This month has not been that great for me. I’ve done a decent amount of reading, but the majority of the books I read have greatly underwhelmed me. February is the month of duds, apparently. Regardless, here are the books I’ve read since last month!
1. The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
Bloggers haven’t been able to shut up about Liane Moriarty lately. I figured I had to see what all the fuss is about. Fact about me: I tend to think I’ll hate something that most people love. Another fact about me: I am often wrong.
This book (I’ve gathered from the general consensus of the internet) is apparently not even Moriarty’s best, but it’s awesome. I loved it. Here’s what I really liked about this book — there are a lot of characters, but they all feel like real people. Too often, authors will add additional characters who we’re supposed to care about, but without giving us any reason to care. Not Liane Moriarty. You really feel like you know each of these characters. And I thought that was really refreshing.
The basic story of this book is this: Sophie Honeywell finds out that her ex-boyfriend’s great aunt has left her house to her after she dies. Sophie moves to the house on this small island inhabited only by that family and finds herself becoming a part of the family. There’s also a mystery that has been surrounding the family for years — the Munro baby mystery. Sophie is also really unlucky in love and finds herself kind of falling for the husband of her ex-boyfriend’s cousin. It sounds more convoluted than it is.
Anyway, this was the best book that I read this month. I love, loved it and can’t wait to read another book by this author.
2. Confessions of a Hater by Caprice Crane
Ugh. I really wanted to like this book because I like Caprice Crane. I started following her on Twitter several years ago because of how funny her tweets were. I read one of her books — Stupid and Contagious — in 2013 and thought it was a really clever romantic comedy.
This book was neither clever nor particularly inspired.
Confessions of a Hater is Crane’s first foray into the world of Young Adult fiction. She should probably not try it again. This book is incredibly superficial, vapid, and honestly just speaks to the stereotypes of high schoolers.
The basic story is that the main character (what was her name? I’m not looking it up) is unpopular at her current school. Her dad gets a promotion and they move to L.A. While she’s packing up, she finds her older, cooler sister’s high school diary. This diary basically includes instructions on “how to be a hater” aka how to be cool. The girl basically immediately gets in with the popular crowd at her new school, but then realizes that the girls are really mean. Like, meaner than Mean Girls mean and she ditches them for some outcasts. Then the outcasts decide to try to overthrow the popular girls and end up becoming just as bad as they are.
The only story line I actually thought held some promise here was the story of the main girl and her family troubles. Her father is spending more and more time at work and she finds out there are problems between her parents that didn’t exist before the move. There are some good moments here, but they are overshadowed by the immaturity of the main story.
Caprice Crane is a talented author. She has a way with words that many writers do not have. This book is well written, but it lacks depth and it lacks creativity. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
3. Cold Fear by Rick Mofina
Another ugh. My mother recommended this book to me and I kind of hate her for it. Just kidding. I love you, Mom. But really. This book drove me crazy.
The story isn’t bad. A 10-year-old girl goes missing in the mountains of a national park in Montana. The FBI becomes involved and thinks the parents may have killed the girl and lied about it, but they don’t have any evidence. Meanwhile, a man is on death row for a similar crime (killing a small child in the same park) and the two incidents might be related.
I have a few problems with this book:
- Too many characters. WAY too many. There are probably 8 significant characters in this book, but we’re introduced to probably 50. And the stupid thing is — we’re told background information on characters that isn’t relevant at all. There was one time when they introduced a character, mentioned that she was getting married and her coworker was her bridesmaid, and then the character popped up one other time and disappeared. Why did I need that information? I didn’t.
- There are a lot of typos and things that are said at one point and contradicted later. Did this writer have an editor? Come on.
- This book kind of acts like a mystery but… it’s actually really straightforward. There is no mystery to the reader. We’re pretty much told everything up front, but we have to wait for all the other characters to piece it together. It’s tedious. At least make it a mystery for us too.
Mostly blah. Another that I wouldn’t recommend.
4. All The Lasting Things by David Hopson
I didn’t hate this book. There were parts of it that I really loved, but altogether I wasn’t a big, big fan. One thing I will say. Hopson is a gifted writer. He really is. Much of this book is written in a very poetic prose that flows really nicely.
This book spans a period of time in the life of the dysfunctional Fisher family. It starts with almost-40-year-old Benji, as has been child actor, drunkenly falling off of a bridge and nearly killing himself. Benji then has to move back home with his elderly mother and ailing, Alzheimer’s ridden father (who is a Pulitzer winning author). His sister, Claudia, is also having some trouble in her own life.
I liked the first half of this book better than the second half. In the second half of the book, the focus turned to a character who didn’t pop up until 1/3 of the way into the book. This character, who I think we’re supposed to be empathetic toward, really just irritated me and caused me to lose interest. I also think that the most interesting part of the book — which has to do with parents and their relationship — was almost entirely neglected. I really feel like there should have been more resolution in that area.
What started as a very promising story turned into kind of a dud, but I still give it 3/5 stars because I did like a few of the characters and I thought Hopson’s writing was incredibly eloquent.
5. Blog, Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho
I’ve owned this book for a little over a year now. I received it as a Christmas gift from one of my couple friends who had discovered my blog but didn’t want to tell me they’d discovered my blog in case it was supposed to be a secret. It wasn’t a secret. They gave me this book as a kind of, “Just so you know — we know.” Ever since I switched to my Kindle, I’ve found myself neglecting the paperback books that I own but haven’t read. The same thing happened here. I’ve been wanting to read it, but hadn’t set it aside until recently.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, though I can’t say I got that much out of the book. I think this is a better resource for someone who is new to the blogging game — either just getting started or a few months in. Since I’ve been blogging for some years now, I picked up most of the stuff that this book encompasses on the street, so to speak.
There were a few things it made me think about and a few things I already knew that it reinforced. I did learn a little bit about how to interpret statistics. For one, I had no idea what the “bounce rate” on Google Analytics was. It was helpful on that and on some SEO stuff I’d never really thought about. It also made me think that I really, really need to get on a posting schedule.
I also really enjoyed most of the interviews with successful bloggers. It was really cool to see how people’s lives have been changed, careers have been started, and businesses have flourished all because someone started a blog. It’s insane how large our community is and how vast it is in terms of different types of content and personalities. As a lifestyle blogger, I forget just how many niches are out there because I mostly read blogs in a similar vein to mine. This book profiles bloggers from many different backgrounds who have found success in different ways. It was really inspiring to see how these bloggers found their voice.
The only thing I really disagreed with in the book came close to the end when it started talking about monetizing. The author at one point mentioned that a blog should probably get 100,000 monthly page views before the blogger starts to offer paid sponsorship ads. That was kind of a “WTF?” for me because that seems like an astronomical number of page views.
Overall, I am glad that I read this book. It didn’t make me feel like a fuck up and really that is all I ask for. I especially recommend this to new bloggers or people who are not sure if they want to start blogging. I think a lot of people start blogging on a whim without realizing how much actual work is needed to keep it afloat. This book definitely shows that blogging — especially if you want to develop a following — takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.