Year 13, Book 103

103. The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

I’ve read a number of books by Jennifer McMahon and I feel like I keep chasing the high I got from the first book I read by her, Don’t Breathe a Word, which I absolutely loved. None of her other books have quite measured up for me, and this book was no exception. This book takes place in a small town in Vermont where a couple has moved and is building a house on land that is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a witch named Hattie who was killed there in the 1920s. Meanwhile their teenage neighbor is trying to scare them into leaving so she can continue searching the land for the treasure Hattie is rumored to have buried there before her death in the hopes that it will help lure her mother back to town. As usual for McMahon’s books this is a mix of the supernatural and human mystery that leaves you wondering what to believe is real. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 102

102. Keep this to Yourself by Tom Ryan

This is a young adult novel where a group of high school kids who grew up together are still coming to terms with the death of one of their friends at the hands of a serial killer that plagued their town a year before but who was never caught. One of them stumbles on what he thinks is new information in the case and decides to take things into his own hands to see if he can figure out what happened to his friend. I could not get into this book. I did not care what happened to any of the characters nor what was the answer to the mystery. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 101

101. Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

Shane feels like she hasn’t been doing college right. She hates the pre-med major her parents have forced her into and doesn’t really have any friends. So she decides to lie to her parents and enter a study abroad program in London focused on writing where she tells herself she will take charge of her life. For awhile things seems to be going perfectly. She quickly makes friends with her flatmates and even has a potential boyfriend, but then something happens that makes things fall apart. Now years in the future something mysterious is happening that may let her relive that semester again and maybe just get it right this time. I had mixed feelings on this book. Some parts I really loved, and others I was just meh about. It does end with a really perfect rom-com moment that I saw coming, but was still very excited about. I do actually think this book would make a really good rom-com movie. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 100

100. Henry, Himself by Stewart O’Nan

This book is a prequel to O’Nan’s previous books Wish You Were Here and Emily, Alone both of which I loved for the way they examined ordinary, every day life in such a poignant way. Although this book did the same for some reason it didn’t hit me in the same way. Rather than reveling in the writing and the characters as I did with the previous book I found this one rather boring. Maybe it’s because I find that prequels rarely add anything to stories where you already know where the characters end up. That was the case here as well. I didn’t feel like this book added anything to my understanding of the characters even though its main focus was on the one character who was already dead by the time the other two books took place. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 99

99. Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

This book is apparently a sequel to the book The Story of Arthur Truluv. I did not read that book nor realize this book was a sequel to it until about halfway through. After knowing that information it was obvious, but this book does stand on its own. It’s a character driven book about people living in the small town of Mason, Missouri. It was a nice, sweet little reprieve from the real world. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 98

98, Becoming by Michelle Obama

A well-written memoir about Michelle Obama’s life from her childhood through her time in the White House. I really enjoyed reading this book and it made me miss the Obamas all over again. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 97

97. Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution by Amber Tamblyn

Amber Tamblyn writes a book of essays about feminism and her involvement with the #MeToo movement prefaced with her own experiences in Hollywood as a woman and young girl. While it does have some memoirish aspects to it, I wouldn’t go into it expecting your typical light-hearted, humorous celebrity memoir because this is not that. All the pieces about her life are there to set up what she has to say about feminism and working with the #MeToo movement. It was a pretty interesting read. I plowed through it pretty quickly. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 96

96. How Neighborhoods Make Us Sick: Restoring Health and Wellness to Our Communities by Veronica Squires and Breanna Lathrop

The authors talk about living in a poor neighborhood in Atlanta and how it negatively impacts the residents there and makes it hard if not impossible for them to better their situation. They also talk about the organizations specifically the health clinic one of the authors works for that are trying to help the people who live there.

Co-written by a upper middle class white woman who moves with her husband into the inner city of Atlanta as part of mission I feel like this book is one that might actually reach the white Christian suburbanites who don’t understand why “these people” don’t just pull themselves up by the boot straps and who think if you’re poor it’s obviously your fault and has nothing to do with systemic issues. Having someone who is like them share her personal experiences of living under the conditions that most poor inner city people live in and sharing about how it affected her life and her health might actually speak to some of them. Here’s hoping because most of the books I read on topics like this make me think that no one who doesn’t already agree with this is going to pick this up and actually believe what it says. This one I think has a chance of reaching some people who might not already recognize the systemic issues that keep poor people down in our country. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 95

95. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

It’s 1945 and WWII has recently ended. Fourteen year old Nathanial and his older sister Rachel are left in the care of a mysterious man they refer to as the Moth when their parents take off with little explanation. They begin to uncover a deeper perhaps criminal web that the Moth is involved in. The story then shifts to Nathanial as an adult where he begins to piece together all the mysteries he didn’t understand as a child.

This book was terrible. It was boring. The characters were uninteresting. The mystery wasn’t compelling. I have nothing good to say about this book. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 94

94. Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men by Alexandra Robbins

Alexandra Robbins wrote a very popular book exposing sororities a number of years ago and prefaced this book by saying that she wasn’t coming at it from the same angle and that she found a lot to recommend about fraternities and what they do to help support and shape young men during what can be a very lonely and difficult time of their lives. She focuses by following two young men in two different fraternities at two different schools while also talking about fraternities as a whole and sprinkling in other stories. Despite her efforts to talk about the good fraternities do this book did nothing to change my opinion of fraternities. There may be some good, but on the whole it seems like the bad definitely outweighs it. The things that one of the young men she writes about goes through during his pledge year are horrifying and even more so as you see him become brain washed into changing his whole outlook on how terrible these things are and then subsequently do them to others in future years. This book is a really good look into the fraternity system and poses a lot of questions at the end to parents and their teenage sons who may be thinking about rushing a fraternity. I give it a 9 out of 10.