I still have over a week left in the month and I will be in a place where I have plenty of reading time after tomorrow so I will read a few more books before the end of the year. I’m writing this now because I will be writing my year in books at the time I would usually do this one.
1. Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he might really be dead. Mei, the reaper, takes Wallace to Hugo, the owner of a tea shop in a small town. Hugo is a ferryman who helps people cross over. Wallace is not ready to cross and spends time at the tea shop with Hugo, Mei, and the ghosts of Hugo’s dog and grandfather. In death, Wallace finally learns what it means to truly live.
In theory, this is a good book. I enjoyed large parts of it while reading it. I liked Nelson, the grandfather, a lot. The parts with him teaching Wallace to be a ghost are good. As soon as I stopped reading, though, I had no desire to start again. I should have just quit, but I loved his first book so much I wanted to keep giving it a chance. Wallace and Hugo are too similar to the characters in Cerulean Sea. Everything was a little too perfect. The ending was the typical contrived, Hollywood happy ending. It was a disappointment.
2. Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey
When 16-year-old Abi disappears from an insular small town all of the community’s secrets start to come to light.
The book is a stark view of a town guided by a local preacher’s message of hate toward those who don’t share his beliefs and run by a businessman who follows him. Abi’s family is in shambles due to the actions of her violent, homophobic father. Her best friend Emma is dealing with guilt over leaving Abi alone at the party where she disappeared and also the racism she faces as a POC in town, Abi’s brother, Noah, is in love with Rat, a Romanian immigrant who lives in the town’s trailer park. This is an affront to the homophobia and racism that runs rampant in the town. All of this swirls around Abi’s disappearance and Emma’s hunt for the truth.
This is the first book in a while that has made me want to keep reading even when I had other things to do. It is dark but very good.
3. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
Years ago, Matt Haig started writing notes to his future self. These notes were meant to be gifts to his future self. Offerings of hope to help himself through dark times. He added more stories and thoughts and turned them into Thr Comfort Book.
For the first stretch of reading the book, I did it the way I think it was intended – a page or two here and there as needed. As I got closer to trying to wrap things up for the holidays, I started reading it straight through. I think the first way is the best. When you read it all at once it loses a little impact. It was very good, though, and I would recommend it to everyone.
The one I shared on Facebook that I think I need to work on the most:
Your self-worth is not found inside the minds of other people.
I let other people’s opinions of me affect my self-worth way too much.
4. Never by Ken Follett
Never tells the story of a world on the brink of WWIII. The book is told from the perspective of several people: a CIA agent stationed in Chad, a CIA operative who is helping them track a terrorist group, a senior government official in China, and the President of the United States.
As with any book like this, it has the danger of someone being more invested in one perspective and losing interest when it switches. I was totally invested in the story of the CIA operative and his journey across Africa posing as a refugee. I enjoyed the workings of the Chinese government. I didn’t care that the CIA agent in Chad was in love with her French counterpart. I didn’t like how he wrote President Green and didn’t care about her failing marriage. It was easy to put the book down in some of those parts. I also didn’t see how the story in Africa connected to the main plot. Still, Follett is a very good storyteller and he made me want to keep reading to see how it ended. I think there will likely be a sequel.
I would recommend it to fans of Clancy and others of his ilk.