Tuesday, February 27, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - February

My yearly goal was split up into two books a month for each month in 2018, which I definitely surpassed in January.  February included a ten day vacation, so I wasn't sure how much reading I would get in. I should have known that laying by the ocean/pool would be prime reading time because I read four books during that time span! Keep reading for book descriptions and reviews!

If you're new around here, you can see all of my book reviews here.

(Reminder: descriptions come from Amazon.com but all reviews are my own)

8. Calling Maggie May by Anonymous (4/5 ★)

"A dark and edgy first-person cautionary tale about how one girl’s seemingly minor choices quickly spiraled into a life as a sex worker in the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the SkyShe had a normal life, until one small decision changed everything. Suddenly, there were new possibilities and new experiences. But not all of those experiences were good. Read her shocking story in the diary she left behind."

The first book I read in this "series" was Go Ask Alice back in early 2015. I really liked it so I decided to continue reading the other books. (Note: its not actually a series, but there is a lot of similar stories written by 'Anonymous,')  If you're a fan of Ellen Hopkins (which I totally am), then I think you would like this book and the others like it.  Its not very realistic (I assume, I've never been in this situation so I guess I can't say for sure), but I enjoyed it anyway.

9. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (3/5 ★)

"Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they’ve reached the end of the line. 

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances."

This book has been on my list for awhile, and since they recently made a movie based on it I figured I better read it so I can watch the movie.  I haven't seen the film yet, but I'm going to go on a limb and say don't waste your time with the book, watch the movie instead.  It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't a super compelling read.  I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened, but I wasn't invested in the characters as much as I prefer to be when I read a fictional story.

10. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso (5/5 ★)

"Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in 
dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, and was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school—a job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay.

Flash forward to today, and she’s the founder of Nasty Gal and the founder and CEO of Girlboss. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers.
#GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn’t about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly."

I had a hard time getting into this book because of the weirdest reason...the font seriously through me off! I know that is a super odd thing to critic about a book, but it was just a hard to read font until you get used to it.  The book started out talking about how Sophia started selling vintage clothing for resale on ebay which I LOVED because I'm currently getting into clothing resale on Poshmark and would love to turn that into a side gig!

11. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (5/5 ★)

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes
a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”

I didn't love her other book when I read it, so I decided to try this one out on audiobook. I enjoyed it MUCH more, and I think I would have enjoyed it just as much had I read it in print. I got through the 4 1/2 hour audiobook in less than 2 days and was legitimately disappointed it was over so quickly. It was funny and relatable in all the right ways. I’m not even a big Mindy Kaling fan (not that I don’t like her, I’ve just not seen anything with her in it- including The Office) but I really enjoyed this light hearted autobiography.

12. Escaping the Rainfield by Eliza Rich (3/5 ★)

“April 12, 2003. “Beep. Beep. We interrupt your radio station to bring you this important message. The counties of… no. The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and southern portions of Iowa and Nebraska are in a Flood Warning.”” This was no typical flood warning. With eleven states expecting three to ten inches of rain for an unprecedented number of days, the United States was in a frenzy. Families were evacuating their hometowns in hopes of locating refuge on dry land, but Hannah Davis’ family thought that they could out wait the storm. When their panicked Grandmother reaches out to them, requesting help, they find themselves fighting the weather and time to rescue her. As if that wasn’t enough, shortly after joining forces with two of Hannah’s classmates, Adrian and Ophelia, they come face to face with a gang that wants Adrian dead. As the days go by the family grows increasingly wary whether or not they will reach their Grandmother in time. Will the Davis’ be able to come together to outwit the storm and its surrounding catastrophes? Or will Hannah’s affection for Adrian put her family in more danger than it is worth?”

This book really threw me off from the get go because it didn’t ever really introduce the characters or the setting or the story, it moreso just jumped right into the plot. It wasn’t a super intriguing book but I was fairly interested throughout the whole thing and curious to see how it ended. I wouldn’t recommend this as an adult read but late middle schoolers may like the storyline.

13. Surviving Cyril by Ramsey Hootman     (4/5 ★)

“When Robin Matheson's husband is killed in Afghanistan, she finds herself suddenly alone: an outsider in a community grieving for the hometown hero it never really knew. Though the thought of spending the rest of her life without Tavis is exhausting, Robin has no choice but to pull herself together for the sake of their son. She finds some satisfaction in cutting ties with Tav's obnoxious best friend, Cyril—a 500-pound hacker who didn't even bother to come to the funeral. 

Unfortunately, her three-year-old decides Cyril is now his best buddy, and Robin can't bear to take anything else away from her son. A few hot dogs and video games won't do any permanent damage… right? 

Cyril doesn't magically transform into a good person—or even a decent one—but he does prove to be a better role model than Robin expected. Gradually, she also begins to realize that Cyril may be the one person who truly understands the magnitude of her loss. 

He also knows far more about her husband's death than he’s been letting on.”

I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway and wasn’t sure what it was about when I started it because I was unplugged for the week and therefore couldn’t google the synopsis. I think it’s meant to be a suspenseful book, but there wasn’t a ton of suspense in it. That being said, it was still a good read and difficult for me to put down. The end definitely through me for a loop even if it was a little predictable.

14. Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant (2/5 ★)

It starts with a lie. The kind we've all told - to a former acquaintance we can't quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you're having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday - swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of...
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you're trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you - by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it's the lies that cause the real damage...
... well, by then, it could just be too late.”
Like the Surviving Cyril, this was another Goodreads win that I didn’t know the synopsis of when I began it. The main character is a 42 year old man who is just moving in with his mom because his friend couldn’t let him stay in his spare apartment any longer. He’s kind of a loser to be honest. This book was dull and I really had to persevere in powering through it until the last 30% where I was finally engaged enough to be dedicated in learning how the story ends. Up until then, the plot line was fairly indecipherable and I really had no idea what, exactly, the "problem" was.

Reading Challenge: 14/24 books

Stay tuned for March's books, coming to the blog on April 3rd!

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