Year 17, Book 54

54. Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

I loved this book! It’s been awhile since I’ve liked a Jodi Picoult book this much. I skipped Wish You Were Here because I couldn’t deal with the COVID of it all, and I hated The Book of Two Ways. There were several before that I enjoyed but wasn’t blown away by. This book I could not put down. The only reason I didn’t read it one sitting is because I started it too late in the day, and I had to go to sleep. It’s been a long time since I read a book that I couldn’t put down like this one. I implore if you’re going to read this book to try and not read anything else about it before you do because I have a feeling that people are going to inadvertently give away the twist in the middle because it’s so built into what the book is about in the second half. I would have enjoyed the book if I had known, but it was the most jaw dropping moment that I can remember in a book and I don’t want you to miss out on experiencing that. I give it a 10 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 53

53. Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey-Stein

A good book for a summer beach read as it take place in a beach town in New Jersey. It has elements of romance, but is not strictly a romance novel. I didn’t hate it, but there are a lot of things that I felt like I had to overlook. First of all it’s better if you pretend these characters in their mid-20s and not their late 30s because if you think about it too hard they are completely insufferable if they’re that old and acting like they all are. So just sort of squint past their ages. They don’t matter that much anyway. Also, the book somehow makes it seem like Miles’s mother owns this gigantic empire that he’s worried he’s getting cut out of making him return home, but it’s just like a bar and a hotel? It doesn’t seem like something he would be super worried about. So the book definitely has some problems, but it has its moments too. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 52

52. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

This book was a good engaging read, but also created weird mix of emotions. The book itself is pretty twee. Like parts of the book are told from the perspective of the dog. So if you’re not into twee, this book isn’t for you. It was also infuriating because of all the discrimination Elizabeth faced as a woman that feels all too familiar even all these decades later, especially in light of recent events. I’ll be interested to see how they translate it into a tv series. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 51

51. Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Hollow’s Edge is a very tight knit neighborhood on a lake where the neighbors are always up in everybody’s business. Everyone’s lives were shaken 18 months ago when a couple was found dead in their house seemingly murdered by carbon monoxide poisoning from someone turning their car on and leaving it running while they slept. Ruby, the young woman who was convicted of the crime, has just gotten out of prison on a technicality and has returned to taunt the neighborhood while proclaiming that she is both innocent and there to make someone pay. I didn’t love this book. I thought it was fine, but nothing great. I can definitely see it appealing to fans of Liane Moriarity’s books though. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 50

50. The Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover

Not a great a great gay romance. A lot of the plot felt very contrived to me, and I didn’t particularly care for the characters. The author tried to give Vince a backstory that would make you understand why he is a terrible person, but even if there’s a reason behind it it doesn’t make him any less toxic as a romantic partner at this point. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 49

49. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Oliver was one of seven senior students in an elite Shakespearean theatre program at a university for the arts in Illinois. He has just finished serving 10 years in prison for the murder of one of his fellow classmates and is finally recounting what actually happened that night to the detective who arrested him. I had mixed feelings on this book. I thought it was an entertaining enough read while I was actually reading it, but any time I thought about the plot at all I was annoyed with it. I thought the framing device with the detective was unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the story other than making me wonder why this detective was so obsessed with this case. Also, the characters in this book made so many ridiculous choices. So many things could have been avoided if they hadn’t made the dumbest possible decisions at every turn. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 48

48. The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron

Iris never expected to be back living with her parents in the small Maine town where she grew up, but losing her job meant she couldn’t afford to stay in Boston. Now she just wants to earn enough money and find a new job so she can get back. She starts to think maybe being back isn’t all that bad when she discovers Jude her next door neighbor who was four years ahead of her in school has also returned. Could this rekindled friendship lead to something more even if Jude is clearly hiding a secret? This was a sort of run of the mill romance. It was a quick, enjoyable read but nothing really special about it. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 47

47. Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway by Michael Riedel

A behind the scenes look at Broadway in the 1990s. Riedel shares stories about shows like Sunset Boulevard, Rent, Angels in America, The Producers and more while looking at how Broadway became a force in the 90s as new players entered the fray and business models changed. Definitely a great read for anyone who loves live theatre. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 46

46. Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight

Hex is written in diary form by Nell, a biology PhD student who has recently been kicked out of her program but who is still trying to figure out how to detoxify poisonous plants. The diary is actually written to her former advisor Joan, who she is obsessed with. The story also revolves around Joan’s husband and 3 other graduate students who are all interconnected in a series of messy relationships. Overall I didn’t love the book, but I did appreciate that it was a really well written example of its form. I usually detest things like this or epistolary novels because it forces people to write things that someone naturally writing a letter or diary would never write in order to advance the plot, and it bugs me. I never felt that way with this book. I did feel like partly because of the format I was never able to get a good sense of Joan or understand why every other character was enthralled with her in some way because she felt like a very flat character from the little that is actually conveyed about her. I give it a 5 out of 10.