My monthly reads update is finally here; a bit late, but here. You know what they say, better late than never! Let’s just say, the months of October & November were a bit lackluster in terms of reading. I had big plans to read all.the.books. this month, but unfortunately time got away from me and other tasks demanded my attention. Like the photography business. This was the first year the saying “October is to photographers as April is to accountants” really resonated with me. I had over 20 sessions in the month of October and close to 10 in November. I had to cull through and edit THOUSANDS of images. It took hours upon hours. And I wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world.
So, reading took a back seat. It’s not that I’m not reading. I’m just not reading as fast I usually do. But, now that we’re in December, I’m hopeful I’ll get more reading done. Now that I’m in my “quiet” season.
So, without further ado, here are the books I read in October & November. I broke it up by month, to make it a bit easier.
(Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing items via these links, I will earn a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for said items.)
Waiting to Be Heard– Amanda Knox
Synopsis (from GoodReads): In the fall of 2007, twenty-year old college coed Amanda Knox left Seattle to study abroad in Perugia, Italy for one year. But that November 1, her life was shattered when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was murdered in their apartment. Five days later, Amanda was taken into custody and charged by the Italian police; her arrest and the subsequent investigation ignited an international media firestorm. Overnight, this ordinary young American student became the subject of intense scrutiny, forced to endure a barrage of innuendo and speculation. Two years later, after an extremely controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011 an appeals court overturned her conviction and vacated the charges. Free at last, she immediately returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now
Verdict: I’m the same age as Amanda, and was in my junior year of college when all of this happened. Despite being a journalism major, I paid attention to this story only a little bit. I knew bits and pieces of what was going on, but never really focused on the whole case. Last year, in 2014, when the final ruling was coming down, I finally paid attention to the story. I couldn’t believe I didn’t pay closer attention to this when it first happened, but couldn’t get enough as all of this was happening.
If you, for any reason, believe she is guilty, then don’t read this book. If you’re like me, and want to learn more about the case, and her story, then read it. But go into it knowing that this book is all her side of the story. I found it interesting and I learned quite a bit about what happened.
Hush – Kate White
Synopsis (From GoodReads): When Lake Warren learns that her husband, Jack, is suing for full custody of their two kids four months after their separation, she’s pretty certain that things can’t get any worse. The upside is that she’s working with the Advanced Fertility Center as a marketing consultant, alongside the attractive, flirtatious Dr. Keaton. But the morning after their one-night stand, Lake finds Keaton with his throat slashed and discovers that things can indeed become worse—they can become deadly.
So as not to jeopardize her case for custody, Lake is forced to lie to the police. Having just been intimate with a man who has been murdered, and wanting to protect herself from being charged with the crime, she begins her own search for the truth. Meanwhile, the police start looking at her closely, people at the clinic start treating her with hostility, and strange clues begin dropping—quite literally—on her doorstep, and Lake realizes that she is dangerously close to dark secrets, both about Keaton and the clinic. But can Lake stop what she’s started before it’s too late?
Verdict: I bought this book for two reasons. The first, I love a good mystery, and two, it was written by the Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief. When 18-year-old me, saw that I can’t help but say I was immediately envious. On a sidenote, when I was a freshman (and sophomore) in college, I DESPERATELY wanted to move to NYC and become a journalist with Cosmo when I graduated. So seeing Cosmo and that she had written a book, my author dream, I was hooked before I even read the first page.
Onto the actual verdict of the book.
I did enjoy this book. I liked the premise of it, and I liked that it had its thiller-esque moments. A good majority of it was engaging enough that I had a hard time putting it down. But here were certainly times where I just wanted it to be over. I felt like it was a book full of hills. It just went up and down and up and down throughout. The ending was good. Kind of predictable, but not entirely. Looking back, I feel like it was kind of obvious.
Anyways, it’s good. That’s all.
Don’t Go– Lisa Scottoline
Synopsis (from Goodreads): When Dr. Mike Scanlon is called to serve as an army doctor in Afghanistan, he’s acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will cause his wife Chloe and newborn baby. And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a warrior, but a healer. However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home in the suburbs, in an apparent household accident. Devastated, he returns home to bury her, only to discover that the life he left behind has fallen apart. His medical practice is in jeopardy, and he is a complete stranger to the only family he has left – his precious baby girl. Worse, he learns a shocking secret that sends him into a downward spiral. Ultimately, Mike realizes that the most important battle of his life faces him on the home front and he’ll have to put it all on the line to save what’s dearest to him – his family.
Verdict: I’ve always heard really mixed things about Scottoline’s books. I’m not sure why. I always enjoy them when I pick them up. She reminds me a bit of Jodi Picoult, at least in terms of the subjects she tackles. This particular title was a deal on Barnes & Noble way back when I decided it would be a good idea to hoard books (a blog post for another time.) If you know me, then you know when I get something at a steal, even if it’s an author I know, I don’t always have the highest hopes for it. Thankfully, this book was good. Would I have picked it up at full price? Probably not. But it was good read. It kept my attention. It was heart-wrenching. It had twists. But there were plenty of points in between all of that that I just wanted it to be done already.
Hollow City – Ransom Riggs
Synopsis (from Goodreads): This sequel to the first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
Verdict: Okay. I’m the first to admit that I LOVED Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I don’t care if it’s a YA book. I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved the old photographs and I loved the story that was built around the old photographs.
I did not love the sequel.
I liked it. I enjoyed it. I read it. But I didn’t fall in love with it. Perhaps it was just because it was and old concept to me. Perhaps it was because the storyline seemed more YA-esque than the first. I’m not sure why. But, it didn’t wow me like the first one did. If you’re read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, then yes, you should read this one. It’s a good follow up. Hopefully the third will be better.
Year of No Sugar – Eve Schaub
Synopsis (from Goodreads): It’s Dinnertime. Do You Know Where Your Sugar is Coming From?
Most likely everywhere. Sure, it’s in ice cream and cookies, but what scared Eve O. Schaub was the secret world of sugar–hidden in bacon, crackers, salad dressing, pasta sauce, chicken broth, and baby food. With her eyes open by the work of obesity expert Dr. Robert Lustig and others, Eve challenged her husband and two school-age daughters to join her on a quest to eat no added sugar for an entire year. Along the way, Eve uncovered the real costs of our sugar-heavy American diet–including diabetes, obesity, and increased incidences of health problems such as heart disease and cancer. The stories, tips, and recipes she shares throw fresh light on questionable nutritional advice we’ve been following for years and show that it is possible to eat at restaurants and go grocery shopping–with less and even no added sugar.
Year of No Sugar is what the conversation about “kicking the sugar addiction” looks like for a real American family–a roller coaster of unexpected discoveries and challenges.
Verdict: I eat too much sugar. I know I do. I don’t mean too, and I try to be aware of it, but I know I do. I picked up this book, more as a way to learn more. I liked that it wasn’t a “This is what you should do book,” and more of a “This is how we did it and it worked for us,” kind of book. I learned a lot, and it was engaging to read about all the places sugar hides. She even provides some pretty great recipes in the back that I intend to take advantage of. The one downfall? I could never go to the extremes they do in this book. Not with both of us working full-time. We do as much meal prep as we can on weekends now, and that can be quite the chore. A great read if you’re interested in a less scientific version of the No-Sugar craze.
The Sandcastle Girls – Chris Bohjalian
Synopsis (from Goodreads): This spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012—a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The First World War is spreading across Europe, and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There, Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo to join the British Army in Egypt, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.Flash forward to the present, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed the “Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.
Verdict: First, let me just say, if you haven’t read Midwives by Bohjalian, go buy it immediately. It was the first book I read by him, and I couldn’t put it down. This was the second, and while still a great story, I wasn’t as enthralled with it. The writing was well-done and Bohjalian is wonderful story-teller. I enjoyed learning about more about the Armenian heritage, but the story had it’s slooowwwww points. Doesn’t mean I won’t give another book of his shot, because I intend to read as many of his books as possible.
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s – John Elder Robison
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Look Me in the Eye is the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger’s at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. A born storyteller, Robison takes you inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as “defective,” who could not avail himself of KISS’s endless supply of groupies, and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people’s given names (he calls his wife “Unit Two”). He also provides a fascinating reverse angle on the younger brother he left at the mercy of their nutty parents—the boy who would later change his name to Augusten Burroughs and write the bestselling memoir Running with Scissors.
Ultimately, this is the story of Robison’s journey from his world into ours, and his new life as a husband, father, and successful small business owner—repairing his beloved high-end automobiles. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien, yet always deeply human.
Verdict: I’ve read quite a few of Augusten Burroughs titles, and I’ve enjoyed each and every one. When I learned his older brother has written a book about Asperger’s, I knew I would enjoy it. If you’ve read Running with Scissors, you’ll enjoy this book even more as they tell similar stories of their childhood. If you haven’t, and read this, check it out after. Either way, it’s a fantastic look into the mind of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.
What have you read lately that you loved?