69. The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
Although it’s being released in 2021, apparently this book was written prior to the coronavirus. It’s obviously very different reading a book about a pandemic that kills most of the men in the world than it would have been to read it had we not currently been living through a pandemic. I can certainly say at this point this book is a work of fiction because when they developed a vaccine in the book people actually took it and ended the plague.
I started reading the book without actually knowing what it was about, but it was obviously well written enough that I kept reading despite topic because I never would have started reading it had I known what the book was about. The book is told from the perspective a bunch of different characters over a number of years. I get what the author was trying to do in representing a broad swath of experiences and highlighting various issues and obvious changes that would occur with almost all men having gone extinct. However, it did make it difficult to really connect with any of the characters even the few main characters that are centered in the book. To some degree they all felt a little one note and not easily differentiated from each other. It definitely was an interesting premise. I’m not sure if it made me feel better or worse to think about how much worse things could be than they currently are given what happens based on the pandemic in this book. I give it a 7 out of 10.
68. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Sylvie and Amy are the daughters of Chinese immigrant parents in New York. As a young child Sylvie was sent to live in the Netherlands with her grandmother and some other family relatives before being brought to live with her parents and new sister when she was nine. Now as an adult she has returned to say goodbye to her dying grandmother, but now she’s missing. Amy overcomes her own fears to travel to the Netherlands and try to find out what happened to her sister. In her pursuit she uncovers some long hidden family secrets. I quite enjoyed this book. I thought it had a good mystery. I liked the way the author played with voice and perspective. I thought there were a lot of good sibling relationship things. I give it a 7 out of 10.
67. Shaken or Stirred by Georgia Beers
Julia has just taken over, renovated, and reopened her family’s struggling bar, so she doesn’t have time to date. But she can’t stop thinking about the cute customer who came into the bar. Savannah is also busy taking care of other people and putting their needs ahead of their own. Will their busy lives and some issues between their families keep them apart? It’s a romance, so obviously these are things they will overcome. I like Georgia Beers’ romances and this one was no exception. I would have liked the feud between the families to have been more than it was because the issue between their fathers seemed kind of pointless, but I thought it was a fun book. I give it a 7 out of 10.
66. Mr. Gupta’s Hardware Store by A.K. Carla
This was a sweet little book about two Indian couples who immigrated to London during the 1970s. Mr. Gupta owns a hardware store and Chandu is his unappreciated and put upon employee. Their wives are best friends. The story follows their lives through ups and downs and changing relationships. Some of it is a little hokey and unbelievable like Mr. Gupta essentially becoming an entirely different person part way through the book, but I found it kind of charming though it wasn’t exactly an uplifting book. I give it a 6 out of 10.
65. Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
This was a really fun romance. Delilah has returned to her hometown for the first time in years after being summoned to photograph her estranged step-sister Astrid’s wedding. Astrid’s best friend Claire has been focused on raising her daughter and dealing with her flakey ex who has once again showed up back up in their daughter’s life, so she hasn’t thought much about dating until she gets dared to hit on the cute woman sitting at the bar. She can hardly believe it’s the same Delilah who was her friends weird sister. This book has really great relationships including the friendships, the family dynamics, and of course the romance. I literally couldn’t put it down. I’m very much looking forward the future books focusing on the love lives of the side characters in this book. I give it a 9 out of 10.
64. Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal by Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman, as the title suggests, traces the history of food all the way from being hunter gathers to how it became agrobusiness as well as food that is not so much food anymore. He definitely is on the side of smaller, more sustainable agriculture. However, as often in the case of books like this while it’s all well and good to suggest that these things are good I think he does not acknowledge that a true return to what he is talking about is not possible unless everyone is living somewhere they can at least partially grow their own food, which unrealistic for so many different reasons. It was an interesting read even if I can’t completely buy into his thesis. I give it a 7 out of 10.