December 2019 Reading Round-Up

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King ★★ ★ ☆ Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book you see someone reading o...

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King ★★

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie

Brief synopsis: In a small Appalachian town, a strange woman has appeared straight out of the woods and murdered a couple of meth-heads quick and brutally. Soon after, a worldwide epidemic starts spreading. The symptoms: when a woman falls asleep, a cocoon-like webbing covers their entire body, and if they're awoken, it's in a brutal and deadly fit of rage. What's weirder is this epidemic is not affecting the strange woman from the woods. So is she the cause, or is she the cure?

Overall thoughts: Different from solo King novels, but still haunting and full of character development, I appreciated this book from King and his son Owen. I loved the Appalachian setting and the uniqueness of this oddly feminist story. I had a hard time with the alternate setting at times, but overall - King does it again. Full review here.

The People We Hate at the Wedding* by Grant Ginder ★★★☆☆

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book that includes a wedding

Brief synopsis: Paul and Alice have been invited to a big, fancy, expensive wedding in London - the wedding of their half-sister Eloise. Instead of being thrilled, they're horribly angry about this wedding and basically everything Eloise stands for. Paul's relationship has taken a dramatic turn, and Alice's relationship isn't quite what you'd call traditional. Their mother, Donna, is miserable and hates herself feeling like she peaked in life around the time Eloise was her only child. As they all begin to gather for the wedding, drama ensues.

Overall thoughts: I hated every single character in this story and it kind of ruined the whole book for me. Full review here.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon ★★

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book that takes place in a single day

Brief synopsis: Natasha is a being of science and facts. She's smart, and she is on a mission. Today may be her family's last day in the States. So she's doing everything in her power to save her family's status and not be deported. She's lived in American since she was a child; she hardly knows anything else. Daniel, on the other hand, is a believer of fate. He's a poet, with his head in the clouds, an asshole brother, and parents who want him to be a doctor. When he meets Natasha, he sees it as a sign. Of what he's not sure, but he's determined to find out.

Overall thoughts: I really loved this novel, the representation of diverse characters, and the plot focused on immigration issues. This book is absolutely about insta-love, but it's very cute and the underlying topic was so important. Plus, I can totally deal with YA insta-love as compared to insta-love in adult novels. Full review here.

Looking for Alaska by John Green ★★

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads

Brief synopsis: Miles "Pudge" Halter is a fan of last words, and is on a journey to find his "Great Perhaps." So he leaves his home in Florida and travels to small-town Alabama for boarding school. There he meets new friends and general trouble-makers, Chip "The Colonel," Takumi, and Alaska Young, with whom he quickly becomes smitten.

Overall thoughts: I could never place my finger on whether I liked Alaska or not, but this book (like all of Green's books) was well written, funny, and emotional. I really enjoyed the book, but actually enjoyed the Hulu adaptation more. Full review here.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding ★★★☆☆

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A retelling of a classic (Pride & Prejudice)

Brief synopsis: Bridget Jones is quite miserable. She's a single 30-something woman, working tirelessly to improve herself. She wants to lose weight, find a newer and better job, develop an adult relationship, and quit smoking. This book is literally her diary over the course of a year.

Overall thoughts: I really dislike Bridget. This book, while funny and charming at times, was mostly about a very insecure woman who wants to lose weight and find a boyfriend. It just didn't totally align with my values of body-love and self acceptance. Full review here.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver ★★★☆☆

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A ghost story

Brief synopsis: Following the death of their father, siblings Minna and Trenton arrive to their childhood home to put his affairs in order. Along for the ride is their mother Caroline and Minna's daughter Amy. As they set about clearing out the house, secrets begin to unfold. Little do they know, within the house also rests two ghosts - Alice and Sandra, who really do not get along and house some secrets of their own.

Overall thoughts: Rooms focused way too much on size/shape/weight and dealt with a lot of sensitive issues in really inappropriate/incomplete ways. I liked the organization of the book (sections set in rooms of the house), but felt the execution and storytelling were lacking. Full review here.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay ★★

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A reread of a favorite book

Brief synopsis: Goblet of Fire is much darker than previous books in the HP series, and about twice as long. Things are starting to look up for Harry. He has a godfather now, which has made living with the Dursley's a bit less dreadful. He's excited to spend time at the Weasley's this summer and attend the Quidditch World Cup. But once at the cup, dark wizards abound and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's mark is shot into the sky. At least, his time at Hogwarts will be a bit more relaxed this time around. He's excited to watch the school's Triwizard Tournament alongside his classmates and meet witches and wizards from neighboring schools. Until his name comes out as a champion for the tournament. But he didn't enter his name. So this is someone's cruel idea of a joke, or someone's trying to get him killed... again.

Overall thoughts: Reading GoF as an adult in today's world was much more difficult emotionally than it was when I was younger. This book gets a lot darker than the first three, focuses a lot on social justice issues, and deals with bigotry in terms of pureblood vs non-pureblood wizardry. I sobbed a lot throughout this reread. As for the illustrations, they were beautiful, but there was a huge lack of them. For such a long book, I didn't feel this had anymore illustrations than the first three. Full review here.

The Body by Stephen King ★★

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: N/A

Brief synopsis: It's the summer of 1960 in Castle Rock, Maine, and word has it there's a body in the woods a couple of towns over just off the railroad tracks. It's presumed to be a boy that's been notably missing for weeks. Gordie LaChance, 12, and his three closest friends (all from dysfunctional or abusive homes) decide to secretly make their way to the body to be the ones to find and report it, thus becoming local heroes. Through their 20+ mile journey, they're forced to confront life, death, and their impending futures.

Overall thoughts: Wow, this is one heck of a story. I always loved the film adaptation, Stand By Me, but this book is wonderful. It's under 200 pages, has no supernatural/horror elements, and is just a really beautiful heartbreaking coming-of-age story that's haunting in its very own way. Full review here.

Dreamland* by Nancy Bilyeau ★★★☆☆

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: N/A

Brief synopsis: Peggy is granddaughter to one of the richest men in America, up there with the Rockfellers and Vanderbilts. The thing is, she's kind of over it. She wants to be her own person, without all the rules and riches. She wants to work in this lovely little bookstore in a job she doesn't actually need. But she's forced to quit her bookstore job and spend the summer on Coney Island with her family. There she falls in love with an immigrant artist and the summer may not be so bad after all. But then multiple women are found dead on the island. Is her family being their to blame, or is the island really as bad as she's heard?

Overall thoughts: I'm not huge on historical fiction, but this book had a good mixture of historical fiction, mystery, and social justice. Also, it wasn't set during WWII - so that's a plus. I enjoyed the setting of Coney Island and the look at classism and women's rights. I thought the insta-love story line and that fact that it was almost central to the plot, though unnecessarily, really dampened my view of the book overall. But I did find that I enjoyed the story. Full review here.

What did you read in December?

* denotes book was received free in exchange of an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own. 

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