56. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Hey, today is Christmas Eve Eve! Yay!

To get into the Christmas spirit (not that I haven’t been already – I’m listening to Christmas music as I write this and just finished making some gingerbread cookies), I decided to read some Christmas themed books!

The first one is Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. These two have written a few books together, including Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which as you probably know was made into a movie.

After finishing this book, I read in the back description that the two authors wrote this book by emailing each other a chapter at a time without deciding where the story would go, and that made me like the story even more.

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Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (photo taken by me)

The book is (obviously) about two teenagers named Dash and Lily. At the start of the book, it’s a few days before Christmas and Dash is in the Strand bookstore in New York. He finds a little red moleskine journal mixed in with some books, and opens it to find a puzzle of sorts.

The notebook takes him around the bookstore to solve a riddle and asks to be left for the original owner to reply.

Naturally, the original owner is Lily, a Christmas-obsessed teenage girl whose parents are out of the country for the holidays, meaning she has nothing to do.

The two of them exchange the notebook many times without ever actually meeting and began to feel really close to each other by sharing their stories.

As you’re reading it, you can’t wait for the two main characters to finally meet, but it didn’t happen the way I would have expected.

I really enjoyed this story, it’s a Young Adult book and it’s pretty short so it’s an easy read. I grew to really like the characters even though I can barely relate to either of them, but I think this is a really cute story to read around Christmastime and I’d like to read some of the other books by these authors.

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55. Kate White – Lethally Blond

Hey everyone! Since the year’s almost over (yikes!), I’m reading a lot to try and reach my goal of 60 books this year. I think I can do it… here’s hoping!

So, earlier this week, I finished book number 55, Lethally Blond by Kate White. As you all know by now, I love Kate White’s books, and since this is the fifth book in the Bailey Weggins mystery series, I knew I’d be able to buzz right through it.

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Kate White – Lethally Blond (photo taken by me)

So, this book follows the main character, Bailey, who is a crime reporter for a gossip magazine. At the beginning of the book, an ex-fling named Chris reaches out to Bailey to ask for help.

Chris’ friend and coworker Tom has disappeared, but everyone seems to think he’s just run off, so no one is looking for him. Chris has a feeling that something is wrong, so he asks Bailey to look into it for him, since he knows she’s helped solve some murders before.

Bailey sets of determined to find Tom, and before long she does, but it’s just his body that she finds in his late parents’ abandoned vacation home. Now Bailey is not looking for a missing person, but a killer.

We follow Bailey through her investigation to find Tom’s killer and, in the process, her troubles with her love life.

As I’ve said before, I love White’s novels, so naturally I liked this book. As I was reading it, it didn’t seem as interesting to me as her other books, but I was totally surprised by the ending. I honestly had no idea who the killer was going to be throughout the whole book and the ending had a nice twist, so overall I liked the book a lot.

54. Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

Ah, I’ve been super busy this week with finals coming up, but I’ve still managed to squeeze in a book this weekend!

I just read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. When I was home for Thanksgiving, I found the book in my basement leftover from when my sister read it in high school. I’d never read it so I figured I’d give it a try.

I feel like most people do read this book in high school, but for some reason I never did.

Basically, the story follows a college-aged girl named Esther in the 50s, who at the start of the book is spending a month in New York City working for a fashion magazine with a bunch of other girls.

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Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar (photo taken by me)

At the start of the book, it’s clear that Esther doesn’t enjoy the things that other girls her age like and she doesn’t feel very close to them.

By the end of her month in New York, she’s starting to feel really detached from this lifestyle and starts to resent everything she knows.

When she gets home to Boston with her mother, she starts feeling more and more alienated from her life and starts acting out more.

Eventually, she tries to kill herself and ends up in an asylum.

Throughout the whole book, the reader is inside Esther’s mind, so we’re almost able to understand how she goes, for lack of a better term, ‘crazy’ and it almost feels relatable. Of course, no one can really understand a mentally ill mind unless they go through it, but this book makes the reader understand a little better.

I’ve seen a lot of people online comparing this book to Girl, Interrupted, which I actually did read in high school. I feel like Girl, Interrupted showed more of people being ‘crazy’ whereas this book was more about showing how Esther’s mind worked.

The book was a really easy read, but I didn’t feel too into the story as I was reading it. I didn’t really care to know what happened next, I just kept reading to get it over with kind of.

I also found that when I started up again after taking a break, I couldn’t remember who certain characters were, which is never a good thing.

Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan of the story or the book, but it was an easy read and I like to read classics just to expose myself to different types of books. If you’re interested in things like this it might be worth checking out (also if you like Girl, Interrupted you may like this, even though I didn’t really care for either).

53. Garth Stein – The Art of Racing in the Rain

Well, after reading a book that took me so long to get through, it was nice to fly right through one!

This week, I read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

I don’t remember how I first heard about this book, but I knew of it without knowing what it was about. When I was home for Thanksgiving break, my mom went to Costco and I asked her to pick me up a book. She called me and named some of the books they had, and it was the only name I recognized, so I chose that one.

So, I really had no idea what this book was about going in, and looking back, I think that was a good thing. For that reason, I’m not going to go too much into the plot.

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Garth Stein – The Art of Racing in the Rain (photo taken by me)

The story is told by a dog named Enzo, which is really cool. We learn the story of Enzo’s life and his family’s through his perspective.

Overall, Enzo’s owner’s life is not the easiest, but it’s sweet to see it from the dog’s point of view, since he loves his owner so much.

If you’ve ever read pretty much any book that centers on a dog, you can guess that the ending is pretty sad (I was SOBBING as I read it), but I walked away happy and loving the book.

My sister saw that I had this book and told me that it was weird before I started it. While I was reading it, there were some parts that I definitely thought were weird, but once I finished it, that didn’t reflect my view of the whole book.

I did think some of the situations in the book may have been a little far-fetched, but I do think that they were not completely ridiculous and all in all I liked the story.

My only complaint would be that sometimes Enzo’s word choice was just way too sophisticated for a dog. He does say repeatedly throughout the book that he has the spirit of a human and he knows in his next life he will be a human, so he’s supposed to be smarter than the average dog. However, even that, I felt like he was too wordy at some times.

This book really struck me, since I’m such a dog lover, and overall I did really like the story. When Enzo’s owner Denny was in bad situations, I was rooting for him and relating to Enzo’s emotions. And, without giving it away, I thought the ending was really cute.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves dogs, just be warned that you’ll probably be crying at some point.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my Instagram page that goes along with this site, @beccasbookshelves (and my personal page @becc.adams)!

52. Nick Offerman – Paddle Your Own Canoe

Whoa, sorry I haven’t posted in a while! It’s partly because my last book took me forever to get through, and also partly because I’m just lazy.

I read this last book partly over my Thanksgiving break (which was nice, it was sooo good to be home!) and then finished it last weekend. IMG_7680

The book was Paddle Your Own Canoe, a *sort-of* memoir by Nick Offerman, aka Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec.

I loved Parks and Rec, and if you’ve been with me for a while you know that I love reading memoirs by comedians.

However, I was disappointed with this book. It was just boring to me. Sure, there were some funny parts, but for me they were few and far between.

I was expecting more humor, but it kind of felt like it was full of too-big words.

He spent a lot of time telling the story of how he grew up to be a comedian (understandably), but those parts got pretty boring for me. I liked when he talked about his more recent years with his wife, but that was only a part of the book.

I think a lot of people think that Ron Swanson and Nick Offerman are one in the same, but of course they are not. They may have some similarities, but if you’re thinking of reading this book just because you love Ron Swanson, I would not recommend it.

I’m sure there are people who enjoy this book, but it just dragged on for me. I was mostly reading it just to get it over with, because I’m almost never a book quitter (there was one book I started reading this summer that was so bad I never finished it).

Anyway, I just don’t really have anything to say about this book. I had high hopes for it to at least entertain me but it barely even did that most of the time, sadly.

 

51. Matthew Quick – Silver Linings Playbook

Hey hey! This weekend I went to New York with my boyfriend to celebrate his birthday! It was super fun, but also meant two bus rides, aka plenty of reading time.

I finished Silver Linings Playbook, which I’ve been curious to read for a while. I really liked the movie, and I heard that a lot had been left out from the book, so I was a little nervous to read it. Usually if I see the movie first, I don’t like the book as much, and I was afraid that would happen with this one.

I’m sure most people know the story of Silver Linings Playbook, but I’ll still go over it anyway.

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Matthew Quick – Silver Linings Playbook (photo taken by me)

So, the narrator of the book is a guy in his thirties named Pat. At the start of the book, Pat’s mom gets him released from a mental health facility and takes him home to live with her. Throughout the book, we follow Pat’s struggle to reenter society and deal with his thoughts while also learning what happened that made him end up in the facility.

After he gets out, Pat is determined to better himself to win his wife back, since she has refused to see him since he left for the “bad place”, so he spends most of his time obsessing over that.

It’s true that the movie left out a lot from the book, and in fact, I see them as almost two different stories. In the movie adaptation, some of the details are changed which change the whole story in a way. Reading the book hasn’t made me like the movie any less, I just don’t really see them as the exact same story.

I really liked the book. The way it’s written gives the reader a look into Pat’s personal diary, so we experience the whole story through his eyes. I think the author did a really good job of showing what life is like for someone like Pat and how he sees things differently than others do.

The whole time, the reader is rooting for Pat to get better and find his happy ending that he’s searching for, and I honestly thought it was such a good read.

I was really interested in what would happen next in the story and I was sad to see it end. However, I wasn’t super pleased with the ending, but it wasn’t bad enough to ruin the whole story for me.

It’s definitely different from the movie version, but as I said, I liked them both in their own ways, and I would suggest the book to anyone who is a fan of the movie.

50. Kate White – Over Her Dead Body

Yay! I finally read my 50th book of the year! The book was Over Her Dead Body by Kate White, one of her Bailey Weggins mystery series. If you’ve been following me at all, you know how much I love Kate White’s books.

However, this one was a little disappointing for me at first. Since this is the fourth book in a series and I’m familiar with the character, I expected to just jump right in and enjoy the book (as I had with the previous ones). But for some reason the book really wasn’t holding my interest at first.

I wonder if it’s because at the start of this book, Bailey loses her job that she’s held throughout the series and starts work at another place. Maybe since that story line was different it made it seem like I was starting an entirely new book as opposed to one from a series.

In any case, the book did pick up for me after a while. Basically, once the mystery part kicked in, I was hooked again. As I’ve said before, Kate White’s books are kind of cheesy, but I still love them and the stories keep me coming back for more.

Kate White - Over Her Dead Body (photo taken by me)
Kate White – Over Her Dead Body (photo taken by me)

So, in this book, Bailey Weggins starts at a new magazine, as I eluded to before. She hasn’t been working there very long when one night she goes in late to pick something up. She hears some strange noises from her boss’s office and heads over to take a look – only to find herself in the middle of a crime scene.

The cleaning lady is on her knees with a gash in the back of her head and Bailey’s boss is on the floor convulsing. She calls 911 and help comes, but the boss does not make it.

Since the magazine she’s now working for is a celebrity gossip mag, Bailey, as the resident crime reporter, is assigned the story of her boss’s murder. This means she has no choice but to investigate the case on her own.

Bailey comes up with numerous leads and follows them to find out who the killer was.

As I mentioned before, the book started off slowly for me, but once it got going, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. I almost never figure out who the bad guy is in White’s books until right before it’s revealed, so with this one, I was hoping my first instinct would finally be right (of course, it wasn’t).

I was really intrigued to find out who the killer was, and I was taken (almost) completely by surprise. I like to think I figured it out just a moment before it was supposed to be revealed. 🙂

Anyway, I liked the book. I also can’t wait to read the next one, mainly because I want to see how her love life situation plays out next, haha.

I think the Bailey Weggins series was one of White’s first published works, so as I mentioned before, they do seem a little cheesy at times. I’ve read some of her newer books, and I think her writing has really developed, and I look forward to reading her newest novel after I finish with this series.