What I Read: January

January was a big book reading month for me. I had a huge road trip from Wisconsin to Florida that consisted of two 12 hour days in the car, which means I read a book a day. I read a couple of books that I’ve been eagerly waiting to read so it feels good to have gotten to some of those during this month. I’m linking up today with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books link-up.

What I Read-4Just another reminder that I don’t review every book I read here on the blog. I try as much as possible to only review books that I want to recommend to other people. I would rather spend time telling you about books I really liked than about books I hated. If you’re interested in seeing my complete list of book reviews check out my Goodreads page. If you’re interested in past reviews here on the blog, check out my reads page.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown (5 stars)

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Hate List tells the story Valerie, who is the girlfriend of a boy who started a rampage school shooting spree in their high school’s cafeteria before turning the gun on himself. This book surprised me a lot. I love a good Young Adult book, but I think writing for young adults about very serious subjects like this can be tricky. A while back I read 13 Reasons Why, which is a Young Adult book about a high school girl who commits suicide. I finished the book really disappointed because I felt the author kind of glamorized suicide in away that is never appropriate, let a lone appropriate for Young Adults. I was nervous this book might do the same thing. Luckily, Hate List did not do that at all. The author walked the very narrow line that books like this have to walk.

Goodreads: here

Buy it: here

The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn (4.5 stars)

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In my opinion Gillian Flynn is about as close to a book God as there is. Like the rest of the world, I was captivated by Gone Girl, and then of course read her other two novels, Dark Places, Sharp Objects, and quickly as possible because I had to know if Gone Girl was just a one hit wonder. The answer? Definitely not. This woman it just really really really freaking talented at writing unique plots with sick and twisted and very flawed main characters. The Grown-Up is classic Flynn writing in short-story form. I won’t even go into detail about the plot because it really is a short read (47 pages), all I’ll say is that if you like Flynn’s novels you’ll probably like this short story too.

Goodreads: here

Buy it: here

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (5 stars)

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This book came heavily recommended to me by one of my favorite book bloggers, Sarah at Sarah’s Shelves. Her reviews were so convincing I put this book on hold at the library as fast as I could. If I could tell you to read one book from this whole post it would, hands down, be this one. This book gave me literally all the feels. I cannot remember a time when I was so invested in the well-being of the characters of a story as I was with this book. The plot centers around a tragic event, but then slowly, through multiple characters, we piece by piece learn more to the story. Because this book is told from the point of view of several characters, my advice would be to read this book at a time when you can sit down and read for an hour or two. I read this entire book during a 12-hour car ride. Had I spaced it out, I would have forgot some of the little details that make this book so special.

Goodreads: here

Buy it: here

You by Caroline Kepnes (2 stars)

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This book has been pretty highly hyped and I was looking forward to another good thriller. Except I wasn’t really “thrilled” by this book, I was more just kind of weirded out. You, tells the story of Joe, our main character, and his sick obsession with a girl named Beck. While I have to admit Joe was witty and funny at times, I still really couldn’t get myself to like him because he was such a weird, sick freak. There was so much sex and sexual fantasies in this book I felt like I was reading the psycho version of 50 Shades of Grey. If you like sick and twisted main characters you’ll definitely like this book. I wasn’t a very big fan.

Goodreads: here

Buy it: here

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (2 stars)

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Girl, Interrupted was first published in 1993 and was a huge hit. Such a big hit that it was turned into a movie in 1999 starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. This book reads like a novel, but it is in fact a memoir, that tells the story of 18 year-old Susanna Kaysen and her 2 year stay at McLean Psychiatric Hospital. I was excited to read this book, but I found myself very underwhelmed. I loved parts of the book, but thought most of it was randomly structured and just weird. I enjoy reads about psychiatric matters, but sadly this was not one of my favorites.

Goodreads: here

Buy it: here

All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton   (3 stars)

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Another memoir about psychiatric illness. This book is written by the wife of a man with a bipolar disorder. A lot of the mental illness books I’ve read have been first hand accounts, but this book was the account of the person with a loved one with mental illness, which intrigued me because I think that’s an important side of mental illness as well. I found myself steadily interested in this book the whole time, but at the same time there wasn’t really anything to make it stand out from other books I’ve read on the same topic. I liked it, but nothing about it was memorable to me.

Goodreads: here

Buy it: here

The Beach by Alex Garland (4 stars)

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I’ve been talking a lot about this book and this movie lately. This book is set on the beautiful Thai island of Koh Phi Phi, a place I have been a handful of times. I saw the movie many years ago, but I just recently got around to reading the book. As always, there are quite a few differences between the book and the movie. Overall I enjoyed reading this book a lot, but I think a lot of me liking it was because I’ve spent a lot of time in the location it is set. Without that personal connection to me it might have only been a 3 star read. I will say, this book will fuel your travel bug big time.

Related: Lesser Known Facts About “The Beach”

What I Read-3Goodreads: here

Buy it: here

Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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  • Awh – thanks for linking to my blog! And – I’m thrilled you loved Did You Ever Have A Family!! It’s a quiet book in a way, so I’m not always sure if it’s going to be a hit or a miss when I recommend it, as I know some people like more traditional action. But, I obviously loved it. And – I got to meet Clegg at Book Expo America last year, so that was exciting!

    • It was a great read! Thank you so much for your recommendation! 🙂

  • I remember liking 13 Reasons, but agree that it’s a really difficult subject so I could see how someone may not enjoy it. You keeps showing up on these lists, one day I will get around to it!

    • You is worth a read. It’s interesting and it’s a page turner, but it just wasn’t really my cup of tea per say. A lot of other people have really enjoyed it!

  • i actually just read 13 reasons why and was not a big fan. i mean, it was interesting and i kept reading but i agree, it definitely seemed to glamourise suicide. i will have to check out hate list. i have heard good things about did you ever have a family, but not enough to add it to my list but you just convinced me! i have read those 3 gillian flynn books, and while i think she is a great author, i don’t love love love her books like others do. but i keep going back so maybe i do. i do think she is a great author though, so i am definitely going to check out the grown up.

    • I’m so glad to hear you share my thoughts about 13 Reasons Why. I have heard so many people who thought it was “amazing” and I literally almost couldn’t stomach it. ugh. I read another YA book about suicide called My Heart and Other Blackholes that was phenomenal. I’d definitely recommend it!

  • Did You Ever Have a Family was AMAZING. And I loved Hate List as well.

    YOU was one of my favorite books of last year and it makes me sad that you didn’t love it. It’s a weird, fucked up book and Joe is not easily likable so I get it but still. All the sads.

    13 Reasons is in my pile somewhere. I do want to read it.

    • Glad you enjoyed Did You Ever Have a Family as much as I did. I’m crossing my fingers that it becomes a big deal because I think it’s a great story. Thanks again for hosting. This is a great link-up 🙂

  • I definitely want to read The Grown Up. I’ve read two Gillian Flynn books and definitely liked them!

    • Definitely give The Grown-up a read then! Flynn does no wrong in my eyes. I cannot wait for her next novel.

  • Your first three are on my to read list.

    I like twisted characters, so I was a big fan of You and Joe.

    • I’m normally kind of a fan of twisted characters too. Which is why I’m so shocked I didn’t like You more. I’ll probably give the sequel a read. Maybe I’ll have a better experience with that.

  • I have loved all of Gillian Flynn’s books. Added her story to my Goodreads list! Also added Hate List and Did You Ever Have a Family! You is on my to read list. I think your review is the only bad one I’ve read! It makes me more anxious to read it now just to see what I think!

    • Don’t let me discourage you from You!! It’s an interesting read! Normally I like kind of weird and twisted characters, but for some reason I didn’t make the reader/character connection with Joe.

  • New goal is to read more and stay on social media less!!

    • haha! I love it! Once I got into a habit of reading I was hooked. I just had to make it a habit.

  • Hate List. and Did You Ever Have a Family, both sound interesting. I will be adding them to my to-reads list. Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad to hear it! I think you’ll enjoy both of them a lot. 🙂

  • Hate List sounds like such an interesting read, even if it does deal with heavier stuff for a YA book. I’m glad that you felt like it didn’t glamorize school shootings. I’ve heard such wonderful things about Did You Ever Have A Family too! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read it soon! That sucks that you didn’t like You because I’ve heard such good things about it! I tend to like sick and twisted characters, so I still might end up liking it.

    • Give You a read. It’s definitely interesting. For whatever reason it didn’t jive that well with me. Did You Ever Have a Family is a can’t miss. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

  • Hate List is on my bookshelf at home waiting to be read.

    I agree with everything you said about Did You Ever Have a Family. Grief, from different perspectives, made for a powerful read.

    You. I like messed up characters, but I just thought this book was okay. I reached a point with 100 pages left to go that I just wanted it over already. I got it. Joe’s a psycho. He’s obsessed. He kills people.

    • Completely agree with you about You. It kind of went on and on to the point where I got annoyed instead of being entertained. Glad you liked Did You Ever Have a Family as much as I did. I think it’s got the potential to be a big read for this year.

  • I’m so looking forward to reading ‘Did You Ever Have a Family’. I have it on reserve at the library right now. Also, I almost picked up ‘Girl Interrupted’ at one point but I think I’ll pass now that I see your review. Life is too short to read ‘not so great’ books 🙂

    • Life is definitely too short to read “not so good” books. 🙂
      From what I know of you and your reading, I really think you’ll like Did You Ever Have a Family as much as I did. It tugs on so many emotions at once.

  • I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who has not read Gone Girl or anything else by Gillian Flynn. I’m not sure why I haven’t picked up any of her books because I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. I need to fix that. I’ve added Did You Ever Have a Family to my list. You is on there as well because when I’m in the right mood, I enjoy a good messed up book. LOL! Hate List sounds intriguing and I absolutely agree that with YA books, an author has to be so careful about how they handle sensitive subjects.

  • I love what you said, “when I’m in the right mood”
    maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it, because typically I like a good messed up book too. There is a sequel to it so I’ll probably give that a read just to see where the story goes next. This time I think I’ll wait until I’m in the right mood 🙂