Monday, December 14, 2020

What I Read In August & September

Since I got a bit behind in my book posting, I figured I'd wrap up the rest of my summer reading in one post. I wish I didn't do this to myself,'s a lot harder to remember what I thought this far after the fact, but here we go, anyway!

August and September 2020 Book Stack |

Well Met by Jen DeLuca (4 stars)
This is a super cute story about a girl named Emily who visits a small town to take care of her injured sister and teenage niece. She ends up roped into volunteering at a Renaissance fair where she meets a group of people who quickly become her good friends. While I've never had any particular interest in the Ren-fair culture, it was really fun and quirky to see these characters get immersed in it while navigating some personal hurdles and developing relationships along the way. I loved the relationship between Emily and Simon - with all of it's real-world angst mixed with the magic of playing dress up and pretending to be other people during their shifts at the fair. It was a great, atmospheric, fun book and I can't wait to read the sequel!

The Little Book of Self-Care for Virgo by Constance Stellas (4 stars)
This was a quick and easy little book that made for a great morning coffee book. While the advice in this book was geared towards the Earthy, organized Virgo, there were a lot of good tips in here that are great for everyone. The author has a version for each sign of the zodiac, and I definitely recommend checking yours out! I picked up some great little tidbits from this book that I've utilized since reading it. 

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (3 stars)
Sigh, okay. hahaha...I feel like the Twihards of the late-2000's know exactly how I feel right now. This book many things. When I read the Twilight series the first few times and the Midnight Sun manuscript was leaked to the internet, it was my favorite Twilight-y thing to read. I loved the insight into Edward's mind. I loved the behind-the-scenes details. It turns out - when you turn that into a gigantic brick of a gets old! Edward is painfully cerebral. You thought Bella was bad? Phssh. The guy thinks and re-thinks through everything 10 or 20 different ways, making for a verrrry slow and drawn-out reading experience. While I liked spending time with the characters again, getting through this book was almost painful. It took me SO. LONG. to finish. I really appreciated some of the back story of the other Cullen's lives and understanding how some of the events of Twilight unfolded from their perspectives, but it was really hard to take from Edward's point of view (which surprised me, because #TeamEdward). I didn't hate it, but it did not live up to my expectations. Will I still read the rumored two other Twilight novels Stephenie Meyer plans to publish? You bet.

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale (3 stars)
This book was cute, but it wasn't quite what I expected. The synopsis sounds like an atmospheric summer book with a sweet young love story, but it was instead an emotion-fueled coming of age. It was still good, but I expected some real summer vibes in a small beach town. Throw in the typical "none of these teens have parents and are all living alone in actual houses at 18" YA flaw, and I just had a hard time love-loving this book. I did enjoy the relationship between Babe and Levi, but for all the reasons I already mentioned (namely the lack of atmosphere) and the toxicity of Babe's long term friendships, it wasn't enough to push this one to 4 stars.

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein (4 stars)
This was a BOTM pick I made this summer that I wasn't entirely sure I'd connect with. I know nothing about gymnastics - competitively or otherwise - but I was mourning the loss of our summer olympics this year and thought this would be an interesting vehicle for a romance. This book not only had the satisfaction of a work romance between Avery and Ryan, but of watching Avery build a successful life after having to start over from a low point. I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book, as well as the suspense of the gymnastics world and the excitement of Avery & Ryan's relationship. Loved it!

Late summer book stack.

For Every One by Jason Reynolds (3 stars)
This is a very quick and easy read that I flew through in about 30 minutes. Poetic and inspirational, this little book is like a work of art in a book's body. I enjoyed and appreciated it, but I guess I didn't rate it any higher than this because I didn't walk away from it with any specific, profound feelings. 

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (5 stars)
At the start of this (weird, virtual) school year, there was some drama in our district. Kids at the middle and high school levels were left without classrooms until they could figure out how to staff things appropriately between virtual and hybrid students. While we waited for our middle school to begin, I planned a homeschool curriculum for my 6th grader so that if things didn't get resolved quickly enough, we could continue through the school year at home. He did eventually start virtual school, but for that first week I assigned him chapters from Walk Two Moons to read and then provided him with follow up questions. I read the chapters myself to come up with the questions, and found that I was really drawn into the story and wanted to know how it ended, so I kept on reading! I loved this book. It had such great symbolism and heart - plus a little bit of innocent mystery and intrigue mixed with the humor only Grandparents can provide. The characters were so incredibly loveable and silly, and despite some of the deeper themes in the book, it was a great read for my 11 year old and I loved it just as much as he did - if not more!

Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano (3 stars)
This book was just...okay. There's a little bit of the YA relationship excitement, but it was more of a story about the main character's relationships with her parents. Sadie navigates the world through her camera lens, seeking approval as she goes. Realistic, sure, but it wasn't a story that really grabbed and held me.

What You Wish For by Katherine Center (4.5 stars)
This book was so exciting!! Since I was going to be a teacher in another life, stories about the inner workings of a school are extra entertaining to me. I loved that part of this book, but it was really the relationship between Sam & Duncan, as well as Sam's friendships with her school family that made this book so loveable. Following the story of having to replace a beloved principal while maintaining the integrity of the school and balancing an unrequited crush going through the highs and lows of life experience was so much fun. This was a book I felt anxious to get back to whenever I set it down. I loved it so much that I excitedly ordered more books by Katherine Center and I can't wait to get to them!

A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison (2 stars)
This was....blah. Another one whose synopsis fooled me! It had such a cute premise - a chance meeting at a party, a "what a small world" web of friendships and crushes. Though it felt like once the conflict was introduced, the rest of the story was just dragged along for the ride. It had promise, but many of the characters and the writing were just not for me.

Almost Everything by Anne Lamott (3 stars)
This was a great little book - full of inspiration and life experience - told with wisdom and poise. It sometimes felt a little too "long way around" for me to really grasp the point she was trying to make in the moment, so I didn't rate it higher than three stars - though some of her points and thoughts did stick with me. Many of the lines in this book made it into my "Quotes" file in my notes app. My favorite being - "So, writing. What a bitch." If you're looking for something that isn't too heavy but still makes you stop and think about some of the important intricacies of life, this is it.

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (3.5 stars)
This was another BOTM pick I made based on recommendations and the fact that it was part of a series. I love a good series! I don't know what I expected given the title, but it was more "period" than I expected. It was full of old world language and culture, and while I don't dislike that, those types of stories tend to take me longer to get through. I appreciated the themes of feminism and women's activism, and while I enjoyed most of the blossoming relationship between Annabelle and Sebastian, their power struggles sometimes got under my skin. Ultimately, I liked the way the story resolved and enjoyed the evolution of the Duke himself. It was good, just not my favorite type of story.

I still have so much catching up to do on books, it's kind of ridiculous. So, more soon (hopefully).

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