We’re friends, right? And friends can be honest with each other, and admit when they’ve, say, not exactly kept up their end of the deal? I KNOW.
This is a book blog, and here I am, blithely reading away, and NOT REVIEWING ANYTHING. YOU GUYS.
I could offer excuses (holidays health concerns surgery crazy crazy new church responsibilities) but come on, now. I’ve had some time, the last few weeks. And let’s be real. You want to know what I’m reading, yeah? Yeah!?So let’s get on with it. I’mma dive right in and give you a little bit about every single one of the t-w-e-n-t-y books I’ve read and not told you about, and I’ll maybe even give you a little nudge here and there and tell you which couple I recommend the most highly. Feel free to scan and browse by cover. You know you do. 😉
The Chapel Wars
I picked this one up at the library because, hey, doesn’t that cover just scream “Fun, light read!” That’s exactly what The Chapel Wars is. I loved Holly and Dax, and though the plot might have been a bit of a stretch, the quirky, sarcastic humor kept the story from being as over-the-top as a book about Las Vegas wedding chapels might lend itself to be. In the end, I felt like there was a little depth wanting, but I still enjoyed myself. Clean read. Three stars.
I liked a lot of things about Tabula Rasa. It’s super action-packed, and the whole crazy plot/villain dynamic was pretty awesome. For some reason, though, the romantic chemistry didn’t really jive, for me. There were some great lines, but not enough emotion behind them to make them quite believable. Maybe I’m just a tough customer, but I wanted more from TR. I’m not quite sure how to rate it. I found it effortlessly readable, and definitely likable, but something was missing. Maybe 3.5?
Compulsion was compulsively readable, and got me out of a book slump, for which I was exceedingly grateful. While I liked Barrie and Eight, their story seemed a little contrived, at times. Near the end, things started to feel a little muddled and patchy, and I felt like the story lacked a strong backbone. Perhaps the sequel, Persuasion, will be stronger, but I’m not sure I came out of Compulsion feeling like I need to read it.
Just Like the Movies
I’m going to be honest, here. I have absolutely no idea what this book was about, now. I had to go back to Goodreads and check the synopsis. Takeaway: Just Like the Movies was forgettable, but apparently I enjoyed it quite a lot. I haven’t marked it “language alert,” so it must have been pretty clean, and I’m assuming it was fairly light, since I can’t remember much. I love that about some contemporaries–light, fun, and just what I need when things are stressful.
Since You’ve Been Gone
I. Love. This. Book. I picked it up, thinking it’d be another light, forgettable contemporary. Having read Morgan Matson before, I should have expected more depth than that. Matson may just be my favorite contemporary author. She writes relationships with such intricate, layered richness that it’s difficult not to get lost in her novels. It’s absorbing, and I love how her subtle observations cause me to stop and think. Anyway. I can’t think of a thing I didn’t love about Since You’ve Been Gone: the friendships, the self-discovery, Frank…. It’s been a good while since I gave a novel five stars, but this one earned every one. It’s nearly flawless, and I loved it.
This Song Will Save Your Life
Which brings me to This Song Will Save Your Life. I must’ve seen at least 6 different bloggers rave about this book, and wondered what the heck the big deal was. Music, sure. I love music. Why not? Yeah, Leila Sales has a new convert. Elise is a protagonist unlike any other I’ve come across, and her odd, uncomfortable, individual little self is someone a reader just cannot help but cheer for. Just read it. I can’t even…. (Warning: some language).
One Wish Away
I was initially on the blog tour for this book, and ended up dropping out (per tour request) because I just couldn’t give a positive review. I don’t mind a bit of fantasy mixed in with my sci-fi, but I need the writing to feel believable, and when it comes to both those genres, I feel like readers (at least, readers like me!) are already going in with a heavy dose of skepticism. The writing needs to stand up to scrutiny, and the plotlines need to be flawless. It just wasn’t happening with One Wish Away.
Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Running, loss, and new love in a contemporary: basically the perfect book for me. The only reason I couldn’t go full five stars on this one is because it was a little overly sweary and descriptively sexy. Breathe, Annie, Breathe is not a book I’d recommend for the teens in my crowd, for sure, but I enjoyed Kenneally’s writing, and will likely go back to her again.
Behind the Scenes
I’ve wanted to read Behind the Scenes for a while, now, because I’m lightly acquainted with Dahlia over on Twitter–she’s a blogger who broke out and wrote a novel, and it seems everyone in the blogosphere has read and loved it. …shrug. I thought it was a cute enough story (girl needs money, girl’s best friend is a TV star, girl becomes an assistant to best friend. Didn’t we see this plot on Friends?), but it was weak in spots. Overall, it was entertaining-ish, but I’m not drawn to read the next book in the Daylight Falls series.
Bless my secret sister for sending me Golden. I vaguely recall adding it to my TBR because I’d seen rave reviews on some of my friends’ Goodreads feeds…from two years ago. For whatever reason, it never occurs to me to purchase books from the backlist, and I’m so glad I own this one. Golden is a mystery wrapped in a love story, and it’s intriguingly and emotionally wrought. I loved the ending, the characters (especially Kat!), and what it has to say about the choices we make. I’ll be re-reading Golden, at some point.
All the Bright Places
Oh, this book. My heart. If there were one fictional teenage boy I could tuck under my arm and care for, it’d be Finch. I love his tender little guts. Something about the synopsis makes the book sound so dramatic and full of angst, but it’s not, really. Or, rather, it works into things slowly; there’s no sense of heightened teenage melodrama, here. Yes, All the Bright Places starts on a bell tower ledge, but it was Finch’s humor–albeit sometimes dark–that grabbed my attention right away. I mean, okay, there’s no way around it: the book deals with heavy issues, but in a manner that seemed …accessible? Niven’s emotional sensitivity, throughout the book, is the reason the book feels like a love story, and absolutely worth the difficult pieces. I felt like the last chapter was attempting to be a little esoteric and didn’t quite fit with the tone of the rest of the book. But oh, how I loved Finch and Violet. Half star off for swearing.
I’ll Meet You There
Holy wow. I tried to start this in November, and it was clear it was not fluffy, which was what I desperately needed right then. This book is downright heavy, for a contemporary love story, and powerful. I’ve not been in love with Demetrios’ writing before this, but I’ll Meet You There pretty much knocked it out of the park, for me. Every character is full-bodied, every voice distinct, the settings vivid, and the emotions intense and raw. I’m downgrading only for the swearing (and there is a lot of it–one of the main characters is a Marine just back from the front and … yeah), but I could not stop reading. Impressive.
The Sky Is Everywhere
When things in my life are not insane, it takes me 2-3 days to finish a book. Lately, it’s been closer to three WEEKS. I finished The Sky Is Everywhere in about 5 hours. I inhaled it. I absolutely could not get enough: the characters, the descriptions, the emotions; Jandy Nelson is a fantastic writer. I was entirely enveloped in Lennie’s world. It’s difficult to believe this is a debut novel.
I really wanted to be in love with The Sweetheart. A coming-of-age novel about a girl on a female professional wrestler’s circuit in the 1950’s? It sounds totally fascinating, right? Ehh. It held my interest, sure, but I’ll give it to you straight: I didn’t love Gwen/Leonie. I sympathized with her, usually, but mostly she just drove me nuts. As for the writing, the book lent itself to fascination, but not entertainment, so I guess it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.
No Place to Fall
This was the next in a series of books I felt let me down, a little. I liked that No Place to Fall was a different sort of story for a contemp romance, with its own pace, and character types we don’t see very often. I liked that it wasn’t insta-romance, but I thought the chemistry was a little patchy. And as a singer, I actually struggled to connect with several of the passages that talked about music, which really shocked me. Usually, I find myself completely in tune (sorry, unintentional) with sections of books that talk about music, and especially singing or being on stage. Here, I was constantly frustrated by the lack of that connection. That said, there was one chunk in the middle–when Amber hears Will sing, and sings with him–that’s dead on. I’m hoping Brown’s next attempt wows me a little more, because I think she has the potential, for sure.
Eh. Magnolia. It seems like everyone thought this was super cute except me. I was mostly irritated by Jenna and Ryder until the big thing that brings them together, and then it got less obnoxious. Predictable, which is fine, but considering my general frustration going in, I just wanted them to get on with things, already. I thought the wrap-up was a little too clean, and I think I’d have preferred things without the last couple of chapters. That took it down a star for me. Some f-words, which honestly seemed kind of abrupt and out of character, but whatever.
Let’s Get Lost
Thank you, Adi Alsaid, for redeeming reading for me. I honestly just quit, for a couple of weeks, because after three books in a row that bummed me out, I just was not feeling it. But I finally had a day to myself, and picked Let’s Get Lost up on a whim, and the rest is history! I slammed through it in a day, and enjoyed it so much. Leila might be far more adventurous than, say, most anyone on earth, but I got lost, myself, in her story and the tales of the people she met. It was such a great antidote for the January cabin fever I’d been feeling. I’m a new Alsaid fan, and can’t wait for his new book to release in August.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Bless Lori’s heart for sending me Boys, an absolute charmer of a book. I think it’s a testament to this story’s pull that it took me SIX HOURS, post-surgery, to read the last ten pages because the drugs kept making me fall asleep, and yet I absolutely had to finish it that. day. I had to know what happened to Lara Jean! Such a cute book, and super clean. I loved the sister relationships, and that Lara Jean wasn’t your typical flat swoony teenager. I’m so pleased that a sequel is coming in May!
An Abundance of Katherines
Math nerds and prodigies: unite! This book. I don’t read enough books by men, no doubt, but I’d forgotten how I like John Green. Katherines is delightfully odd, with a strong, unique voice. I weirdly loved all the math references, and the book is filled with rich characters and a thick, lazy small-town setting. I related almost obscenely to Colin, and reading all the footnotes entertained the heck out of me. I wanted more than I got about Hollis and her family history, and the factory storyline wrapped up quickly for me, but as was my previous experience with Green, it’s the character relationships that made the reading experience so worthwhile.
Still Life with Breadcrumbs
I just finished Breadcrumbs on Sunday, and what a lovely little charming novel it is! I haven’t read much (except The Sweetheart) written for the adult market in a while, and while Quindlen always receives high praise, I think this is her most widely appealing novel. Quindlen’s writing is always thoughtful, observational, and this is no departure, but it is a first in that it’s a love story–both a romance, and a story about a woman learning to love herself. I adored the rich palette of characters in the quiet little backwoods community, and the sheer beauty of the prose as the story unfurled. It’s uplifting and delightful, and I was so pleased to have read it! I’d recommend it highly for book groups and the like.
Okay, so. That’s a LOT of reviews, right? And hopefully enough to give you guys a suggestion for something to read? I hope? I mean, ONE of those has to pique your interest, surely! What looks good to you? And what have I missed? Have you read anything amazing in the last few months that I need to jump on?
Thanks for hanging in here with me, friends. I’m sorry I was gone so long, and I’ll try not to do it ever again. Happy reading!