45. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Washington Black is a slave child on a Barbados plantation until his master’s brother shows up one day and takes him away to help with creating what he calls a cloud cutter (i.e. hot air balloon). After a death on the plantation that makes it seem that Washington was possibly involved the two of them take off in the cloud cutter leading to adventures across the globe.
I read this book for one of my book clubs and we had a really great discussion about it. I can also see how it would make an excellent book to dissect in an English class, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed reading it. I found it to be a bit dull and thought some of the things were a little bit too fantastical. I give it a 6 out of 10.
44. I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum
This is a collection of essays about television by New Yorker tv critic, Emily Nussbaum. Most of them are previously published though there a few new ones. The previously published essays all begin with a short reflection about how she views what she wrote. I would recommend to any fellow tv lovers. I give it a 7 out of 10.
43. The Porpoise by Mark Haddon
I really enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime so I was very excited to get a copy of this book, but unfortunately I didn’t like it at all. I don’t particularly care for Greek mythology and had I realized that this book was a combined retelling of a couple of different Greek myths I probably would have skipped it. Unfortunately the description of the book didn’t indicate that and the book does not start off in a way that makes it that obvious. In addition to that it’s just a very bizarre book where characters just seemingly jump into entirely different times and stories with no explanation. I felt like I was in one book and then all of a sudden a character was living out some myth and I was like what happened. How did we get here? I give it a 2 out of 10.
42. The Travelers by Regina Porter
I read this book on the beach a couple of weeks ago and didn’t particularly care for it. I couldn’t even remember much more than that to write this review, and looking at the Goodreads synopsis is not really ringing many bells for me so I guess I found it entirely forgettable in addition to not liking it while I was actually reading it. I give it 3 out of 10.
41. The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Rhiannon Hunter makes her living off of helping people find love as the creator of a wildly popular dating app. She herself has been much less lucky in love and being ghosted by the first person in a long time she thought about giving more than one date to has just about turned her off men forever.
Samson Lima, a former football player who has been off the grid for years, has returned to the limelight as the new spokesperson for one of Rhiannon’s competitors. Even worse he’s the man who ghosted her and now seems to be pursuing her to try and make up for it. A business proposition pushes them together. Will this new partnership result in both a successful work merger and love?
I really enjoyed this romance novel. I thought there were a couple too many quirky side characters, but I really liked both of the main characters and thought they had a fun rapport with each other and mostly realistic obstacles in the path of them getting together. As an aside because it’s not particularly relevant to the story itself, but is probably of interest to people who are interested in reading diverse books, this is the first romance novel I think I’ve read (I don’t read many) where neither of the leads is white. I give it an 8 out of 10.
40. The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
The Guest Book is the story of three generations of a WASP family and the island they own in Maine. The island was bought in 1935 with some money they may not have been on the up and up as a present after a tragedy befalls the family. In the late-1950s the children are grown and facing a changing world and trying to figure out their place in it bringing the first Jew and black person to the island resulting in a night that will impact the family forever. Now in present day the grandchildren are faced with selling the island as they can no longer afford the upkeep of it and the house and in deciding the fate of the house dig into their family’s history.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I just felt like it left so many threads dangling. It seemed to hint at things and create paths that were never explored. Perhaps the sprawling timeline was too much, but in a book that’s fairly long it seemed like there was a lot that was left out. I give it a 5 out of 10.
39. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Nina Hill was raised by a single mother who basically abandoned her with a nanny to travel the world. She never knew who her father was so she’s lived a rather solitary life and she likes it that way. She works at a book store during the day and has a very rigid set of activities she schedules for herself in the evening including one of her few social activities, a trivia team. Her comfortable routines are starting to be shaken when her father dies leaving something to her in his will forcing her to meet the many brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews she has from his four marriages. To top it off her trivia nemesis from a competing team seems to have a crush on her. Can Nina let go enough to let herself find a family and love?
This was a really sweet little romance. It’s a very gentle book. The story is not entirely realistic, but it was a lovely little diversion to read. I give it an 8 out of 10.
38: Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
Macy does a deep dive into the opioid crisis looking at both the history of OxyContin and opioids in general interspersed with stories of addicts and their families. I’ve already read a lot and listened to enough podcasts that address the opioid crisis that I don’t feel like I learned much from this book, but I would definitely consider it a seminal work on the subject. A lot of research went into this book and for anyone wanting to know about how we have ended up where we are this is an excellent resource. I give it an 8 out of 10.
37. Stealing Home by Becky Wallace
This is a really sweet and enjoyable YA novel. Seventeen year old Ryan has spent her life helping out with the minor league baseball team her family owns. She wants nothing more than to become a manager of the team when she graduates. There is a strict no dating the players policy, but when the new phenom Sawyer comes to town she is irresistibly drawn to his charm. To make matters worse it now seems like her mom is trying to sell the team out from under her dashing her dreams. Is her whole future about to come tumbling down thanks to a cute boy and her own mother?
I kind of loved this book for the most part. I know it’s a YA thing in all sorts of media for teens to be living unrealistically grown up lives, but it seemed ridiculous to me that teenagers would be doing some of the things these characters do. Since nothing much really takes place in relation to them being in high school I just chose to imagine them in their mid-20s so that it made more sense to real life. That’s just my own personal quibble and didn’t really detract from the story, which I very much enjoyed. I give it an 8 out of 10.
36. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Anna is an agoraphobic who spends her time watching old Hitchcock and film noir movies. Now it seems like she may be living in one when during her other past-time of spying on her neighbors she witnesses a murder. But now with no body she can’t get the police to believe her due to her heavy alcohol and drug habit. Does she even believe what she witnessed herself?
This was supposed to be a suspenseful book, but to me it was just boring. I didn’t find Anna to be a compelling character and reading about her endless wine binges was not interesting reading. The only reason I finished reading this book is because it was for one of my book clubs. I give it a 4 out of 10.