2018 Reading List

 On this page I will list the books I read this year. My reading goal this year is 52 books. Wish me luck!


30. This was a cheap book that I bought from Amazon because I liked the title. i really wanted to like it more than I did. It was good enough but not fantastic. The story was about Maggie, a 50-something woman who thought she was happily married, but her husband was not happily married. They separate just prior to their wedding anniversary. A trip to Rome and a move to Ann Arbor follow, along with a new romance, a heart attack, and a fresh start. (July)


29. Here's that chick-lit book I was talking about in my 6/28 blog post. Nancy Thayer sets all her books in Nantucket and I just felt like taking a virtual vacation there. This story is about a woman who learns that her husband is having an affair and wants a divorce. The woman, Sophie, takes her two kids to Nantucket to stay at a guest cottage (meaning six bedroom house) that she rented from a friend. The plot thickens when a handsome young widower with a small boy rents the same house from his friend (the cousin of Sophie's friend). Since there are six bedrooms and the place is plenty big enough, they decide to go ahead and share the house for the two months. Love and drama ensue. It's lovely. (June)

28. This book was Reese's June selection. It came out on my birthday, so I went ahead and bought myself the electronic version of it. The story is more of a thriller with a touch of chick-lit. I was thoroughly entertained and a little anxious about what was happening. I think my mom would like it because you know what happens in the end because that's how the book starts. So you know what's going to happen, but getting there is pretty fun. Also fun: when I tweeted about how much I enjoyed the book, the author liked my tweet and tweeted back to me! I wonder if Catherine Steadman will continue with these characters. There are some loose ends there. I'd read it. (June)



27. This collection of short stories from the author of Prep and Eligible was the Reese Witherspoon's book club selection for April. I just couldn't get it from the library until this month. I don't often read short story collections, but that may change. I enjoyed the short stories. I like Curtis Sittenfeld's writing style and I have read several of her books. The stories were timely and entertaining and sometimes surprising. (June)


26. I borrowed this book from Lizzie. It is the story of Ben and his family who move to a giant old house in the mountains. They plan to fix the place up and turn it into an inn. Ben's wife, Caroline, is doing most of the remodeling and decorating work, and she's having a tough time because it's a lot of work and because she isn't really mentally healthy. Ben is a writer and seems to be the primary caregiver to their two kids, eight year old Charlie and two year old Bub. Charlie is a solitary little fellow who spends a lot of time running around the woods that are near the house. There's some creepy stuff that happens and I thought it was going to go one way, but it totally went another way and it was all creepy. I was involved and entertained. (June)


25. This book was one of the First Reads selection from Amazon this year. (Prime members get a free book every month!) It is the story of Penelope. Her father lives on Halsey Street in Penelope's childhood home. Her dad is having a hard time, so she moves back to Brooklyn, but doesn't stay at Halsey Street. Penelope's got a bunch of issues with her estranged mom and with her dad, too. I had a hard time with this book because Penelope's parents were really selfish and that messed Penelope up pretty good. Dysfunction is hard to read about. (June)


24. Sing, Unburied, Sing has been on my reading list for awhile, so I was really excited when it popped up on my elibrary's Overdrive site as available. The story made me feel a little uncomfortable. JoJo is a 13 year old boy who idolizes his grandfather, Pop. He calls his mother by her first name, Leonie and is pretty much the primary care-giver for his baby sister Kayla. When JoJo's dad, Michael, is set to be released from prison, Leonie loads the two kids into the car and along with her junkie best friend goes north to pick up Michael, with a stop on the way at the meth dealer's house. It is the story of an awful road trip that doesn't get better. There are ghosts and tragedies and bad parenting and things that made me put the book down, shake my head and say, "Damn." The writing is good. It pulls you along and lulls you into thinking that all of this might be normal when you know good and well it is not. (May)

23. The Last Days of Cafe Leila was a Reader's Choice selection at the SL County library. It is the story of Noor, an Iranian woman living in the United States. Noor's life is in crisis. Her husband is cheating on her. Her teenage daughter. Lily, is being, well, a teenager. Noor hasn't seen her father in Iran in decades. She recieves a letter from her father asking her to come to Iran, so she and Lily head to Tehran. What follows is a wonderful telling of a family restaurant in Tehran and the people who work there and are part of the family. There is tragedy and love and loss and hope. I felt some anxiety during different parts of the story was I thought that surely nothing good could come of what was happening, but through the bad things, good things happen too. Liked it quite a bit. (May)

22. This book, Homegoing, has been on my reading list for about a year I think. I first heard about it through a Buzzfeed email and I've been waiting for it to become available through the eLibrary. It was worth the wait. The novel spans centuries and generations beginning with two half-sisters on Africa's Gold Coast who live very different lives when they are separated at a young age. One becomes the "wife" of a British officer and lives in a fortress castle. The other is taken prisoner and is jailed in the same castle before being sent to America as a slave. The novel is told in the stories of their descendants. At first I had a hard time keeping track of who came from who, but then I settled in and it all became clear. The ending is superb. (May)


21. I first heard about this book, An American Marriage, on NPR I think it was. Since it was a pick for Oprah's Book Club, I figured I'd be waiting for it for a long time, but there it was on the 7 day loan rack at the library. I did finish it in seven days, but I returned it on the eighth day. That will cost me a quarter. It's a small price to pay for a good book. This is not a joyful story. It is sad and tragic. The story is well written. The characters are defined and realistic. It's worth your time.  (April)

20. Really, the title of this book? Erotic Stores for Punjabi Widows was the March selection of Reese Witherspoon's book club (Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine on Facebook and Instagram). I like Reese. I looked at previous books she had chosen and I thought I'd be down with following along. I guess there is some discussion about the book on Instagram, but I didn't participate. I did enjoy this book. It's about a young English-born Indian woman, Nikki, who takes a job at the temple's community center to teach other women to write. Through a bit of a mix-up, the women, mostly older widows, start orally telling erotic stories because many of them don't know how to write. The stories were indeed erotic, but kind of romantic and empowering, too. It's not all sexy sexy. There is a bunch of other stuff going on, too, including a romance for Nikki, friendships and righting past wrongs. You should read it! (April)

19. The Hideaway is one of the Reader's Choice selections at the Salt Lake County Library. I couldn't resist the cover or the synopsis. The story is about Sara, a woman who runs an antique shop in New Orleans. Her grandmother dies and bequeaths her home, The Hideaway, to Sara with the instructions that Sara is to renovate it and bring the house back to its former beauty and that she must live there during the renovation. Sara isn't happy about this arrangement; she has a successful business in New Orleans, after all. But she honors her grandmother's wishes, hires a hot contractor to do the work and suddenly staying in the little Alabama town isn't such a bad thing. The story goes back and forth between Sara's present day and her grandmother's prime. It's a good story and I liked it. (April)

18. This book was on the first screen of the Salt Lake County website or the Overdrive website. I think they mean it to be a book that anyone can read and discuss, like a county-wide book club. I couldn't resist the title, so I downloaded it. It is a memoir. The author, Jennifer, and her husband, David, fall on difficult financial times and end up losing their house in addition to owing a lot of money in taxes to the IRS and to their state. Jennifer and David move out into the boondocks of North Carolina into a mice and snake infested cabin near a waterfall where they begin to raise chickens and eventually goats. SPOILER: There are more than two goats. While I enjoyed the details of their chicken and goat farming, I felt a little put off by Jennifer's lack of what I felt was her part in their family going broke. She left all the financial details to her husband - granted, he is an accountant - but I think a woman should know what is going on with their money. And some of the decisions they made, like keeping their kids in private school, were tough for me to get behind. And I can tell you straight up that if there were copperhead snakes in my kitchen or big black snakes falling from the eaves onto my patio when I was sitting there enjoying a cocktail and looking at the waterfall, I'd be getting my happy ass out of the country and back to town, no matter how much I liked those chickens and goats. (April)


17. Still Me is the third book about Louise Clark who we first met in Me Before You. In this story, Lou goes to New York to work for a super-wealthy family as a personal assistant to the wife. Lou gets caught up in the Manhattan life and things between her and Ambulance Sam are rough. There is a lot that happens to Lou in this engaging story, and if you've read the first two books, you should read this one too. I wouldn't recommend starting with this one, because the three books build on each other and characters from the previous books appear in this one and you want to know who is who. I liked it a lot! (April)


16. Digging In was an Amazon First Read choice last month. Prime members get a free book every month and there are about half a dozen to choose from. This story is about a woman who suffers a terrible tragedy when her husband is killed in a car accident. She and her teenage son struggle to right their ship, so to speak, so Paige ends up digging up her back yard and plants a garden. She meets some people who help her along the way. Thinking about the story, it was kind of all over the place. Harmless and meh. (April)


15. You know I love my YA novels! After LaRose, I definitely needed something lighter and easier. The Unexpected Everything fit the bill. Andie's dad, Congressman Walker, is accused of wrong-doing and steps down from his office during the investigation, disrupting Andie's summer plans. She ends up getting a job as a dog walker, meeting a cute guy and having good times with her three best friends. Of course there is a conflict or two that has to be overcome (or not). I liked everything about this book. It was sweet.  (March)


14. I will read just about anything that Louise Erdrich writes. She tells good stories and had a beautiful writing style. Most of her novels are about Native Americans, and this story is no exception. It begins when a man accidentally shoots and kills his best friend's little boy. To make amends, he and his wife give their own little boy, LaRose, to his friend's family. I nearly couldn't read any further than that, but I'm glad that I did. There is so much going on in this novel, with backstories and satellite characters and the families themselves, that I was quite engaged.  (March)


13. I read A Gentleman in Moscow as part of a book club. (#Ekpesbookclub - I'm sure I will write a full post about the club soon). I don't think I would have picked this novel to read myself, so I'm glad I joined this club and got to read it because I was totally in love with it. The writing in lyrical and elegant. The characters are engaging and mostly endearing. The story centers around Alexander Rostov, a nobleman who is sentenced to life imprisonment at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, so the majority of the 400 pages is spent following Rostov's life over three decades in the hotel. You might think there couldn't be a story there, but you would be wrong. It is a beautiful book. (March)

12. A funny thing about this book...when I got it, I thought the title was Mrs. Saint and the Detectives. I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the detectives would come into play when I first started reading the book. Yeah. I had to look really closely at the title to see the what I thought was a T was really an F. Totally changes the story, doesn't it?

This was a First Read option from Amazon. I thought it was going to be about a woman named Markie and her son, Jesse, but it's also about the next door neighbor, Mrs. Saint and the people in her life. The story is kind of all over the place and certainly didn't end up how I was expecting. It was just meh for me. (February)


11.  I got The Upside of Unrequited from the elibrary in the early morning hours when I couldn't go back to sleep. I was looking for a quick, fun read while I was waiting for a book club meeting and this story definitely fit the bill. I really liked it! The story is told from the POV of Molly. We learn about Molly's twin sister Cassie, Molly's twenty-six crushes and Cassie's attempt to set Molly up with Hipster Will. It is just fun YA fiction and every page was good. (February)


10. I was in need of a YA fix and Julie Buxbaum was just the author to deliver it. What to Say Next is the story of David and Kit. David is an awkward loner and Kit is the girl David thinks is amazing. When Kit is having a hard time dealing with her father's death, she seeks out the peace of David's lunch table and they become friends. Buxbaum creates wonderful characters with realistic dialogue and I enjoyed reading this story. (February)

9. Faking It has been on my little Nook for a long time and it was next in line so I read it. Quick and easy, chick lit. The setting is Provence and Tuscany, the heroine is a quirky red-head, there's a hot French guy and some sexy sex thrown in for good measure. What's not to like? (February)


8. MT bought this book on his Kindle and shared it with me. He read it in a couple of days while we were on vacation and couldn't stop talking about how great it was. We usually don't read the same books, but he had me curious about this one, so I read it. Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the true story of a young man in Milan, Italy during World War II. The things that Pino does and sees during the war would be enough to make a person depressed and horrified by the world for life. There are some terrifically horrifying scenes in the book, but there is also love and courage. It is a remarkable story. (February)


7. I bought Together Tea a long time ago for my Nook. There are several books on the device that I have purchased and I have decided it's time to read them. Together Tea is the story of a mom, Darya, and her daughter Mina. They fled Iran, along with Mina's father and brothers, during the revolution in the '70s and came to New York. Mina, as an adult, decides to go back to Tehran to visit her family and Darya goes with her. The story is told in three parts: present day as Mina comes to the decision to go back to Iran for a visit, the '70s during the early days of the revolution and Darya and Parviz's decision to bring their family to the U.S. and their early time in Queens, then Darya and Mina's visit to Iran. It was a wonderful story about the mother and the daughter and made me interested in Iran. I don't know much about the country, and I googled some images to see the places that were talked about in the book. I liked this book. (January)

6. This book is one that I bought awhile ago on my Nook. Once I got that little paperwhite warmed up, it worked pretty well. The story is about Lou, a chef in Milwaukee, who owns a restaurant that gets an absolutely terrible review by a local restaurant critic. Lou meets a cool guy who is new in town and shows him all the sights and introduces him to the culinary delights of her hometown. I had never really wanted to go to Milwaukee before, but it sounds pretty fun in summertime. I liked this book quite a lot. (January)


5. Artemis is Andy Weir's second novel. He wrote The Martian which was a great movie and an awesome book, so I was excited to read Artemis. It was lots of fun. It's the story of Jazz, a young woman who lives and works in the first city on the moon, Artemis. The story is packed with adventure, daring, smarts and sassy Jazz. I liked it a lot! (January)


4. I bought Grief Cottage from Barnes and Noble. It was a daily deal for the Nook. I haven't read on my Nook for a long time, but I have a paperwhite device and I knew I could read it outside while on vacation. Unfortunately, the Nook would only turn on when it felt like it, mostly when I was in or near a building which didn't work out while I was on the beach. Still, I managed and I'm glad I did because I enjoyed this story. It's about a boy named Marcus who moves to an island off the coast of South Carolina with his great aunt after his mother is killed in a car accident. The story is about the first summer Marcus stays with his aunt Charlotte. Wonderful story. (January)


3. Vacation book number one and my least favorite of the four. This was an Amazon Prime First Read option. It's the story of a woman whose husband ups and leaves her and their two children. The woman doesn't have a job and finds herself without any money to buy food for her kids. She doesn't ask anyone for help and she has a hard time. The book was merely okay for me. (January)

2. My fascination with YA fiction continues into the new year. I think I found out about this book from one of the Buzzfeed Book emails I get. The story is about Monty, a young English lord, his sister Felicity and his friend Percy. They are off on the Grand Tour of the Continent before Monty takes over the family estate, Felicity goes to boarding school and Percy goes to "law school".  It takes place in the 1800s or earlier, I'd say. The three have a grundle of adventures and it's a pretty cute story. (January)


1. I've read a couple of Jenny Colgan's books and I enjoy her easy style. This book is the second story about Little Beach Street Bakery. I didn't like it was much as the first one. I found Polly to be really whiny. She probably was whiny is the first book too, but it seemed more endearing. (January)

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