Mini Reviews 2016

I can’t believe that 2016 is almost over.  This year hasn’t been the easiest for me, but everything seems brighter and better and I can’t wait for 2017 to start, because I’m excited about the New Year and all it has in store.

My blog has been quiet, much the same as 2015 as you may have noticed. I have read even less this year than I did last year, but I did read. I just didn’t review most of what I have read.  Here are some of the books I’ve also read this year and some short comments I have on it

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I enjoyed reading this book so much and can’t believe I didn’t pick this up sooner. It was a good laugh, but it also has a powerful message about politics that rings true. Even in today’s world, it’s surprising how much we can still identify with this.  This is a must read – and it’s a quick read too!

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Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

With Garden Spells I have suddenly become a fan of magic realism.  I loved this book, I really did. I wanted to read it again almost immediately after I finished it (and I purchased First Frost the next day!).  The story is about two sisters who after years reconciled and started strengthening their relationship. There are also romance, but very realistic.  The characters are likable and the story is enchanting.

The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes

This story is about a young woman who lost her fiancé and moved to a different country to come to terms with his death. Here she works as a teacher to problem children teaching Greek tragedies. Alex, the young woman, soon develops some relationship with the children in the class, but not without difficulty. However, the stories she taught them was soon taken literally by one of her students, with devastating consequences.  This story is in no way a quick read, but rather a slow moving novel that I found quite insightful and rewarding. I am not sure if it’s something I’d recommend to anyone, but if you enjoy Greek mythology and coming of age stories, you’ll probably like this one.

After You by Jojo Moyes

Oh my. I have nothing good to say about this one, unfortunately.  I loved Me Before You, so naturally I wanted to read After You. However, in this book, I was very disappointed in the Lou I came to love in the first book. I was annoyed with Louisa for most of the book. She grew so much in the first that whatever happened in this book was very disappointing and a huge step back. If you read it, you’d know what I mean.  I can’t think of a single redeeming factor in this book that I can highlight to give you a reason to pick it up.  And I feel terrible about it.

castleWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I loved this semi-creepy story. There is a dark undertone to the book, but not scary at all, which I initially thought it would be.  It’s about the two Blackwood sisters who live alone in a big house with their uncle. There are outcasts in some way, because the people from the small town believe Constance (the older sister) committed a murder – killing members of their family. The younger sister is a bit strange, but in fact the whole story is. This is an unfortunate story about family relationships, family drama, murder, love and hatred.  Shirley Jackson definitely got my attention with this one.

The Buddha in the Attic

The writing style of this novel was very unusual. At no point you know whose experience you are reading about because it’s written in first person plural. It’s about Japanese mail order brides on their way to the US to meet their new husbands. In this rather short novel, we learn about their experiences – the unfair treatment, the unmet expectations, their plight in their new country, their cultural differences that not accepted and the difficulty of learning English. It’s not an easy read at all, but it is insightful and I read it in one day. The first chapter alone left me with an uneasy feeling, which was present throughout most of the novel. I’m glad I read it.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

This one is definitely one for book lovers.  It’s a heart warming story about a widowed bookstore owner, grieving after the death of his wife, who finds purpose again when he adopts a child that was abandoned in his shop.  The book is full of references to other great books. More about the story I can’t remember, but I did give it 4 stars…

What have you been reading this year? And what are you looking forward to reading in 2017?

Image  source here and here

  • Lisa Sheppard

    I was looking for books about families for my book club for next year and We Have Always Lived In A Castle came up which I thought was odd but now that I read your review, I’m thinking it does fit. I was disappointed in After You, too, although not as much as you were. It felt like Lou had taken such a bit step backward and some of the situations were so unbelievable.

    • That Shirley Jackson book would be a good one for book club. Yeah, I wasn’t too impressed with After You

  • I loved the Amber Fury, but I also live in Edinburgh and love reading about where i live.

    • Nice! Amber Fury really was something different for me – definitely worth a read

  • I just read We Have Always Lived in the Castle a few months ago. It wasn’t at all what I expected it to be (like you, I thought it would be scary), but I liked its strange tone and odd cadence.

    • Same here. Now I just need to find the nerve to read The Haunting of Hill House!

  • I steered clear of After You as I was worried that it would spoil the experience of first book; judging by your comments I made the right choice!

  • Animal Farm is tiny but powerful. Totally a must-read!

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed Garden Spells! If you haven’t read Like Water for Chocolate, that’s a lovely novel full of magical realism. And it’s short. 🙂

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Monika!

  • Nishita

    It’s been a long time I’ve actually visited your blog (mostly just read the posts through my RSS feed. I love the new design of your blog.

    • Thank you, Nishita. I need to start doing blog hops again – I’ve been a bit bad last year. Hoping to read some of your posts soon.