Thursday, January 02, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The last books of 2013

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.  We had a nice Christmas, even despite all the illness.  We traveled out of town to spend time with my in-laws. Mouse got sick the weekend before Christmas, running a high temperature for three days straight.  It finally started going down on the fourth day and was gone by Christmas.  Her cough is just about gone as I write this.  My husband managed to catch what she had and spent most of Christmas Day and the day after miserable.  He spent New Year's Day in bed too.  So, you can imagine he's not feeling much better than he had been.  My father-in-law was sick during our visit too.  I felt bad for my mother-in-law, having to cater to two sick grown men.  I was only so much help because of my sprained/fractured ankle.  Even so, it was a good holiday over all.  Mouse enjoyed the festivities, and I am sure is sad things are finally starting to return to normal.  She is back to insisting her birthday is just about every day.

We brought in the New Year a little early.  One of the advantages of living on the West Coast is all the East Coast New Year's Eve television coverage.  While we only tuned in for the final 30 second countdown, we were able to join in and celebrate.  We marched around the house and out into the backyard with our pots and pans, banging away.  I am sure our neighbors thought we were crazy.  We toasted with apple cider (Mouse had orange juice, not willing to try the cider), and then went to bed.  Earlier in the evening we enjoyed hot fudge sundaes, a new tradition I hope will stick.  I do not think any of us saw midnight, all fast asleep.

Did you do anything special to bring in the New Year?

I fit in quite a bit of reading the final three weeks of December.  I read Carla Buckley's The Deepest Secret (Bantam, 2014; 448 pgs).  I was selected to preview the book through BookBrowse's First Impression Program.  I will be writing a more formal review of the book come February, when it is officially released.  The novel is about a family, a 14 year old boy with an incurable illness who likes to peek in people's windows at night, a mother who will do anything to protect her son, a wayward teenage daughter, and a mostly absent father.  A girl goes missing in their neighborhood, and they all are impacted in varying ways.  The Deepest Secret was a very engrossing crime fiction novel, unique in some respects, and one I highly recommend.

After reading such a dark novel, I was in the mood for something much lighter and turned to an unusual choice for me.  I have been wanting to read something by Jill Shalvis.  A former fellow book blogger enjoys her books, and I wondered if I might too.  I admit I don't especially care for most contemporary romance. Sometimes though, the formulaic and assured happy ending are just what a person needs.  I selected Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis (Forever, 2010; 311 pgs), the first in the Lucky Harbor series.

The book features Maddie Moore, one of three sister's who has inherited an inn in the beautiful small town of Lucky Harbor.  Maddie has just come off a very bad relationship and was fired from her job.  The last thing she is looking for is love.  In fact, she's sworn off men.  Then she meets Jax, a local contractor, and she finds it harder and harder to stick to her resolve.

Simply Irresistible is pure brain candy.  It's predictable in all the right places.  I liked the interplay between the three very different sisters, and Maddie was a particularly interesting character, especially as she grew over the course of the book.  Jax was a bit too perfect, but then I imagine he was supposed to be.  Even his flaws seemed a bit perfect.  I would be lying if I said I did not finish the book with a little crush on him.  I enjoyed my first experience with a Jill Shalvis novel and will likely read more by her in the future.  These types of books are ones I can only take in small doses though.

From pure fun romance, I jumped into Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Random House, 2013; 602 pgs).
My daughter gave me the book for Christmas, and after all the rave reviews my fellow bloggers have been giving the book, I dove in right away.  This book.  Oh my gosh.  It lived up to my expectations.  It is dark and crazy.  I don't know what to say about it that could do it justice.  The novel follows a disgraced investigative journalist, Scott McGrath, who had been on top of his game until he decided to investigate the mysterious movie producer Cordova.  Scott is drawn back into that old story when the producer's daughter commits suicide.  It sounds simple enough, but what comes from it is hair raising to say the least.  There are so many twists and turns that had me guessing the entire way.  I had no idea what to expect from beginning to end--and that's saying something.

The characters are extremely well written, from the main protagonist, Scott McGrath, to the most minor of characters.  Each one plays a significant role in the novel.  The story goes down a very dark path, which is fitting given the type of movie producer Cordova is.  He produces deeply dark and terrifying horror movies that even the actors who perform in them won't talk about after.

I decided against doing a full review of this novel, which probably isn't fair.  It's such a fantastic book. With the rush to put this past year behind me and start fresh and my non-alcoholic holiday hangover, however, I decided this would be a good way to wrap up this past year's reading.  I recommend you check out Ti's review of Night Film as it sums up my thoughts on the book perfectly: "A completely absorbing literary thriller that's both smart and alluring."

I hope to post my year end summary within the next day or so, and then I will likely be taking a blogging break over the next couple weeks.  

Happy New Year, everyone!

© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. I am so glad you loved The Night Film!

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    1. Kelly - Me too! I am glad you and my husband encouraged me to end the year with it. :-)

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  2. I have The Deepest Secret on my to-review shelf, and am really looking forward to it. And I am still thinking about Night Film, even though I read it months ago!

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    1. Carrie - I hope you will enjoy The Deepest Secret, Carrie! I don't think I'll be forgetting Night Film any time soon. That was quite a book!

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  3. Being sick over the holidays is just plain miserable. I hope your husband is better soon. We don't have any holiday traditions except listening to the fireworks going off all around us. I love your traditions though!

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    1. Kathy - It really is. :-( My husband is beginning to feel better, thank goodness. Hopefully it will last awhile.

      The banging of the pots and pans was one I grew up with as a child. I guess it has it's origins in scaring away the evil spirits. I just liked making all that noise, when I was a kid. :-) I'm sure that's all it is for Mouse too at this point. I think that's the part she enjoyed the most.

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  4. Despite all the family holiday illness Wendy, it seems your reading has been good. Happy 2014 and a healthy one as well.

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    1. Diane - Yes, I managed to get some good reading in at the last minute. :-) I hope you have a healthy and Happy New Year as well!

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  5. Happy new year Wendy! Pots and pans and ice cream sundaes sounds like a perfectly good way to celebrate! Hopefully the illness is past you for a while! We are struggling with colds here--no fun!

    I'm going to have to make Night Film a priority! I'm just scared that it will keep me up at night (says the girl who has been reading many King novels). Glad gkh enjoyed it so much. And Mouse picked it out huh? ;)

    Hope the reading is fantastic for you this year.

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    1. Trish - I sure hope so! I'm so tired of being sick. I hope everyone in your house is feeling better.

      I think a book like Night Film scared me more because it was more realistic. King's novels don't have that affect on me for some reason. I think you'd like it though and will be interested to know what you think if you do read it.

      Mouse evidently knows what kinds of books I like. :-)

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  6. aw I still really want to read Night Film! Happy New Year, Wendy!

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    1. Amy - It was such a good book. I am still thinking about it! I hope you have a Happy New Year too, Amy.

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  7. Happy Holidays! I'm sorry to hear there were a lot of illnesses but at least everyone seems to be on the mend. Here's to a healthy New Year! I've not read any Jill Shalvis but I'm with you, every once in a while this is the sort of book that I need. Just something fun. I'll have to remember this one. And, I keep seeing Night Film on many favorites lists! Must read.

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    1. Iliana - Thank you! I think our household is finally coming around. Night Film was such a good read--a mystery, a thriller, a bit of horror. I loved it.

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  8. Happy New Year! That's cute that you guys marched outside banging pots and pans. We rang in the New Year by my moms house, all of us in our pajamas ready with noise makers and confetti.
    Ugh, isn't it awful getting sick during the holidays? My furbaby Diego has been ill these past few days and it has been no fun at all.
    After seeing you highlight it here, I want to read Night Film.

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    1. Naida - How fun! I wish we'd gotten in our pajamas first--it would have made bedtime easier for my daughter. LOL

      I hope Diego is feeling better! It's so hard when our animals are sick. They can't exactly tell us what's wrong. I hope it's nothing serious.

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  9. Yep, dark and crazy pretty much sum up Night Film! Hope you are all feeling MUCH better! We used to change all of the clocks in the house so that the kids really did think that it was midnight here when it was midnight in NYC. Love the idea of banging the pots and pans - we've done fireworks but it's often too cold here to spend more than a couple of minutes outdoors. We could do pots and pans in a hurry and still create a stir!

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    1. Lisa - Mouse is back to her normal self and my husband is just about there. Hopefully that's the end of the illnesses for awhile. What a great idea to change the clocks! Maybe we'll give that a try when Mouse is older.

      We didn't last long outside--it was too chilly--but Mouse insisted we march around the back patio at least once before turning in for the night. :-)

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  10. My request is pending for The Deepest Secret - glad to see that it was a successful read for you. Shalvis would be a stretch for me, and Night Film is a chunkster. Chunksters and I don't get along very well. They are intimidating.

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    1. Joy - I hope you are approved! I'd be curious to know your thoughts on it, Joy.

      I was surprised at how quickly Night Film went. It was such a suspenseful book.

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  11. I spent quite a few NYE nights at my grandparent's house and we always went out on the porch to bang pots and pans. Not sure how long it will be before Gage gets to stay up that late! West coast time can come in handy :)

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    1. Stacy - You can do what Lisa used to do for her kids and set the clocks forward. Gage will never know. ;-)

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