#45. Complete the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge (the third time around)

 1. Baby Love by Catherine Anderson (finished December 2015)

I really like this author and have read several of her books.  Baby Love did not disappoint.  It was a great story that kept me interested to the very last page.  Was it predictable?  Yes.  But sometimes you just need a feel good story that you know has a guaranteed happy ending.

2. Blindness by Jose Saramago (finished December 2015)

Whoa, this book.  I find myself at a loss for words to describe this book.  It was mind-blowing, terrifying, incredible.  This is the story of a white blindness epidemic and how society falls apart.  I could not put this one down.  I read it in less than 48 hours.  I found the end to be surprising, but I won’t ruin it for you.  Seriously, read this book.  And when you finish reading it, you can watch the movie.  After I read the book, I was left wanting more, I had questions, I needed more details, so I took to the internet for answers.  In my research, I discovered that there is a movie.  I thought the movie was good and it stuck to the story pretty closely.  I would consider Blindess to be in the same genre as two other books I love – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Giver by Lois Lowry.  All three of these stories really make you think hard about life.

3. Looking for Anne of Green Gables: The Story of L.M. Montgomery and Her Literary Classic by Irene Gammel (finished December 2015)

I was excited to read this biography about my favorite author.  Alas, I was sadly disappointed.  I felt like the author took unnecessary stabs at Maud’s character.  As L.M. Montgomery is my literary hero, I took these stabs to heart.  It felt like Irene Gammel didn’t like L.M. Montgomery, and that she wanted to persuade the reader to join her side.  In addition, the book itself was organized in a confusing way.  Irene Gammel attempted to tie nearly every significant event in Anne’s life (a fictional character created by Maud) to real life events in Maud’s life.  Often it was such a stretch that I was left scratching my head, while Irene Gammel’s tone seemed to be begging for a pat on the back.  Once on a cold October day, Maud met a man with white hair.  In Anne of Green Gables, Anne also once met a man with white hair.  Ha!  A match!  The man that Anne met was based off the man that Maud met!  Aren’t I clever?  Okay, I may be exaggerating it a bit.  But still.  L.M. Montgomery said that her characters were fictional, that they were created by her imagination.  Of course things in an author’s life can and do provide inspiration.  But trying to tie every fictional event to a real life one…especially after what L.M. Montgomery said about her characters…it was just irritating.  It seemed like Irene Gammel was trying to catch Maud in a lie, or a bunch of lies.  That strikes me as low, considering Maud isn’t here to defend herself (she died in 1942 and Irene Gammel’s book was published in 2008.)  With all that being said, I can say that on a positive note, I can appreciate that the author did a lot of research on Maud and provided many interesting facts in this book.  I feel like I did learn a lot overall and often times in the book, the facts were presented simply as facts, without Irene Gammel’s two cents.  If the whole book would have been written like that, I would have given it 5 out of 5 stars.

4. The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career by L.M. Montgomery (finished January 2016)

After reading such a disappointing biography, I decided my next book should be Maud’s autobiography.  This was a sweet little book.  I think my favorite part was when Maud wrote that as a child, she wrote biographies of her many cats.  As a cat lady myself, I found this to be quite endearing.  I also like the journal excerpts at the end of the book.  My only complaint is that I wish it had been longer.

5. Forever After by Catherine Anderson (finished January 2016)

This was a quick read.  I really liked this book and the ending made me a cry.  However, there were a few times during the story that I was like, wait, have I already read this one before?  Several of her story plots are so similar that reading a new book by her can feel familiar.  On the one hand, I don’t like that but on the other, I do really like that plot line…  🙂

6. A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery (finished January 2016)

There are a lot of characters to keep track of so the first part of the book is a little confusing.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the middle of the book.  Once I got the characters sorted out, I fell in love with several of the story-lines and wished they had whole books devoted to them.  I was a bit disappointed at the end of the book as some questions were not answered.  There were also a couple things I did not like about the book (the death of little Brian’s kitten and Sam’s racist joke).  Overall, it’s not one of my favorite Montgomery books but I am glad that I read it.

7. Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark (finished January 2016)

I usually like Mary Higgins Clark’s books, and this one was not a disappointment.  I was surprised by the ending, which is always good when you’re reading a thriller.  Overall, great book.  Not mind-blowing, but a good read.

8.  Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (finished January 2016)

Whoa.  This book gave me chills.  At one point, I almost had to put it down as I was feeling so nervous for the main character.  I love the feeling of being so into a book.  During the last few chapters, I began to suspect the truth but I did not feel let down by this.  In fact, it made me more afraid for the main character and I was anxious to get to the end to see if my fears were justified.  If you like thrillers, read this.

 9. Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed by Michelle Knight (finished January 2016)

This was an incredible memoir by one of the three woman who lived through the Cleveland kidnappings.  I read this one in less than 24 hours – it was hard to put down.  The things that Michelle and the other two women lived through were horrendous.  I think it is very courageous of Michelle to tell her story.

10.  Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie (finished January 2016) 

I really enjoyed this Agatha Christie novel.  It kept me interested throughout and I was surprised by the ending.

11.  The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery (finished February 2016)

I hate to say it, but I had a hard time with this book.  I attempted to read it a few years ago, but gave up after a few chapters, so this was my second time around.  Maud being my favorite author, I wanted to like The Story Girl so badly, especially since I read somewhere that this was Maud’s own favorite of what she wrote.  It was okay and I did finish it this time, but unfortunately I never fully got into this book as I have with her other stories.

12.  Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery (finished March 2016)

It took me awhile to finish this one.  It was a sweet story, but it didn’t grab my attention like many of Montgomery’s other books have.

13. Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson (finished March 2016)

This was a quick read, but I had a hard time suspending belief during several parts of the book.  The general idea of the story was good, but the book itself could have been a lot better.

14. The Never List by Koethi Zan (finished March 2016)

This book gave me chills!  Definitely the scariest book I have ever read.  I could not put it down!  It is over 300 pages, but I finished reading it in only a couple days.  Really hope there is a sequel!

15. While I was Gone by Sue Miller (finished April 2016)

This book started out well, but quickly went to blah.  I really don’t have much to say about it.

16. Pretty Little Mistakes: A Do-Over Novel by Heather McElhatton (finished April 2016)

This book seemed like it would be fun.  The gist is that you get to pick what the character does in this choose-your-own-adventure book.  Unfortunately, no matter what you choose for the main character, something completely outrageous happens.  I went back to the beginning multiple times, but no matter what I chose, the story ended in a very stupid way.  I have read a lot of books in my lifetime, and I don’t think I have ever described a book as “stupid” until now.  Do not waste your time.

17. A Good Woman by Danielle Steel (finished May 2016)

I liked the general plot idea of this book, but it could have been written better.  The author repeated things on so many occasions that it got really annoying.  There was a lot of telling and not enough showing.  Honestly, I expected better from an author that is so well known.

18. White Oleander by Janet Fitch (finished May 2016)

This was an interesting book!  The writing was beautiful and poetic.  The storyline held my interest until the very last page.  I would definitely recommend it.

19. Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury (finished May 2016)

I read this one in a couple days – it was too good to put down!  It was about a couple who adopted a little boy named Joey, and several years later his biological parents regain custody of him due to a technicality.  I completely empathized with the main character and was rooting for her family the whole time.  I especially liked this book because I have worked with a lot of foster/adopted children as a counselor so I felt like I could relate.  I have met Rips’ and Wendys’…and I have also met Mollys’ and Joeys’.  I completely agree that it is the Joeys’ of this world that get hurt the most in these situations.  I won’t ruin the ending for you…just read it.  Oh, and keep a box of tissues handy.

20. A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand (finished May 2016)

This book generally held my interest, but I wasn’t impressed by it.  The main character wasn’t all that likeable.  For a majority of the book, she was cheating on her husband, but she never seemed to feel any remorse.  I didn’t feel like she grew as a character.

21. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris (finished June 2016)

I liked the general premise of this book, which was written from 3 different perspectives (child, mother, and grandmother).  I mainly liked the writing style, but there were some weird plot moments that I didn’t understand or care for.  I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.

22. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks (finished June 2016)

I have not watched the movie, so I went into this book not knowing what it would be about.  As usual, Nicholas Sparks wrote another tearjerker.  I definitely liked this book and was able to read it quickly, but I wish the ending would have been different.

23. Orphan Number 8 by Kim van Alkemade (finished June 2016)

This was a really interesting story – one of the best I have read recently.  I loved the writing, the characters, and the plot.

24. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (finished July 2016)

I really got into this one.  I did not know much about Ernest Hemingway before this book…I didn’t realize he was married 4 times.  I loved the main character, his first wife Hadley.  My heart really hurt for her, especially toward the end.  Part of me wanted her to just rip into Ernest for what he was doing to her, but I could also understand why she didn’t.  Great story, great writing.

25. The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright (finished July 2016)

I came across this one on my bookshelf recently, where it had been forgotten for the past few years.  I originally picked it up at my grandpa’s house – it belonged to his mother.  While doing some cleaning and de-cluttering, I decided to pass it along to my dad (without reading it), but he encouraged me to give it a try.  I’m so glad that I did!  It’s a classic story of the Missouri Ozarks.  The characters were well-written and the plot was interesting.  I felt like I was transported to another time while reading it.  This book will no longer sit forgotten on my shelf…it now has a place of honor next to my other favorite books.  🙂

26. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond (finished July 2016)

Wow, I couldn’t put it down.  Literally.  I read this book in a day.  I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened.  There were some parts that seemed a bit unbelievable, but overall I thought it was a great read.

27. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (finished July 2016)

Agatha Christie got me again…just when I think I’ve figured out whodunit, she turns the tables on me with a surprise ending.  I really appreciate that her stories are never predictable.  Two thumbs up.

28. Mistress Pat by L.M. Montgomery (finished July 2016)

I was slow to get into this book, but I really got hooked about halfway through.  The last several chapters made the book impossible to put down.  I laughed, I cried.  What a great story.

29. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (finished August 2016)

Wow, this was a great story!  I had a hard time putting this one down.  I’m not into gaming, but I really loved reading this.

30. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (finished August 2016)

This was a strange, captivating story.  It held my interest, but I didn’t love it (unlike The Handmaid’s Tale that Ms. Atwood wrote).

31. The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst (finished August 2016)

Whoa, this book.  I couldn’t put it down, especially toward the end.  The main character’s wife died under mysterious circumstances and the only witness was the dog.  I thought it was very well-written…I could really feel the husband slowly losing it as he tried to get the truth out of the dog.

32. What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Frock (finished August 2016)

I didn’t realize that this book was a sequel, as it read like a stand-alone book.  I liked the general idea behind the plot, but some of it just didn’t feel believable.

33. Me & Emma by Elizabeth Frock (finished September 2016)

This was the prequel to What Happened to My Sister (apparently).  The two books were meant to go together, yet there were several plot-lines that just didn’t match up.  I liked the writing in this story better than in the sequel, but I couldn’t move past the major plot holes between this and What Happened to My Sister.

34. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (finished September 2016)

I absolutely loved this book.  Five out of five stars.  The writing style was unique, the plot left me guessing, and I genuinely cared about the characters.  So good.

35. House Rules by Jodi Picoult (finished September 2016)

I loved this book until the last page.  After the emotional investment I put into this book, the ending was such a letdown.

36. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver (finished October 2016)

Really good mystery.

37. The Blue Orchard by Jackson Tyler (finished October 2016)

Average.

38. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (finished October 2016)

One of the best books I’ve read in 2016.

39. Guilty Wives by James Patterson (finished October 2016)

Predictable, but easy read.

40. The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery (finished October 2016)

A little slow to get into, but there were some really enjoyable parts.

41. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (finished November 2016)

Took awhile to get through this one.  There were some really good parts about some interesting characters, but then it would get really slow again.

42. Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult (finished November 2016)

Liked this one.

43. Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach (finished November 2016)

Weird, but interesting story.

44. Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz (finished November 2016)

Average.  Storyline was interesting, but the writing was a bit predictable.

45. Little Bee by Chris Cleave (finished December 2016)

Tough to read at times, but interesting story.

46. Folklore and Early Customs of Southeast Missouri by Lillian Northdurft (finished December 2016)

Funny, quick read.

47. Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor (finished December 2016)

Sad, depressing story.

48. Dark Witch by Nora Roberts (finished December 2016)

Interesting, easy read.

49. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (finished December 2016)

Loved this one.  Tearjerker.

50. For One More Day by Mitch Albom (finished December 2016)

Loved this one, too.  Easy read, but with lots of great lessons.

51. A Family Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder (finished December 2016)

Lots of great essays and articles written by Laura.

52. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (finished December 2016)

I was surprised that the movie so closely follows the book – pretty much every line written is exactly what the characters in the movie say.  Love this one.