Monday, October 9, 2017

September Reads // Under Loved Genres

Another month with tons of reading! Woot. This month I read a few under loved genres, which is one of my 2017 goals! I read a mystery, a few contemporaries, and a non-fiction. I also checked off 3 Negalley reads! YAY! Let's get on to the reviews, friends! :) 

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy women's fiction, and stories about picking yourself up and following your dreams. It's a bit romantic, but not overly.

This story follows Nina, a English librarian who's just been laid off because her library branch is being absorbed by the bigger one. She's got more books than she can count, and she's taking in strays from the closing building. She doesn't like the idea of taking on a technology position in the bigger branch... so on a whim she decides to buy a large van, and make a mobile bookstore. The only issue is, the van is in Scotland. When she arrives to see the van, she's in love with the country as well. She buys the van and begins her new adventure abroad selling books.

My sister-in-law got me this book for my birthday, and I was glad to have something fresh on my shelf to read! Thanks, Kels!This book started a bit slow for me, it takes about 100 pages for her to get the van... but I really enjoyed the idea behind the book so I kept reading. (again, keep in mind I still read this in two evenings... so it's not THAT slow). I love that her goal was to get people books that were perfect for them! Also, I had no idea this book took place in Scotland... I can't get way from the Scottish. ;) I enjoyed the characters that she meets and their interactions, I enjoyed all the different types of books she talked about. I liked the book tree with Marek, and also everything with her landlord. It was romantic enough, but not overly. The pacing was a bit odd (slow at first, a good pace in the middle, and then a lot wrapping up right at the end) but it didn't affect my reading too much. Overall this is a quick and sweet read, a bit inspiring to make daring changes. :) 

The Dry by Jane Harper** 

3.5 - 4 stars - I recommend if you enjoy mysteries, great writing, experiencing a different world, and small town dynamics.

This book follows Aaron Falk as he heads to his hometown for his high school best friend's funeral. It was a tragic death, as he killed his wife and child before killing himself. His friend's father thinks that there is more to the situation than meets the eye, and asks Falk to investigate, threatening to expose his secret from nearly 20 years ago when another mysterious death occurred in their town. Falk has to dig up some demons to solve this mystery.

First off, the writing is just excellent. Oddly enough the plot reminded me quite a bit of In Cold Blood the only other murder/mystery/etc. type book I've been reading this year. Small, rural town, family group killed by shot gun, small town gossip and dynamics. As the book went on it branched out quite a bit which left me feeling a bit more intrigued. I enjoyed the double mystery in this one especially, though I didn't feel truly shocked by the way things played out in the end. I wanted to know more about Falk as well, I felt like I didn't get a clear feel for his character. Especially since this will be a series... I don't feel super attached to him as I have other book detectives. Overall a good read!

Girl Off the Grid by Jillian Dodd and Kenzie Harp*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fiction that features travel, romance, and is light hearted. This isn't the sub genre for everyone, but I think it is super fun to read.

This book follows blogger/YouTuber Camille as she embarks on a paid trip to Costa Rica for a up-and-coming fashion magazine. She's given tour guides, and a photographer. The photographer, Adam, happens to be very obnoxious, and uptight, but also cute. He thinks she is spoiled, and much to self-centered to think about the world. As the trip goes on, they find out they have more in common than they thought.

Like I said above, this sub-genre isn't for everyone, but I think it is a blast to read. Especially when you want something fluffy. The writing is very fun and easy. I liked that this one specifically was about college aged people. So it didn't feel quite as young as YA. I really liked that the perspective varied by chapter Adam then Camille. I felt like that made it pretty cute to read. I also liked that while romance is decent chunk of this book, it was still pretty detailed in the travel aspect. They describe the activities, the things they are learning, etc. I don't know, I just loved this one. Very cute.  hope that they write more!

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer Series 1) by Jenny Han

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA and family drama. This one felt a bit younger than most I have read, but also dealt with some difficult topics. I did not like it nearly as much as "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" everything about it had quite a different vibe.

This book follows Isabel "Belly" as she spends her summer at her family friend's beach house. She's spent every summer there, since before she was born. Her and her brother grew up with Beck's boys, Conrad and Jeremiah. Since she was 10 years old, Belly has been in love with Conrad. As they all get older, things are changing rapidly, and it might just be their last summer at the beach house.

If you've been reading my reviews for a bit, you'll know that I LOVE LOVE LOVED Jenny Han's "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series. I decided to read this one at the very end of summer, because when would be a better time? Overall I did not love it like I did her other series, but it was still an entertaining read. I liked the idea of her family's tradition to spend the summer at the beach with another family, like one big family. I liked seeing Belly come of age a little bit, but it still felt quite young for YA. I read it in an evening, so it was certainly entertaining enough. I felt like Conrad was kind of a brat for most of the book... and I honestly like Jeremiah better. LOL. I definitely found myself wanting to know the quirky details, habits, interests, etc. of the characters because those details were so much of what I loved in the other series. We'll see how the rest of the book goes. I'm not good at reading a series and not finishing it. :)

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer Series 2) by Jenny Han

3 stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA and family drama. This one felt a bit younger than most I have read, but also dealt with some difficult topics. I did not like it nearly as much as "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" everything about it had quite a different vibe.

More summer shenanigans.

Hmm... I liked this one a bit more, mostly because Belly was a bit more mature. However, the inability to communicate with anyone was enraging for me. It's very much like New Moon, Bella is acting out to get Edward's attention. I did like seeing chapters from other character's POV, but I wanted a bit more of it. I like how Han flashes back to things in the past that clear things up later.

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer Series 3) by Jenny Han

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA and family drama. This one felt a bit younger than most I have read, but also dealt with some difficult topics. I did not like it nearly as much as "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" everything about it had quite a different vibe.

More summer shenanigans.

What... ? This one was just a hot mess of events. (highlight for spoilers) Your boyfriend cheats on you and tries to fix it with a marriage proposal (at 18!) and you say 'yes'?! Holy cow you guys. I had a hard time understanding the character's motivations in this one. I still liked the flash backs and multiple POVs. I liked the ending.. .but it also did that (SPOILER) thing, making living your life and finding yourself something you cannot do if you are married or in a committed relationship. Just one of my all-time biggest pet peeves. (for obvious reasons...) I overall wouldn't recommend this series. If you were avoiding reading To All The Boys I've Loved Before because you didn't like this series, don't worry. They aren't alike hardly at all. Go ahead and read the other series. It's much better, IMHO. :)

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy action, adventure, and time travel elements. If you're not into fantasy, it's really the only element that's abnormal. No magic, etc. This is the first book in a series, but a series of just two books. #winning

This book follows Etta, a violinist on her way to her debut. When she begins her performance for The Met in NYC, she begins to hear feedback and runs off stage. She's soon ushered into a stairwell, and pushed... into another century. She awakens on a ship in the 18th century, in the Caribbean. She must quickly figure out what is going on, as she's been summoned to the leader of the travelers... who everyone seems to be afraid of. While on the ship she meets Sophia (the one who pushed her through the portal), and Nicholas (a freed slave, and the new captain of she ship she's on, as he's taken it by force). When the leader of the travelers gives her a seemingly impossible task, she must travel through time to retrieve an artifact. Adventure ensues.

I really enjoyed this book! I thought it was a cool concept, and I liked that while the time travel element is fantasy, it doesn't have any other magic or creatures in it. :) It's kind of like Outlander in that way. I also loved how much focus there was on inequality, and societal issues. Nicholas is half black and a freed slave, and Sophia struggles with being treated as a child for being female. I thought it was cool how they brought Etta from the present to put those issues into perspective. I also kind of love pirate-y plots, so the whole first part being on a ship was fun, I was actually kind of sad when they left the ship. LOL. I really enjoyed that the time traveling took them to many interesting times and places. It wasn't just one or two. I shipped (har) Etta & Nicholas, but I will say that for some reason the way it read made him seem quite a lot older than her... which he is not. The sections kind of switch back and forth between their perspectives, but then not so much. It's not really confusing, but it is a bit unusual. I wouldn't say this ends on a cliff-hanger, but it does bring up some new information in the last few pages. I'm excited to see where the final installment in the duology takes the story, I've already seen a few of the times/places they go from the goodreads synopsis, and I cannot wait!

The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World by Kim Dinan*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy travel memoir books, as well as reflections on self-discovery.

This book follows the true story of Kim and Brian Dinan's adventure as they sell their home and cars, quit their jobs, and embark on an unknown world journey. They are given a yellow envelope filled with money before they leave, and are instructed to give it away as they wish along the way. This book is a recount of their travels, but also the journey of Kim's self discovery.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this book, but once I dove in I was pretty captivated. I always love reading about people's travels, and the struggles they deal with as they travel. While I have not traveled extensively or internationally, I can relate to how hard traveling often is. It's meant to be a journey, a struggle, and something that you learn from. I appreciated that honesty in this memoir. I also really loved that she tackled the complicated emotions and opinions related to the right way to live, the right way to travel, and the right way to give. It is so easy to think that anything we do is not "enough". Or to over-think our motives, or how our actions might look... but I appreciated that she acknowledges these things in herself and others and it all comes down to: we are all doing the best we can. And we'll all keep doing great things and also messing up, and it will be fine. We'll learn from it. I did have to stop reading this at one point, there is a portion where things are not going smoothly and Kim and Brian aren't communicating very well, I had to take a bit of a break because it broke my heart a bit. However, once I kept going it was fine. I think I was just consuming a bit too much media with a stark tone to it at the time.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy books that focus on relationships with twisty motivations, and subtle hints of magic in your fiction.

This book follows Hector, a magician/telekinetic, who moves to a new city to perform. He meets a young woman, named Nina, who is taken with his talents, and wants to be a performer herself. He decides to court her, and teach her what he knows, as she enters her first "grand season" in society. Nina is under the supervision of her elegant aunt Valerie, in hopes that she may find a husband soon. However, her gifts are frowned upon and often cause her to be seen as an outcast. Hector seems to be her only suitor and friend, but is he really after Valerie?

This book is pretty hard to describe, but I just thought it was lovely and atmospheric. It has a slow pace, but the world is lovely. I enjoyed the societal aspect of the book (the grand balls, the courting, etc.), but I also enjoyed the bits of magic/telekinesis. I loved most that Nina and Valerie had really interesting personalities and interests. Nina as into etymology and collecting butterflies specifically. Valerie is all about presentation, perfect from head to toe, every room in her home, even her rose garden. I felt like most of the characters had questionable or changing motivations. You didn't know when people were telling the truth or not, which had me feeling like I didn't know what would happen in the end. The twisty relationship dynamics reminded me a bit of My Cousin Rachel or Cruel Intentions, though a little less stark overall. I recommend this if you enjoy books like this or are looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary. I thought it was really lovely to read.

Publication Date: October 24th 2017.

Currently Reading:

A Fork in the Road edited by James Oseland
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Be Your Own Fairytale: Working with Storytelling for Positive Life Change by Alison Davies*

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Books on Deck:

I feel like I keep making a "books on deck" section... and not reading any of them... for at least 6 months. Whatever... :P I'm just going to keep last month's this time!

Everything to finish Erin's Challenge:

Shotgun Love Songs by Nikolas Butler
Looking for Alaska by John Green

and then... :

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I know... latest to the party.
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Tell Me Where it Hurts by J.R. Rogue - poetry!
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker*
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly*
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Truthwitch & WindWitch by Susan Dennard

Erin's 7.0 Point Total: 135 - just 3 books to go! WOOHOO!

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

** Double asterisks denote titles won in a goodreads giveaway.

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