My 2017 Five Star Reads

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I was looking at my 2017 reads, and it was really clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to pick a favorite. In truth, the books I ranked the highest in 2017 were mostly re-reads. I'm sure this is situational, and not a reflection of the books of 2017.

So, instead of a favorite I bring you all of my 5 star reads from 2017:

In Harm's Way and Apollo 8 were both non-fiction that read like the best on the edge of your seat fiction. A Piece of the World and How The Light Gets In both left me gutted, but in a good way. Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and The Martian all hold truths universally acknowledged, and are worth reading every few years. The Hate U Give is billed as a Young Adult book, but should be required reading for everyone in the country. I loved reading Ramona The Pest out loud to my daughter; we laughed and laughed.

Here are some honorable mentions (4 1/2 star reads.)

And two books I'm reading right now that I love, but didn't finish in time to include on any 2017 lists.

Happy New Year!

Life According to Steph

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August 2017 Quick Lit

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My summer of amazing reading continues! I usually try to keep my posts to three great books, but I could only narrow it down to six this month.

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review. Here are the best of them:

Three Books That Gutted Me

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline -- If you have ever felt like you're invisible, or taken for granted by the people around you, I think you'll really feel for the main character in this book. (Even as she makes bad choices.) I appreciated that this wasn't the usual artist has affair with muse story.

Shoes for Anthony by Emma Kennedy -- Yes, another World War II novel. BUT this one is set in Wales, so it's different. Well, not really, but if you can take one more World War II book this should be it. This book was as heartwarming and hopeful as a book about war can be.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman -- One hundred pages in I was like "I am not going to finish this book. Too much hockey." One hundred twenty pages in I was like "NO ONE TALK TO ME UNTIL I FINISH THIS BOOK." I thought about rating this one five stars, but had to knock it down to 4 1/2 because of the hockey at the beginning.

Books That Were Just Plain Fun

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier -- I didn't like this one for the story, but more for the fun Tracy Chevalier had with making Shakespeare her own. Of course I would probably read the telephone book if Tracy Chevalier wrote it.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal -- I was smitten by the characters in this book. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but that was okay. It was a little romance, some coming of age, a bit of mystery, and some naughty parts involving fruit. Not too many naughty parts though, and they're all in italics so you can skip them if they bother you. Did get some weird looks reading this on the metro though.

Sometimes I'm So Smart I Almost Feel Like a Real Person by Graham Parke -- Harold was another character I liked a lot. Read my full review here.

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February 2017 Audiobooks

My February spirit animal

My February spirit animal

Twitter and political podcasts have been distracting me from reading and listening lately. Still I did manage to get in some winners (and some junk that I listened to with my kids and won't discuss here.)

A Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalin - A thriller that takes place during WWII and in the years after. A bit greusome in parts, but a pretty good story. It kept me guessing until the end.

A Trick of the Light and A Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny - I'm still chugging along with these. Each time I start a new one I think "Oh really? Another body in Three Pines? Boring" and then before I know it I'm sucked in. As everyone who reviews these books says these books start with murder, but they're about so much more than the mystery. (To be fair A Beautiful Mystery doesn't take place in Three Pines.)

Bag of Bones by Stephen King - There was a part at the end of this book that almost made me stop listening. Up until then it was a near perfect audiobook. I kept going past that part, and I'm glad I did. Read by the author, and it contained music that added to the story. However I don't think I'll ever re-read it like I usually do with King's books. I know that's probably not very helpful to anyone trying to decide if they should read this book, but I'm not sure what else to say!

Also see Books That Are Saving My Life Right Now.

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Life According to Steph

My favorite fiction from 2016

I read a lot of good books this year, books that had me ignoring my family, missing stops on trains, and hoping that my plane would be delayed just a little bit longer. Here are the stand outs.

End of Watch by Stephen King - This book, the last one in the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, pushed all my good book buttons. I loved the rsolution, and the call backs to King's earlier books.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith - It's been a long time since I felt like I was actually in a book, but The Farm took me to Sweden in the snow. This book had a great ending too.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne - Yeah, I know there's a lot wrong with the timelines, depction of the characters, etc. I just loved being back at Hogwarts.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - An amazing audiobook loved by my whole family. Would be great for a family road trip.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein - My favorite read out loud all year. Had us up reading way past bed time. The first book that ever made my son say "Just one more chapter, please???"

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry - The circumstances of this working mom's day to day were kind of far fetched, but I feel like this is one of the few books that got the details of my experience right.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - I just finished this not too long ago, and loved it. The only thing that made me give it 4 1/2 stars instead of 5 was that it dragged on just a bit too long at the end. Other than that, this is the kind of book that will make you want to curl up and just keep reading.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng - A powerful story about a part of World War II you don't often hear about.

And some re-reads...

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King - A must read after a crazy trip to Maine - still good, and a trip down memory lane to the years before the Red Sox finally won the World Series.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder - My favorite of the series. I'm so glad I got to read it again.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume - I read this for a reading challenge, and it still holds up after all these years.

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A walk in the woods with Stephen King

My trip to Maine earlier this month featured good decisions and bad decisions.

Good decisions:

  • Turning around .2 miles from the summit of Mt. Katahdin because the weather was deteriorating and my group was on its way back down.
  • Packing way more food and water for my hike than I should have needed.
  • Keeping gloves in my pack even though it was July.

Bad decisions:

  • Taking a walk in sandals that I know give me blisters the day before our summit.
  • Being okay with a combined 16 hours of driving in the day before and day after our hike.
  • Deciding to read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King while camping in Maine.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a psychological thriller featuring 9 year old (but tall for her age) Tricia, the Boston Red Sox when they were still cursed, and a pretty good reason to stay on the trail when you're hiking in the woods. Especially the Maine woods. Because the Maine woods are pretty isolated. Anything can happen out there. This is a fact that I didn't really appreciate until I had driven 8 hours to get there from Providence, RI. Not a great time to be reading a Stephen King book about the very place you happen to be camping.

Let's just say that Tricia discovered the world has teeth while hiking in Maine, and so did I. Her discovery involved bears, the sub audible, and being lost in the woods. My discovery involved freezing rain in July, hypothermia, nightmares in a tent, and way too much time to think while driving a rental car.

Other scary books that take place in the north east:

(Note: I had the good sense to put off reading Jaws until after my beach vacation to Cape Cod last week. I read Doctor Sleep in Vermont last August.)

 

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