21. Song and System: The Making of American Pop Music by Harvey Rachlin
I liked this book at the beginning. Rachlin looks at the history of pop music from its inception both in the creation of music and the systems that surround it like copyright. He started out covering it in a chronological order, which made sense but at some point he just seemed to start throwing things at the wall and not really keep to any kind of order. It would have been a much better book if he had just continued down the path he started. Also, at the end of the book there was just weirdly a list of popular songs from every year with one lyric from each song. Like why? Was he required to meet some page count that he was way under and this is how he filled it out? There was some interesting stuff here, but unfortunately I don’t think that the book completely held together. I give it a 6 out of 10.
20. Never Now by Scarlett Hopper
I got sucked into the story of this book while also sort of hating the author’s writing style. I realize in retrospect after seeing it on Goodreads that this is the second book in a romance series involving these characters, which does actually explain how she elided some of the characters’ plot lines because they were obviously happening simultaneously in the previous book. I get it now, but not having read the previous book nor even realizing this was a second book until after the fact made it very weird to read. I’ve read plenty of other extended character group romances that have referenced previous stories without making it weird like this one did. I like the actual story between the characters than I did how the author wrote it. I give it a 5 out of 10.
19. The Jake Ryan Complex by Bethany Randall
So many things about this book bugged me not the least of which was the premise that the main character was a 40 year old who can’t find love because she still compares every guy to Jake Ryan from the movie 16 Candles. Like first of all Jake Ryan was never that much of a catch, and certainly any woman who thinks he is the ideal man after rewatching that movie in 2022 needs some serious help. Then the premise that she has to find someone to play the fictional boyfriend that she made up to please her overbearing mother to take to her sister’s wedding was also not great. I know that’s a tried and true romance trope, but I don’t think it was executed well here at all. And then a big roadblock that comes to get in the way of her getting with the handyman she falls for turns out to be a red herring. Not a great book. I give it a 4 out of 10.
18. The Flip Side by James Bailey
Josh has recently been dumped while proposing to his girlfriend, lost the job he had with her father, and now had to move back in with his parents while he figures out what to do with his life. He decides to base all his decisions on the flip of a coin figuring that all the decisions he’s thought out have led him to where he is, so why not give chance a try to see if things work out better. He then meets the girl of his dreams in line at a museum, but will the coin decide they should be together?
This book annoyed me so much. Luckily a lot of the characters in the book were also annoyed at Josh and his dumb coin. And I guess I am just too much of a realist to not find it incredibly ludicrous that he would go searching for this girl all over Europe like a needle in a haystack. It’s almost impossible that he would actually find her, and even if does they clearly live in different countries? How is that going to work? One of them is just going to drop their entire life to go be with someone they’ve only just met? Give me a break. I guess there are people who would find the whole thing romantic. I am not one of them. I give it a 4 out of 10.
17. City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks
A book of interconnecting stories about Palestinians and Israelis set in the West Bank. I don’t know if this was the author’s actual intent, but I felt like the book did a good job of illustrating why violence perpetuates with each side thinking they are in the right or doing what they have to do to defend a just cause while illustrating how futile and destructive it is to everyone involved. It felt really relevant to a lot of things that are going on in the world right now including the continued Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I give it a 7 out of 10.
16. The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Based on the true story of the blue people of Kentucky, Jubilee was born with blue skin as well as were several other of her family members. They have been hiding out in the hills of Appalachia in Kentucky to escape the violence and harassment visited upon them by the townspeople due to their differences. Now a photographer and a writer funded by the WPA have found them and claim to want to tell their story, but can they really be trusted? It was a decent story that made for a pretty good book club discussion. It would appeal to be people who liked the Book Women of Troublesome Creek and Giver of Stars. I give it a 6 out of 10.