Tag Archives: Kate White

November Books

My book choices were kind of all over the place this month which definitely made things interesting. Chick Lit, Memoirs, Thrillers, Young Adult — I found a little bit of everything! I picked up some books I loved, slogged through some books I should have put down and finally (FINALLY) read The Hunger Games. So many books, so little time!

While I started reading 9 books I only finished 7. But it was still a good month and it’s been a good year. I’ve read 63 books on a goal of 50 for those of you counting so I guess I’m going to have to make a better stretch goal next year. That freaks me out just thinking about it.

Anyway, on to the books!

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

So I am completely okay with acknowledging that my reaction to this book was heavily based on the fact that I had just spent a month reading a trippy, scary book. All I wanted was something light. Something fluffy. The cotton candy of books, as it were. And of course, this delivered. If I’m being honest, the characters were a bit one dimensional and it was somewhat hard to connect to them. But that was okay for me because I just wanted to flip pages and feel happy. Done and done.

Random fun fact about this book: Do you read Door Sixteen? Of course you do because you are creative and fabulous and way cooler than me. Anyway, she designed this book cover as well as many others I love and have read. You probably have too. Check it out. Does that not sound like the best job ever?

Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

I need to find a more creative way to apologize for the fact that I seem to enjoy really depressing memoirs. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. We can still be friends though, right? Obviously unless you have been living under a rock or have never watched Oprah, you know this is an anorexia memoir. Sidebar: when I mentioned that I might read an anorexia memoir on twitter earlier this month you should have seen the spam I got in response. Anyway — depressing content, celebrity author: this was right up my alley. And yet, I didn’t love it.

I think there is just something hard about hearing about the Poor Me Stories of Hollywood’s Rich and Famous. I mean, I get why she ended up anorexic but I don’t know, the way it was written just sort of irked me. I was interested in the behind the scenes stuff about Ally McBeal because when I was living in LA and working in Brentwood a lot of the cast were regular customers. But even the juicy stuff just read sort of flat. She seems fairly happy now though, so hey — good on her!

Hush by Kate White

So there are so many ridiculous plot points in this book that are not even remotely believable. The main character wakes up and finds the coworker she just slept with murdered and she just leaves the apartment? Crazy stuff is going on at the fertility clinic that she works with, everyone is a suspect, and she just goes aimlessly wandering through files doing some Nancy Drew shit? She teams up with a reporter who is totally ethical and not at all in it for a story? I mean so! many! unbelievable things!

But also: it is totally compulsively readable and I loved flipping through every page. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next and if my guesses about the killer were right (they weren’t) and overall it just was so enjoyable. I think it’s safe to say this was like bad television but in book form. It has it’s place and sometimes I really like it!

My only complaint (and it’s kind of my own fault) is that if you flip to the last page — the killer is named right then and there. There is basically a sentence that says “(Main Character) couldn’t believe that (Murderer’s Name) had committed all of the crimes.” And man, I am known to poke around the back of the book now and again. I don’t *try* and read the ending but you couldn’t help it with this book if you get anywhere near the last page. So um…don’t…if you plan to read this.

Oprah: A Biography by Kitty Kelley

I wanted to love this book, I really did. And I don’t doubt that it is full of interesting things if you are not too aware of Oprah and her story. But as I have watched way too many E! True Hollywood Stories and Lifetime profiles, it became clear that I was, perhaps, not the target audience. In the end I put it down before finishing because it seemed a little mean spirited in parts and because there weren’t any new revelations. Also because I was listening to it on audio book and it was TWENTY DISCS. So you really have to love something to commit to TWENTY DISCS. Additionally it was narrated by the author who just does not have a future in radio, if you know what I’m saying.

What I did find sort of interesting for a while though was the fact that Oprah didn’t cooperate and wouldn’t be interviewed for the book. Kitty Kelley spends a lot of time discussing this and of course what it means to write an “Unauthorized Biography” right off the bat and I found it a little fascinating. Kelley (or perhaps her assistants, more likely) pieced together the entire book from interviews that Oprah had given to others. She chose to make an entirely separate text from already existing interviews and psychological conclusions based on what information was and wasn’t divulged at different times. Watching her craft that was interesting and a little meta, to be quite frank, but I’m not sure I buy it as 100% accurate, which is how Kelley sells it. “These are Oprah’s words. I’m just repeating them. No judgment here!” But there was a lot of bias.

Beaten, Seared and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America by Jonathan Dixon

This was another book I wanted to love, but just kept putting it down because I wasn’t really drawn in. The premise is so interesting though, right? Behind the scenes at the Culinary Institute of America — I mean, what the heck is that like? I’m dying to know.

And I’m still dying to know because after 3 weeks of it sitting on my nightstand I still didn’t have any desire to finish it.

The weird part is, Dixon is a pretty engaging writer. I think the book was just too chronological to really peak my interest. I wanted to hear more of a story, not just a description of events. I’m sure it is a good book, it just wasn’t a good fit for me at the time. Maybe you will pick it up and read it and actually finish it? If you do: TELL ME WHAT IT IS LIKE!

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

I do not say this very often, and I want to be somewhat delicate about this, but I can’t: I REALLY DID NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. It’s 200 some odd pages of my life I will never get back.

Two things to note:
1) This is not the author’s normal genre and she is quite notable in her genre of choice
2) TONS of people seem to love this book on goodreads

I didn’t for two main reasons. The first — it was completely overwritten in a way that I find super irritating. The author was trying very hard to create nostalgia and to me it was so heavy handed I felt suffocated. Every freaking adjective was hyphenated — The two friends weren’t close they were “body-close,” her comforter was “bed-wraggled,” every single adjective was qualified in a way that was supposed to provide insight and nuance in its description and it just made me want to throw the book across the room. But I kept reading.

The premise was interesting: two young best friends, one disappears — what happens in the aftermath? You want to know, right? Well so do I, still! The ending was totally not resolved in a way that was satisfying or that made sense. Not that we don’t find out what happens to the friend, but it just seems way out in left field and then there is this sick undercurrent of incest and molestation and grooming and it’s never really confirmed or denied so it just seems icky and unnecessary. I’m sorry, but man I hated it. Thank god it was short.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I left these for last because, well — they were the last books I read this month! But also because I wanted to talk about them collectively. Full disclosure — I have a few pages left to go in Mockingjay but I’m done enough that we are counting it towards November ok? Okay! This is my website, I make up the rules! 🙂

For the most part — I loved these books. After a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad book (hyphenated adjectives used for effect!) it was nice to flip through something that had a clear narrative arc and no creepy molesting undertones. The first book was awesome, I couldn’t put it down. The second was pretty interesting but became sort of repetitive at the end. And the third — well, seemed a little slapped together. It was my least favorite, but I hear I am not in the minority on that.

That said — I would SO RECOMMEND THIS TO OTHERS. And now all of you are like “Duh, welcome to the party.” But it took me a long time to *want* to read these because I’m not really a fan of dystopian worlds and all that business. But this had just the right mix of complete and utter ridiculousness, mixed with believability.

It was a good time, that trilogy. So now that I TOTALLY trust your advice, what do I read next? Stopping to read all The Hunger Games books has completely screwed up my library book schedule so I’m open to suggestions! 🙂

September Books

I read 5 books last month which means it’s official — I reached my goal of reading 50 books this year!


Obviously I’m kind of excited about that, and I can’t help but think that documenting those books here made me push a little harder each month. There were definitely times where I knew that if I didn’t pick up a book soon I would be showing up here and writing, “Yep, didn’t read anything” and the thought of that always bummed me out. Does that count as positive peer pressure? Who knows! But it certainly motivated me to turn off the TV and crack open a book more often than not. And in the long run, I am always happier when I am reading more.

This month, it seems I was very into mystery/thriller types.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
In this book a 30-something realtor is abducted and locked in a cabin in the remote wilderness for over a year. After escaping, the story of her abduction and the year following it are told through sessions with a psychiatrist. When I heard that, I thought I would hate the writing style of this book, but I actually found that mostly I was able to fall into the story and get lost in the plot — which was enjoyable. Of course then she would begin each chapter with “Hey Psychiatrist, I’ve been thinking…blah blah blah” and that would remind me that the author was using this little device and kind of irritate me, but mostly I didn’t notice. The story was entertaining enough for me to overlook that though, and when I put this book down I immediately put her newest book on hold at the library.

Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon
I feel like this shouldn’t even count as a book but I had to wait for it on the hold list at the library for weeks, so I’m counting it! It is stupidly hilarious, as is Jimmy Fallon and I thumbed through it in about an hour. Not sure it was worth weeks of waiting, but there were some hilarious one liners. For example: Thank you, Miley Cyrus, for being 16 and acting like a stripper at the Teen Choice Awards. If you REALLY wanna piss off your dad, why not just cut off his allowance?

Granted, it was probably mostly ghost written by the writers on his show, but it was Silly. Stupid. Funny. And I like that. Don’t buy it, but flip through it at the library for a laugh.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
The quote on the cover of this book said it was a “stylish” mystery. What the hell does that even mean, I thought. But you guys — IT IS STYLISH! It was just a pleasure to read because of the writing, not necessarily because of the mysteries.

The book’s (and series’) main character Jackson Brodie is a detective and there were 3 cases that were all interestingly interwoven together and ultimately solved. Of course that part was enjoyable, but it was the characters, locations and emotions that kept me turning the pages, not so much a heart pumping sense of What Happens Next? It was stylish, I thought to myself in the end. What a great word! Now whether that makes for a great mystery book in your opinion, only you can know. But I enjoyed it! And I will definitely read more of Kate Atkinson.

The Sixes by Kate White
Speaking of heart-pumping, page turning thrillers: this was one. I read it over a few days (even though I really needed to be doing other things) because I just had to know what happened. The ending wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be, but the entire experience of the book was just super fun and engaging.

I’m sort of embarrassed to tell you how I came across this title, but we’re all friends here right? So I started following Katie Lee on Twitter after reading Groundswell last month and she tweeted that this was one of her #fridayreads. I am a total sucker for books about secret societies or mischief on college campuses (HELLO, Secret History…will there ever be another as good as you?) and this fed that particular addiction quite well.

I won’t say this was the best thriller I ever read, but it was super fun to get involved in and I immediately checked out 3 more of her books, which I think is its own kind of endorsement, yes? She is the Editor in Chief of Cosmo and it shows. Compulsively Readable but Guilty Pleasure-ish, you know? One of my bookshelves on Goodreads is going to be named that one day, for sure.

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
After reading Still Missing at the beginning of the month and enjoying it, I was excited to see this show up. But when I cracked open the first chapter, the main character was talking to a psychiatrist again and honestly, I was a little disappointed. I guess I didn’t realize this type of narrative structure was her schtick. But I kept going, as the story had an interesting premise: Adopted girl named Sara searches for her birth mother. Finds her, only to discover that she was the only surviving victim of a serial killer/rapist and Sara’s birth father is still at large. When the media picks up the story the killer starts calling Sara and she gets involved helping the policy try and capture him.

This book. Ugh. If I could put aside the psychiatrist thing, it was a very entertaining read at the beginning. But the ending? I did NOT love the ending of this book. Very anti-climatic and coupled with the psychiatrist gig? It all just kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. I really want to like Chevy Stevens. Undecided if I will read anything of hers again. Two might be enough.

So what did you read this month — anything that knocked your socks off?

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