Year 16, Book 93

93. On the Rocks by Georgia Beers

Vanessa is a teacher with a little boy named Oliver in her class who keeps acting out, which is out of character for him. After meeting his mother Grace, Vanessa is starting to see why. She learns that his parents are getting divorced and doesn’t think Grace is considering her son enough in the process. But they keep running into each other and now Vanessa’s feelings towards Grace are changing, but is it really a good idea to get involved with the mother of one of her students?

This is the second book in Georgia Beers’ trilogy on the Martini cousins. I really like Georgia Beers’ romance novels. She always has great characters with lots of good romantic tension and scenarios that actually seem realistic contributing to why the characters are struggling to be together. I liked this book better than the first in the series, which had some things that didn’t hold together for me. This one I thought was great though. It had some very sexy and flirty moments, but also some very realistic drama. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 92

92. Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life by Sutton Foster

I have long been a fan of Sutton Foster on both stage and screen, but it turns out I knew very little about her actual personal life. It turns out she had a really rough childhood that she details in this memoir. Her mother had severe anxiety that eventually manifested itself as agoraphobia. Despite all her personal issues her mother did encourage Sutton and her brother Hunter to pursue their careers in theater and sought out opportunities for them that helped her embark on the career that she has today. One of the things Sutton has used to help with her own anxiety and to deal with her difficult relationship with her mother is various forms of crafting. She ties stories from her life to various crafts she was making at the time. It’s an interesting way to frame a memoir that I haven’t seen before. If you’re a fan of Sutton Foster or just into memoirs I think it’s worth a read. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 91

91. She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

This was a cute queer YA romcom. Scottie is super depressed after she gets dumped by her girlfriend and whose opposing basketball team just destroyed them. Now to make it worse she just got into an accident with the incredibly popular cheerleader Irene, her nemesis at school. But she decides to try and use the situation to her advantage and convinces Irene to pose as her girlfriend in a “Can’t Buy Me Love” type scenario to make her ex jealous and win her back. It’s perhaps not the most realistic of books, but it has good romcom vibes and all the stuff you would want in a teen romance. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 90

90. The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

This is a retelling of The Great Gatsby with Jordan Baker as the main character and a lot of supernatural elements. It’s been a long time since I’ve read The Great Gatsby and I think I needed to reread it to really get as much as I should have out of this book. I really like The Great Gatsby but I couldn’t get into this book. I read it for a book club and everyone else seemed to like it a lot more than I did, so I feel like I had been more primed for it I would have liked it more. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 89

89. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

The story of a family whose youngest son wants to be a girl. The book explores many of the challenges and questions that arise when raising a trans child even when the parents are mostly supportive of the process and the impact it can have on the family as a whole. Overall I thought it was a good book that felt true to many of the challenges and joys of being a parent of any kid. The book did a good job of showing that all the kids in the family had their own unique issues. The one thing I didn’t like was that the family portrayed in this book was not very realistic. They were written totally as people who you only see in movies, tv, and books. There were a number of things that made me think no one in real life acts like that. Everything about this family is way too quirky. It thought it would have been better to have a more realistic family to help portray this issue that is new to many people at this point. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 88

88. Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad

I didn’t particularly learn anything from this book that I didn’t already know in the actual descriptions of the various topics she addressed. It would definitely be a good primer for someone who is just starting out reading about anti-racism though. It’s a book set up to do 28 days of reading with personal journaling prompts at the end of each day’s reading. Although the reading didn’t offer me much new it was helpful to do the journaling and see patterns across the areas to see where I personally need to do more work. I think it’s definitely a useful exercise for people to go through. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 87

87. Accidentally in Love by Belinda Missen

After losing out on yet another promotion and realizing that her boyfriend is never going to truly commit to her, Katharine quits her job and moves back to her hometown to open her own art gallery. She tries to get local artist Kit to agree to show his works in her opening show, but he is stubbornly refusing. In trying to change his mind she might just get more than his artwork.

I did not like this book. There was absolutely nothing that made me think these characters should be together. The author was obviously trying to go for a sexy, antagonistic relationship that is the trope of many a romance novel but she missed it by a mile. Kit just felt a jerk the entire time and their relationship only felt antagonistic and not sexy at all. Skip this one. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 86

86. The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

Penny has been unlucky in love and is ready to give up on finding a man when she meets not one man, but three. This book started off pretty strong for me with the cute burgeoning relationship between Penny and Francesco, but then the story kind of ruined him and I never found her other two love interests that believable. It was always obvious who she was going to wind up with even though by the time she did the luster had worn off. This book had the potential to be a much better romance than it turned out to be. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 85

85. Raise a Fist, Take a Knee: Race and the Illusion of Progress in Modern Sports by John Feinstein

John Feinstein uses the many connections he’s developed over decades of sports reporting to interview people across a number of sports about how race issues are pervasive throughout sports. It’s a timely book that lays bare that things have not as progressed as much as people like to think. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 84

84. Beach Read by Emily Henry

January and Augustus are novelists with a tangled history who wind up living in adjoining beach houses on Lake Michigan for hte summer. They’re both facing writers block and to snap out of it they make an agreement to switch genres. She will work on literary fiction and he’ll write a romance novel. Their little bet helps them see where the other one is coming from and helps move their relationship from one of begrudging friendship to something more. This was a really great romance. The conflicts keeping the characters apart seemed real and not contrived like I find in too many romance novels. There was a lot of great banter, which is my favorite kind of romance novel. I give it an 8 out of 10.