Tuesday, March 8, 2016

From the Bookshelf: Recently Read - March 2016 Edition

I was hoping to have this post up much earlier today, but obviously that didn't happen. I usually try to write my reviews immediately after I finish reading a book, but I've really been slacking lately in the blogging department ... So that didn't happen either.

And, if I'm being honest here, I slacked quite a bit in the reading department last month as well. I've only finished 4 books since the last Show Us Your Books! link-up with Steph and Jana (for comparison, I read and reviewed 7 books last month). Oh well ... At least the majority of the books I'm reviewing today were really good!

So let's get to it, shall we?

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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson - 278 pages - 4 stars

Lia and Cassie were best friends, impossibly thin girls each struggling with her own personal demons. For Cassie, it was bulimia and the desire to be the best at everything. For Lia, it was anorexia, self-mutilation, and depression.

The girls eventually have a falling out, and the last time Lia hears from Cassie is the night she dies ... The night Lia refused to answer even though Cassie called her thirty-three times. Now haunted by her memories of Cassie (and by Cassie herself), Lia must decide how much she's really willing to lose.

Laurie Halse Anderson did an excellent job really getting into the mind of a teenage girl suffering from obsessive and disordered thinking. This is probably one of the most realistic books I've read when it comes to mental disorders.

Because of this, it was a very difficult book for me to get through. Although I thought it was fantastic, I recommend it with hesitation. If you've dealt with any of the issues discussed in this novel (whether firsthand or with a friend or family member), this may be a really tough book.  The story is both sad and unsettling, and it's definitely not the sort of book to pick up if you're looking for a fun, light read.

If the plot intrigues you, though, I say read it. It's well worth the time. The writing style is unique and almost lyrical, and the story is not one I'll soon forget.

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg - 293 pages - 5 stars

In a single moment, June Reid loses her entire family. As she watches helplessly from the yard, her home is engulfed in flames, ending the lives of her daughter, Lolly, her daughter's fiance, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke. Feeling she can't bear to stay in her small Connecticut town after the tragedy, June begins aimlessly driving across the country.

Did You Ever Have a Family is a story about grieving and secrets and guilt. But it's also a story filled with hope.

This is the kind of book that I find difficult to review because I loved it so much. It's so much easier to write about all of the things that are "wrong" with a book than it is to explain why it touched me so deeply. Tears were streaming down my face as I finished the last page, and I felt completely gutted ... Yet I also felt strangely hopeful.

I'll share more of my thoughts on this book on Sunday when I post my more in-depth reviews. For now I'll just say that this book was amazing and beautiful. If you only read one of the books I'm reviewing today, please read this one. But don't just take my word for it ... I know that both Jana and Erin also gave it 5 stars on Goodreads!

The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre - 336 pages - 4 stars

Deanna Madden (a.k.a. "Jessica Reilly") is a reclusive young woman who makes a living working in the sex cam industry. She hasn't been outside in years, choosing to lock herself away in her apartment rather than risk giving in to her dark, murderous urges. Creating a very simple set of rules for herself, she's managed to avoid killing for three years. But rules were meant to be broken.

The Girl in 6E definitely falls under the "WTF did I just read?" category. There are a lot of explicit sexual situations (but, oddly enough, no actual sex). There's a bloodthirsty main character with a dark, tragic past. There's also a subplot involving a pedophile (and that alone is generally enough to give most people a "WTF did I just read?" feeling).

Although I had a couple of issues with the story (I'll discuss those in more detail in Sunday's post), I really liked the book overall. The story was fascinating (I definitely felt like I learned a lot about the sex cam industry!), and I stayed up late reading at least a couple of nights because I was so captivated by the story.

I don't think this is the right book for everyone, but I found it very entertaining. I'm looking forward to reading the other two books in this series (and I actually already have the second book checked out from the library)!

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf - 284 pages - 2 stars

Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has always kept her mostly in the dark about his troubled past. However, when his aunt is hospitalized after an accident, he cannot avoid his hometown and the terrible memories that linger there any longer. Soon after arriving in Penny Gate, Iowa, Sarah begins to learn more about her husband's family and past ... And finds herself wondering if she really knows him at all.

I had really high hopes for this book after Steph gave it 4 stars and said she read it in a single night. Unfortunately, it just didn't work for me.

I'll be discussing my thoughts on this book in a little more detail in Sunday's post, but for now I'll say that it just couldn't hold my attention. I love thrillers and I love stories about family secrets ... But I didn't love this book.

It wasn't the worst book I've ever read (not by far!), but, for me, it was truly "just okay." I had to force myself to pick it up each time I had time to read, and I even went two or three days without picking it up at all. It took me well over a week to finish it, which is kind of insane for me. (Well, it's insane when the book is under 300 pages!) I didn't hate it, but I really didn't care enough about the story or the characters to ever feel captivated by Missing Pieces.


  1. Did You Ever Have a Family sounds super good! Adding it to my list. :)

  2. The first 3 sound like I could be up for weeks and not in a good way! Missing Pieces sounds good though. I'll add it to my list.

  3. Did You Ever Have a Family makes me want to cry just reading your description of it, so I'll have to save that one for a time when I am prepared to cry my way through a book...lol. It does sound great though!

  4. I liked Missing Pieces, the nursery rhyme things were creepy AF, but Sarah herself annoyed me.

    I added The Girl in 6E and have Family on my TBR already.

  5. Did You Ever Have a Family was an AMAZING book. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, too!

  6. did you ever have a family has been on my list for ages, i hope i like it. i still haven't read wintergirls. i skimmed your review for fear of spoilers lol. i actually was quite sick when i was younger, and still a bit messed up in the head, so i am not sure if i should read it but i think (or hope) i am strong enough for it now. i've been slacking in the life department lately, i feel you.

  7. All these books sound great and are being added to my ever-growing list. Did You Every Have a Family sounds amazing and I need to be prepared for the weep-fest that will likely ensue when I read it (i.e. don't read in public where people are staring at the bawling girl. LOL!) The Girl in 6E sound WTF but a good WTF!

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