Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#SCWBC15 December 1 Check-in

Today I'm linking up with Megan over at Semi Charmed Kind of Life for the first check-in of her winter book challenge (one month down, two to go).  

I've changed a lot of the books from my original list.  For my preliminary list, click here.

Here's my progress to date:


A book with a one-word title.
Hostage by Robert Crais
Read November 1-2, 2015
400 pages

Although Hostage isn't my favorite Robert Crais book, it is a very solid mystery/crime novel with enough twists and turns to make it enjoyable and interesting.  It is fairly fast paced, given that the events of the book happen in less than a 24 hour time period.  My disappointment was with the ending.  It just seemed rushed and very anti-climactic.
My rating: ★★★

A book that does not take place in my country of residence. 
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
(Takes place in Australia)
Read November 2-7
487 pages

What Alice Forgot was a complete surprise to me.  I've never read anything by the author before, so I honestly didn't know what to expect; I just know that I didn't expect such an intriguing story with a mysterious plot that kept me guessing throughout and even surprised at the end.  There are a cast of characters involved, but Moriarty did an excellent job of describing each person in rich detail and giving each of them a distinct personality, so much so that I kind of felt as if I knew them somehow.  With each character having such a distinctive persona, it was easy to keep everyone straight as to who was who despite there being so many people involved.  

What Alice Forgot is a brilliant story about life, tackling the inevitable changes and challenges of adulthood and parenthood, and having the courage to carry on.  What I liked most about What Alice Forgot is that is even when I wasn't listening to it, I was thinking about it.  I wasn't necessarily thinking about the book itself, but about the overall big question - what would my self of 10 years ago think of the person I've become in the here and now?  It's a valid question that I think is essential for everyone to contemplate every now and then.
My rating: ★★★★

A book with a person's first and last name in the title.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Read November 8-9
273 pages

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is not a lighthearted, fun read.  It is a quick read, but it packs a lot of punch in a short time span and it tackles some tough and unpleasant issues.  The story was raw and filled with angst.  I found it heartbreaking and maddening at the same time.  There were so many moments during the book when I simply wanted to shout at Leonard and say, "Trust me, Leonard!  There IS life after high school!  Just hang on a bit longer!"  Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a a stark reminder of the struggle that many teens deal with every single day.  Interestingly enough, despite the overwhelming tone of the book, I was left with a sliver of hope at the end.  It is an extremely thought provoking book.  
My rating: ★★★★

A book published under a pseudonym.
The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre
(According to Goodreads, A. R. Torre is a pseudonym for Alessandra Torre)
Read November 10-12
352 pages

Disclaimer:  This book IS NOT for everyone!  It is part thriller and part erotica.  It contains very candid sexual descriptions and explicit language. 

The Girl in 6E is not the most erotic novel I've ever read nor is it the most suspenseful thriller either.  It is an interesting mix of the two genres.  I didn't necessarily love the book, nor did I hate it.  It was good, it was okay.  It kept me engaged throughout.  The first half of the book was exceptionally fast paced, but the second half, even with a solid conclusion, was somewhat anticlimactic.  It was a solid read, it just wan't exceptional.  
My rating: ★★★

A nonfiction book and a fiction book that are about the same topic/subject (cancer)
1) The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Read November 13-14
206 pages

Upon finishing the audiobook, I purchased two copies of this book - one for myself and one for my twenty year old step son, whom I feel would benefit from reading some of Pausch's parting words of wisdom.  For me, if I buy the physical book for my personal library after hearing the audiobook, then that says a lot about what I thought of the book.

Although none of what the author had to say was earth shatteringly novel, it was nice to hear none-the-less and it was delivered in a manner that was light and entertaining.
My rating: ★★★★

2) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Read November 20-21
313 pages

This is one of those books that I had every intention of reading before I saw the movie, but for whatever reason did not.  I have no problem reading a book after the movie, although I do admit that it robs a bit of the surprise element from the book.  The Fault in Our Stars was a good book, but I wasn't blown away by it like most people appear to be (probably due to the fact that I saw the movie and ultimately knew what was coming).  Despite having watched the movie first, I'm still glad I read the book because the book wraps up a lot of loose ends and questions that I had that were not answered when I watched the movie.  Overall, I thought TFIOS is very solid, very well written, and very poignant.
My rating: ★★★★

A book with “boy,” “girl,” “man,” or “woman” in the title.
The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais
Read: November 18-20
368 pages

The Forgotten Man is the tenth book in Robert Crais' Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series.  I've read all of the previous books in the series and I love the way that Elvis and Joe continue to evolve over time.  The changes they endure makes them seem real to some degree and makes the series even more compelling and interesting in my opinion.  In The Forgotten Man, we learn more about Elvis' past, something that was only hinted at in the earlier books and which has only recently started to be explored.  (The first book that revealed some of Elvis' backstory was The Last Detective.)

As with most of the books in this series, I enjoyed it.  It was interesting, easy to follow, and didn't let me figure everything out.
My rating: ★★★★

A book with a verb in the title.
Read: November 22-27
372 pages

What a bizarre, confusing, humorous, interesting, warm fairy tale of a story.  Before I get started, let me say for the record that I LOVED the author's previous book, A Man Called Ove.  I was super excited to find this book and was hopeful of a similar reading experience that I had with it.  Sadly, that wasn't the case.

It took me longer to get into this book than it normally does with books in general.  First, the descriptions of the fantasy, fairy tale land that she and her granny created, the Land of Almost Awake, was cute but sometimes confusing.  It used strange words that I had a difficult time connecting meaning with and it was complicated by the fact that I was listening to it via audiobook and didn't have a printed word to refer back to.  Second, I didn't like Elsa, the main character.  For a kid who is almost 8, she seemed more like a smart mouthed 11 or 12 year old.  I found her to be obnoxious and unbelievably mature for her age.  (I work with 7 and 8 year olds all the time and trust me and none of them are as "advanced" as Elsa.)  Given these 2 major factors, at several points in the first half of the book, I thought about quitting.  I just wasn't enjoying the book like I had hoped I would.  But, after reading several reviews on Goodreads that advised to "keep reading" and to "hang in there," I did so and, once I finished, I'm glad I stuck it out.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is a complicated story that involves many people as well as the interjections of their fairy tale counterparts from the "Land of Almost Awake."  Despite my struggles during the first 50-60% of the book, the ending was satisfying and wrapped everything up nicely.  I have serious mixed feelings with this book, for I started out not liking it, but my feelings softened once everything fell into place and I understood what was going on.  
My rating: ★★★/★★★★ (3.5*, I rarely give 1/2 ratings, but I am making a exception for this one.)

A food themed book.
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
Read: November 27-30
340 pages

Had it not been for needing to find and read a "food themed" book, I probably would've never considered this book.  I vaguely remember watching a segment on the author, comedian Jim Gaffigan, on CBS Sunday Morning sometime in the past year and I think he spoke about the book, but that's really the extent of my exposure with the author or the book before this challenge.  In Food: A Love Story, Gaffigan waxes poetically comically about his feelings about shellfish, which he refers to as sea bugs; oysters (snot from a rock); his love of Chicago deep dish pizza, steak, and bacon (aka "the candy of meat"); his thoughts on at least a dozen forms/types of cheese; and how he considers Hot Pockets both a blessing and curse.  Jim also touches on dining out, dining al fresco, diners, truck stops, food trucks, street fairs, McDonald's, Subway, White Castle, and Burger Kind.  The chapters are short and some are funnier than others and the specific topics are wide and variety, but all related to food.  All and all, it was an entertaining listen and I enjoyed it, especially given that Gaffigan narrates the audiobook.
My rating: ★★★


5 POINTS - A book that has 100-200 pages.
10 POINTS - A debut book by any author.
10 POINTS - A book someone else has already used for this challenge.  
30 POINTS - Two books with the same title.

Are you participating in the Semi Charmed Winter 2015 Book Challenge?  How's it going?  What's the most interesting book you read so far in the challenge?

As always, thanks for stopping by!


  1. WOW! You are kicking butt in this challenge! I've read 5 books for 65 books. I keep getting distracted and reading other books that aren't in my challenge picks. If you liked What Alice Forgot, I highly recommend Big Little Lies by the same author.

    1. I know! I'm not sure what's gotten in to me! I mean, I listen to a decent number of books due to my commute, but last month I just seemed to be on an audiobook binge or something! LOL! Thank you for the recommendation of Big Little Lies.

  2. Wow, you're doing so well!
    I wasn't that impressed with The Fault in Our Stars. I've read books that made me cry a lot more. And I read it before the film came out so I had no idea what was coming!

    1. Thank you! I wasn't as impressed as I thought I should be... Maybe it's because I watched the movie first and the plot lines were very close. Maybe it's because I'm one of the last people (it seems) to finally getting around to reading this book and it may have been overhyped. I don't know.

  3. oooh great progress! I haven't started any of mine yet. I've been so swamped. :( But I hope the next two months work out well for making it up! :) XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    1. Thank you! I've been a reading fiend the past month! Not sure what's gotten in to me. Well, I do read/listen to a lot of audiobooks because of my commute, but I was listening like crazy last month!

  4. You really read a lot this month! Hostage sounds like a pretty interesting read, but it sucks that the ending seems rushed. I'm so glad that you like What Alice Forgot! It's my favorite book from Liane Moriarty, and it really does make you think about what you'll think about your future self or what your future self will think about your current self.


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