8. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Such a good summer read.

The book focuses on three generations of women in a crazy family. They all come together at their summer home in Maine.

The novel is from the perspective of four women–one from each generation, plus an in-law. I really enjoyed “getting to know” the whole Kelleher family, learning of all of their drama. The characters are all very well developed, and the storyline has depth. I just got caught up in their lives and I didn’t want to leave.

I’ve really enjoyed J. Courtney Sullivan. She’s a good writer and has compelling story lines. Here’s my review for Commencement.

I definitely recommend it!

P.S. Yay, I’m on schedule for my 12 Books a Year! I’m really glad that I made this my New Year’s Resolution!

6. The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek

So disappointed.

This novel is about two half sisters who inherit a cottage in the Hamptons from their late aunt. They bond over the summer, fall in love, and search for a missing painting, possibly by Jackson Pollock.

This book looked like it could be the perfect summer read. And let me tell you, the cover art looked oh so appealing. Yes, I totally judge books by their covers.

The book ended up dimly trying too hard. It tried to show not tell and be clever and breezy. Yet the next “plot twist” always seemed so completely obvious. I felt like the characters were very flat and cliched. Noting special or memorable. Am I being too harsh?

I did enjoy the end of the story where everyone lives happily ever after. Sort of.

Not worth it. I’m sorry.

 

P.S. Yes, I know it’s August, and I’ve finally finished my sixth book of the year. But, you’ll be glad to know that two more reviews will be on their way quite soon! I’m almost caught up!

5. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

A good and different perspective on the world.

This novel is from the perspective of a dog named Enzo. His master is Denny who is a semi-professional car racer. Enzo loves Denny and is along for the ride of Denny’s many milestones and adventures as Denny is a driver, husband, and father.

I love the idea of this novel. The perspective of a dog provides a different way of looking at the world. There is a deep dedication and love for his master and family. There is numerous intelligence and great yearning for an opposable thumb.

Enzo is very lovable, and you end up always rooting for Denny.

It’s worth a read if you love animals. Also, if you are a race car enthusiast, there are plenty of metaphors that relate to life.

I’d say it’s worth it.

(Update on the 12 Books, 1 Year thing. Yeah, I know I’m behind. But I’m reading a lot more and trying to catch up!)

4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Not what I expected.

The novel is from two different perspectives—Eleanor and Park. They’re two high school student in the 80’s. Eleanor is new to Park’s high school. She’s a bit different and awkward, chubby and self conscious. Park is just a quiet Asian kid. They end up sitting together on the bus, and eventually a romance buds.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I picked up this novel, but it definitely wasn’t what I read.

The book follows a first romance as it takes baby steps. First, there’s the question of attraction. Then, there’s admitting the attraction. Then they find they have common interests and start talking to each other, etc. each step is a baby step and viewed from each perspective. It really is adorable and quite relatable.

But the book has a bit more weight to it. Eleanor comes from a messed up family. Her mother is with an asshole, to put it lightly, and she is new to the school because he had kicked her out if the house for the past year. Yeah, really messed up.

It’s interesting read, but it may not be for everyone.

(And, yeah, I guess I technically read two books in March, but this gives me some time to study for AP exams in April, haha!) (Also, I can’t believe I’ve already read four books this year. This is normally the time when I never was my own books. Let me just say, if you make time for reading you can find time to reading.

3. Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

I loved this book!

The novel centers around four women who have gone to the all-women’s college, Smith College. April, Bree, Celia, and Sally are all very different and unlikely friends, but with their close living quarters they become nearly inseparable. The story is told, in present day, almost half a decade since they graduated from college. Each chapter is from the perspective of one of the girlS, and the reader learns how their friendship formed through flashbacks to their college days.

I thought that this book was relatable, funny, and full of love. This book is a fast read. It’s about friendship with a sprinkling of feminism. There is a lot of soul to the book, and you can’t help but feel as if you’re the fifth friend in their friendship.

I couldn’t put this book down. The characters were so realistic and perfectly imperfect. Each of the girls offered a different perspective on a situation.

Also, the flashbacks to their college says made me excited for my own college experiences. The book definitely gives an insiders view to am all women’s college, something that I can’t imagine experience.

I guess the third time really is the charm. This is the third book I’ve read this year; I’m trying to read a book a month (January: Paper Towns by John Green and February: Just One Day by Gayle Forman)

I highly recommend this book!

2. Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Disappointed.

This is the companion novel to Just One Day, which is from the perspective from of Willem. The novel begins when Willem wakes up from the hospital, and it shares the adventures of his yearlong search for his Lulu.

If you haven’t read the first one, I would definitely suggest doing that first. (By the way, I loved the first novel, and I did a review here.) If none of this makes sense, basically wanted happened is that two teenagers bumped into each other in Europe and ended up spending one day together in Paris. They make a real connection, but circumstances cause them to end up on two different continents. This novel picks up from that point but from the male perspective.

As I mentioned, I loved the first book, and I couldn’t put it down. So, I was eager to read this one, especially after not having such a great experience with the last book I read. But, I was disappointed. I was not very interested in hearing Willem’s story. It seemed that a lot of the year was a waste of time to share, and it did not capture my interest. The ending was good, but I ended up skimming after awhile because I didn’t have much motivation to finish the book.

Maybe I’ll have better luck next month? Third time’s the charm?

P.S. If you didn’t know, I’ve made a goal for myself to read one book a month. This is the second book I’ve read so far. My January book was John Green’s novel Paper Towns, and you can read my review here.

1. Paper Towns by John Green

I want to say that I really liked this book.

The book is from the perspective of high school senior, Quentin Jacobsen. He has always been in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman. When she goes missing, he makes it his mission to find her.

The book definitely has a lot more to it than that synopsis, but that’s the basic gist of it.

I really do want to like the book because I really enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars, and I enjoy watching John Green on Youtube. But, this book wasn’t very relatable for me. Or something. It had a very strange layout and the whole plot of the book did not make me want to keep reading. I think that the problem is that, while Q was obsessed with the idea of Margo, I never felt the same draw. So, I could’t connect with the goal of trying to find her.

In the end, I liked the message of the story. I liked how John Green discussed the difference between a person from far away and up close. My favorite part of the novel was the road trip, which had some laugh-out-loud moments. Sadly, I wasn’t motivated to read the book until the last quarter or so. But, because it was John Green, I pushed through (I hate to have to use that phrase).

With that said, I have official finished my first book of the year. The first of twelve, since I’m trying to read a book a month. Oh my.

So, the next book on my list is actually a sequel to Just One Day by Gale Forman, which is called Just One Year. I hope this is a book that I won’t be able to put down.