Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Books I Read in March and April

Mouthful by C.R. Grissom*
You can find my review HERE

Havoc by S.S. Richards*
You can find my review HERE

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
This novel is layered with stories. First, it's broken into six books with an afterward.  It also has the "main story" as I thought of it, which followed Zachary. However, that story was broken up with chapters from multiple other books and diaries. Everything is related and important and comes together at the end, but it was a little confusing for me at the beginning. I also started this novel and then put it down for a while, which made it a little harder to come back to.

I had to get through Book 1 and 2 before I got to the "Oh my god I don't want to put this book down" phase. And that's not to say Book 1 and 2 were bad, I just had to use them to get used to the layout and, as I said, I had put the book down for a while and it took me a while to get back into it. Once I made it to Book 3 I was fully invested. I was drawing connections between the "main story" and inserted chapters. I was starting to learn everyone's motives. By Book 4 I was falling in love with Zachary and Dorian, which I didn't initially expect.

As a huge fan of The Night Circus, I went into this novel knowing Erin Morgenstern's ability to transport her readers into new worlds. And I slightly guessed that it would be similar in relation to a few storylines overlapping and coming together. However, this is a complete novel, two storybooks, and two diaries. It would be close to impossible to try and give an overarching summary for this novel to anyone who hasn't read it because there would be so many tangents. But as a reader, this novel is amazing. Even if you don't like it, you have to appreciate the effort it took to put it together.

At the end of the novel, I expected all of the storylines to wrap up nicely, because a large aspect is that stories have to eventually end. However, none of them really do. They wrap up, but they also left me wanting a little bit more, which as much as I wanted, I was okay with their endings. The biggest "What happens next" is for Kat. Her character is introduced in the beginning but doesn't really make an impact until the end. I was left wanting her spinoff novel to see what's to come for her. But I actually loved it because it emphasizes that stories continue and when one ends another begins.
One Month Only by Kate J. Blake*
I really enjoyed this novel, except for how it ended. It ends on a cliffhanger, which is usually fine by me, but this novel ends in the middle of the story. In my reading experience, a few things will happen and get resolved and then the cliffhanger will come. Nothing is resolved by the end of this novel.

I assumed the "fake" relationship between Ricardo and Angie would be a larger part of the story, but it hasn't started yet by the ending of this book. Angie agrees to do it, but they have yet to face their families and pretend to date, which was a little disappointing to me.

The reason Angie agrees to fake date is that Ricardo is helping her save her family's business, but no progress is made towards that. Angie is starting to learn what she needs to do, but the hopefulness of whether or not their company is going under is pretty much at the same level by the end.

I really like these characters and the storyline they're setting up, but the ending was right at one of the climaxes of the novel.  It felt like someone ripped it in half and I was left wondering where the second half was. I know a sequel is coming that will probably have everything I'm looking for, but I would have rather had a longer work with more resolution. This novel is also pretty short, so I'm confused as to why the author chose to stop where she did.

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson*
BIG topics covered in this novel. The repercussions of a school shooting and how decisions made by parents have a direct effect on their children.

I felt like all of the characters were very real. May is suffering from survivors guilt and the fact that her relationship with her brother wasn't great when he died. They had a completely standard sibling fight, but they were never able to make up, which made it so heartbreaking. May was angry, because of everything that happened but she softened around her friends.

I really liked the scene where Lucy accuses May of not letting other people grieve, because I was kind of thinking that too. However, I also liked that May didn't immediately apologize. It took her a little bit longer to realize her mistakes, but she does.

Something that May and Zach have in common is that their parents aren't there for them. May's parents made her feel like the "spare" since she was little, so when her brother is killed and she is left alive she can't help but feel like her parents wish it was the opposite. Their grief process includes ignoring her, which encourages May to think they don't care about her as much as her brother.  Zach's mom decided to defend the school shooter, making everyone in school turn on him. He goes from being a pretty popular kid to someone who just wants to blend into the background. And his dad's mid-life crisis forces Zach to become the only adult figure for his sister.

May and Zach have to deal with their own lives, which look completely different than they did a year ago, and the realization that their parents are people too, and they're not always right or reliable.

I think this book is really important. It covers very serious topics, some more relatable to readers to others, but all include something you can learn from. School shootings are something most people see on the news for a day and then move on from. This novel reminds us that terrible events like that don't last a day and that the people who survive them and are deemed "lucky" end up suffering for much longer.
You're Not Special: A (Sort-of) Memoir by Meghan Rienks*
I've followed Meghan Rienks on social media for years, so I was very intrigued when I found out she was writing a memoir. Because Meghan is an internet personality and has been for a long time, she has already shared a lot about her life and struggles with anxiety and depression with the world. However, this memoir seemed to give her the chance to share stories she never has before and say "See? You're not special. I've survived that too." She focused mainly on the relationships she's had over the years between herself and friends, family, and boyfriends.

The setup of this book was very appealing to me. The book was broken into sections and she started each chapter with a personal story relating to the section. Then, at the end of each chapter, she would take whatever lesson or coping mechanism she learned from her experience and share her insights. These lessons were all relatable to readers dealing with a spectrum of relationship drama, but by starting with a personal story she was able to prove where her advice was coming from.

I haven't followed Meghan since the beginning of her YouTube journey, but this memoir would certainly be interesting to someone who has. In general, I think being able to realize that while she was posting a hairstyle video or whatever, a friendship was simultaneously imploding off-screen is an important reminder that just because people share part of their lives online doesn't mean they're sharing everything.

I will say that there were a few grammatical errors that I found while reading, but I'm assuming that's because my version was an ARC.

The Redwood Con by Reagan Keeter*
This one is going to be hard to talk about because I don't want to give anything away. Liam finds his girlfriend dead in her apartment, and after the evidence points to him he takes it upon himself to find her killer. In the process, he discovers a spiderweb of secrets that all come together at the last possible moment.

I love the TV show Criminal Minds, and one of the reasons is that I love trying to see how quickly I can guess who the killer is. Since it's a TV show, no character is there by accident. That's how I feel about mystery novels as well, so that's the approach I took to this novel. And to an extent that was true: every detail in this novel counts. However, I wasn't able to guess the ending until I was reading it. That's what I loved about it. This novel was unpredictable. And even if I started to make a guess, I would never be more than half correct. It was amazing seeing everything come together at the end.

One Month More by Kate J. Blake*
And here is the needed sequel to One More Only, although I see it more as the second half. This contains resolutions to the cliffhanger from the first book and how their business relationship works. I find the relationship between Ricardo and Angie really interesting, and obviously, I'm rooting for them.

Ricardo is wicked generous when it comes to Angie, almost to a fault. As the novel goes on, she starts to wonder why. Sure, they care about each other, but he shouldn't feel compelled to buy her love. Angie's sister calls her out on this, and I was glad she did. It seems like his generosity could backfire on Angie if he ever expects her to move to London with him. I also didn't love that he was accidentally taking over her job. There's a scene where he buys new machines, even though Angie was going to. I don't think even he notices, but he's putting Angie in a position to be very dependent on him, which I don't think is something she would ever want. This was starting to come to head by the end of the book, but it ends on a cliffhanger.

There are two things about this novel that confuse me, and I will admit that they're a little nitpicky. One is the title. Ricardo was supposed to be in Tuscany for a month and asked Angie to be his fake girlfriend for that time, however, I'm pretty sure this story is happening within that one month time period. They haven't had to deal with the long-distance relationship yet. The second thing is the fake relationship. They make the deal, but then start real dating before faking it in front of anyone. The subplot seems unnecessary because it's set up to make readers think it's going to be important when in reality it doesn't matter at all.

*These novels were gifted to me, but opinions are my own

© Juliann Guerra
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