Sunday, September 14, 2014

Books of 2014 (Part II)

I KNOW, IT'S BEEN FOREVER. (I can't believe anyone still reads this blog other than me, but hello, Anonymous. I am, indeed, alive!)

I had a very busy summer, but I was still reading and I'm back in business. This is my last year of law school, and I have my dream job nailed down for when I graduate. Can you believe it? This blog started in 2009. That was over 5 years ago and I was a freshman in college. I will be a full fledged lawyer after next summer. Will maybe do a life update post after this one. I'm in a good place.

On the writing (what writing?!), yes, I've basically not written in months and months. But I started a new novel without finishing the old one yet. Broke my cardinal rule, but I will go back to the old one, probably. The new one has just been stewing for a long time and I wanted to get it underway.

I'm on track for my goal for reading. I think it was supposed to be 35 for this year? I will easily reach 35 books. Probably.

So without further ado, here are the books I've read since I last posted and ratings (out of 5).

*Will now preface every book rant with reminder that I have utter, absolute respect for authors and just because I didn't like something--doesn't mean the book is objectively bad for everyone. Everyone should remember that I also passionately love things like One Direction yet cannot tell what is a good wine to save my life, so a preponderance of the evidence definitely indicates that I just have REALLY BAD TASTE.


12) The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (5)
13) Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke (3)
14) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (3.5)
15) Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman (3)
16) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (4)
17) Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour (4.5)
18) Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor (4)
19) Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman (4)
20) The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (3.5)
21) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (4.5)
22) The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (3.5)
23) Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort by Deborah Davis (4.5)

Nothing super terrible this time, as you can tell, but a few disappointments and highlights.

Disappointments:

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea started out quite promising, and then the end literally just fell off the rails. I have no idea what is going on with the plot but I certainly did not expect what happened to happen. So I guess if you like surprises, go for it. But I pretty much disliked all the characters after about two-thirds of the way in, even all the ones that were supposed to be protagonists.

Sex With Kings was a super blah historical book. Like none of it was unexpected or scandalous, but maybe I'm just a history major with too much background in this type of royal intrigue stuff to have found anything groundbreaking.

I expected a lot more of Frankie Landau-Banks, which has such great reviews and I feel is sort of a cult classic. It was trying really hard to be feminist but actually failing aggressively, so I disliked it on both points. I'm a feminist, but I don't like books that are really obvious about an agenda. I'm reading for pleasure, not a lecture. And even while trying to push that agenda, it was really crappy because I didn't find Frankie to be very empowering at all. I found her obnoxious and needy and in denial about her neediness. Whatever. I don't regret reading it, so I'm not giving it lower marks.

The Geography of You and Me was underdeveloped and underwhelming. I love sappy romances sometimes (see my adoration of Stephanie Perkins), but like, why the fuck do these characters even like each other? Confusion. Great example of an excellent premise that had no follow through. Also, main female character whose name I already cannot remember is the definition of first world/white girl problems. Oh your parents don't love you enough to take you on their world traveling until the moment you use your words and ask them to take you with them? CRY ME A GIANT GODDAMN RIVER.

After Tiger Lily, I expected more of Jodi Lynn Anderson. Tiger Lily continues to be one of my favorite books, and I reread it every year. The Vanishing Season was ... really boring.

Highlights.

OBVIOUSLY A.J. Fikry was PHENOMENAL. Man, when Gabrielle Zevin gets it right, she nails it.

Everything Leads To You was good while I read it, and it ended up being even better in the few days after I finished. It's a book that sits with you and kind of leaves an awesome impression. I don't know how to characterize it. I would highly recommend. We need more good LGBT fiction, always.

Why We Broke Up was less good than everyone has made it out to be. I think it largely succeeds because it has a cutesy premise, but I won't dock a book for riding on its premise and actually executing it with relative success. I enjoyed it. I read it in one sitting and felt satisfied when I was done.

Isla and the Happily Ever After was less good than the first two in the series, but I'm not going to lie. I cut Stephanie Perkins a lot of slack because I think she just conveys emotion really well, so I was still pretty into it. Everybody loves reading about non-ironic falling in love. Lola is still my favorite of the three books. I'm pretty sad this series is over. I'm excited to see what Perkins comes up with next, though. With her, it's always worth the wait.