Monday, April 30, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - April

Another month, another dent made into my never-ending reading list. I didn't listen to any audiobooks in full this month- I had started one, but since it was from the library I had gotten halfway through and the next disc didn't work!

(Descriptions come from but all reviews are my own.  You can find previous book reviews here.)

25. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham (4/5 ★)

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates - Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material - and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works. 

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet. 

As a huge Lauren Graham fan, I had to read this book! I didn't have high expectations (because what are the chances that an actress can also write a good story that is not an autobiography?), but even if I had I would have been impressed. I read this book pretty quickly, because I did not want to put it down! It is set in the 1990s, so it was pretty fun to reminisce on that era of my life. Like do you remember when you wanted to go to the movies, and you had to call the theater to get the pre-recorded message stating the movies playing at what time they were playing at? Remembering that made me feel old...

26. Friend Request by Laura Marshall (4/5 ★)

"1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren't. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.
Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria's sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she'd severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there's more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what's known to Maria--or whoever's pretending to be her--is known to all."

I had heard good things about this book, I was going back and forth on this book as to whether I liked it or not as I read.  I kept thinking, "OMG this is so predictable" but then a plot twist would happen and it turned out better than I thought it would. It is set in London (and surrounding area) so the language was slightly different than what I'm used to which is a slight distraction, but didn't take away from the story. I liked that it flashed back and forth between the past and the present! If you like suspense, I would recommend this book!

27. Get Dirty by Gretchen McNeil (3.5/5 ★)

"The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil's witty and suspenseful sequel to Get Even. The members of Don't Get Mad aren't just mad anymore . . . they're afraid. And with Margot in a coma and Bree under house arrest, it's up to Olivia and Kitty to try to catch their deadly tormentor. But just as the girls are about to go on the offensive, Ed the Head reveals a shocking secret that turns all their theories upside down. The killer could be anyone, and this time he—or she—is out for more than just revenge.
The girls desperately try to discover the killer's identity as their personal lives are falling apart: Donté is pulling away from Kitty and seems to be hiding a secret of his own, and Olivia's mother is on an emotional downward spiral. The killer is closing in, the threats are becoming more personal, and when the police refuse to listen, the girls have no choice but to confront their anonymous friend . . . or die trying."

This book is definitely Pretty Little Liars-esqe which is why I think I originally started the series.  Back in the summer of 2015, I read the Pretty Little Liars books (which are awesome and differed from the show) and was looking for something to fill the void when I finished.  I read the first book of this duo, Get Even, that summer after checking it out from the library, but then I moved and had been unable to find this second book at the local library.  When I was in Minnesota over Easter weekend I only packed one book (rookie mistake) and read the whole thing before the weekend was half over.  I bought this book for seven bucks via iBooks and finished the whole thing before our flight touched down in Nashville on the way home. It was good, but since it had been almost three years since I read the first book, I couldn't remember exactly what happened in the first book, making it more difficult to completely understand this one.

28. Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar
 (5/5 ★)

Lisa Sugar has an amazing job. She spends her days at POPSUGAR creating content about pop culture, must-have handbags and makeup, healthy recipes, and Instagram-worthy sweets. She manages an enormously successful, growing company with employees who love what they do. And her life is just as great at home. She and her husband have three daughters and she’s the number one soccer mom who loves reading bedtime stories every night.  
 How did she do it? By figuring out what her dream job was, taking risks, and believing in herself. And now she wants to motivate others to do the same. She wants to show them how to live colorful, interesting lives where every second counts.  She'll do so by sharing her personal and business story. Lisa knows that creating your dream job requires hard work, patience, and experience. She'll give advice, in big and small ways, about exactly how to do that, from starting a company to ditching a relationship that isn't working to becoming a fabulous boss. And with the great, accessible writing style that has made PopSugar such a hit, she'll make it fun!

This book was the perfect read for my current season in life. I'm so stuck in determining which career path I want to walk down, and reading this really broke down my next steps. I loved that it incorporated journal prompts at the end of each chapter. It's a great read, even if you're not trying to figure out your next steps in life.

29. Room by Emma Donoghue (5/5 ★)

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. 

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room has been on my "to read" list since 2013, so it was about time that I read it. From the very beginning, I couldn't help but continue to think how wonderful this author's mind is.  How creative she must be to think of all the activities that Jack and his Ma take part in in that tiny room. This was easily five stars, no doubt about it.  The story-line was great, but what I really loved is that even though it was a fictional story, it really make me think- about all the people who go through things like this, about kids who are locked up all their childhood - whether because they were kidnapped or abused - and what kind of psychological damage that does.

30. The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (4/5 ★)

For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.

Ellen Hopkins has been one of my favorite authors since high school.  I frequently check to see when she has a new books coming out (two this year!), but somehow managed to miss seeing this one's release in 2017. As soon as I'd realized my mistake, I had it Amazon Primed to my house ASAP. As expected, it was awesome! Her stories always come from multiple perspectives and end up connecting in the end; while I thought I figured out the connection, it still kept me guessing until the end!

31. Milk and Vine by Adam Gasiewski and Emily Beck (0/5 ★)

Parodying the popular poetry book Milk and Honey, Milk and Vine beautifully portrays the best vines of all time in this modern poetic format. Milk and Vine is truly a delight for the sensations, bringing back the riveting quotes we all laughed at together as a united internet community. 

Yeah this book was dumb.  So dumb that I'm not even going to link it for you to buy. I bought it because I was looking for Milk and Honey by Rupi Kapur and wasn't paying attention when I saw a great price and clicked "buy" on Amazon without another thought. Maybe if I would have been into Vine videos like at all this would have been better. Don't waste your time or money; if you really want to read this book you can have mine.

32. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales (3/5 ★)

Before we go any further, I want you to understand this: I am not a good person. We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. But what happens when we’re seen and heard saying or doing the wrong things? When Winter Halperin—former spelling bee champion, aspiring writer, and daughter of a parenting expert—gets caught saying the wrong thing online, her life explodes. All across the world, people know what she’s done, and none of them will forgive her. With her friends gone, her future plans cut short, and her identity in shambles, Winter is just trying to pick up the pieces without hurting anyone else. She knows she messed up, but does that mean it’s okay for people to send her hate mail and death threats? Did she deserve to lose all that she’s lost? And is “I’m sorry” ever good enough?
I had high hopes for this book, but honestly, I was let down.  I always feel like a big part of fictional stories is to teach a lesson, and while technically there was a "moral" to this story, I don't think it was the right moral.. As I began reading the book, I thought to myself, "what a great way to teach about racial privilege, and about how white people will never understand what it is like to be any other race and experience the negative things they go through." But instead it basically was just about a white girl blaming the rest of the world for being mad at her when she posted something racist online.  Even in the end, all she learned was that even when bad things happen, we can move on from them. (After she attended a rehabilitation retreat that cost a pretty penny....#privilege). I received an advanced readers copy of this book, but it is released on May 1.

33. Unbreak Their Hearts by Donna Welch Jones (3.5/5 ★)

Marcy dedicates her life to saving women. She knows what it feels like to be bullied and raped. 
Marcy counsels and physically intervenes in the lives of abused women to set them free. In the back of her mind a promise persists. Someday she'll pay back the man who damaged her body and shattered her soul. Will you be there when Marcy gets her revenge?

This book got crazy right from the start. I was barely even introduced to the main character before something traumatic happened to her.  I hadn't read the description of the book before reading it (I had won it from Goodreads), so I wasn't entirely sure of what the plot was.  The traumatic thing happened, and then the book jumped to six years later with a totally different plot line.  I was definitely intrigued by the book, and it was a very quick read- I started it one night and finished in the next morning.

Reading Challenge: 33/52 books read in 2018

I am looking to read The Gender Game series next- have you read it? Kindle Unlimited is offering three months of Kindle Unlimited to Prime members for $1.99 and the whole series is available! What are you reading?

Stay tuned for The Gender Game reviews as well as the rest of May's books, coming to the blog May 29!

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