Book Reviews xiv: Best Books of November 2017

Dec 1

November was less of a reading month and more of an editing month!  The good news?  I am DONE with my photography work for the year!!  Of course, I’m still responding to inquiries, finishing up some client gifts, Instagram-ing, etc, but I am DONE with edits!!  I delivered Sam & Reilly’s engagement session this morning and patted myself on the back.  I may treat myself to a frozen mocha from Sheetz to celebrate because I am WILD!

The BAD news is that in all that editing, I didn’t get as much reading done!  I started a lot of books that I’ll finish for December’s roundup, so get ready for December’s post.  😉  I’m thinking of doing a “Best of 2017” for my newsletter fam, so sign up here if you want to be in on that!!  And you know what will definitely be on the list?  The first book we’re talking about here!

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by Gail Honeyman — I LOVED this book!  There is no character quite like Eleanor Oliphant.  She’s eccentric, funny, sad, and tough all at once.  There were times when I wanted to reach through the book and squeeze her.  In this book, we get to see Eleanor grow, change, and explore her dark past to have a better future.  I didn’t want it to end, but I loved how it did!  I don’t want to give too much away, which is how you know I love it.  😉  Go read this one for yourselves!!

10/5 stars

eleanor oliphant is completely fine review

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon — I picked this one up from the YA section because of the hella cute cover.  It’s a sweet idea . . . but this book is FULL of problems.  The main character, Dimple, is a fairly terrible human.  She’s trying to rise the “old world” traditions of her mother and avoid getting hooked up with an I.I.H: Ideal Indian Husband.  Dimple goes to a summer coding program in hopes of meeting her tech idol and developing a life-saving app.  Instead, her parents arrange for her to meet Rishi, the I.I.H.  Rishi is really into the idea — he saw Dimple’s picture and decided she would be the perfect wife to allow him to live out all of his parents’ hopes and dreams for him.

So enough of the plot — you can read all that on the inside flap!  Let’s talk about why Dimple is terrible.  She throws ICED COFFEE on Rishi when he tried to say hello to her.  Granted, his opening line was creepy.  But when he tries to apologize later, she tries to SLICE HIM with a CAMPUS MAP.  It’s ridiculous.  Then, conveniently, Dimple decides she SHOULD give Rishi a chance after she hears that his dad his the CEO of a major tech company.  That Dimple is an undercover gold digger somehow isn’t part of the plot.  Why introduce that fact, make Dimple take note of it, then have it NOT be an issue?

Books like these make me wonder where the editor was.  The characters rarely stay true to who you think they are.  Rishi goes from an awkward, somewhat nerdy, sheltered Indian boy trying to please his parents to a suave boyfriend who says all the right things and plans elaborate dates to a dude who gives his brother absolutely asinine dating advice.  It’s . . . bizarre.  But honestly, it’s worth the read if you want to write fiction — it will teach all the things NOT to do.

2/5 stars

This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes — This one redeemed YA for me after my terrible encounter with Dimple.  It’s the story of a girl, Genevieve, whose YouTube star boyfriend, Dallas, dies in a car accident . . . while she was driving.  A drunk driver takes the blame and the intense social media scrutiny, but Genevieve feels like there’s more to the story than she can remember.  Her grief is complex: she feels guilt and sadness, of course, but she and Dallas were growing apart and fighting a lot.  SPOILER AHEAD!  We quickly learn that Dallas had cheated on Genevieve, so we’re left to wonder . . . was it REALLY an accident?

This was a pretty good YA novel with a clear message from Stokes: don’t drive drowsy, and be careful with your words on social media!  Both are causes close to the author’s heart, and you can tell.  The book drags on a bit at some points, but it’s an engaging story that I think the YA crowd will enjoy.

3.5/5 stars

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter —  If you read the last Weekender, you know I picked this book for my BOTM in November because Krysten Ritter was on Gilmore Girls.  Plus, I loved the cover.  It’s the fast-paced story of a small-town girl, Abby, coming back from the big city to work on a case about water contamination.  From GoodReads:

Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

Here’s my one thing about this book: it’s a little too much like Gone Girl & other Gillian Flynn novels.  Can’t we have a smart, savvy heroine with her shit together?  Why are so many female protagonists solving mysteries in novels plagued by alcohol and drug addictions??  That motif is a little stale at this point, but I enjoyed the story.  I was always reading later than I intended to see what would happen next!  Unfortunately though, the end was rushed — the whole mystery unraveled, there was a big confrontation, and a disappointing epilogue all in the last 20 pages.  FAST, right?  It’s not bad for a debut novel, for sure, and I’d still give a second novel a try!

3/5 stars

bonfire by krysten ritter review

 

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