Saturday, November 21, 2015

missing you.

I miss blogging. It's been nearly a year and blogging takes time that honestly I don't really have. But I miss it. And as the end of the year draws nearer, I'm thinking about what I've read this year (not much, honestly) and wanting to make some lists for next year. Books I'm looking forward to. Books I didn't get to this year. Etc.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: The Husband's Secret

To start off with, the reason I read this book. It's due 100% completely to my intense love for What Alice Forgot and wanting to read every single Liane Moriarty book I can get my hands on. (Fun fact! Liane Moriarty is YA author Jaclyn Morarty's sister.)

So anyway. This book. I liked it. I was seriously invested in it. The epilogue was amazing. But as a whole the story wasn't as great as I was hoping for it to be. I don't quite know how to explain it -- partly I think that some of the characters who were really important to the story (most notably Cecilia's husband, John-Paul) didn't feel real to me. I just didn't care about them all that much; I wanted to know how the story itself ended, but I wasn't hugely invested in the characters. Which, after What Alice Forgot, was disappointing.

But let's get to the actual STORY, shall we? Cecilia Fitzpatrick, ultra-organized mother of three and wife to the golden John-Paul Fitzpatrick, finds a letter from her husband -- to be opened in the event of his death. Overcome with curiosity, Cecilia reads the letter (If she didn't, there would be no story, right?) and finds out the secret her husband is hiding. 

Meanwhile, Tess O'Leary has moved back in with her mother while dealing with the fallout from discovering that her husband and cousin/best friend have fallen in love with each other. And then there's Rachel, whose anger and grief over her daughter's death decades ago impacts every aspect of her life. Somehow, of course, you know that all three of these stories are going to come together in the end. I'm not a hundred percent on board with the way these three women's stories finally came together, but it was definitely interesting. 

Alright so. I don't know how to not be spoilery with this review. But I'm going to try! I'm going to succeed! 

The story itself is really something. I was impatient to find out what was going to happen, but I don't know how earned or true various events in the last third of the book felt. Weirdly, I wanted a lot more from Tess' weird love triangle with her husband and cousin, which was probably the least important part of the book. But I liked Tess; I wanted more from her. I also liked Cecilia. And I have to say this... I hate to say it, but I have to be honest... I did not like Rachel. She felt petty and angry and... I mean, her daughter was MURDERED and that murder was NEVER SOLVED. And I can't imagine that, I have no idea how to even begin to feel what that would feel like. So I hate that I didn't like her, but I didn't. Even pushing her decision at the end of the book aside, she was so oblivious to the feelings of those around her (her completely ignoring her son's grief, for instance) and so mean to her daughter-in-law. She just completely rubbed me the wrong way.

I know this is a crap review. It's hard to talk about this book without talking about the contents of John-Paul's letter, and the ending, and so many more really really interesting-but-spoilery things. I did love the idea that our lives can spiral out in so many different directions that we will never know, as was really brought home in the incredible epilogue, which I think I mentioned earlier.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Find Me A Trilogy!

One of the items on my 2015 reading challenge is to read a trilogy. Now, I could say that since I'm going to be finishing my Amish romance trilogy this year that technically counts, but I feel like that's half-cheating. I really want to read a complete trilogy this year and I need your help. 

Maze Runner is sort of on my radar, but I'd really like to find an awesome contemporary/realistic trilogy. IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS???

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Popsugar's Reading Challenge

Okay so when I did my 2014 reading survey I think I mentioned that I have a reading challenge for this year...? Maybe? Anyway.

I have a reading challenge for this year. It's Popsugar's reading challenge, and I'm going to create a page for it so I can cross off each item as I accomplish it. I never do the GR reading challenge because that feels like a lot of reading pressure, and I'm not into that. But this challenge, whether I totally 100% complete it or not, feels like a good way to add a bit of genre diversity to my reading life.

So yes. Join me?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Upcoming YA Books

I read this post today, by Kara Thomas, author of the Prep School Confidential series. To summarize, in case you don't feel like clicking over and reading the link, Kara says that, essentially, the books populating all the "most anticipated" lists at the start of the year aren't going to be the debut novels. They're going to be the big books, ones publishers are pushing and trying to create buzz for.

This is true. The two books at the top of my 2015 MUST LIST are both by very established authors. (Honestly, I want to say they're both bestselling, but I'm not sure.) The truth is, unless a reader at least knee-deep in the publishing world and YA buzz, readers often don't know about the smaller books coming out. The ones by debut authors, the ones that aren't lead titles. In the year or so that I've been "blogging" over on tumblr, I've lost touch so much with what's happening in YA. Granted, I'm still better informed than nearly everyone else I know, but compared to how knowledgeable and "in the know" I was a couple years ago? Um, nope. And though I'm trying to get back into it, at least somewhat, the truth is that I might never be as crazy-informed as I used to be about what's happening in YA, what new books are coming out, who has a book deal and for how many books.

And you know what? I'm kind of more than okay with that. I'm excited for 2015, and excited to discover new books and authors that I haven't known about a year before their books debuted. There's a certain thrill in finding a flat-out amazing read that you just pull off a shelf, that you haven't read twenty thousand reviews of. That hasn't been on your TBR list for months. This is the way we find new favorite books and new favorite authors, ones whose future books we'll always be on the lookout for.

But, that all said -- I do like knowing what's coming up. So I have to ask: what lesser-known YA titles should I be on the lookout for this year?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

review: popular

I hate to start reviews off with this sentence, but I just have to. Cue valley-girl squealing here: This book is so cute! At the start of her eighth grade year, social outcast Maya Van Wagenen decides to use a 1950s guide to style and popularity. Yes, it's a quirky social experiment (Maya is unabashedly a nerd), but it's also an honest attempt to rise in the ranks of popularity. Each month Maya puts into practice a new chapter of Betty Cornell's old-school popularity guide. She starts with "Figure Problems" (read: weight) and "Hair" and works her way to "It's a Date" and "Be a Hostess," making daily notes on her successes, failures, and the reactions of those around her. (Pilgrim-style shoes: might make people think you're homeless. Pearls: actually kind of cool.)

Maya is now fifteen years old, which means she wrote this book as a 13/14 year old. I don't like to talk about authors' ages typically, because whether you're a teenager or a fifty-year old, all I want is a good story. Good writing. That said (and trust me, Popular is a good story full of good writing), Popular reminds me so much of my own eighth-grade journals -- quirky social experiment aside -- if my journals were well-written, with dialogue and scenes. That is to say that Van Wagenen's unique view of the world and her place in it rings true; as with any teenager's diary there's the trivial mixed with the big-picture. Dieting and makeup mixed with neighborhood drug dealers and school lockdowns. And amid all of this are the kind of smart teenage insights that many of us sadly tend to forget about as we grow up and disavow our younger days. This book is a reminder that teenagers can be just as stupid, and just as insightful, as grown-ups. 

I loved this book. Yes, there are cheesy parts -- one scene in particular made me think of High School Musical's level of all-in-this-together cheese. But, you know, cliches are cliche for a reason. Maya's gung-ho, fighting attitude is something to aspire to, and her growing confidence over the course of her experiment is a good reminder that yes, we can change our situation. Yes, we can change ourselves. Yes, it is possible.

I know, I know. I'm getting sentimental just talking about this book. But it's good! So good! So wonderful! Maya Van Wagenen, you are incredible and your book is awesome.