Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
I actually had a feeling that I wouldn’t like this book before I started reading it. I didn’t like her other book, We Were Liars, either and they had a similar vibe. There’s something about her “hide the truth until the last second” style that I don’t feel like Lockhart executes well. Which is a shame because books with unreliable narrators (both Liars and Fraud have this) are my favorite. I think I only picked this up because it made the circuit of BookTubers last summer and it was less than 300 pages, an easy read. But I probably won’t revisit this author again in the future. Not worth it for my taste.
The Quarterback by Mackenzie Blair
I decided to follow through on my LGBTQ promise with an LGBTQ themed trashy romance. It seemed like a good idea at the time and it was surprisingly good. There were a few parts that were a bit thin, and a couple of the characters weren’t exactly fleshed out, but that’s not uncommon for romance books. They rely heavily on tropes and stereotypes and this wasn’t different. But I did like the author’s writing style.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I get drawn into this book (and I’ve read it three times now so I really am drawn to it) because it reminds me of myself in so many ways. The fanfiction, the fan-culture, the anxiety, the fear of intimacy – all of these are parts of Fangirl and specifically of the main character, Cath, that echo my own past. I learned to write by writing fanfiction. I learned grammar in an online forum. I get nauseous and jittery in new social situations, always wondering what other people are thinking about me, if they’re thinking about, or if I’m actually invisible. It bothers me that I don’t like Rowell’s other books all that much, but I really love Fangirl and I enjoyed the audiobook. It made me laugh out loud on the bus when I traveled Mother’s Day weekend. I also genuinely believe that every girl needs a Levi in her life, but especially every shy girl. Or maybe that’s just my own personal preferences peeking through. I’m not shy exactly, but it does take me a while to warm up to new people, which is why I’m so drawn to characters (and real people) like Levi that just insinuate themselves into your life slowly and are the kind of supportive that knows when to talk, when to shut up, when to be there for you, and when to just speak frankly. The love story isn’t the main focus of this book, it’s about a lot of things, but the slow ark of Cath and Levi is one of my favorite love stories because of how believably it’s woven into the book.
Flashback by Jill Shalvis
If you’ve ever wondered what a murder mystery wrapped up in a second-chance romance story would read like, then you could try this book as a sample. It tried and failed evenly across both genres.
Leah On the Off-Beat by Becky Albertalli
This is the companion novel slash sequel to Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda. It follows the same cast of characters, but from the perspective of Simon’s best friend, Leah. I was pretty excited about this book when I first heard of it, and though it wasn’t quite a let down, I didn’t like it as much as I had hoped. The story was enjoyable, but the ending was overly mushy and I thought Leah was kind of mean. She was meant to be sarcastic and a little withdrawn, but there were times I thought she was too much. As for her coming out story, I really appreciated that. Her confusion and uncertainty about coming out of the closet, even when she was sure of her feelings, still felt very real. The only part I didn’t like was whom Leah came out for. It felt like the author picked a random other character and spun a story that wasn’t entirely believable and I would have rather it was someone new.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
I liked the style of this book, the set up, and the language. It felt like I was part of this family, that I was falling effortlessly into their narrative. Which makes their story all the more heartbreaking. The author never shied away from the realities of hard living, the racial disparities of the American deep south, or the brokenness of the family. Instead she starred it down and forced us to look it in the face, too, bleeding the realness and the grit into each page. I also appreciated the split narrative, the chapters alternating between JoJo and Leonie. It added some much needed perspective, allowed us to feel for both characters when otherwise I think I might have fallen entirely for JoJo’s coming of age narrative and blamed his mother for more than her fair share.
Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward
This is the first book in a spinoff from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series that I’ve been following for a few years now. But I must admit, it didn’t really feel like a spinoff. The brothers were just as involved in the plot as in the other books. The only difference was that it was more character driven plot than endless war against the Slayers plot that we normally have. Butch and Marissa’s narrative takes up half the book, but a new pair, Paradise and Craeg, are also heavily prevalent. In fact, I enjoyed the newcomers best.