Danielle’s 2018 Reads

img_2482Before I eventually end up starting the new year with resolutions and realistically set goals, I need to wrap up 2018. Last year was one for the books; no pun intended. All along the way, I finished 30 books in total, and 27 of them are in the slideshow at the bottom of my screen (I left out the three for school). While 30 might not seem like a lot to those of you that can finish a book in a day, after looking at my stats, I’ve found out that I can too! Most of these took under 10 hours for me to read, so while it is possible… I just don’t have the time to sit for that amount of time every day. However, I will continue on my reading streak, and I’ll set the bar even higher for this year!

After reviewing the stats, I’ve noticed that surprisingly, most of these books received five stars from me! Unfortunately, that’s not as realistic as I’d like it to be. So, in this recap of my 2018 reads, I’m going to… in a way… re-rate all of my books (besides the three for school). So, let’s dig in!

(I’m also going to tie in Goodreads reviews to each of the book titles in the mini reviews I provide.)

51rbpshz-ll._sx326_bo1,204,203,200_1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

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A Game of Thrones exceeded my expectations. The show is eerily similar to the book… almost word-for-word, and I really enjoyed it. The relationship between Khal Drogo and Daenarys was revealed more in the book than it was in the movie, and it took me a bit to get through, but it was definitely good enough for me to snag the second book.

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Fight Club was one of those books that made me squirm a little, but I can’t talk about it (see: Chucklehead101). So you’ll just have to read this yourself!

51fsjqc2c-l._sx329_bo1,204,203,200_Fight Club 2 was unexpected honestly. It’s a graphic novel, and the narrator’s name was finally revealed as Sebastian. Also, Chuck made quite a few cameos! They gave the book more depth and “broke the fourth wall” in literature. I loved the overall feel of this book and finished it a little less than two hours. I can’t wait for Fight Club 3‘s release this January!

4. Invisible Monsters Remix by Chuck Palahniuk

Invisible Monsters Remix is going to have it’s own review here shortly!

173807115. Phoenix by Chuck Palahniuk

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I distinctly remember reading Phoenix in a hotel room in Golden, Colorado. Phoenix was only around 50-pages long, but it stood out enough for me to give it five stars. Even though Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors, I still choose to review his novels without being biased. Phoenix was a quick read, but it was resolved really quickly. The book discussed showed a broken marriage pretty accurately, and even though I’m a cat person… I couldn’t put it down.

51tm0lae0ml._sx322_bo1,204,203,200_6. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

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Whenever I go to pick up any Palahniuk book, I always have semi-high expectations. So, giving this book 3-stars isn’t unusual. Choke was one of those books that seemed to try too hard. I love Palahniuk, but this just wasn’t… it. The narrator was prude and he just seemed like a fuckboy. As someone who doesn’t mind reading things “out of the norm,” Victor Mancini was just too much. He was just frustrating to read about, and while I appreciated his storyline, I just didn’t care for him. However, if you don’t mind reading things about a mans’ “dog” every other page/paragraph, then take a shot at it!

wp-14906283883827. every day by David Levithan

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I’m not one to read Young Adult books as much anymore, but every day really stood out. While it’s only receiving around 3-stars from me, it was still a unique plot line. However, I just didn’t like the ending as much as I hoped I would’ve. I love the concept behind a non-binary character such as the narrator, but the ending is honestly what ruined it for me. I’m still going to buy the next book to see if it’ll redeem itself, but as for just this one? I don’t think it should standalone as much as it does.

8. the woman in the window by AJ Finn

the woman in the window was my all-time favorite book of 2018. I can’t really put more of what I want to say into words, so check out Review: “the woman in the window” by AJ Finn (2018) for my review!

9. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

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I’m not one to read romances like this, but it was a book I received from a book subscription I used to have called PageHabit. They’re no longer in commission, but I still have quite a few books that I have to read from them.

The Wedding Date, in particular, wasn’t one that I’d find myself reading again. It was a cute story, but it was definitely a cliche right from the beginning… which is why I don’t tend to read romances anyway. The characters in the book were cute and charming, but Alexa Monroe (the main character), was a little short-tempered. However, after reading more and more about Drew Nichols, I realize why she is. He is more than just a quirky guy in an elevator, but the more she finds out, the more shady he seems to become.

61u0wm7ahdl10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

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Before I start in on this one, I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of JK Rowling anymore. After following her on Twitter, and after I’ve seen her decide to bring to light new things about old characters just to stay relevant… I’ve decided to no longer support her. I’ll always ALWAYS love Harry Potter (proud Ravenclaw here), but she’s become another author that only discusses her characters if they can create a shock factor. So, even though I’ve come to dislike JK Rowling, I’ve decided to separate her from her work. Just because I’m in love with the world she created, doesn’t mean I have to like her as a person. Similarly to how I’ve decided to buy Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King, just because his son wrote it with him (and we all know how much I love him).

Anyway, I devoured Fantastic Beasts in one day. I found myself falling in love with Newt and his creatures fairly quickly, but there’s just one thing I would’ve changed. The dark side of this novel, should’ve been darker. After watching the movie, the book just seemed light compared to how devious the creature came to be. I loved the entire concept of creating a world before our beloved Hogwarts, I loved the snippet of Grindewald, but since this isn’t technically a YA novel like the Harry Potter series… it just should’ve been darker, which is why it got 4-stars from me.

11. Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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I have to be one of the only people on the internet so far (from what I’ve seen) that didn’t 100% love this book in its entirety. I’m glad that it brought a few LGBT issues to light, but I just can’t do the cutesy romance books at all apparently. This was another Young Adult novel that flopped in my reading conquests, but I will say one thing… the movie adaptation was really cute. Even though Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda wasn’t my favorite, I still appreciate how everyone came together and read it upon its release.

12. the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon

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the curious incident of the dog in the night-time was so unique. So, so unique. It’s from the perspective of Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum, which only made it more significant. In the book, it shows how Christopher lives by patterns, rules, and the diagram that he keeps in his pocket. The way he moves throughout the world, and how he acts whenever he finds a dead dog across the street. While the entire book is filled with Christopher’s quirks and the way he solves and unseen mystery, I still found myself struggling to get through it on its own. So, I downloaded the audiobook, which led me to a reading by someone who gave Christopher his own unique voice; Jeff Woodman. He managed to create a character with even more depth than Haddon intended. Now, I’m not one to listen to audiobooks all the time, but I’m glad I did with this one. So, if you have Audible, I highly suggest it.

13. Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk

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I’ll admit, Adjustment Day was not my favorite Palahniuk book at all. While it was still better than Choke, it just didn’t feel right. I love that Palahniuk is back in the world of fiction after four years, but this book just gave me a 1984 vibe with a transgressive fiction twist. Honestly, that’s all I can say about it, other than the fact that the idea behind this was pretty ingenious and it could very well happen with the way society is going. I also find it hilarious that in my logo for my blog, I’m reading Adjustment Day. The cover was too great to ignore, and I found myself reading it for hours on end… unfortunately, it just wasn’t… enough.

14. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Gone Girl was an enigma in itself. Not that it was too puzzling to figure out, but the whole plot line is really what hooked me. From the beginning, the first paragraph stood out for me; when Nick describes the back of Amy’s head. So, even before all of the crazy twists and turns, this book already starts out on a rather, unusual note.

I oddly found myself rationalizing with Amy Dunne, and realizing that what she did really did have a reasoning behind it. Plus, her whole plan was just ingenious. The plot twist in this book was seriously unexpected, and the fact that it has the potential to be so realistic is really what brought this book to life.

15. The Merciless IV by Danielle Vega

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Ahhh, The Merciless IVThe fourth novel in The Merciless series by Danielle Vega… aka a candy-coated horror novel. Honestly, this series has been hit-or-miss with me. I loved the first two, but I needed more insight on a few of the characters. I really liked how this was set in Italy, and it was just as stomach-churning as the rest of them.

Now, I’m not sure if there’s going to be another installment in this series because it’s called Last Rites, but I’m going to stay hopeful that there is going to be at least one more so Vega can round it off more with Sofia.

16. Providence by Caroline Kepnes

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Providence was a very unusual take on a monster story similar to Frankenstein. This book was equally terrifying as it was mind-bending. It left me wanting more throughout the whole thing, and I was filled with hope that Jon would find justice in the end. Kepnes seriously created a masterpiece filled with illusion, self-destruction, love and obsession. I found myself reading it outdoors in my hammock, falling more and more in love with the relationship between Chloe and Jon, but I just wish it could’ve ended in a better place. To prevent spoiling this piece of art, I won’t go any further, just know that if you haven’t read ANY Caroline Kepnes books. You should pick up this one, and then continue onto YOU and Hidden Bodies (there’ll also be a review on these soon!).

17. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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Sharp Objects was definitely not a favorite. Going into a Gillian Flynn novel after Gone Girl, I was hoping for it to just have more depth to it. instead, I stumbled in upon characters who were tricky and a little cringy. Honestly, the whole idea behind Camille visiting her hometown, definitely reminded me of whenever I’d visit mine. The quaint little town, the drama, the family, it was all surreal how Flynn captured it in this. Yet, I still wasn’t drawn to it. I ended up taking a while to finish it, and I couldn’t focus on it for too long before I got annoyed. However, I did love the show adaptation of it, even though I’m a little biased towards Amy Adams. I just couldn’t grasp onto reading about the characters that were brought to life. The plot twist at the end wasn’t enough for me to grab her books The Grownup and Dark Places, but I know I’ll inevitably end up buying it on one of my bookstore conquests.

18. I Could Pee On This by Francesco Marciuliano

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I Could Pee On This was one of those books that only a true cat lover would love. It felt as though my cats actually wrote each one of these poems, and I found myself actually laughing at the thought. Throughout the whole book, it shows pictures of the “authors,” so not only do you get cute, quirky poems, but you also get cute, quirky photos of the cats themselves. Even though this was an extremely quick read, it still made quite the impact, and instead of having it reside on my “finished” shelf, it now has a place on my desk among a few others.

19. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

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Talking As Fast As I Can was such a hilarious autobiography. While I read it, I heard Lauren Graham’s voice, and shortly after I ended up watching Parenthood and Gilmore Girls. This book really brought to life how difficult it can be to get to where Lauren Graham has gotten. She created a quirky novel that came off as though Lauren Graham was Lorelai Gilmore while she was writing. I got through this autobiography as quickly as she talks, and I’d recommend this to anyone who loves her. Even though there are spoilers to the Gilmore Girls reboot, she does warn about them. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it! Then check out this book! As someone who doesn’t read very many autobiographies, I found myself so attached to this one that I finished it fairly quickly.

20. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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Even though Coraline is a children’s book, it was still written very well. I only gave it 4-stars because I didn’t finish it. Before you jump on me for this though, I only didn’t finish it because it was TOO close to the movie. Even though it would’ve been a quick read, I couldn’t imagine my own characters. I love the movie adaptation, but once I already know what the characters look like… the books are almost ruined for me. However, if you like creepy stories, or if your kids like creepy stories, I highly recommend this. Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer, so only you can use your better judgment on this one.

21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is going to have it’s own review here shortly!

22. Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

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Tell Me Lies was extraordinary and filled with a ton of relationship issues that many authors don’t tend to discuss. Written from both the perspectives of the relationship; the gas-lighter and the “gas-lightee,” this book is unique on its own. I actually found myself uncovering more about Stephen in the beginning chapters than I realized. As someone who’s been a victim of gas-lighting, I was surprised I was able to catch the signs so soon. Stephen was an expert in his craft, and it was frustrating to read about Lucy falling for it over and over again, but I couldn’t put it down. Overall, it was a great read, and definitely one of my top five of 2018.

23. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

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First thing first, if you’re going to read Rosemary’s Baby – don’t; LISTEN TO IT. Like I said before, I don’t really love copping out of “manually” reading a book, but this one was worth it. Mia Farrow herself reads this and incorporates all of the screams and different voices. It really created a world that was just as intense as this was 50-years-ago. Dare I say, it was scarier in the audiobook version than it was in the film adaption or the book itself? Next is Son of Rosemary, and one can only hope she recorded that one as well (update: I just looked it up and it turns out she doesn’t… which is unfortunate).

24. Saving Red by Sonya Sones

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Even though Sonya Sones is a YA writer, Saving Red was a great story. It was unique on its own, and I can say I’ve never read a story like this before. In this story, a 14-year-old named Molly decides to help a homeless woman named Red. She had to have been only a few years older than Molly, but she ended up on the streets. I read this around Christmastime, and surprisingly it was set around the same time. This book was really cute and heartwarming and, even though I don’t read YA novels, I’ve always found that Sonya Sones’ books will always have a special place on my shelves.

9780062878649_p0_v2_s550x40625. A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

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Eerily similar to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, A Simple Favor just wasn’t as appealing to me as I hoped it to be. While I think it was a good standalone book on its own, without comparing it to another book, I think the rating I gave this book was pretty accurate. A Simple Favor, was filled with just the right amount of plot twists, but it was still predictable. Although, as someone who reads thrillers frequently, I’ve found that this is the case for most thrillers at this point anyway. I loved the unique point-of-views, but I still wish it was a little more intense. However, I think this would be a great book for people who are new to the thriller genre. I’ve talked to several people who have loved it, and several who didn’t think it was the best, but if you’re just starting out with thrillers, try this!

26. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado

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Her Body and Other Parties received the lowest review of the year, not only because it was a schoolbook… but because it seemed as though it was written purely for shock factor. I couldn’t even make it through some of the chapters, but I had to for school. This book was another that I needed to download the audiobook, and while a few of the chapters were clever, they weren’t good enough for me to rate this any higher.

27. Bait by Chuck Palahniuk

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It’s not unusual that Palahniuk has presented us with a collection of short stories. It certainly isn’t his first collection, and it won’t be his last. However, what makes Bait unique is that there are photos you can color along with.

While I was reading it, I couldn’t put this book down at all. A few of my favorite stories were: Conspiracy, Let’s See What Happens, and Bait. Even though they were all unique, those three really stood out among the eight in the whole book. Plus, the illustrations really rounded it off.

 

 

 


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Review: “the woman in the window” by AJ Finn (2018)

Confused.

Lost.

Agoraphobic.

Anna Fox, an online psychologist, lives in a family townhome set in Harlem, yet her family is not around. She talks to no one except her clients (on the computer), her family (on the phone), her cat, and the people who visit her: her neighbors and therapists. Due to a drastic accident a few months ago, she doesn’t leave her house; she just watches the world outside her window. During one of her drunken nights, she saw a murder happen in a house across the street. She called everyone, but no one believed her. There was blood everywhere. The body disappeared. No one had even heard of the victim. Did she hallucinate the whole thing, or did she just drink too much merlot?

the woman in the window isn’t a book you’ll ever forget. It was among the first books I read in 2018, and it’s still one of the most memorable. Since the start of the year, I’ve read 30 books, and out of those 30, “the woman in the window” has been the one that really stood out.

Under the pseudonym AJ Finn, Daniel Mallory does a brilliant job of writing a character with a mental illness with just the right amount of plot twists. This book managed to keep me reading up at all hours of the night just to see what would happen next. Also, while there weren’t always cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, if there ever was, they were worth the extra hour-or-two I stayed up past my bedtime.

Now, before we start to make assumptions on a thriller surrounding a female protagonist, this isn’t the usual story of a damsel-in-distress just trying to find the love-of-her-life. She’s actually trying to find more peace within herself, and continues to fight for her own sanity. Mallory made it a point of that, and while the summaries you can find are as vague as they should be, the characters manage to define themselves all on their own.


Characters:

First, there’s (obviously) Anna. She’s a 38-year-old therapist who lives alone in an expensive house in Manhattan. Her husband left with their 8-year-old daughter, and she only talks to them on the phone, along with all of her online clients. Other than her patients and her persistent calls to her husband to come back, her days consist of watching old black-and-white movies, people-watching, drinking 2-3 bottles of wine a day, all while having her groceries delivered, and her therapist coming for weekly “pushes” outside. So, needless to say, she’s quite content with what she goes through.

Then there’s her across-the-street neighbors, the Russells. Consisting of Ethan and his parents, they’re a mystery altogether. The Russell’s house is where she sees the murder take place, and it’s where the whole story starts to take a toll on Anna’s mind. Ethan, the 16-year-old boy who resides there, isn’t exactly a goodie-two-shoes, and neither are is parents. The Russells have always been nice to Anna, but to what extent?

Now, none of these characters are what they seem, and it gives the book the necessary twist it needs. This book is one of the few where you can’t really reveal too much of the plot without giving the whole story away, so you’ll just have to take my word on that.


A Little About the Author:

He’s kind of a piece of shit.

Want to know why?

Read this: The New Yorker


Before It Was Published:

This book definitely deserved the attention it received before it was even on the shelves. With a seven-figure sign-on bonus and movie deal, the woman in the window has been making waves in the publishing industry. The book’s ARC was reviewed by several other thriller novelists, such as Stephen King (barf), Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins, which all resulted in similar forms of; “Un-put-down-able,” or ” I couldn’t stop reading.” Along with all of the praises it received, it was no surprise that it was the first debut novel in 12 years that ever made #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list (Newsweek).

Now, if that isn’t enough to make you want to go out and snag a copy, “the woman in the window” was sold over 15 million times as of October 2018, and I bought two of them.

 

Note: I’ve never actually had the urge to write a book review about a book I fell completely in love with before, so I’m going to create a new category on my blog purely for reviews. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing reviews about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, YOU and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, Invisible Monsters Remix by Chuck Palahniuk, but before all of that I’ll round the 2018 off… with an overview of all the books I’ve read in 2018 (along with their ratings, and my stats for each one off of Bookly).

So! Keep up with me, so we can bring in the new year with plenty of reviews and high praises for a few brilliant authors!