Do you remember when I mentioned that I set a goal to read 50 books in 2014?
Do you remember when I said I didn’t reach that goal? Whoops.
It’s ok to not meet a goal. It’s better to meet them, and even better to exceed them, but I got a lot of added value in my life just by trying to meet it. I read 34 books last year, which is probably 30 more than my average over prior years when my love of reading took a backseat to other ‘more important’ things in my life, like HBO.
I always read a lot as a kid. Mom would take us to the library on Saturday mornings partly because it was free, but mostly because we loved it. I lived in a small town, so we had a pretty small library. I would go straight to my favorite shelves and could instantly tell if there was a new book there I hadn’t read. Sometimes, well most of the time, there weren’t new books which forced me to explore new shelves. I was always drawn to Goosebumps or Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys type books; I like to try to figure out the ending. In an effort to expand my horizons, I read a broad spectrum of books in my quest to 50, but I still stuck to my core favorites. So to kick it off, I’ll start with my first favorites – mysteries and thrillers
This list is not meant to give you a summary of the plot of the book; you can find that by clicking on the links below, which are all affiliate links, (meaning if you click the link then buy the book, I get about $0.10…it’s the first step in building my blog fortune). I wanted to focus instead on my reaction to the book and how it made me feel. I’ll also tell you if I think you should read it or skip it, but remember that this is all subjective. You and I won’t have the same reaction to a book, because it’s colored by our individual life experiences. Likewise, you can read a book today and have a completely different reaction than you would if you read it 10 years ago or 10 years from now. Basically what I’m trying to say is please don’t get mad at me if I don’t like the same books as you – I promise we can still be friends!
MYSTERY/THRILLER BOOK LIST:
1. Sharp Objects Gillian Flynn (Audio):
The first three books on my list today were written by Gillian Flynn. When I find an author I like, I stick with her! You may know the name from the Gone Girl phenomena that happened last year, but I started with her lesser known novel, Sharp Objects This was a pretty dark book, but you’ll find that all of her books are. It’s a thriller where the lead character has some serious mental health issues to deal with and the real mystery is figuring out from where those issues stem. I barely took a break from listening to this and as soon as I finished I downloaded the second book.
2. Dark Places Gillian Flynn (Audio):
And this is the second book. I would say she’s 2 for 2 in my mind. She nails the twist at the end, and I have to say I didn’t see it coming. Don’t expect any kind of warm fuzzy feeling when reading her books, because you won’t get it. The word that comes to mind is disturbing. Dark and disturbing, but you love every second of it. The story is great and the way she writes allows it to unfold slowly and keep you guessing.
3. Gone Girl Gillian Flynn (Kindle):
I’m sure you’ve seen the movie already, but I am a staunch advocate of reading the book first. You get to go so much deeper into the characters’ brains, and with this story you want to go deep to understand the motivations behind their actions. I’m not saying that it makes it an easier to accept the story, but it makes for a better experience.
4. Private James Patterson (Audio)
I think this was my first Patterson book to read, and it will likely be my last. Generally people enjoy his books, so much so that he is a hugely successful author, but it’s not my cup of tea. I have this weird condition where if I start a book, I have to finish it regardless of whether I actually like it. I remember getting 3/4 of the way through this one and wishing for the end to come. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style and I had the ending figured out pretty early. I look for more of a challenge in my reading and just didn’t find it in this book. I have heard that some of his earlier works are better though. If you are a fan of his, leave a comment below and tell me if I should give him a second chance.
5. Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) Stephen King (Audio).
I should preface by saying that while King is my favorite author of all time, some of his books don’t live up to my expectations (Cell and Under the Dome come to mind). Even if the story isn’t there for me, the writing always is. While this book wasn’t a disappointment, it didn’t top the charts when compared to his other works. I liked it enough that I recently read the sequel and plan on reading the third installment. This book won’t show up under the horror category (and yes there will be an entire post about the horror books I read in a year) because it’s a classic whodunit. From the teasers in the second book, I think the third book will move back into the supernatural realm, and will be the best of the three. I can’t wait!
Read, if only to prepare for the last book
6. The Child Sebastian Fitzek (Audio)
This is only available as an audio book and it is performed by a full cast rather than one reader doing the voices of every character. I was drawn to this because it reminded me of the old radio shows, like War of the Worlds, from before the time of television. The story was suspenseful, or it least it feels that way because there is suspenseful music playing in the background. It wasn’t the best on this list, but at six hours it’s a quick listen and the actors give a good performance.
7. The Wicked Girls Alex Marwood (Audio)
I liked this suspense-filled book. I liked the writing style so much that I googled Ms. Marwood to see what else she’d written, but was disappointed to find that this was her first book and I couldn’t get any more. Luckily, other people liked her as much as I did, and she recently released her second book, The Killers Next Door, which just got added to my 2015 book list. Hopefully she wasn’t a one hit wonder – stay tuned to find out!
8. Gray Mountain John Grisham (Audio):
I’ve been a fan of Grisham since high school, and I think some of those early books were his best. While this book wasn’t bad, it wasn’t my favorite. A decent number of pages are dedicated to describing the process and history of strip mining in the Appalachia mountains, and in my opinion that was the good part. I thought the story itself wasn’t very believable and that made it harder for me to get into the book. I’ll take A Time to Kill or Runaway Jury any day over this. PS – I just learned that there is a sort of sequel to A Time to Kill, or really a follow-up book with the same lawyer, called Sycamore Row. It just made it on my “to read” list, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it!
I hope this inspires you to pick up a good book this weekend. Let me know what you’re reading right now, because I always need a good recommendation!
I started a Pinterest board of my virtual library, where I’m pinning the books I’ve read and am currently reading. Go follow me there if you need inspiration for your next read.
Go to 2014 Book List Part 2: Dystopian Fiction