35. Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman
In the midst of the societal satanic panic five year old Sean accidentally says things that feed into rumors that his art teacher is involving the children in satanic rituals and abusing them. Thirty years later Richard has tried to relinquish has past and is now moving forward with his new wife and her young son. But someone or something seems to be trying to punish him and not let his past die.
The book kept me fairly engaged reading it, but I definitely very easily figured out who was haunting Richard and mostly just kept reading to make sure I was right, which I was. I give it a 5 out of 10.
34. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
This was a sweet little book about 17 year old Lenni and 83 year old Margot who develop an unlikely friendship in the hospital. They meet in an art class and Lenni notes that their ages add up to 100. They embark on a project to paint 100 paintings, one representing each year of their lives and they share their stories as they do. Despite the heavy sounding plot revolving around two people who are dying there is actually a lot of joy in this book and it was a nice read to escape from the terrible of the actual world. I give it a 7 out of 10.
33. The Shortest Day by Colm Toibin
This was actually a short story that I picked up as an e-book and didn’t realize it wasn’t a full novel. It takes place during the winter solstice in which an archaeologist seeks to see a rumored magical light in some ancient burial grounds in Ireland where he has been working while the people of the town and the ghosts of the burial ground attempt to protect the secret of the light. I’m not generally much for short stories. This one was fine, but it didn’t make me change my opinion on the format. I give it a 5 out of 10.
32. Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life by Julianna Margulies
I grabbed a galley of this book not even sure if I was that interested in reading it, but I’m really glad I did. Julianna Margulies had a fascinating and kind of crazy childhood I knew nothing about. She also is really good at writing about it. I finished this book in one sitting because I was enjoying it so much. It’s one of the best celebrity memoirs I’ve read in a long time, though it’s nothing like the more comical ones that have become so popular in recent years. This one actually feels like it has real substance to it. I give it a 9 out of 10.
31. Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson
Yesterday is History is a YA novel about a boy named Andre who inherits the ability to time travel through a liver transplant. He’s transplanted back to 1969 where he meets a boy named Michael who he develops an attraction to, but in the present day he’s also starting to develop a relationship with Blake, the brother of boy whose liver he has who is tasked with teaching him about time travel.
Spoilery thoughts ahead. I wanted to like this book, but I really didn’t. It all felt really surfacy even for a YA novel. I never got a sense of why Michael and Andre were supposed to have such a strong connection and it made no sense to me that Andre wouldn’t have looked Michael up in the future. We never get an explanation for why Micheal might have been Andre’s anchor in the past. The time traveling world is barely built up. You get enough information to seem like the beginning of something but none of it ever really goes anywhere. There just seems to be a lot of dead ends in the storytelling. This book had a good idea at the heart of it, but none of it was developed enough. I’m actually probably rating this harsher than books that its better than because it did have such wasted potential. I give it a 4 out of 10.
30. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
Bao and Linh are teenagers whose families have competing Vietnamese restaurants across from each other. There is a long running feud between their families and thus they have spent their lives avoiding each other. A chance encounter brings them together creating a friendship and then something more. Their relationship has the potential to bring their families together or possibly drive them further apart from their parents. While it was nice to read a book focused on kids other than white teenagers I struggled to get into this one. I just didn’t find the story that compelling. I give it a 6 out of 10.