39. Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters
Megan and Scarlett were best friends, but they stopped speaking after high school when Scarlett backed out of being Megan’s roommate at the last minute and went somewhere else for college. Now it’s years later and an old friend is getting married in Canada and wants both of them at her wedding. Both of their lives are in disarray so they decide to road trip it up to the wedding and go on an adventure along the way so that Megan see all the places she’s been wanting to visit but never has. Will they not only rekindle their friendship but find something more together? The premise of getting these two characters into their road trip seemed very contrived, but I enjoyed the journey once they were on it. I give it a 5 out of 10.
38. The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor
This was a sweet retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma with Emma being a high school senior who convinces her coding club to develop a match making app for their school in order to win the state championship. Emma is convinced that if she can just figure out the right mathematical algorithm then she will be able to find out who should be in love, but if her app works then why are couples breaking up and why is she developing feelings for her club co-president when he’s matched with someone else? I give it a 7 out of 10.
37. Anything but Easy by Susie Tate
I sort of enjoyed this book and hated it at the same time. Kira was an unbelievable character that was way to whimsical and sort of had that unrealistic manic pixie dream girl vibe about her. Meanwhile Barclay said and did too many unforgivable things that she just seemed to gloss right over and take him back. I give it a 5 out of 10.
36. Jack by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson returns with a story related to her Gilead set books. This one takes place earlier than those and is set in St. Louis following Jack the godson and namesake of the preacher in Gilead. He is a never do well, alcoholic who just can’t seem to get his life together. He falls in love with a black school teacher, which of course is not looked kindly on in 1950s St. Louis. This book had its moments, but mostly I just found it so boring. It probably gave great insight into the mind of an alcoholic, but that really wasn’t a pleasant place to be so it didn’t even really have that going for it. And with the book centered in Jack’s perspective it was impossible to ever really figure out why Della would have been in love with him because it certainly never seemed like she should have been. I give it a 4 out of 10.
35. Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Chloe’s parents want her to marry the richest but also sleaziest boy in their family’s close knit Asian-American circle, so in order to stop them from forcing her to accept his proposal she tells them she has another boyfriend. Only she doesn’t, so she rents a boyfriend from a company designed to exactly for the purpose of impressing Asian parents with a fake boyfriend. This being a romance of course Drew, her fake boyfriend, and Chloe fall in love for real. This was an enjoyable read and good story based on a well worn trope. I give it a 7 out of 10.
34. The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian
I usually like books by Chris Bohjalian, but this book did absolutely nothing for me. It takes place in 1964 when a movie star and her new husband treat a group of friends to an African safari, but instead of the luxurious adventure they were planning on they wind up being part of kidnapping by Russians that goes wrong. I did not care what happened to any of the characters and thus the suspense about what was going to happen to them that was propelling the story forward did not keep me engaged. I give it a 4 out of 10.
33. The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue
The only reason I finished this book was because I was reading it for a book club. The characters were completely flat, the plot was barely there and easily figured out. There was absolutely nothing to draw you into this book or propel you forward. The author’s note mentions that this is the author’s first novel and that she has previously been a short story writer. That made a lot of sense to me because it did feel like a short story dragged out over an entire book with only the quick character beats and plot points you have time to do in a short story rather than a fully fleshed out novel. I give it a 2 out of 10.
32. French Braid by Anne Tyler
I did not care for this book. I haven’t read all of Anne Tyler’s earlier works, so I don’t know how it compares to them but it definitely feels exactly like all her other latter works. I just feel like she’s writing the same book over and over again with slightly different characters. This book definitely doesn’t feel like it has anything new to say. If you’re a die hard Anne Tyler fan who just wants to read the same thing she’s already written then this book will be up your alley. If you’re looking for anything even slightly new or different don’t bother. I give it a 4 out of 10.
31. The It Girl by Ruth Ware
Hannah and April were roommates and best friends at Oxford until the night that Hannah returned home and found April murdered in their room. Now it’s 10 years later and the man who Hannah claimed did it has died in prison. A reporter is coming around claiming that he wasn’t in fact the murderer and that Hannah was wrong causing Hannah to reevaluate her friends and everything she thought happened.
I’m hit and miss with Ruth Ware books. This book was more on the miss side for me. April was an insufferable character and I figured out who actually did it well before the reveal. The explanation for how it happened seemed preposterous. I give it a 5 out of 10.
30. With a Twist by Georgia Beers
This is the third and final book in the Swizzle Stick series focusing on the Martini cousins. Amelia is heartbroken after being left by her wife and being middle-aged and entering menopause she does not feel like anyone could ever love her again. Enter Kirby who is painting the house that Amelia is live-in dog-sitting at. She’s younger and looks at life completely different than Amelia, but she might just be able to make Amelia feel like she is worthy of love. If I ranked the three books in this series this would be my least favorite of the three. While appreciate that this books centers on an older woman and doesn’t shy away from some of the bodily changes that happen to women during that time, but god help me if I am ever as whiny and self-centered about it as Amelia is. I give it a 6 out of 10.