As 2016 quickly comes to a close, I'll admit that I've been hustling to get in some reading to meet my Goodreads goal. But man, the last half of 2016 did NOT disappoint with the books. I was on a roll there, reading good book after good book. I figured, I'd do a little year-end round up of the last 6 great books I've read.
I listened to The Good Girl on audiobook, so it took me a long time to get through. I usually listen to my audiobooks while I'm cleaning, doing laundry and various other things around the house. So naturally, it took me a bit to get through. But perhaps some of it was also my wanting to savor the book. I *loved* the narrators in this book. They all had such distinct voices and soon I felt like I knew them. I was drawn in by the premise initially - I love a good mystery or psychological thriller. But to be honest - I'm not sure that's what this book was. This is a hard book to categorize because it does go from one thing to another. From thriller to mystery to suspense to a little bit of romance, even. What I loved about it was the way we see the main characters developing a complex relationship with each other. They're intwined for disturbing reasons, but that doesn't stop the characters from forming them. And there's a twist I can say that I didn't see coming. I even gasped a little when I realized what happened. That, my friends, is the sign of a good book.
This book. It's been on my radar for a long time, especially after some of my fellow authors and good readers praised it. I'll admit that I was nervous to read it given the hype it was getting. But it was everything they said it was. Deliciously disturbing and mysterious. Compelling. I was glued to my Kindle until I was FORCED to get off by my family. I would have read straight through to the end. Now, usually I'm weary of books that claim to be like other books. But in this case, it's true in the good sense. It's like a mashup of The Girl on the Train (the good parts) and Gone Girl (again, the good parts). Or maybe it's the feeling you get when you read them? Regardless, this kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to get deeper and deeper into the mystery and to the truth. There's something insanely creepy about how easily this situation could happen to anyone. It reminds me just how bat-shit crazy people are!
I already knew I was going to love Big Magic. I love Elizabeth Gilbert and I pretty much creeper stalk all of her social media account and have watched all her interviews and TED talks. I'm a superfan. So it's no surprise that I enjoyed Big Magic immensely, but what I didn't account for was just how much I was going to relate. How much I was actually going to GET from it. Being a creative person is not easy. It's sometimes really shitty and lonely and depressing. But there's also something magical about it... in a lot of the ways that Gilbert explains here. I'm not typically a "woo-woo" type of person, but some of her theories in this book spoke to me. Especially the idea about speaking to your ideas and how they don't belong to you. If you don't give your idea attention - it will float away, unannounced and land with someone else. It's kind of exciting to think about it like that. This is a MUST read for any creative and I know, without a doubt, that my creative tendencies are exactly the right kind of shit sandwich for me (that's a metaphor she uses in the book... read it to find out why!).
There's so much to say about All the Ugly and Wonderful Things but honestly, I'm still recovering from reading it to really articulate them as well as I could hope. This book is controversial. No doubt about it. And maybe that's partly what drew me to it. To see what the hype was about. But also because I was intrigued by the blurb. Intrigued by how someone could turn something so... disturbing... into something good. But I was blown away by Bryn's ability to not only make me have all the FEELS but to also genuinely love this book despite it's subject matter. We all come to books with our own biases, beliefs, and perceptions. I can see how many readers will hate this book and vehemently oppose it, but for me, it was the mark of a genius... an insanely talented writer to take characters and relationships that were taboo and hard, gritty, shit and turn it into this masterpiece. You don't have to condone or agree with things to understand or appreciate the art behind it. This is a book that will leave me thinking about it for months afterward. A book I will enjoy talking with others about whether it's in debate or in praise of it. If you don't shy away from the hard things... then this is a book you will probably enjoy.
I hadn't read a good YA book in a while and I was super intrigued by the premise of this book. Plus, the author is from Minnesota and I like to support authors from the state I live in, so I thought, "eh, let's give it a whirl." And I'm so glad that I did. It was beautiful, sad, and yet hopeful. I have a soft spot in my heart for cancer books ever since The Fault in Our Stars and though this one didn't make me cry like TFiOS did, it was still a touching story about a young woman going through something no one should go through, let alone a teenager. I loved that we were allowed into the main character's head so intimately. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew her. Like, truly, deeply knew her. I gobbled this one up and I'm so glad that I gave it a chance. If you like sad YA books with a touch of humor - this one should be on your list.
Tarryn, Tarryn, Tarryn. You've done it again. I fell in love with Mud Vein. Fell harder with Marrow. And now, Bad Mommy. I'll be honest, I was a little concerned I wasn't going to like this one. But being in Fig's head immediately sent me to the "ZOMG, IS THIS HAPPENING?" zone where I fell deeper in love with Tarryn and her writing. The thing about this book is that it almost has two layers. It has the surface creepy, psychological thing going on, but underneath is another layer of almost meta-ness. It's brilliant and smart and Tarryn subtly brings out messages and themes that you'll miss if you're not looking close enough. My absolute favorite thing is the exploration of human nature. The fact that each narrator staunchly believes in themselves. "I'm not a bad person... she is." "That chick is crazy, I'm not like that." "I'm being kind and generous..." What this novel does is expel the very fact that we, as humans, naturally believe ourselves to be certain things. We do, say and act certain ways and we're sure... so sure... that we're not the problem. That there's nothing wrong with us. And we are so blinded by our own faults and narcissism, we can't even see what others see about us. I'm so glad this was one of the last books I'll ring 2016 out with because it was one hell of a red
I hope you've had a wonderful year of reading and if you're willing to try out a new book in 2017 from this list, let me know what you thought of it!