Sadly I’m unlikely to remember to come back and do it at that point either, but I did like it.
98. Winter’s Tales by Karen Blixen (also known as Isak Dinesen)
I read this book of short stories for one of my book clubs. I generally am not a fan of short stories, and this collection was no exception. I find that just as I am starting to get into a story it is over, and when I set the book down I don’t have anything compelling me to pick it back up again. The consensus at book club was that there were some interesting stories, but they were difficult to get into. The book did lead to a good discussion though. I give it a 5 out of 10.
97. Hysteria by Megan Miranda
I adored Miranda’s first novel, Fracture, so I was very excited to read Hysteria. Though the book started off with an interesting premise Miranda was not able to follow through on it. The book begins really well. Mallory is a teenage girl who just stabbed her boyfriend to death. She can’t remember what happened, but all evidence points to it being self-defense. In order to give her a new start Mallory’s parents decide to send her off to a boarding school away from where everything happened. Despite being hours away Mallory is still haunted both mentally and seemingly physically by what happened that night, which the book slowly reveals. That part of the book is great, though there some questions that I felt never got explained or if they were I missed it, in particular how what was happening to her physically actually happened. Additionally, there is also some mystery surrounding some people at Mallory’s new boarding school, which is not nearly as compelling as the aforementioned story and just doesn’t quite hold together. This book started out great, but I have to say I was disappointed in it by the end. It’s definitely not worth completely writing off, but be aware that you may find the ending less than satisfactory. I give it a 6 out of 10.
96. The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever
by Alan Sepinwall
I have long been a fan of Alan Sepinwall’s television reviews, so I was very excited when he announced he was self-publishing a book on the revolution in television drama that has occurred over the last decade or so. People tend to look a little askance at self-published books, but I think the tide is turning a little and there are some really excellent self-published books out there this one included. Despite it’s self-published status this book has been getting rave reviews from a variety of outlets including no less than the New York Times.
Having downloaded and read the book as soon as it was available I can see why. For anyone who likes television this book is a must read. It’s definitely full of spoilers though, so if you plan to watch in the future any of the shows Sepinwall writes about you should probably skip those chapters. Once you get past the introductory chapters, each chapter is dedicated to a specific show so you can easily skip chapters on shows that you plan to watch in the future.
The book covers the following shows at length though makes reference to many more: The Sopranos, Oz, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. Sepinwall examines how each show contributed to the current state of high-quality television dramas. The analysis includes not only his own commentary, but information from many of the shows creators from either interviews done specifically for this book or from previously conducted interviews when he was unable to conduct new interviews.
It’s an excellent book for anyone who loves any of these shows. I would highly recommend reading it if you’re a television drama lover like I am. I give it a 9 out of 10.
95. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee
Full disclosure, I sort of know the author of this book in that we went to the same college and were part of the same campus organization our senior year, though neither of the ones he talks about at length in the book. However, we were merely acquaintances and I have no idea if he remembers me at all.
Our brief acquaintance does not in any way affect my opinion that Torn is a fantastic book. Justin uses his own personal experiences realizing that he is gay despite his Christian faith to address the current debate between gays and Christians. He examines what he believes are the fallacies behind what many Christians teach about homosexuality in particular ex-gay ministries. However, he presents his arguments in a way that encourages open debate and dialogue. He realizes that not everyone holds the same Biblical views oh homosexuality and tries to respect those views while encouraging a change in the way gays are too often treated by Christians.
I found it to be an extremely well-written and engaging book. As someone who whole-heartedly shares Justin’s beliefs, but struggles to talk with my Christian friends who don’t share these same beliefs I hope that I can use this book as a springboard for the conversations I know I should be having but am not. I give it a 9 out of 10.
94. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park is a young adult novel, but a book that can be enjoyed by adults as well. It’s the story of unlikely young love between two teenagers who are both facing demons, those Eleanor’s are far worse than Park’s. Both Eleanor and Park have to learn to open themselves up and let the other see the darkest parts of their lives. It’s a great book about first love. It’s totally engaging though sometimes hard to read because of some of the stuff that Eleanor goes through. I highly suggest checking it out though, no matter what your age. I give it 8 out of 10.