Show Us Your Books – December 2015

Holy cow, it’s the last Show Us Your Books linkup for 2015, and the first one on my new blog! Endings and beginnings. It’s like the circle of life, you guys.

titus

Today I’m posting about books that I read in October & November, since I was all busy and important at the beginning of last month and missed the linkup! Each book has links to its amazon page, because hello, I am very poor and need those 42 cents I get if you buy the book. I should design a t-shirt that says “I Blog So My Cats Can Have A Better Life”.

Girl on the Train

From Goodreads: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I don’t read that much fiction, but this book made me feel like I need to pick up well-written mystery/thriller genre books more often! Slowly learning more about the narrator in the first couple of chapters reminded me of that concept where we all tend to assume that the main character is just like us until we learn otherwise. It’s hard to write much about without getting all spoilery, but I will say that the author did a great job of getting you to suspect multiple characters of being guilty, as well as throwing in unexpected twists that still felt plausible. It’s the kind of book that you want to go back and reread after you finish and know what happened. Fans of Gone Girl will probably dig this one, too.

Paper Towns

From GoodreadsQuentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him.

This was my first John Green book (I know….) and I mostly picked it up because I heard it was set in Orlando. And for me, that ended up being the best part of the book. The city is so present in almost every chapter – They reference actual streets and places and there’s even a mention of a 7-11 downtown that immediately brought the mental image up of the one I’ve stopped at countless times after seeing a local band play. Every little nod to Publix or Colonial Drive made me happy.

Ready for unpopular opinion time? While I thought that the characters were pretty well crafted and the story was good, I wasn’t a big fan of the actual writing. Does that make me a horrible person deserving to be outcast from society?

The movie, btw? Ugh. The book was written in such a cinematic format that I could imagine exactly how scenes would look as a movie, but they blew it. They left out scenes that would have been fantastic on screen and changed quite a few story aspects that in turn changed up the characters’ motivations and the meaning behind choices they make. Stick with the book.

How the World Sees You

This book ended up being quite different from what I expected, but still pretty interesting. The book has a code to send you to the author’s site to take a personality test that tells you what your “advantages” (aka strengths) are, so that you ca learn who to work these qualities to your advantage to stand out. You’re then assigned an archetype depending on your top two advantages. Here’s mine, based on top advantages of Innovation & Passion :

rockstar

About half of the book is dedicated to chapters explaining each of the 49 archetypes – how they operate, their strengths, how to work with them, etc. To be honest, I ended up skipping over a lot of that. Reading about the ones related to me was interesting, but since I work alone and don’t have to worry about managing employees of different types, I didn’t feel like I was getting all that much by reading about all of the others. (And honestly, I knew I wasn’t going to remember most of it.) I can see how knowing how to approach different personalities and who to pair up for a project would be super useful if you were in charge of a team, department. etc, though.

Psychopath Test Book Reviews

 The Psychopath Test

I love psychology, so I found this book fascinating. “Psychopath” is a term that gets tossed around a lot, but how many people really know exactly what it means? It turns out that there are 20 characteristics that true psychopaths usually display – things like an inflated sense of self-worth, lack of empathy, superficial charm, and lack of remorse. Although we most often hear about the serial killer kind of psychopath (which definitely does exist), they’re much more commonly just members of the general population, and interestingly make up a large portion of the highest ranking business leaders. Turns out that a lot of those same characteristics that define you as a psychopath also turn out to be really handy for getting ahead in business.

The obvious problem with this kind of book is that you can’t help starting to try to diagnose people. I’m not gonna name any names, but once you notice that pretty much all of the factors apply to a certain person running for office (we’ll call them Bonald Bump), it’s impossible to un-see.

Skip this last bit if you want zero spoilers! But if you don’t care, I wanted to share a part that I found fascinating. Psychopaths don’t generally experience the “normal” range of human emotions, but they are often known to study how others react to situations and mimic those facial expressions. (“Okay, when Bob said he was angry, his eyebrows squished together and his mouth turned down.” So the observer will try to copy those movements in a situation where they think it’s appropriate.) The line that stuck with me most? A test was conducted where psychopaths were shown images of people’s faces that portrayed various emotions. When shown a face displaying fear one test subject responded, “I have no idea what emotion that is, I just know it’s the face people make when I kill them.” EEP.

Married Sex Book Reviews

Married Sex

A friend posted a glowing review of this book on Facebook, so I checked Netgalley and was happy to see I could grab it free in exchange for a review! It’s not my usual style of book, but I did find it hard to put down.

From Goodreads: When a husband convinces his wife to join him in a tryst with another woman, there are unintended consequences in this sharply observed erotic tale about the challenges of modern marriage.

Wile this book obviously contains “the sex” (which is thankfully well-written), the focus is much more on the relationships between the characters, and how events change up those dynamics. It’s an interesting look at how complicated even happy marriages can be. I also found having a male narrator’s point of view refreshing, since so many relationship-themed books tend to default to the woman’s voice. I wouldn’t personally call this a must-read, but I did enjoy it and it would make a satisfying beach (or snow day!) read.

I’m currently reading The Woman I Wanted to Be and Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, so look for reviews of those next month.

Be sure to visit Life According to Steph to check out the book reviews from other bloggers participating in the link-up!

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  • Well written mystery thrillers are my favorite.

    I’m glad you joined us! We’re doing a best of 2015 books link up on 12/29 if you’re around!

  • I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train as well. Some were critical of the unlikeable characters, but I found that all the more interesting.

    Your insights on the books you read were really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  • I have a tremendous crush on John Green so that definitely alters my opinion (favorably) of his books but I am in the minority of people who genuinely liked Paper Towns even if Margo was straight up awful.

    Thanks for joining us and like Steph said, we’re having a second one on the 29th. Hope you’ll join us then, too!

  • Katie

    I wasn’t a huge fan of Paper Towns, either. You need to try The Fault In Our Stars (even JP raved about that one) or Looking for Alaska. I tore through Girl on the Train in one day! Good stuff.