Books I read in 2017

JANUARY

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (A) The book that started the phenomenon. It holds up really well and was great fun to re-read it.
  • Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by: Margaret Lee Shetterly (B-) An interesting and important part of history but presented more like a text book. If you are looking for something closer to the movie you might want to get the young readers edition.
  • Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin (C) I usually like Kathy Griffin’s stories especially since she has met nearly every celebrity, musician, Heads of State, and even British Royalty. However, the very short stories in this book are very dull and sanitized. Each one basically amounts to “I met [so-and-so] at a party; they were nice.”
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (A) Book #7 in the fascinating and delightful series.  Highlights include: Laura gets electrocuted, Mary goes to college for the blind, crows attack the crops, Almonzo courts Laura, and Pa does blackface. (All true.)
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (A-) In 1968, three sisters travel from Brooklyn to Oakland to visit the mother who walked out on them. They discover some interesting things about themselves through the organization their mother forces them into.
  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin (B) Book #1 of Maupin’s saucy, soapy, silly, sexy, series. A gay classic that holds up pretty well even if it takes a while for it to come together.
  • The Golden Egg by Donna Leon (B+) Book #22 in the Brunetti series. If you haven’t read any of these Venetian detective books I highly recommend them. Leon lovingly weaves in descriptions of Italian cuisine, architecture, and art into these mysteries. This one centers around the accidental death of a deaf-mute man and the circumstances surrounding it are too salacious for Brunetti not to give into his own curiosity. The books do not need to be read in order. Hillary Clinton is also a big fan of this series.
  • The Obsidian Chamber by: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. (C+) Book #16 in the Pendergast series was my least favorite. The entire book felt like a preamble to whatever is next for these characters. The ridiculous ending exists only to allow for the series to continue (which I will read.)
  • The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by: Rebekah Crane (B-) After a family incident, Zander is sent to a camp for “troubled teens.” There she meets a group of other cast outs and learns a lot about life and self-preservation. This YA novel does a decent job of developing complex characters and capturing what it’s like to be a “disturbed teen” (i.e. every teen.) Good for ages 15+.

February

March

  • Deadly Messengers (A psychological thriller) by: Susan May (C+) You know it’s a psychological thriller because the subtitle says so! Starting with an extremely graphic description of a serial killer’s rampage this book then veers into a paint-by-numbers plot of a freelance journalist who just has to figure things out even though she really doesn’t want to and oh yeah, she’s hot for the lead detective. Readable but not great.
  • Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top by Michelle Visage (B-) I didn’t really care about the self-help aspect of the book (although it was mostly all good advice) but I really liked her life story. Always being part of the LGBT community, helped put Vogue-ing on the map, her relationship with RuPaul; was all very interesting.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by: JK Rowling (A) Book 3 is broadening the scope of this universe. The chess pieces are moving into place and setting up future events. Also, time travel is stupid.
  • More Tales of the City by: Armistead Maupin (B+) More adventures of the 28 Barbary Lane family involving a deadly illness, a hit-man, old lady sex romps, revealed secrets, and another death.

April

  • By Its Cover by: Donna Leon (A-) One of my favorite author’s returns with a unique mystery. Commissario Brunetti is tasked with solving the theft of some rare books from a local library. Like its Venice setting, the story takes some interesting turns. I love Leon’s descriptions of the Italian architecture and cuisine. This is book #23 in the series but reading them in order is not necessary. Great read!
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by: JK Rowling (A) Shit’s gettin’ real, people! Book 4 starts with multiple murders and ends with some serious repercussions. Dark times are ahead, indeed.
  • In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson (C) My e-book from the library expired before I could finish and I didn’t bother to renew. It was pretty dull. There was no storyline to propel the reader forward. It was just event after event after event.
  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz (B) Eighteen-year-old Zach wakes up in a rehab facility. Through his healing process we learn the traumatic circumstances that brought him there.
  • The Egg by Andy Weir (A-) A very short story by the writer of The Martian (which is one of my favorite books ever) about life after death.