76. Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Summerland takes place on Nantucket and is about the community of people who live there year round. The story is told through the viewpoints of various characters including the residents of the island as a collective. On the night of the island’s high school graduation four juniors are involved in a car accident that leaves one of them dead and her twin brother fighting for his life. The story revolves around how the accident affects the surviving teens in the accident, their parents, and the island community itself, while leading up to the revelation of why the driver of the car seemingly caused the accident on purpose. It as a fairly enjoyable book. Though many of the characters were hard to like they mostly felt human and relatable. I give it a 7 out of 10.
75. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
This book has gotten so many rave reviews that I was a little disappointed at how little I liked it. The book takes place at a small mid-Western college, but like too many high minded novels it wants college to be something that at least to me it just wasn’t. I couldn’t identify the characters as acting in any way recognizably as college students either those that I went to school with 15 years ago or those I currently see as a librarian at a university. That was my first and probably biggest issue with the book, but ultimately reading it just felt tedious to me. I didn’t really care about any of the characters or the self-involved, self-pitying ways they all seemed to go through their lives. I give it a 4 out of 10.
74. The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
I really enjoyed Enright’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Gathering, so I wanted to read The Forgotten Waltz. I was still as entranced by Enright’s ability to use language in a beautiful and profound way in The Forgotten Waltz as I was with The Gathering, but I didn’t find the actual story of The Forgotten Waltz nearly as compelling. The story is a retelling by the narrator of how she wound up falling in love with the man she claims is the love her life while they were both married to other people. All of the characters really felt like they were only ever introduced on a surfacey level which makes it hard to engage with or care about any of them. Bottom line if you want to read some beautifully written prose telling a pretty boring story this book is for you. If not, then skip it. I give it a 5 out of 10.
73. Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward
When they were six and eight Lauren and Alex’s mother was murdered while they were camping out in the backyard. For her entire life Lauren believed that her father was the murderer and cut off contact from him after he went to prison. Alex was never as convinced of their father’s guilt and had been pursuing what the thought might be new leads clearing his father’s name when he is presumed dead while working for Doctor’s Without Borders. In order to help deal with the loss of her brother Lauren picks up where Alex left off trying to find out what actually happened to her mother so many years ago.
This was an okay book. It kept me engaged enough while I was reading it, but it’s nothing I would go raving to other people about. If you come across a copy it’s probably worth a read, but I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to read it. I give it a 6 out of 10.
72. Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham
I got a free galley of this book from NetGalley. I’ve never read anything else by this author and probably never will, but I based on the book I gather this is probably part of a larger series of book featuring the main protagonist who is a psychologist who winds up doing criminal profiling and seemingly gets drawn into actual detective work. It definitely was not my thing as most books that belong to this type of thriller genre are not. I’m guessing people who enjoy books by authors such as James Patterson and other similar authors might like this. I however did not. I obviously found the book to be entirely forgettable as I couldn’t remember at all what the book was about when I went to write this review to the point that I was wondering if I actually had read it despite it’s presence on my Goodreads list. Reading the summary in Goodreads did nothing to spark my memory. I actually had to go back and read the first page or two of the book to remember what the heck it was.
The story revolves around a fire in a house containing a husband and wife that were brutally murdered. The odd thing is that this house is also the location where two teenage girls went missing three years prior. Is there a connection? Will this new murder provide new clues about what happened to the missing teens? No worries, clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin will apparently solve the crimes that the police either can’t or don’t want to. That really annoyed me if you can’t tell based on the previous sentence. If I could forget that he wasn’t actually a detective I could enjoy the book more, but every time I was reminded he was a psychologist I found the whole thing ridiculous. The fact that I could tell there are many other books in which he does the same thing the more annoyed I got. There are many people who love books like these and probably wouldn’t care and who would just enjoy the story. I couldn’t get past it and was able to figure out who the bad guy was way before the big reveal, so I wasn’t really that into this book. Other people who like these types of books more than me might enjoy it more. I give it a 4 out of 10.
71. Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays by Bernadette C. Barton
I received a galley of this book from NetGalley.
This books reads like it is a sociology book, which is not surprising given that the author is in fact a sociology professor. This is not at all a problem for me because I was a sociology minor and find that a large majority of non-fiction books that I enjoy belong in a similar category. I only mention it because the book is written in a more academic fashion than your casual reader might appreciate.
The content of the book is based on sociological research via interviews with a number of gays living in the Bible Belt. Barton comes at the issue of what it’s like to be gay living in areas where people are prone to be homophobic from a variety of perspectives. It’s essentially distilling the stories of people’s lives into broad themes.
I thought it was a really well written book examining what is sadly a really complicated subject for many. I give it an 8 out of 10.
70. Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates
I got a free galley of this book from Netgalley. This is a fairly quick read especially compared to some of Oates’ other books. It’s about a five year old boy who is kidnapped by a man who calls himself Daddy Love and who is a part-time charismatic preacher. Some of the descriptions of things he does to the little boy are rather horrifying, so I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who has issues with reading about children being put in harm’s way. The story follows them and to some degree the parents of the little boy over a period of several years. I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. It was a difficult subject to read about in the first place and it just didn’t do much for me. Plus I wasn’t super pleased with the ending, which seemed rather ridiculous. I give it a 5 out of 10.
69. The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
Wow, I am super far behind on my book reviews. I’m seeing that it’s been over a month since I last wrote a review. I’m going to try and knock a few of these out and then if I commit to doing at least 2 a day for the next week or so I should be caught up. The problem with getting out of the habit of writing the reviews is that then I look at how many I have to write, get overwhelmed, and then put it off which just winds up compounding the problem. Also, it makes it really hard to remember what half the books were even about. Obviously I’ve been reading some real winners lately. So here goes.
I picked this book up for a couple of bucks when it was on sale via the nook store. I generally hate chick lit, which I have mentioned any number of times during my reviews and Emily Giffin’s books fall squarely in the chick lit camp. However, she is a fellow Wake Forest alum so I like to throw a little support her way. Warning the rest of this review may be a bit spoilery, but really nothing I’m going to say should be surprising to anyone reading it.
This book feels less like the typical chick lit fare of Giffin’s earlier books, but was still all about relationships just from a different angle. The story revolves around Tessa a mother of two young children who has recently quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom and her surgeon husband. He winds up treating the son of single mom Valerie, whom he winds up having an affair with.
I absolutely hate books that involve characters who are all protagonists in the story having affairs. I like to be able to root for a couple in the book I’m reading and how are you supposed to do that in a situation like this? I’m sure it looks a lot more like what happens with affairs in real life, but it’s just not something I’m interested in reading about. So right away this book was not up my alley.
Second I really wanted to throw the book across the room every time any of the characters talked about how Tessa was no longer interesting because she wasn’t working anymore and staying home with her kids and that she was just asking for her husband to have an affair. This happened a lot more than you might think. Seriously? What kind of crap is that?
As you can tell I was not a big fan of this book. I’ve enjoyed some of Giffin’s other books much more than this one even though it’s typically not my genre of choice. I appreciate that she is trying to reach out and start writing about the stage of life she is probably currently in herself rather than the twenty-something doings featured in her earlier more popular books, but I don’t think the result was as good.
I give it a 5 out of 10