Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Recently Read - Show Us Your Books Vol. 3 (Dec. '15)

Hard to believe that we are nearly two weeks into 2016!  I don't know about you, but I'm still writing 2015 on everything - checks, therapy logs, IEP meeting documents.  Old habits truly die hard.

Well, peeps, today is the second Tuesday of the month so I'm linking up with Steph @ Life According to Steph and Jana @ Jana Says for their monthly Show Us Your Books feature.  Here are the books I read/listened to in December 2015:

Worth the Time - Recommend
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
Read December 1-4

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The rural setting, the locals, and the small town anecdotes were so familiar that I felt as if that little town in Wisconsin could've been my own had it been in West Virginia in lieu of Wisconsin.  The characters where so familiar and real (even the rock star), that I felt as if could've been friends with them at some point in my life.

My rating: ★★★★

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Read December 11-13
I really, really liked this book.  Having always been a stout girl myself, I connected with Willowdean (who is called Dumplin' by her mother).  I also thoroughly enjoyed the rural, small town setting.  Even though the story takes place in Texas, there were so many southern cultural references that the story could have taken place in my own hometown in rural West Virginia.  I found the book to be funny with several laugh out loud moments as well as moments when I wanted to smack someone (I even wanted to smack Willowdean a couple of times).  Most importantly, I enjoyed the journey I took with Willowdean as she learned to truly embrace herself.
My rating: ★★★★

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Read December 23-29

I don't read romance very often, but every once in a while, I do get a hankering for a love story involving a man a kilt or in this instance, a man who is the descendant of kilt wearing highlanders (one of his brothers does wears a kilt if I am remembering correctly).

Romance novels are hard for me to review since I don't read them very often, so bear with me.  I enjoyed this book for the romantic aspects as well as the mysterious storyline that unfolded as well.  The author did a nice job of balancing the two.

TMoLIM is the first in a series.  At first, I had no immediate plans to read/listen to the next book in the series, but I must admit that the Mackenzie boys have grown on me and I think I will read or listen to it sometime in the near future.
My rating: ★★★★

OK - 50/50 - Adequate for Passing Time or Basic Entertainment
Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber
Read December 23

I don't typically read/listen to books of this nature (i.e. books that could easily become a Lifetime of Hallmark Channel movie, which I think actually happened to this book), but I found this one on sale through Audible.  Given the Christmas theme and knowing that I had a 5 1/2 hours drive ahead of me one day before Christmas, I decided to give it a whirl.  This audiobook did its job by keeping me adequately entertained during my road trip.  It is very cute, very predictable, very Hallmark channel-ish, and had some moments in which I honestly laughed out loud while driving.  If you have watched the movie The Holiday, then you will be familiar with the plot.
My rating: ★★★

A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
Read December 21

I am very familiar with the movie of the same name and being so, I've never really had any desire to read this book.  However, I lucked up and received the audiobook free through an app called Volumes.  Coming in around 3 1/2 hours listening time, I listened to this one afternoon right before Christmas as I wrapped presents and made Rice Krispie Treats.  It put a nice spin on my holidays - listening to a Christmas book in lieu of watching movies.

My rating: ★★★

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Read December 10-11

I first read this classic in 1986 and looking back, a better description was that I skimmed it.  Yes, I knew the story after having watched the movie every year at Christmas for the past 15-20 years, but it was still good to be exposed to the actual words of the book.  I listened to this on audiobook and it was narrated by Tim Curry.  His narration was like a performance and breathed life into what I remembering being a tedious little read.

My rating: ★★★

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Read December 14-21

The Fixer is a very solid, well written YA book.  This book took me a little longer to read in comparison of books of comparable size, but it really had nothing to do with the book itself, but rather more with the timing.  I started it during the last week of school before Winter Break and because the week before break is always chaotic and busy, I really only listened to it while in the car commuting each day.  

The book has an interesting plot, although it did take awhile to get to it.  I will admit that I didn't figure out "who did it" and was a little surprised by who did.  There was another mystery, a little more subtle, that I nailed very early in the book.  All and all, it was a perfectly pleasant book to pass the time.  Apparently there is a sequel, but at this time I have no interest to continue with the series.
My rating: ★★★

Don't Go There
The Fixer by Joseph Finder
Read December 5-9

I had a difficult time with this book, a very difficult time.  Some of the problems I encountered were the overuse of rhetorical questions, the dragging out of some scenarios ("Just get on with it!" I'd yell), the elementary dialogue, some ridiculously funny situations that I honestly think were not intended to be funny (they were just that absurd), and the main character who was, in my opinion, an obnoxious, Grade A schmuck.  The plot and characters were not memorable and made no lasting impression on me (other than the main character being a schmuck).  Everytime I would return to the audiobook I had to rewind at least 3 minutes in order to jog my memory of what was going on where I left off.

I will state, for the record, that the plot became more interesting, relatively speaking, around 60% into the book, but by that time the damage had been done as far as I was concerned and I really couldn't have cared less about what happened at that point.  I listened to the last 3 hours of the book on 1.25x speed just so I could speed it up and put myself out of my misery.  

(Confession:  Had I not been participating in a challenge and hadn't already committed to using this book and another by the same name for the "two books with the same title" category, I would've abandoned the book after the first 2-3 hours.  I did return it to Audible.)

My rating: ★

So...  December, all in all, was a better than average month for me in terms of reading.  I listened to three 4-star audiobooks, four 3-star audiobooks, and one 1-star audiobook.

How was December for you in terms of reading?  Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think about them? 

As always, thanks for stopping by!


  1. I'm glad you loved Shotgun Lovesongs, it's one of my favorite books ever.

    Dumplin' is on my list!

  2. Dumplin' and Shotgun Lovesongs were two of my favorite books from last year so I'm glad you loved them, too!

  3. If you liked Shotgun Lovesongs, give Butler's newest collection of short stories a try, Beneath the Bonfire. I've heard about Dumpling a few times now, so I think it's reached the point of needing to be added to my list of books to read.

    1. Someone else has recommended Butler's books of short stories, so I will definitely add it to my TBR. Dumplin' was really a fun, enjoyable read.

  4. I have Shotgun Lovesongs checked out from the library, looking forward to reading it. Dumplin is on my TBR list. I really like Debbie Macomber so I might have to give it a try, I love Hallmark movies so I'd probably like it.

    1. It really was a fun read, or at least I thought so. Hope you enjoy it!

  5. shotgun lovesongs is on my list, so glad you enjoyed it! i might have to add that romance book to my list, i don't read them often either but every now and again i get a hankering, like you said haha. i'm glad you were able to return that book to audible, i hate when you hate a book but 'need' to read it for a challenge.

  6. One of the things I found interesting about Shotgun Lovesongs were I felt that each character's storyline was so believable. It's like I could see myself in the midst of the friendship group.

  7. Everybody keeps on talking about Dumplin and I'm going to get to it eventually! It just sounds so good! And I had a book I didn't care for too much either during the SCWBC15, and I think that's why I had such a slow start. At least you were able to return the book to audible!

    1. I will give Audible credit, they have let me return at least half a dozen audiobooks, no questions asked. I just thoroughly enjoyed Dumplin'. It was just a great, fun read.

  8. I DEFINITELY want to read Dumplin' and Shotgun... those have been on my TBR for a bit. Glad to hear you liked them! I am kind of a sucker for Debbie Macomber books, they just make me happy. Even the Blossom Street series that is about a knitting group. I love it all. I don't even knit. Sometimes I want to read something that reminds me there are good people in the world, you know? hehe It's cool, I own it. I thought Trading Christmas was pretty decent, not my favorite of the bunch. The Hallmark movie version was really bad in comparison. whomp whomp. Looking into the YA The Fixer now. :) XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  9. You read A LOT in December! I have read A Christmas Story - it was enjoyable.
    I will have to add a couple more of yours to my list.

  10. Shotgun Lovesongs and Dumplin' are already on my list. I love that both of these books are getting so many great reviews!

    Your statement about The Fixer is similar to my thoughts on one of the books I read recently: I felt like I HAD to finish it because I chose it for the SCWBC15. To be fair, I don't abandon books. Even if the book is awful, I always feel like I need to give it a fair chance and see it through to the end. It's silly, but whatever.

    I'm currently working through my nonfiction pick for that challenge, and it's also going very slowly. I was hoping for more of a true crime book, and instead I feel like I'm reading a history textbook. Needless to say, the writing is very dry. I'm really hoping it picks up a little because I really need to finish it. Otherwise that awful book I read will have been for nothing (it's the fiction part of that category)!

  11. Shotgun Lovesongs and Dumplin' are both on my TBR list! I need to make some serious progress with this current book challenge so I can get onto reading these books!

    1. I really, really enjoyed both of them! LOL! I know EXACTLY what you mean by making progress with a current book challenge. Several books have popped up on my radar, but for the time being I am committed to reading the books I designated for Erin's challenge.

  12. I just got Shotgun Lovesongs in the mail because so many people have reviewed it on this link up and said it was good. Dumplin is on my TBR


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