2. Taylor Jenkins Reid – Maybe In Another Life

So, have I mentioned that I have a perfect boyfriend recently? No? Okay, well here goes.

This past Christmas, one of my gifts was ‘from’ my dog (actually something my boyfriend bought for me). As if that’s not cute enough, the gift was an autographed copy of my favorite author’s newest book. Wait, it gets better. Taylor Jenkins Reid signed these books at a bookstore near where she lives, in California, which is on the opposite coast of where I live. So he had the book shipped from California to Vermont just so I could have an autographed copy. Adorable, no?

Anyway, this past weekend I read the book. I’ve been trying to hold off on it for as long as I could, because I knew I would finish it in one day and I didn’t want to be done with it, but I finally caved.

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Taylor Jenkins Reid – Maybe in Another Life (photo taken by me)

The book starts out with the main character, Hannah, moving from New York to LA, where she grew up. Hannah is almost 30 and has never stayed in one place for very long, but she gets out of a bad relationship and her best friend Gabby convinces her to move home.

On her first night in LA, Hannah goes out with Gabby and her friends, where she runs into her high school boyfriend (who she always thought was the one), Ethan. They start talking and flirting, but before long, Gabby shows up and says she’s heading home, asking Hannah if she wants to go too.

From there, the chapters of the book alternate between two different worlds – one in which Hannah stays out with Ethan, and one in which she goes home with Gabby. The two worlds quickly take very different turns and we see how one simple decision can affect so much.

The book says a lot about the idea of fate, while we follow Hannah through two very different lives full of their own struggles.

Of course, since this is my favorite author we’re talking about, I loved this book. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite of hers, but it’s still really good, and I fell in love with both stories. My only complaint would have to be that the ending kind of left me wanting more, although overall I was pleased. I give this book two thumbs up.

 

1. Emily Giffin – Something Blue

Hey guys! I haven’t set my goal for books as high this year, so I haven’t gotten as much reading in, and that’s why I haven’t been very active on here.

But, last weekend, I finished my first book of the year! It was Something Blue by Emily Giffin, the follow up to Something Borrowed, which I read last year.

The first book was about a woman named Rachel, who had always been in love with her best friend Darcy’s fiance, Dex. One thing leads to another and Rachel and Dex start hooking up. *SPOILER ALERT* By the end of the book, Dex has called off his wedding to live happily ever after with Rachel.

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Emily Giffin – Something Blue (photo taken by me)

In the second book, we follow Darcy after her wedding is cancelled. We learned at the end of the last book that she had also been cheating on Dex and had become pregnant by his friend Marcus. So at the start of this book, Darcy starts a new relationship with Marcus.

Of course, a lot of problems and complications come up, and we follow Darcy all the way to London while she prepares to have Marcus’ baby.

I liked this book. I’ve always been a fan on the movie version of Something Borrowed, and I loved the book version too, but I wasn’t so sure I would like the second book because the main character was not my favorite in the first book.

However, the character really develops throughout the book and I grew to love her. I’d recommend this book if you’ve read the first one, it’s a great follow up.

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.

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.

 

49. Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl

Hey hey! Who’s excited for Halloween weekend?!

Besides the fact that I didn’t wake up until after noon today (I had a lot of sleep to catch up on…), I had a pretty productive day. Well, only if you consider doing an exam and finishing a book productive. Because that’s pretty much all I’ve done today. Anyway…

I’m pretty excited that my next book will be my 50th of the year, but I don’t know which book to read next. I only have two unread books right now and I was planning on saving them to read on the bus when I go to New York in a couple weeks. So, now the hunt for book number 50 starts.

Book number 49 was pretty good though. It was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I know that Rainbow Rowell is super popular, but I’ve never gotten around to reading any of her books. This past weekend I was at home and I saw it at Costco, so I had to get it (or make my mom get it for me :P).

So, I didn’t really know what the story was even about, but I figured it would be a good read since she’s so popular. I actually read through the whole thing in 48 hours and found myself barely able to put it down last night before bed.

The main character in Fangirl is a college freshman named Cath. At the start of the book, she’s moving into school for the start of her freshman year.

Cath is really shy and doesn’t like new/unfamiliar situations, so the fact that her twin sister, Wren, doesn’t want to spend all their time at school together makes her even more nervous.

Cath’s transition into school isn’t the easiest, but she has her fanfiction to rely on. Cath is the author of a really popular fanfic based on an extremely popular series about a young magician.

Rainbow Rowell - Fangirl (photo taken by me)
Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl (photo taken by me)

The book follows Cath through her whole first year of school, dealing with her mentally unstable dad back at home by himself, her twin sister being a little too wild at school, her estranged mother, her classes, her rocky relationship with her roommate, and the boys she’s too shy to make a move on, all while she’s working on finishing her latest fanfic.

This book had me hooked. As I mentioned earlier, I read the majority of it last night and pretty much had to force myself to put it down so I could go to bed. I found myself relating to Cath quite a bit, despite our differences, although her actions did kind of annoy me at times. She almost seemed childish in the way she acted in parts of the book.

I did have a couple of problems with the book. At the end of each chapter, there was a little snippet of either one of Cath’s fanfics, or a excerpt from the “actual” books that her fics were based on. Most of Cath’s stories were pretty interesting, especially since we heard about them in other parts of the book, but I didn’t really care for the “actual” books. It confused me a little because I had to keep the canon and the fanfics straight in my head, I kind of wish it had only been Cath’s stories that we got to read.

Also, I didn’t like the ending of the book. It almost felt unfinished to me, which can really ruin a book for me. I like to have closure at the end of a book, and I was actually really surprised that I was at the end of this one. It really felt like there should have been something more at the end.

The latest book that Rainbow Rowell just released, Carry On, is actually Cath’s fanfic that she was writing all through this book, which I think is a pretty cool idea, although I’m not sure if I want to read it.

Overall, this book was pretty good, I liked the characters and the story (and it brought me back to my fanfic writing days – lol, literally), but as I said, I didn’t like the ending. The more I think about it, the more I feel like there are too many loose ends, and I feel like this book needs a sequel, and not just the fanfic published.

Anyway, I still look forward to reading some more of Rowell’s books and hopefully I will like the endings of those ones a little better.