57. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
I read this book while on vacation, which seemed appropriate. It was the right speed for a beach vacation in that it was pretty much fluff, but not terribly compelling fluff I must say. The Post family takes off to Mallorca for a two week vacation to celebrate Jim and Fanny’s 35th wedding anniversary and their daughter Sylvia’s graduation from high school. They are also joined by their son and his much older live in girlfriend, and Franny’s oldest friend and his husband. Over the course of the two weeks things do not run smooth and many secrets and past hurts are dredged up during their vacation. It’s pretty much all a lot of not all that interesting drama. I give it a 5 out of 10.
55. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Welcome to the Team (Season 9, # 4)
56. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Core (Season 9, #5)
I don’t really have much to say about these books. They are obviously the continuation of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I still enjoy reading where they’ve taken the story in comic book form since the end of the tv show.
54. You by Austin Grossman
Unfortunately I think Austin Grossman has better ideas than he actually knows how to execute. Like his previous book “Soon I Will Be Invincible” I was interested in what the book was supposed to be about, but didn’t actually wind up liking it that much in practice. The book is about a guy named Russell who after leaving the world of video games to live a more normal life, has now returned and is working at the company his friends started long ago. Now he’s trying to figure out a bug that is ruining their games by going back and playing through all their games chronologically and reliving the stories that surrounded their creation. He’s also trying to figure out what actually happened to his friend Simon who disappeared years ago. I mostly just found this book insanely boring, and not in any way compelling to read. I give it a 4 out of 10.
53. My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut by Hannah Hart
I’ve only ever seen a few episodes of Hannah Hart’s YouTube show on which this book is based, so I’m probably not her target audience. I found it to be a somewhat amusing book, but I was hoping that the recipes would be more interesting rather than disgusting sounding. I would definitely not cook/eat pretty much anything in this book. I’m not really sure that’s the goal. I guess some of the things would be fine for people who really never cook, but for someone who actually cooks this is not really a book that you’re going to be pulling recipes out of. I give it a 5 out of 10.
52. Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism by Benjamin Ross
Ross examines the factors that have lead to suburban sprawl and the consequences to the suburban designs that designate specific residential areas mostly created through winding roads ending in culs-de-sac. I didn’t really gain a lot from reading this book as I’ve read a lot of the source material he refers to in the book. I guess it would be ok for someone who wants an introduction to the subject, but if it’s an area of interest to you and you’ve already read a lot about urban design and traffic then this book probably doesn’t have much to offer you. I give it a 5 out of 10.
51. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
This book as one might suspect from the title is an extension of the Veronica Mars property. It picks up shortly after the recent movie left off. Based on the movie I had actually anticipated Weevil’s issues to be the center of whatever book came after the movie, but that is actually not the case. Two teenage girls go missing a few weeks apart while on spring break in Neptune. Veronica is hired to help find out what happened to them, and it turns out that one of the girls is her long-estranged mother’s step-daughter.
I don’t think the mystery itself was necessarily that compelling, but as a fan of Veronica Mars this book fit in seeming like an episode of the show. I wouldn’t really recommend it to someone who has never watched Veronica Mars, but who is looking for a mystery book to read. However, if you are a fan of the show I would definitely recommend it, and even more than that I would suggest listening to the audiobook as opposed to reading it. Kristen Bell reads the book, and since her character did so much voiceover in the show it really feels like listening to an episode of the show. I read one review of the book that mentioned it was weird that the book was written in the third person given how the television show was told from the first person point of view. I think listening to Kristen Bell read it helped alleviate some of that.
I’m not sure what I would think if I had read it as opposed to listening to it, but I definitely loved the audio version of it and would highly recommend it to any other Veronica Mars fans. I give it an 8 out of 10.
50. A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka
This book is definitely geared towards people who like books like Divergent and the Hunger Games, though thankfully as far as I can tell it doesn’t seem to be part of some sort of series. I tire of the fact that it seems like so many young adult novels these days seem to be required to be a series as opposed to a single book. The story is set in a dystopian future where almost all of the women of child-bearing age were killed off due to a synthetic hormone found in beef. Now the Paternalists, a male dominated movement ostensibly claiming to trying to do the best for their remaining daughters has taken over the country and established crazy restrictive laws for women.
Avie is living as normal of a teenage life as she can given the circumstances of life in the United States. She’s finishing high school and has hopes of going away to college. But then her father makes a deal to save his struggling business selling her off in marriage to a much older man. Now she faces being stuck in a loveless marriage to a controlling man or making a run to Canada helped by Yates a long time family friend, and a boy she believes she is falling in love with.
I really liked this book a lot while feeling like this was a future that could be all too real given the way things seem to actually be going with women’s rights in the United States these days. I would definitely recommend reading this book, especially if you like other dystopian future young adult novels. I give it an 8 out of 10.
49. The Fever by Megan Abbott
Deenie seems to be a typical teenage girl until one day when her best friend gets sick with a serious illness. Then one by one more and more of her friends begin to fall ill, and she somehow seems to be their only connection despite not getting sick herself. She and the rest of the town fear what is causing the illness and worry about who will succumb next. Rumors fly about what might be the cause and many people become convinced the cause is the HPV vaccine that the female students are required to get. Abbott definitely paints a good picture of the hysteria that can envelope people and how easy something like that can spread despite no information to support it. The story kept me engaged throughout and I was anxious to find out what was behind the mysterious illness. I’m not sure I liked the ultimate answer that much, but the book kept me entertained so even though I might have preferred a different ending I would still recommend reading it. Who knows you might like the end better than me anyway. I give it a 7 out of 10.
48. Crooked River by Valerie Geary
Fifteen year old Sam and her younger sister Ollie have had a tough life. Their father, known as Bear essentially dropped out of their lives years before and went to live in the wild outside of a nearby town. Now their mother has died and they have gone to live with him there until he can find a more appropriate place for them to live. Then one day they discover the body of a young girl washed up in the river near their campsite. Many signs point to Bear being the culprit, but Sam is determined to prove her father’s innocence while questioning it herself. The story is told via the alternating perspectives of Sam and Ollie.
I really enjoyed the book. Geary paints a vivid picture of the life this family is leading, and creates dynamic characters who you sympathize with. The mystery is well told as well. I would definitely recommend this book. I give it an 8 out 10.
47. The Late Starters Orchestra by Ari L. Goldman
The Late Starters Orchestra is a sort of memoir. Goldman shares his experiences of trying to play the cello again after 25 years and joining a group of musicians known as the Late Starters Orchestra. He contrasts this with his young son who has a musical gift also learning the cello at the same time, but through the Suzuki method. He looks at the differences between trying to learn things as a child and learning them as an adult. It was an ok book, but nothing really special. Though I do like the concept of things like the Late Starters Orchestra for adults to engage in pursuits that they are interested in now that they may not have had a chance to pursue as a child. I give it a 6 out of 10.