35. Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
Antonia is recently retired college professor whose husband died on the night they were to celebrate her retirement. She’s only just starting to piece her life back together when she is thrown more curveballs first being thrust into the lives of an undocumented worker at a neighboring farm and the pregnant girlfriend he is trying to bring to the United States to be with him and then by her mentally unstable sister going missing. It’s a well-written about life, love, loss, and responsibility. I give it a 7 out of 10.
34. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham
This is the book that the excellent HBO miniseries Chernobyl was based off of. In the rarest of all rare recommendations I would actually suggest that you go watch the miniseries instead. I mean you can read the book and watch the miniseries as I did, but if you’re only going to choose do one I would actually suggest watching the miniseries. The miniseries is fairly faithful to the source material in the book. I didn’t feel like there was anything major in the book that I didn’t get from watching the miniseries and having the visuals of what was happening was much more affecting than reading about it in this case. This is only the second time in my life that I have recommended watching a movie/TV version of something over reading the book, so take that for what it’s worth. The book is still really great though. Without this wonderful source material the miniseries would I’m sure not have been nearly as good. I thought it was well-written enough that I still read the entire thing after I watched the miniseries even though it was clear pretty early on that I wasn’t going to gain much from reading it. I give it an 8 out of 10.
33. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I read this book for one of my book clubs, but at least for us it was a pretty lousy pick. We didn’t really find much to discuss about it. It’s about an aged starlet who is somewhat of an amalgamation of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. However the life that she led the press to believe she was living was something she created and then fueled with all of her marriages often to deflect the truth. It was a quick read that felt light to me even though some of the subject matter like domestic abuse are not fluffy topics. It was at least something I was able to breeze through easily during these crazy times when I can barely get my mind to focus for more than a few minutes at a time. I give it a 6 out of 10.
32. Music is Power: Popular Songs, Social Justice, and the Will to Change by Brad Schreiber
This was an enjoyable read chronicling songs created to effect some sort of social change. Any music lover would definitely like this book. I give it an 8 out of 10.
31. We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
I liked the premise of this book with the break-up of childhood best friends during their senior year of high school told from both of their perspectives. In execution I found it lacking. There was a weird back and forth through time that I don’t think really added much to the story but made it really confusing to keep track of where in the timeline of the story you are. Also it probably would have benefitted the book to provide a little bit more of a glimpse of the friendship when it was actually in a good place because there was little in this book that made me think these two girls would have ever been friends let alone been friends for as long as they were. I give it a 5 out of 10.
30. #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl’s Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini by Nicole Byer
This book is literally what the title says it is. It’s Nicole Byer telling people no matter their size that they too can wear a bikini with confidence like she learned to do. It has lots and lots of photos of her wearing various bikinis. I enjoy Nicole Byer so picked up this book but found it to be one of the laziest books I’ve ever read. It pretty much reads like it was a bunch of hashtagged social media posts turned into a book. Maybe it was. I don’t know. At any rate I’m glad I had an advanced reader’s copy of this and didn’t pay for it. I give it a 3 out of 10.
29. The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I adored The Royal We so I was super excited to get my hands on an ARC of this book. Sadly I did not enjoy it anywhere near as much. This book picks up shortly after the events at the end of The Royal We. Without the fun romance stuff from the previous book all the having to deal with having to live under the duty of being part of the royal family felt like a slog. There are also some really convoluted plot points that seemed ridiculous and I just didn’t care about them. I was really disappointed in this sequel. I give it a 5 out of 10.
28. Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works and Why It Matters by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding
I love the Switched on Pop podcast so I was very excited to read this book. They break down 16 different pop songs using each to illustrate the musical concepts that are the building blocks of not just pop songs but music itself. Like the discussions in the podcast the book was very informative and made me think about the songs they were discussing in entirely new ways. They also have some really clever illustrations to describe what they’re talking about. If you’re a music fan I highly recommend this book. I give it an 8 out of 10.
27. The Marriage Game by Sara Desai
I found this to be just a so-so romance. I think I just really didn’t care for the writing. It’s been over a month since I read it and I’m struggling to remember what it is that I didn’t care for that much, but I remember not loving it while I was reading it. I give it a 5 out of 10.
26. Love. Set. Match by Taylor Lunsford
This was a really fun romance between two tennis players. Emerson is on the top of her game and hoping to win her first Grand Slam, but now her ex Rob a former star tennis player who has now become a reporter for a sleazy tennis network after injury is around distracting her from her goal. I really liked these characters and the story. It also had some really hot sex scenes for people who enjoy that in their romances. It was definitely a great beach read, which is where I read it. I give it a 7 out of 10.