Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 Favorite Reads of Last Winter


TanyaAndi and are doing a fun December activity and I will be participating occasionally. Might be a nice change from the usual. Today's blogpost: 5 favorite reads of last winter!


Last winter was particularly brutal. But luckily good books and a warm apartment helped keep me sane. Here are my five favorite books that I read last winter (summaries and pictures from goodreads):


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"HHhH" by Laurent Binet.
"HHhH: “Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich”, or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”. The most dangerous man in Hitler’s cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich was known as the “Butcher of Prague.” He was feared by all and loathed by most. With his cold Aryan features and implacable cruelty, Heydrich seemed indestructible—until two men, a Slovak and a Czech recruited by the British secret service, killed him in broad daylight on a bustling street in Prague, and thus changed the course of History.
Who were these men, arguably two of the most discreet heroes of the twentieth century? In Laurent Binet’s captivating debut novel, we follow Jozef Gabćik and Jan Kubiš from their dramatic escape of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to England; from their recruitment to their harrowing parachute drop into a war zone, from their stealth attack on Heydrich’s car to their own brutal death in the basement of a Prague church.
A seemingly effortlessly blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Laurent Binet’s remarkable imagination, HHhH—an international bestseller and winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman—is a work at once thrilling and intellectually engrossing, a fast-paced novel of the Second World War that is also a profound meditation on the nature of writing and the debt we owe to history.
HHhH is one of The New York Times' Notable Books of 2012. "
This book was incredible. It was even funny sometimes, quite a feat considering the subject matter. After reading this book (though it was a little bit fiction) I felt like an expert on this event. When I'm in Prague I will be seeking out all of these places!

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"Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach

(You can check out my review here)

"Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers some willingly, some unwittingly have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them."

Ah the book that introduced me to Mary Roach. And my favorite Mary Roach book still! Death is a taboo and touchy subject and I appreciate Mary's humorous but respectful approach. I highly highly recommend this book, even if you aren't generally a science person.



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"Havisham" by Ronald Frame

(You can check out my review here)

"HAVISHAM IS THE ASTONISHING PRELUDE TO CHARLES DICKENS'S GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

Before she became the immortal and haunting Miss Havisham of Great Expectations, she was Catherine, a young woman with all of her dreams ahead of her. Spry, imperious, she is the daughter of a wealthy brewer. But she is never far from the smell of hops and the arresting letters on the brewhouse wall—HAVISHAM—a reminder of all she owes to the family name and the family business.

Sent by her father to stay with the Chadwycks, Catherine discovers elegant pastimes to remove the taint of her family's new money. But for all her growing sophistication, Catherine is anything but worldly, and when a charismatic stranger pays her attention, everything—her heart, her future, the very Havisham name—is vulnerable.

In Havisham, Ronald Frame unfurls the psychological trauma that made young Catherine into Miss Havisham and cursed her to a life alone, roaming the halls of the mansion in the tatters of the dress she wore for the wedding she was never to have.

Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013"


You know how I know this book is good? I don't like Great Expectations, and I still really liked this book. I think Miss Havisham is such an interesting character and I was so curious to hear about her backstory. Didn't disappoint!



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"The Circle" by Dave Eggers

(You can check out my review here)

"The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge."


This book is great but also very scary because I can see it happening in the not too distant future. Put your electronics down occasionally before it all takes over!




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"Burn" by Julianna Baggott

"The fate of the world is more fragile than ever as Pures battle Wretches and former allies become potential enemies.

Inside the Dome Patridge has taken his father's place as leader of the Pures. His intent had been to bring down the Dome from the inside with the help of the secret resistance force led by Partridge's former teacher Glassings. But from his new position of power, things don't seem quite as clear. Perhaps his father had been right. Perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome--and Partridge--to rule it.

Outside the Dome Pressia and Bradwell continue piecing together the clues left to them by their parents from the time before the detonations. Soon they will be able to help heal the Wretches, freeing them from their monstrous fusings and the Dome's oppression once and for all. But their success also depends on Partridge. Can they still trust their friend and ally to see their plan through? Or will a new war begin?"

I don't generally get over the moon excited about trilogies but this one I was bananas for. It was agonizing waiting for the third book and when it came out I gobbled it up. Love this series because it takes a really harsh look at people and realities after a cataclysmic event.

15 comments:

  1. I read HHhH last year and I thought it was really good...it's so funny, I've never seen it mentioned by any other blogger except you!

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    1. I don't know anyone else who has read it either! It read like a thriller, I'm surprised more people haven't read it.

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  2. Awesome picks! STIFF is one of my all-time favorite books, and I definitely want to give HHhH a go! As for Havisham, I'm a huge Great Expectations fan, and I didn't care for it. There was something I found choppy and stilted about the writing, and perhaps being such a big fan put me at a disadvantage in this case? I think that could be a thing. :)

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    1. I had such low expectations for Havisham that when I liked it I was like, Wow! haha. HHhH is thrilling and educational and sad as hell all rolled into one!

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  3. I remember seeing HHhH on the list for the IFFP two years ago. It sounds really interesting, but sadly, I haven't read it yet. One day...

    Bellezza (dolcebellezza.net)

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    1. There's so many great books out there, some day I'll try to get to all of them.

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  4. I've only ever heard about Stiffs before, which is certainly interesting. Mary Roach has an interesting repertoire with very curious themes for her books. I'll probably check them out someday. Though I have to admit, "HHhH" by Laurent Binet was the one that caught my eye. I love historical fiction, and I think the genre is perfect for Winter, but what I loved the most was that it featured a German character. That is certainly a different perspective I would like to read about. Plus, I haven't read anything about Prague and I love funny!

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    1. Historical fiction is great for winter! I wonder why that is, but I think youre totally right.

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  5. The Circle sounds really good. I love seeing lists of people's favorites.

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    1. It's good and a little bit futuristically scary!

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  6. I've seen a lot HHhH reviews on the English blogs last year! And it was always praised. It has been quite a huge success in France as well but I'm not interested.
    Like Andi, I had 'great expectations' concerning Havisham and I've been disappointed.
    But, The Circle is one of my favorite reads of 2014! I'm glad to find it on your list.

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    1. The Circle was great! It freaked me out a little because I can see it happening in real life but it was good!

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    2. I've felt exactly the same as you!

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  7. Your last book reminded I haven't finished that brilliant series. I loved Pure, and it's crazy that I haven't read Burn yet. And don't all the books have the most gorgeous covers?!

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    1. Oh my gosh Tanya, drop whatever you are doing and finish them! I thought it was such a great and inventive series. All of those covers are freaking great, and they fit the books so well.

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Thank you so much for your comment. I'd love to talk books with you!