Sunday, November 25, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - October/November

October and November FLEW by, hence why the books from both months are combined into one post. I hadn't read enough in either month to require each month have its own post, and quite frankly I didn't have time to write and publish an October one. I know they say time flies when you're having fun, so maybe I need to stop having fun because before I know it 2018 will be over, and I am not yet prepared for a new year.

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(Summaries are from Amazon, but all reviews are my own!)

70. Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (5/5 ★)

In his fifth year at Hogwart's, Harry faces challenges at every turn, from the dark threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and the unreliability of the government of the magical world to the rise of Ron Weasley as the keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. Along the way he learns about the strength of his friends, the fierceness of his enemies, and the meaning of sacrifice.

Five-sevenths of my way through the series! (Again!) Numero five is my favorite HP book so I was most excited to read this one again!

71. Royals by Rachel Hawkins (4/5 ★)

Meet Daisy Winters. She's an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who's nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince's roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown--and the intriguing Miles--might be trying to make Daisy into a lady.. but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself. 

I am definitely too old to be the target audience of this book, but it was funny! There were a lot of really great one-liners in this that even my 26-year-old self could appreciate. I had won this book from a giveaway earlier in the year, and the only reason I read it was because the author was at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. The storyline was predictable, and from my research the cultural references (i.e. Scotland's healthcare system, traditions, etc.) weren't exactly accurate, but I related hard to the main character, and honestly I don't know enough about Scotland for that to have impacted the story for me. If you have a teen I would recommend this book for them. I definitely stayed up until 2AM one night so I could finished this. #guiltypleasure

72. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling (5/5 ★)

The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the Muggles have been affected. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. 

And yet . . . as with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Harry receives some extraordinary help in Potions from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. And with Dumbledore's guidance, he seeks out the full, complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort -- and thus finds what may be his only vulnerability.

One more to go and I can check another things off of my 101 in 2018 list! I forgot how engaging these books were, and it has been so fun to see how they differ from the movies that I am all too familiar with!

73. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Random Riggs (3/5 ★)

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

This was our book club book for the month of October, and though I had heard of the movie, I honestly had no idea what it was about.  I struggled getting into the book, but then by the time I was halfway through I was intrigued enough to continue reading until the end in one sitting.  I think I would have liked it better had I read it when I was still in school.  That being said, I am curious enough about it that I would like to see the whole series in movie form, but I doubt that I will continue reading them. 

74. The Reckoning by John Grisham (3/5 )

Pete Banning was Clanton, Mississippi’s favorite son—a decorated World War II hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one cool October morning he rose early, drove into town, and committed a shocking crime.  Pete's only statement about it—to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family—was: "I have nothing to say." He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave.
In a major novel unlike anything he has written before, John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete’s defense attorney tries desperately to save him.

John Grisham has been my favorite author since I was 13, and I don't forsee that changing any time soon.  For as long as I can remember, I have constantly been waiting in anticipation for his next book, which I buy immediately, read, and them start the waiting process again.  I don't care much for the few non-law related books he has released, but I have enjoyed every single one of his legal thrillers. I do have to say, however, that this wasn't one of my favorite books.  I felt like it lacked the suspense that all of his other novels have delivered.  Also, a third of the story was dedicated to describing the main character's military history in WWII, which while the topic is one I would enjoy reading about, it isn't why I read Grisham novels.

Image result for zodiac by robert graysmith

75. Zodiac by Robert Graysmith (4/5 )

A sexual sadist, the Zodiac killer took pleasure in torture and murder. His first victims were a teenage couple, stalked and shot dead in a lovers’ lane. After another slaying, he sent his first mocking note to authorities, promising he would kill more. The official tally of his victims was six. He claimed thirty-seven dead. The real toll may have reached fifty.

Robert Graysmith was on staff at the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969 when Zodiac first struck, triggering in the resolute reporter an unrelenting obsession with seeing the hooded killer brought to justice. In this gripping account of Zodiac’s eleven-month reign of terror, Graysmith reveals hundreds of facts previously unreleased, including the complete text of the killer’s letters.

I listened to Zodiac as an audiobook via audible.  If you don't know about this already, Amazon Prime users have access to Audible's various audiobook channels which means FREE AUDIOBOOKS!  You can't download them, but you can stream them at any time. I digress...I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but I've always been really into true crime stuff (tv shows, documentaries, podcasts, etc.), so I was excited to see that Audible had a true crime channel.  The zodiac killings took place before I was alive, so though I had heard of them, I didn't know much about the case, nor the suspected killer.  This book had a lot of information about the whole series of events, and was presented in an organized, yet still captivating manner.  I would definitely recommend this to any true crime fanatic! 

Reading Challenge: 75/52 books read in 2018

You can find previous book reviews here!