I'll share a few of the hits and misses I've read the past few months.
1. Dearie by Bob Spitz
I'd already read My Life in France by Julia previously, but I'd heard good things about Dearie and wanted to read it as well. I think I actually liked it better than My Life in France, just because it seemed a bit more comprehensive and covered a lot more than My Life in France. I really enjoyed reading about the background of Julia and her family, her school years and her life pre-Paul. Julia was certainly a character and sometimes reading stuff she said or did kind of shocked me because I couldn't imagine the Julia I saw in my mind saying/doing those things, but it wasn't a shocker in a bad way. Just kind of interesting to imagine her in a different light. This book is a bit long, but it's not hard to get through. I highly recommend it!
2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
I actually just finished this book this week. I liked it, although at times I was just shocked about what I was reading. This book is the story of Louie Zamperini, an athlete who competed in the 1936 Olympics and later is a POW in Japan during WWII. I'd never read about how POW's were treated in Japan during the war and I was shocked. Time after time when reading a chapter I'd just shake my head and wonder how these men ever survived. Although I really liked the book and found it detailed in the material it covered leading up to the war and during the war, I really wish there had been more of Louie's story after the war. There were chapters about it, but I felt like it wasn't as detailed as other parts of the book. Louie Zamperini (and the other POW's) story is so amazing and you really must read it.
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This seems to be the "it" book right now. I was a little late to the game in reading this book, but I finally snagged it at our library a few weeks ago. This book is something else. First of all, I've never hated two main characters in a book as much as I did with this book. I won't give away the story, as there might be others out there that haven't read it, but the ending shocked me. I just closed the book thinking, "How in the world did this book end like this?!" It wasn't a bad ending, it just surprised me. I cannot wait to see this made into a movie. I just hope it does the book justice.
4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
This is the first book in a series and it was probably the best surprise I've had in awhile when picking out a random book. The series revolves around Flavia de Luce, an 11 year-old obsessed with chemistry and quite proficient in solving local crimes and murders. Basically she's a cheeky, younger British version of Nancy Drew. Flavia lives in England in the 1950's in a small village with her eccentric father, two older sisters and their crazy servants. I love Flavia and find her hilarious. If I had a daughter like her, I'd be endlessly amused. I'm getting ready to start the third book in this series and I am hooked.
5. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
This book was a huge disappointment to me. I had a couple of friends tell me they loved it and even the librarian told me how much she loved the main character, how sassy and hilarious she was. Well, let me just say that I'm surprised anyone liked this book. Maybe my sense of humor or my definition of sassy and sarcastic is different than others? Because the main character just irritated me and I didn't even find her funny. Not even a little bit. The only redeeming part of this book was a few steamy scenes. I know this is a series, but there's no way I'll be reading the other books in this series.
6. Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
This was my other disappointing read in the last few months. Let me just say, I love the Sookie Stackhouse books, but as the series has gone on, the books have lost some of what made them special in the first place. I told a friend of mine that Sookie has killed/slept with so many different people that I can't even keep them all straight when I read the books. Plus, I feel like the plots just keep getting stranger and more out there. This latest book deals a lot with the fairy world and less and less with the original vampires and werewolves of the first few books. I just think it's time that this series comes to an end.