Monthly Reads | January

Monday, February 1, 2016

My reading habit really dropped off in the fall, which was both expected and unexpected in ways. I've been determined to get back into reading this year and have set my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal at 30 books this year. The fact that I've read four books in January alone gives me hope that I'll reach my goals with no problem this year.

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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
With my goal of spending more time on creativity this year, I decided that the best way to kick off 2016 was to dive into Elizabeth Gilbert's newest trending book, Big Magic. It seems like everyone has been reading this book, and with good reason. Although it has mixed reviews, I am one who immediately gave it five stars.

I love Liz Gilbert's way with words. She has a wonderful way of constructing even the simplest sentences with such preciseness and utmost effectiveness. As an aspiring writer myself, I'm always anxious not only to drink up all of her advice on life and creativity, but to also study her writing style. What a wonderful combination of advice and example!

Many times throughout Ms Gilbert's guide, I felt as though she were speaking directly to me. What are you waiting for? Do not be afraid to begin your creative journey. There is no time like the present. Things do not have to be perfectly lined up in your life before you can start. I'm more inspired than ever and ready to put pen to paper myself. Thank you Big Magic!

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This book was trending so hard in 2015 that I don't know how I haven't read it before now. Having only been on the shelves for a solid year, the corresponding movie is already set to premiere in October this year. (And you know I have to read a book before I see the movie!) The movie will be starring Emily Blunt as main character Rachel and will also star Laura Prepon (OITNB), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible), Luke Evans (The Hobbit), Haley Bennett (The Equalizer), Justin Theroux (American Psycho), and many more names you will definitely recognize.

Honestly, it took me a while to get into this book. I read it quickly and steadily, but I had a very hard time liking or finding any sympathy for the main character. This may come as no surprise to you if you've read the book, and I do know that part of this story's genius is that it is told from this character's perspective. I won't go into details on why this character is difficult to love (no spoilers here!) but you do end up finding her more likable by the end.

The Girl on the Train is a twisted mystery, jumping from one point-of-view to another in order to shape and reshape the story before you. Frequently likened to Gone Girl, this one definitely keeps you guessing until the very end; I was unable to piece together the truths of this story until the characters started doing so themselves. While it wasn't one of my favorite books, it will make a fantastic movie.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
You may notice a trend here: everything I've read so far this month was extremely popular in 2015. It just took me this long to get my hands on them (and the time to dedicate to reading). Red Queen was no exception, showing up in countless review lists and plastered all over popular book-centered Instagrams.

This book has similar themes to other books I've read, but Aveyard has accomplished what so many authors who admire greats like Tolkien and R.R. Martin only wish to do: she has successfully created her own world, full of it's own rules. There is magic and power, a caste system dividing the population, and one ordinary girl who is thrown into a very unordinary world. There are predictable parts of this storyline (a futuristic war-torn world on the brink of revolution) but there were twists that threw me and that I never saw coming. Book two, Glass Sword, hits shelves February 9th and I've already pre-ordered my copy. I can't wait to see what happens to the characters. (And I wouldn't be shocked to see it as a movie in the future!)

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Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
This book is one that I was unaware of until the movie was already in theatres, but that didn't stop me from looking it up and ordering a copy! I don't always have to read the book first, but it sounded like such a great story and I wanted to hear it from the author's perspective.

Here's a link to the trailer for the film, by the way. It looks so good and I can't wait to see it! I've heard great things and it has been nominated for several awards this season.

This story is sweet, heartbreaking, and nostalgic. Somehow, Tóibín manages with great success to depict the internal struggles of a young girl as she deals with homesickness, the hurdles of a new life (in a new city and new country), and cautiously falling in love. I felt that I myself could have written the descriptions of what homesickness feels like, teetering back and forth between the good days and the bad. I could also relate to the struggle to define "home," to decide which path to take when presented with the opportunity to return to a more familiar, comfortable life, and the feelings that home isn't ever the same as it was when you left it. This is a must-read for anyone who has moved far away, or even for someone who hasn't.

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