Title: Kent State
Author: Deborah Wiles
Performers: Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina DeLaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, & David de Vries
Length: 1 hr, 59 min, 56 sec
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2020 by Scholastic Audio
Review: Poetry is not really my thing, so it was hard to rate this book. I listened to it in eAudiobook format, so it really felt like I was listening to a play with all the back and forth dialogues and monologues. I personally did not really enjoy it, but I didn’t give it a low rating because I appreciate the amount of research that went into it and I liked that the author showed several different conflicting perspectives. This gave a more complete picture of what happened (and why) on the fateful and tragic day of May 4, 1970.
Title: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Author: Kelly Harms
Page Count: 328
Publishing Date/Publisher: May 1, 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
Review: This book can be summed up in one word: tedious. I completely understand mommy guilt. I’ve experienced it many times myself, so Amy’s resistance to doing something nice for herself made sense to an extent, but at some point it just became frustrating. It took WAY too long for Amy to just accept the process of her “momspringa”. I wanted her to have fun, but she moped through the majority of the great experiences that were basically handed to her and I just found it to be exhausting. Also, has she never heard of the concept of a long distance relationship? Just another thing she resisted to an extent that made zero sense to me.
The one aspect of this book I really enjoyed was her daughter’s journal entries. Absolutely hilarious. I looked forward to coming across them throughout the book.
Honestly though, if this had not been a book club pick, I would most likely have DNFed it and saved myself a few hours of rolling my eyes.
Title: The Court of Miracles
Author: Kester Grant
Page Count: 464
Series: A Court of Miracles, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: June 2, 2020
Review: I have never been a huge fan of Les Misérables. True to it’s name, it is both lengthy and wildly depressing. I am also not a big fan of musicals so that form of adaptation never interested me. Nevertheless, the synopsis for this book piqued my interest. Eponine? As a cat burglar? Ok! If I had to pick one character I would like to see a retelling for, it would be Eponine, so I requested this ARC with very few expectations. Perhaps this is sometimes the best way to approach books, because when they actually blow you away, it is a very pleasant surprise.
This book was FANTASTIC. I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed it. The plot, the character development, everything about it felt fresh, despite the fact it is an adaptation/retelling of a classic and well-known novel. Eponine was a character you could not help but root for, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series. The one bummer about reading ARCs that you love is that you have to wait a very long time for the next one. Even so, I like the way the author ended this book. Some story lines were wrapped up, while others were simultaneously opened. This left me finishing the book feeling both satisfied and chomping at the bit for more. A pleasant combination.
Title: The Murder of King Tut
Author: James Patterson and Martin Dugard
Performer: Joe Barrett
Length: 5hrs 59 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Review: Do you want to read a horrible book that includes sex scenes and scenes of sexual assault on minors? Do you want to read a book that just abruptly ends chapters for no reason, in the middle of a conversation? Then read this book!
But seriously, don’t read this book. It’s horrible. It’s disgusting. So people married young in the past, that doesn’t mean we need to go into detail about what happens in said marital bed. They are CHILDREN. That’s just so gross. To be honest, I couldn’t even finish it. It was that bad.
It was also horribly researched and the authors proclaim that Tut was murdered like they just took a sixth grade history class. We know that. It’s obvious. To call this historical fiction is a slap in the face to actual historical fiction. Hence me tagging it as ‘Fiction’.
No stars. None. I would give minus if I could.
Title: Not So Pure and Simple
Author: Lamar Giles
Page Count: 400
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 21, 2020
Review: I was thoroughly impressed by this book. The great thing about participating in the Mock Printz Committee at my work is that sometimes I am given books that I enjoy immensely, but would probably not have read otherwise. This is one such book. It surprised me with it’s humor, depth, and important message. Oftentimes books that cover topics such as toxic masculinity and sexual agency come off as being too heavy-handed with character tropes and long inner monologues where the characters have “epiphanies”. The resulting effect is that it feels like it is trying too hard to make a statement. Giles masterfully avoided these pitfalls by giving us characters that are both lovable and realistic. He shows that even well-intentioned young men are susceptible to toxic ways of thinking and sometimes their words and actions have unintended negative effects on those around them. As a woman, I found I related to many of the female characters and their struggle to be “nice” even when they were not interested in the male pursuing them. As I have grown older, I find that sometimes it is necessary to be blunt, even if it comes off as rude, but as a younger woman, this felt like a tricky minefield to navigate. Reading this book made me realize how many behaviors are impressed upon us at an early age and really made me re-evaluate how I have simply accepted certain actions as “normal” when they really shouldn’t be.
I would consider this an important read for all teens and think it would be a great book for discussion.
Title: Cut Off
Author: Adrianne Finlay
Page Count: 384
Publishing Date/Publisher: August 11, 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Review: I was obsessed with the Lost series back when it was airing, so when this book was described as “Warcross meets Lost…” I knew I simply must read it. Unfortunately for me, it was just…meh. There were a couple scenes that creeped me out in the beginning, but overall it was not particularly exciting. The one thing it did have in common with Lost was that the final reveal was truly disappointing. I knew there was going to be a science fiction element to the story, but it was a bit more sci-fi-y than I was expecting. I also wanted to see more character complexity and development. The characters felt very formulaic to me: the brainiac, the deceiver, the loner, and the closed off beauty. Nobody really surprised me or made me question what I knew about them. I wasn’t really feeling the romantic angle either. In a story like this, I feel the romance should add more depth to the plot or characters, but it didn’t really serve to do so as much as I wanted. It was not a terrible read, but also not one I enjoyed enough to give a higher rating.
Title: Real Men Knit
Author: Kwana Jackson
Page Count: 320
Publishing Date/Publisher: May 19, 2020 by Berkley
Review: After reading some more “serious” books, I was in the mood for something light and fun. When I read the premise for this book, I was hooked. Hot men knitting? Yep. Sign me up. The book certainly followed through on it’s promise, starring four uniquely hot adopted brothers. Although this book focused more specifically on the youngest brother, Jesse, I find it hard to believe that Ms. Jackson will not be turning this into a series. There are, after all, three other strapping young men to find attachments for.
I could be off base, but I couldn’t help but think that the author was imagining none other than Jesse Williams when she penned the character description for Jesse Strong….
Aside from the locs, he pretty much matches his physical description exactly. I’m not complaining though, and I don’t think other readers will be either.
Naturally I had to investigate whether the hashtag #RealMenKnit exists and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it does. Feel free to look it up for some eye candy. Thank you, Ms. Jackson, for the share.