85. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
I enjoyed reading this book and looked forward to picking it up again every time I had to stop, but I have no idea why. On paper there is no reason why this would be something I would want to read. It’s a re-envisioning of Hillary Clinton’s life in which she never actually marries Bill. I guess the part where Donald Trump never runs for president is a nice wish fulfillment. Though I really don’t buy the plot with Hillary and Donald in this version of the story. They also take a lot of what actually happened with Trump during his campaign against Hillary Clinton and make it part of Bill Clinton’s run against her. There is also way too much sex between Bill and Hillary. That is something I never needed to think about and certainly not as much as it’s mentioned. I give it a 5 out of 10.
84. I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch
This is a YA version of the old Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail/She Loves Me story in which two people hate each other in real life, but have an anonymous in this case online relationship where they fall in love without realizing they’re falling for the person the supposedly hate. In this case high school students Ilyiana and Rhodes share a best friend at the Alabama boarding school for the arts, but due to earlier events they can’t stand each other. Unknowingly they also have created an online Alice in Wonderland comic together and are developing a relationship without knowing who they really are. The story shifted back and forth in who was narrating it and I had a hard time keeping track of who was talking for whatever reason. I also felt like the best friend character was not well developed and should have been given the pivotal role she has in the story. I give it a 5 out of 10.
83. Ingredients: The Strange Chemistry of What We Put in Us and On Us by George Zaidan
Chemist George Zaidan take a somewhat humorous look at the chemistry of every day life and how the things we eat and put on our body affect us. He reviewed hundreds of studies to determine what science has to tell us about things like is junk food actually that bad for you, what about sunscreen or coffee? I thought he presented a bunch of scientific information in a way that’s easy to read and understand with some humor thrown in. I give it a 7 out of 10.
82. How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us back by Jeff Tweedy
Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco provides a short little how to about how to write a song. He talks about his own process for songwriting and getting unstuck. It’s written in such a way that suggests anyone has the power to create a song. I love music to the core of my bones, but have exactly zero musical talent. I often think I am so fascinated by it because I don’t understand it and the idea that someone could create it seems like magic to me. I think he has a lot of good suggestions for people who are interested in taking a stab at song writing. I personally still feel entirely inadequate and won’t be putting this book into practice. I did appreciate getting to read about his own personal process of putting songs together though. I give it a 7 out of 10.
81. Girl Crushed by Katie Heaney
Quinn is crushed when her best friend and girlfriend dumps her right before their senior year of high school. Now she’s trying to figure out how to keep her best friend in her life as a friend, save their favorite coffee shop, and start something up with a long time crush who is probably not even into girls. This was a cute little high school romance with characters who I enjoyed and who experienced growth over the course of the book. I give it a 7 out of 10.
80. Marry Him by Marina Ford
This story is a sort of rom-com. It starts off at the end though where you get a list of things that go horribly wrong at the wedding, and then you move back and forth in time through the relationship of two seemingly mis-matched people. There is a lot of over the top, ridiculous drama in this book. It made it a little too unrealistic for my taste. I give it a 5 out of 10.
79. The Cake King by Rosie Chase
This is a romance novella that edges more towards erotica. There are a number of sex scenes tied together with a very flimsy plot. These types of romance novels are really not my thing. I give it a 4 out of 10.
78. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
I didn’t read Normal People, but I did watch it and based on this book I’m guessing that the adaptation of Normal People did a pretty good job of conveying the feeling of that book because reading this book felt like watching that show. It was another book with characters that seem very emotionally stunted and who connect in unhealthy ways while every character seems a bit cold. I give it a 5 out of 10.
77. My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman
A generally enjoyable collection of new and previously written essays by Laura Lippman on her life, work, and womanhood, and being a first time mother in her 50s. I did grow a little tired of her predilection for trying to intimate that she had some tantalizing fact to share but that for various reasons she was going to keep it to herself. I don’t think people owe me anything, but if you’re not going to write about it then stop referring to it. I do appreciate her voice though and am sad that the coronovirus prevented an in-person book talk at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore. She did something online with them, but it required purchasing a copy of the book from them and I already had one. I give it a 7 out of 10.
76. The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt
Nora has returned to the small Texas town she grew up in for the first time since she left for the funeral of the father that kicked her out as a teenager. She’s also not ready to confront her former best friend Sophie and her former boyfriend who are now married with a teenage daughter. The secret of their teenage relationship still haunts both of them almost 20 years later. This book was fine. I know there is a certain kind of romance that people enjoy where long lost high school loves reunite and are meant to be. Like this one they kind of annoy me as it seems ridiculous to me that these people would have been pining for each other for this long and immediately are in love again after meeting again even though they haven’t seen each other in decades and pretty much know nothing about each other’s adult lives. Others will probably find it romantic. I find it silly, so this was not my favorite. I give it a 5 out of 10.