Monday, August 5, 2019

Books I've read since February

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
This is one of those books that I have known about forever but never read. Then at the end of the school year, I took part in a book club, and this was the book we chose. This book covers the topic of death, which I feel people don't like deep diving into - I know I don't because death freaks me out. However, this book gave a version of heaven that I had never thought of before. The idea that your entrance into heaven includes you reliving five pivotal moments of your life (whether you knew at the time or not) and learning more about the people involved. You guys know that I love perspectives in books and usually that means alternating character chapters, but this book allows Eddie to get another outlook on his own life, which I thought was a fantastic concept. Eddie meets people who effected his life and people whose life he effected without ever knowing it. The experiences in heaven allow Eddie to find closure in his life before he can move on to eternal life. It's a quick read, but a thoughtful and heartfelt message.  
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Everything comes at a price. Is an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii worth it if it means spending the week with the person you like least in the world? Olive Torres has to make that decision when her sister gets food poisoning and doesn't want her honeymoon to go to waste. This book does have a little bit of predictability as it involves enemies who have to pretend to be married. When doesn't that become true love? However, there is a little bit of a twist with an unfaithful character and some miscommunication that gets resolved years later. The most important thing that makes Christina Lauren books, so fun to read is the humor within this book. I was legitimately laughing out loud as I was reading this novel. Olive has a way of getting into hilarious situations. She considers herself unlucky, while Ethan thinks she needs to look at everything from a different perspective, but either way, I was giggling to myself.
The Edge of Us by Jamie McGuire
Jamie McGuire is one of my favorite authors, and I love this universe she's created, so I went into this book expecting to love it, which I did. Even though Naomi's husband died to save his Marine brothers, he was her soulmate, and she doesn't want and most certainly doesn't need another. Zeke is an ex-foster kid and was heartbroken by his first love. Although he considers his hotshot crew a family, he's also used to being by himself. Neither Naomi nor Zeke are looking for love, which is precisely why they find themselves falling for each other. Zeke fights wildfires, and Naomi is a marine turned secret government building security guard, which means that both of them risk their lives daily. It never mattered before because their only "families" are friends with lives of their own, but if they let each other into their lives will they still be able to do their jobs correctly? Then, when one of them gets sick, the idea of losing another love threatens to tear them apart. This book is full of headstrong characters who struggle to reopen their hearts.
Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
My love for ice cream is basically an ongoing joke in my house, so naturally, I was drawn to a book that was centered around ice cream. And while this book uses ice cream as its focus, it's much more about passions and what happens when those are threatened. Amelia's favorite thing about summertime is her job at Meade Creamery serving ice cream. Every year, two girls going into their freshman year of high school are chosen to work at the creamery. That means there are eight employees, two girls from each grade of high school. They become close friends as they work the counter during the summer, and it's a type of honor to be chosen. However, the summer before senior year, Amelia discovers Molly Meade's dead body in the creamery, which leads to her grandnephew, Grady, owning the shop and making changes. (I will say that I thought this part was glazed over a tiny bit. Amelia has a few nightmares about it, but a seventeen-year-old girl found the dead body of her boss, and nobody suggests she sees a therapist or talk about it at all!) And as much as Amelia disagrees with many of Grady's decisions, there's no point fighting with him until after the two of them find the secret recipes for Molly's ice cream. During the search, Amelia comes across Molly's diary and uncovers more secrets than just the recipes, and she also discovers how much she enjoys making ice cream rather than just scooping it, which makes her even more determined to find the originals. While her passion for ice cream making grows, her relationship with Grady tightens, and her relationship with her co-workers weakens. Amelia has to figure out how to keep her final summer at Meade Creamery as amazing as she originally planned it to be.
The Lost by Natasha Preston
Whenever you pick up a Natasha Preston novel, you expect a level of scariness and some death, but oh my goodness this one took the cake. Not only was there a serial killer, but also kidnappings and flat out torture chambers. I explained the plot to my parents, and they looked at me like I was crazy for reading it, but it was a really great book. Piper and her best friend Hazel get kidnapped and brought to a torture house in the woods. At first, I thought it was going to be a maze, and they would have to make their way through the rooms, but I was wrong. The girls find themselves in basically a teacher's lounge/dormitory with other kidnapped teenagers, and they get sent to different rooms based off of who the kidnappers say over a speaker system, which means that there is the possibility of repeating rooms. That was the part that made me be like WOAH these kidnappers are sadistic because if it were a maze the girls wouldn't know what was coming and then when it was over they could move on to the next room. And there's no set time limit for the rooms so one could be sent to a room one day for an hour and then be sent to it again another day for five hours. And some of the tortures don't sound that bad when they're first said, but the more you think about it, and they're described, they sound physically and mentally terrible. Piper ends up being the person I hope I would be if I were in that situation, but if I'm being honest with myself, I just don't think I would be. And then there's the ending that made me flip through the acknowledgment pages thinking there is no way that's how it ends because it wasn't an ending, it was a beginning, one that I desperately need to know more about.
Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Charlie was a character that I really saw myself in. She's the youngest of five (same), there are three boys and two girls in her family (ditto), she's a school journalist (I was the News Editor for my college newspaper), she forgoes plans with her friends to hang out with her siblings (I have 100% done this), and she accuses her older siblings of having memories she'll never have when she gets upset about not being able to come back to her childhood home for college breaks (I'm pretty sure every youngest sibling has this complaint about something). Now, my siblings aren't very much like Charlie's siblings so as much as I relate to her, I don't necessarily relate to her situation. Charlie is at a phase in her life where a ton of changes are happening: she's headed off to college, her parents are selling her childhood home, her mom is ending her famous comic strip that is based on the family, and her sister is getting married. This novel focuses on the wedding weekend and everything that goes wrong but turns out okay. However, what I liked was that Charlie starts to realize that she spent her life confusing the comic strip with real life. There's a big announcement that happens towards the end that I was able to guess, but it wasn't obvious, which I really appreciated, but it opens Charlie's eyes and makes her realize that although it was loosely based on their life, the strip made everything happier and Charlie has to remind herself that the comic world is fictitious. To me, this novel was the perfect balance of funny and serious moments, which is basically what it's like to be apart of a family of any size.
Losing the Field by Abbi Glines 
The thing I love about Abbi Glines books is that she's able to make a book about high school football into something so much more than that. Tallulah spends the summer before senior year getting into shape because Nash, the one person who never made fun of her, laughed at a joke targetting her. When the school year starts Tallulah quickly learns that Nash also changed over the summer, having injured his leg bad enough that he can never play football again. And when they think those events are difficult to overcome, this book also covers topics of sexual harassment and death. And while everyone deals with trauma differently, these characters start to pull apart soon after finally coming together. These changes would be hard enough without the rumors and assumptions that filled their high school. Tallulah and Nash have to find ways to heal and decide if that includes staying close to each other or staying as far away as possible.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I have always loved reading about World War II, but for some reason, this book took me forever to get through. I started this novel in January and finished it in July. The story seemed to move slowly for me because I was waiting for Werner and Marie-Laure to meet and they don't do so until the last 100 pages of the book, and they don't spend much time together, which wasn't what I was expecting. Although that aspect of the story was a little disappointing for me, the rest of the book was amazing (no matter how long it took me to get through it). This novel depicts the very unique journies of two individual's lives during World War II. When France is occupied by Germany, Marie-Laure's father takes her to his uncle's house to keep her safe. While many people in France were looking for safety, Marie-Laure's case was unique because she was blind, and the Nazi's weren't known to being understanding to anyone they didn't deem capable. Her father was also entrusted with a diamond that was said to allow someone to live forever. On the other hand, Werner was an orphan brought into the Hitler Youth and used his knowledge of radios to help the German Army, which is what eventually brings him to Marie-Laure. Both characters face hardships and loss as they try to survive World War II.
You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston
Another Natasha Preston novel and I'm going to start by discussing the end. Preston does not like endings apparently, but she loves making me wish there was a sequel to every book she puts out. And I've read her other three books, but I did so almost three years ago, so I don't remember if the other ones ended this way too, but my goodness it drives me wild. I'm assuming she does this on purpose and just emphasizes that she's good at the genre she has chosen because I want so much more. Anyway, this one is about a serial killer as well, but no torture house. This book was actually published before The Lost, but I read it afterward. Lylah is a Sophomore college student, and as she approaches the anniversary of her parent's death, which is also valentines day, her friends start being murdered. They do call the police, which I appreciated because I first thought they would try to figure it out themselves, but the police end up not being helpful in any way. That part was equally frustrating and funny to me because the police are supposed to come in and fix everything, but even though they try, they can't. There are a few very convincing possible red herrings in this book as well that makes the killer a lot more dangerous because the killer may or may not have been someone the reader would have been able to guess (I tried to not give away spoilers there - I'm not sure it worked). This also makes it scarier when applied to the real world because literally anyone could snap and go on a murderous rampage. Preston's novels always suck me, scare me a little bit, but then always leave me wanting more - she knows how to mess with my head, and I always appreciate it.
Please leave a comment if you've read any of these books, or if you want to read any of them!

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