Year 12, Book 15

15. Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy

This is a young adult book and is the story of fifteen year old Lucy Willows whose world falls apart when she discovers that her father had an affair and fathered a son eight years prior. The book is mostly about her dealing with her feelings about the situation including running away from home to do it. The book felt really slight to me, and it’s not something I found particularly engaging. I’m not sure that it would hold much appeal for the teenagers its aimed at either. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 14

14. The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

As a twelve year old girl Maeve was kissed for the first time by her best friend Daniel and attacked by a shark. The shark attack engendered a life long fascination with the creatures and a career studying them. After finishing an assignment tracking sharks abroad she is returning to the gulf coast of Florida to the hotel where she and her brother were raised by their aunt after their parents’ death. She discovers that her ex-fiance Daniel has returned and has in tow his adorable six year old daughter, who befriends Maeve and starts a shark club with her. Will Maeve be able to reconcile her past with Daniel and perhaps give him a second chance? Will she regret becoming involved in hunting down whoever has been finning sharks off the coast of her Florida town?

This was a very enjoyable read. It’s not a straight up romance, but it has a lot of romance and love triangle elements to it. The non-romance part of the story is equally important. It’s a well balanced novel with likable characters. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 13

13. 1984 by George Orwell

Somehow I managed to make it through both high school and college without ever having to read 1984 or Animal Farm. Like a lot of people in our current political environment, 1984 suddenly became something that seemed very relevant so my book club decided to read it. I’m sure I would have hated it in high school, so I’m glad I didn’t have to read it then. I’m not sure I ever really would have connected to it that much if I had read it any other time in my life. Now though some parts of it felt a little too real and relevant. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 12

12. Own It: Buffy Season 10 Volume 6 by Christos Gage

I enjoy reading the Buffy comics, but I never know what to say about any particular volume in a review. So I’m just going to leave this hear to count that I read it.

Year 12, Book 11

11. Call My By Your Name by Andre Aciman

This book was an accidental reread for me. I kept seeing people talking about it online, so I decided to read it not remembering that I had read it before years ago when it first came out. Now I realize it’s being made into a movie, which is why it became a topic of conversation. By the time I realized that I had already read it I was far enough in that I decided to go ahead and finish it. My original review of it from back in 2008 was very succinct and said “The kind of love story of an Italian gay teenager and the young American professor who comes to live with his family for the summer. I give it a 5 out of 10.” After reading it again 9 years later, I pretty much stand by that review I think.

Year 12, Book 10

10. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Lo Blacklock is a writer for a travel magazine. Right before she is to leave on a media trip on a small luxury cruise ship, she is robbed in the middle of the night sending her already existing anxiety into overdrive. She heads on the trip barely keeping herself together. On her first day on the ship she meets the woman staying in Cabin 10 who she then never sees again and becomes convinced was murdered and thrown overboard. When she tries to raise alarm on the ship she is treated as paranoid due to her already erratic behavior due to the trauma from her earlier experiences.

I enjoyed reading the book enough, but I thought there was an awful lot of contrivances needed to make the story work. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 9

9. Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

I’m not much of a romance reader, but my mother is. When I was much younger and living at home if I had no new books in the house and became desperate for something to read I would grab one of my mother’s romance novels off the shelf. I found that for the most part I actually enjoyed Nora Roberts, so when I got the opportunity to read an advanced reader’s copy of Come Sundown I decided I would check it out. It takes place in Montana at a ranch and resort owned by the Longbow family. The story includes multiple generations, multiple love stories, though the main protagonist is Bodine who now runs her family’s resort and an old friend named Cal who returns to Montana to work on the ranch after a long time away. Half of the book is also somewhat of a mystery based on Bodine’s Aunt Alice, who disappeared as a teenager to never be heard from again. The reader knows from the beginning that she was kidnapped and held hostage for all of these years, but is her captor connected to the mysterious murders of young girls that have started happening around the ranch?

I didn’t care that much for this book. All the romances seemed tied up to neatly in bows for me, and while I found the mystery part of the story compelling for awhile once Alice returns home and the story starts focusing on attempting to reintegrate her into the family it just fell flat for me. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 8

8. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

Isenberg writes a lengthy history about poor white people in America. I read this with book club and I think we all had the same reaction to it. We all agreed that we learned something from reading it, but that we didn’t feel like the author had a clear thesis in writing it that connected all the chapters together. We also felt like she had a hard time deciding if she was writing a purely academic book or an academic book with a popular audience in mind as she often went off on long tangents on more pop culture topics. I’m not necessarily sorry that I read it, but I also don’t think I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone especially given its length. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 7

7. I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live in It: Stories from an Online Life by Jess Kimball Leslie

This book is a memoir of sorts with essays about various trends in technology from the 1980s to the present that impacted the life of the author and helped her develop into the person that she is. I enjoyed the first half of the book because it was a sort of nostalgic look at the technology of my own childhood. The book got much less interesting for me as we moved into the technology and social media of the present day. It wasn’t nearly as interesting to me without that nostalgic tinge on it. I give the book a 6 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 6

6. Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

Successful career woman Ashley Keller has become a stay at home mom, a job which she feels like she is failing at. She compares herself to everyone online who seems to be perfectly managing their role as a mother while creating a picture perfect Pinterest life in the process. When she gets the chance to participate in the Motherhood Better Bootcamp run by a well known mommy blog empire she jumps at the chance, but instead of improving her parenting it only makes her feel like more of a failure causing her to spiral her life even more.

I am for sure not the target audience of this book. I don’t have any kids and it has the familiar tropes of “chick lit” books that I hate with the female protagonist letting other people run over her life and spend the whole book with low self-esteem. People who have kids or enjoy these types of books might enjoy this more, but it definitely was not for me. I give it a 5 out of 10.