Doctor Who: The King’s Dragon by Una McCormack

I read this as myking's dragon DW “based on a TV show” book for the challenge. I’d read several other Doctor Who novelizations and they’ve been pretty good. This one doesn’t disappoint if you accept it for what it is: a light read that captures and extends the stories of some of our beloved characters ūüėČ ¬†I could actually hear the voices of the Doctor, Amy, and Rory as they tried to save a peaceful little city covered in a mind-melding gold substance called Enamour while simultaneously trying to¬†avert intergalactic war. Breezy and fun without requiring much thought to follow. McCormack captures the characters well. A quick, easy read.


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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Oh, I liked this one so much better than Dark Places!!! I hate when I have to do a bad review ūüėČ

sharp objects


A not-super-good reporter at a fourth-rate paper in Chicago is sent back to her tiny hometown to do some investigative reporting. It seems little girls in Wind Gap are disappearing and then showing up murdered and missing their teeth. Camille Preaker is troublingly real and¬†far from perfect (unlike the heroine/reporters in many crime novels), given her tendency to drink too much and ritualistically carve words into her flesh. Needless to say, growing up in that¬†tiny town was not good for her, so she isn’t eager to go back and reunite with the family members she left behind.

At times predictable, I still enjoyed Sharp Objects quite a bit and I gobbled it up in two days. I don’t know if I’m reading too many mystery/thrillers lately or if this one just had lots of clues, but I did know whodunit considerably before the big reveal at the end. I recall a similar feeling when reading Gone Girl, although I admit I hadn’t quite figured that one out. Still, the unreliable/unlikable protagonist seems to be a thing that Flynn does well (even though I couldn’t get past that very fact when reading about Libby Day, who I should have pitied, but instead, I just couldn’t stand). Flynn gets another win with this one, and I’ll just pretend Dark Places doesn’t exist.

I read this for “popular author’s first book” for the Popsugar challenge.

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Well, this is not what I was expecting. It was a whole bunch of Martha’s Vineyard “I’m fancy”¬†with more than a little bit of King Lear who-is-the-favorite-daughter and the Kennedys all-American¬†family¬†thrown in.

we were liars

So Cadence Sinclair Eastman is 15 and and blonde and rich. (I hate her already.) She and her cousins (who are also 15 and blonde and rich) and a not-really-related¬†Indian boy friend, regularly summer on the private island owned by her uber-rich Grandpa. So they all hang out, being snooty, swimming, enjoying clambakes, and pretending they are too good for the younger siblings (who are also rich and blonde, so WTH?), while their parents and grandparents act even snootier and fight about race and divorce and who should inherit. It’s sort of icky, actually.

EXCEPT…¬†the first lines of the story tell us that they were all lying, so we spend the entire book questioning what is actually true and what is just a lie. Maybe they aren’t all that priviliged and jerky. Maybe their summers aren’t quite that idyllic. And then…BAM! It’s like the rug is torn out from under us and we discover that NOTHING is what it seems. There are some big freakin’ lies going on and they’re painful and NOT idyllic or all-American at all. There is supposed to be this super-crazy reveal that I sort of saw coming, but then I had to question if THAT was false, so…

While¬†I don’t think this is the best book ever written or anything, it was an interesting one and unlike anything I’ve read lately. I do think I might read it again to see what clues I can find about the lies and the sort-of-surprise ending. No love triangles, no dystopia, just YA with a twist.

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My TBR is filled with crap.

And I need a new book to read. And NOT Sarah’s Key, Audible – that book scares the shit out of me, so quit trying to shove it down my throat! Ugh, I am tired of contemporary stuff and want to read something historical, but my entire TBR is just, like, every book ever written about the Tudors. Blah. I’m in a slump.


I am thisclose to just re-reading Scarlett again.


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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach


By turns ghastly and intriguing, this nonfiction piece looks at what happens to our bodies after we die, particularly for cadavers willed to science. The realities are somewhat unsettling, but Roach treats the subject with a light, irreverent tone that reminds us we have nothing to fear once dead and no reason to try to control what happens to our bodies. After all, it is irrelevant because SOMETHING is¬†going to happen to us all eventually, none of the choices are particularly dignified, and we won’t be around to call the shots anyway ūüôā

My husband asked WHY I was reading this…I replied that I simply didn’t know. Stiff had been on my TBR for quite some time, and I was in the mood for something DIFFERENT. Well, different it is. And I loved it. It is by turns well-informed¬†and full of useless trivia, and¬†only¬†a tad disturbing. It might make you gag, but Stiff likely won’t cause any sleepless nights. It’s worth a read, if you’ve ever wondered how long a dead body will actually stay preserved when embalmed, what might¬†happen to corpses sent to universities for research, how exactly medical examiners can determine precise times of death, or what innovative new methods of body disposal might be around if you aren’t too keen on cremation or traditional burial. Fascinating.

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The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

the truth about aliceThis is a¬†fairly typical YA book about rumors and reputations and bullies. It’s got quite a few slut-shaming incidents and¬†scenes depicting how boys get away with sleeping around but girls never can. It’s not groundbreaking or anything, but it was an enjoyable read.

Alice seems believeably flawed and yet surprising secure for someone her age; she reminds me of a former student with her pencil skirts and her pixie cut hair and raspberry lips. Kelsie, though, she’s the one who breaks my heart because I can totally get where she is coming from. Even knowing what she has done on several occasions is wrong, she is still able to make her peace with it, all for popularity. Too real, too sad.

This was a decent book, but I doubt I’d recommend or reread it. I counted this one as my¬†Popsugar book set in high school. And just FYI, it was definitely not about Ann B. Davis or Alzheimer’s.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I had heard this book¬†is awesome. It also came up on potential booklists for teenagers, so I felt like I should check it out before recommending it to students. And, overall, it sounds like it probably is awesome…dog tells the story of (his) life. Except…I don’t like dogs. I know, I know, that makes me an evil bitch, but I can own that..

art of racing in the rain

So why am I reading it? I’d planned on it being the “book with nonhuman characters” for my Popsugar challenge since it was already on my TBR list. Anyway, even though I’m not a fan of dogs, I also don’t really like books with hokey, preachy endings. Again, I’m the hopelessly heartless…but…

Enzo is an aging mutt who lives with his racecar driving owner Denny. Denny and Enzo are very happy together watching videos of famous races and documentaries about dog reincarnation and Sesame Street. Denny gets married and has a daughter, and life blah blah blah. This¬†eventually becomes both a cancer story and a legal story and the dog starts spreading his wisdom to us all, since he can’t actually talk and tell Denny, you see. Cutesy and okay, but not my favorite. Still, if you like dogs and are not the Devil, I think you’d probably enjoy it.

I eventually switched this to my “book that can be finished in a day” because who knows how many of those there will be and I can always fit in some YA fantasy for nonhuman characters ūüôā

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The Black: A Deep Sea Thriller by Paul E. Cooley

This had a bit of a Peter Benchley feel and to be honest, I really like one-off, fast paced thrillers that are tech- or science-based and at least pseudo-believable. And, for a buck as a Kindle promo, it was worth a shot.

the blackOverall, I liked it. This wasn’t a big blockbuster book, but I often enjoy less commercial, undiscovered¬†authors, so it seemed worth a read. The Black started out a bit confusing as the characters weren’t distinguishable from one another. There were at least seven main characters and around¬†20 minor ones, so it was hard to keep them all straight at first. I plugged on through and figured the main players would emerge quickly enough, so I ignored the ones who seemed less important.

Basically, we have an oil rig supported by a major corporation with the latest technology and the finest crew. They discover a pocket of super-special, pure¬†oil out in the deep sea. However, everything about the site seems to be off and none of the technology works as it should. Eventually they discover that the oil is living and fighting back and a disaster ensues which brings new meaning to the silly saying “Kill it. Kill it with fire!”

Strangely, that fairly unbelievable idea works as a premise until about 75 percent of the book is done. Then we get weird tense shifts, unmentioned characters thrown in (likely included only to sacrifice to the beast, but still…) and strange editing problems. It seems that either the author or editor crapped out around then.

Anyway, I cannot say I’d recommend this one, but I did enjoy reading it myself. It was not bestseller material, but it was fast and mindless and a good-palate cleanser. Just what I needed after reading some heavier stuff lately. I’m using this for my Popsugar thriller.

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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I liked Gone Girl so much in book club that I decided to add this in for my “book by an author you love that you haven’t read yet” category in the Popsugar Reading challenge. It is one of the author’s¬†earlier books, but not her first, so I couldn’t count it as a debut. (I did think of moving it over to the 500-page category though.)

Mild spoilers ahead, I suppose.

dark places

But here is what is not a spoiler: I didn’t really like it. The main character Libby Day, while sad, isn’t an interesting character to read about. I don’t enjoy her perspective or her whining. Yes, she has had to live with a terrible tragedy. I just don’t care to watch her pursue terrible life goals (i.e. exploiting her infamy for money so she won’t have to work) for an entire book.The author establishes very early on that since Libby was only a child witness, her testimony against her brother, the only suspect in the murder of her entire family, was coached. And then what? We are forced to struggle along while Libby sells off her childhood memorabilia for money and talks to old witnesses to try to solve an age-old crime. Except, I don’t really care about the crime. Or Libby. Or her wrongfully imprisoned brother Ben. Or whodunit, actually, which makes this murder mystery thriller a total fail.

Bleh. I had planned to go back and read Sharp Objects, Flynn’s actual debut novel, but now I’m rethinking that. There might be a reason Gone Girl was the first book we’ve heard about from her. And I hear this is soon to be a movie, and NO.

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Michelle joins the 2015 PopSugar Reading Challenge

Since I’m off to a roaring start on my reading goals for 2015, (three and a half days in, three and a half books read) I think I will also add this Popsugar Reading Challenge to help me branch out some. If I can manage to follow along with it, it should get me close to my ultimate Goodreads goal of 80 (since it includes 52 books or one book per week if you count the trilogy as three). However, this challenge has specific requirements, so I may not get as far here, and while some books could count in multiple categories, I vow that I’m¬†going to count each only one time. Check out the challenge itself here¬†and then join me! Maybe we can keep each other on track. I plan to come back and update here as I read.

2015 reading challenge

A book with more than 500 pages – (Damn it, why did I finish Written in My Own Heart’s Blood¬†in the LAST week of December??? I’m not ready to try that again any time soon!) ¬†—- ¬†Then, I decided to fill this slot with our book club read:¬†All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, but it became the Pulitzer Prize winner for 2015, so I moved it. (This MAY be the slot that never gets filled!!!) ¬†Ok, finally, just to get this one over with, let’s make it, Grey by E.L. James

A classic romance – H.R.H. by Danielle Steel

A book that became a movie – Still Alice by Lisa Genova

A book published this year РWreckage by Emily Bleeker 

A book with a number in the title – The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

A book written by someone under 30 – Looking for Alaska by John Green

A book with nonhuman characters – The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

A funny book – The Potty Mouth at the Table by Laurie Notaro

A book by a female author РThe Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds

A mystery or thriller – The Black: A Deep Sea Thriller by Paul E. Cooley

A book with a one-word title –¬†Anthem by Ayn Rand

A book of short stories – Dear Life by Alice Munro

A book set in a different country – The Unimaginable by Dina Silver

A nonfiction book – Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

A popular author’s first book – Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet – Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

A book a friend recommended – The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham

A Pulitzer-Prize winning book – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A book based on a true story – The Vow: True Events that Inspired the Movie by Kim & Krickitt Carpenter

A book at the bottom of your to-read list – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Honestly not sure why this was at the bottom of my TBR list, but somehow it was so, here this shall fit. I liked it and I’m not really sure why I’d put it off!)

A book your mom loves – The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

A book that scares you – The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard (because kidnapping is definitely scary!)

A book more than 100 years old – The Awakening by Kate Chopin

A book based entirely on its cover – The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (ok, so this one is a definite stretch. I don’t normally pick books just because of their covers and this one I read for book club, and it was a re-read. But, that cover IS pretty cool.)

A book you were supposed to read in high school but didn’t – Lord of the Flies by William Golding (And just to clarify for all my teacher friends: I’m not a slacker; I read everything ever assigned to me. However, I should have probably read this as a senior as it’s still assigned to the seniors where I teach, but we got a new teacher my 12th grade year and she never assigned it and I read it on my own in college).

A memoir – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

A book you can finish in a day – The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

A book with antonyms in the title – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit – No Time to Wave Goodbye by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Set mostly in California, a place I’d sort of like to visit…these are getting hard as I approach the end of the challenge!)

A book that came out the year you were born – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

A book with bad reviews – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

A trilogy – Infected, Contagious, and Pandemic by Scott Sigler

A book from your childhood- The Cay by Theodore Taylor

A book with a love triangle – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A book set in the future – The Martian by Andy Weir

A book set in a high school – The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

A book with a color in the title – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

A book that made you cry – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Ok, to be honest, I didn’t cry on this or on any previous read of this novella. However, this is likely because I am a terrible person and I NEVER cry at books. Still, this one comes close; I’m just not evil enough that I can squeeze out even a single tear for poor Lennie. I do have so much literary sadness¬†over this one that I WISH I could cry.)

A book with magic – Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

A graphic novel – Resistance: Book 1 by Carla Jablonski and Leland Purvis

A book by an author you’ve never read before – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A book you own but have never read – Sounder by William H. Armstrong

A book that takes place in your hometown – Sisters of Shiloh by Becky & Kathy Hepinstall

A book that was originally written in another language – Night by Elie Wiesel

A book set during Christmas – Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

A book by an author with your same initials – You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart

A play – Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

A banned book –¬†To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

A book based on or turned into a TV show – Doctor Who: The King’s Dragon by Una McCormack

A book you started but never finished – Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers


And…for extra books I read while finishing the challenge that fit NOWHERE: Buried Onions by Gary Soto, Timothy of the Cay by Theodore Taylor, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles (Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald translation) Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles (unknown translation),¬†Antigone by Sophocles (Fitts and¬†Fitzgerald translation again), The Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus (E.D.A. Morehead translation), Longbourn by Jo Baker, andThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.

I’m currently working on One Second After by William R. Forstchen¬†and Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand to try to finish up my overall 80 for the year. With 18 to go and only about 6 hectic holiday-prep weeks left in the year, I don’t think I’m going to make it.


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