Title: Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell
Performer: Helen Duff
Length: 10 hr, 13 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Dreamscape Media
Review: Stylistically, this book was very similar to a Liane Moriarty book (one of my all-time favorite writers). In fact, even the reader of this book had a very similar voice to the woman who performs most (if not all) of Liane Moriarty’s audiobooks. The major difference between these two authors, however, is I think Jewell reveals too much too early in her story. A huge part of what makes Liane Moriarty’s books so fantastic is her perfect timing in making big reveals. She also usually hangs onto a big plot twist to blow your mind at the end. Jewell does not quite have the same finesse with her plot twists, and for the most part I was able to predict each plot twist well before it was actually revealed. I think perhaps this could have been avoided if Jewell had arranged her content differently. I was also not a big fan of the ending. It bothers me when endings are tied up in a way that feels inauthentic, and unfortunately this book had one of those endings.
Despite the ways this book fell short for me as a reader, I still enjoyed it and would consider reading other books by this author.
Title: Patron Saints of Nothing
Author: Randy Ribay
Page Count: 323
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2019 by Kokila
Review: This is a coming-of-age story about struggling with identity and belonging. The main character, Jay, must learn to cope with the senseless death of his beloved cousin, while also coming to terms with how his own decisions may have played a role in the unfortunate series of events that led to the tragedy. It is also a story of the many ways people can surprise and disappoint us. For better or worse, our family and friends do not always live up to the image we have of them in our heads.
The writing style of this author is very similar to the writing style of Kelly Loy Gilbert. The first person perspective feels very authentic, and you very much feel like you are inside the head of the main character. This book didn’t emotionally gut me the same way that Picture Us in the Light did, but it is similar in that the story touches on some very heavy topics and reveals some very painful truths about Jay and his secretive family.
The cover art for this book is absolutely stunning. If I had not needed to read this book for a mock Printz committee, I probably would have picked it up simply for the cover art alone. Both front and back incorporate beautiful colors and symbolism.
Title: Foul is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Page Count: 336
Series: Foul is Fair, Book 1
Review: I am shocked at the positive reviews this book has been receiving from early reviewers. All the characters, including Jade/Elle, were terrible people. I did not enjoy reading about them, and I found it very difficult to get behind the revenge story because it was so ridiculous. Although I can completely empathize with a sexual assault victim wanting justice, a murderous rampage certainly does not seem like the answer and I did not find it at all gratifying. I would be extremely hesitant to promote this book to teen readers, because it glorifies murder and manipulation through sex. None of Jade/Elle’s coping mechanisms for her assault were positive, and I personally feel this book would be very unhealthy to put in the hands of someone who has actually been sexually assaulted.
Title: Running Barefoot
Author: Amy Harmon
Performer: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 10 hr, 45 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 26, 2014 by Tantor Audio
Review: This is a very wholesome romance about two people seemingly destined to be together. I regret that my library did not have a hard copy of this book, because I did not enjoy it in eAudiobook format. I almost didn’t finish it because I really was not feeling the performer, but I was invested enough in the story to forge ahead.
In hindsight, I found the story to be sort of dry and I found my attention drifting often. It often goes on philosophical tangents, and I was surprised by the strong religious undertones given the fact this book is not tagged in any way that would indicate that it is Christian Fiction. I’m not saying this was a problem for me, it was just unexpected.
A lot of this story revolves around waiting. Waiting for Samuel to come back and waiting for Josie to grow up. She is 13 years old at the start of the story and Samuel is 18 years old. I give the author props for managing to not make this love story creepy, but sweet.
It was incredibly difficult for me to rate this book because it was hard for me to separate my feelings about the reader from my opinion of the book. After some consideration though, I thought the story was just ok. It didn’t completely suck me in, but I still felt compelled to finish it.
Author: A.S. King
Page Count: 394
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 26, 2019 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Review: This book is bizarre from start to finish. It comes together in the end, but I was confused for about 3/4 of it. Personally it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was dark and delved into difficult topics such as abuse, murder, and deeply entrenched racism. There were many things that still didn’t make sense to me even at the conclusion, but I just did not have the bandwidth to wade back through the book to try to make all the connections. The writing style is very unique and it took me awhile to adjust to it. I would not be surprised if people DNF this book simply because it is difficult to follow. Although I can see why there is buzz surrounding this book, it is not one I will be widely recommending.
Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Page Count: 392
Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by HarperTeen
Review: I have not yet read The Poet X, but I’ve heard enough hype about it that I was excited to get my hands on Acevedo’s newest novel. I have a feeling this book will also be widely acclaimed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it too is nominated for a Printz Award.
This book conveys many positive messages about family, identity, hard work, and following your dreams. I thought the whole thing was very smartly packaged and it’s short chapters will make it very appealing to reluctant readers. In fact, I would say this book could be categorized as a hi/lo reader (high interest, low reading level) for teens.
Although I was well past my teens when I had my first child, I shared many of the same feelings of inadequacy and frustration that Emoni struggles with throughout the story. As a full-time librarian, I often feel that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with my son. It is incredibly difficult to balance work and family, and Emoni has the additional pressure of school and being a single parent. While many teenagers must make difficult decisions about college and the future, Emoni’s responsibility to her daughter makes the stakes so much higher. I really like the direction Emoni’s character chooses in the end, and I hope it encourages others to follow a similar path.
I loved the fact that each part of the book is prefaced by a recipe. This book really got me hyped to try new things in the kitchen, and really changed the way I think about cooking as a whole. Very inspiring!
Title: After We Collided
Author: Anna Todd
Performers: Shane East & Elizabeth Louise
Length: 19 hr, 16 min
Series: After, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: November 25, 2014 by Simon & Schuster Audio
Review: I almost never DNF books, especially not audiobooks, but three hours into this one and I had to stop to retain my sanity. Not even ten minutes in and I wanted to tear my hair out in frustration. As I stated in my review of After, I was strangely enthralled by the story, but the cooling off period between finishing that book and starting this one finally allowed me to see reason. Tessa and Hardin’s relationship becomes even more toxic in this next book and the back and forth drags on and on. It was just too much drama and not enough substance. I can officially say I am done with this series.