November Reads

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My November reading got off to a bit of a poor start due to abandoning another book halfway through (ugh).

I started reading "The Versions of Us" by Laura Barnett, which piqued my interest because it tells three different versions of a boy-meets-girl story. I imagined the book being structured as all of version one, then version two, then version three. Instead, it switched around constantly. You'd read how the two characters met three different ways, then what happened after that three different ways, etc.

Unfortunately, I think it was the frequent switching of storylines that prevented me from connecting with the characters. I couldn't get invested enough to want to keep reading. (Has anyone read this book? What are your thoughts on it?)

Luckily I still got through three other books by the end of the month.

Book 23 of 12:
"Whispers" by Dean Koontz
Hilary Thomas wasn't expecting Bruno Frye, a man she met only a few weeks prior, to break into her home. She wasn't expecting him to be violent, to attack her. But he does, and in self defense, she's able to kill him. So she certainly isn't expecting Bruno to turn up again a week later, even more determined to take her down for good...

To put it bluntly, this one was bizarre. The only other Koontz book I've read is Intensity, which was much more pragmatic. As crazy as this one is, though, it's a great story. The last 50-100 pages especially had me reluctant to put it down.

The best thing about Koontz books is that they are fast paced. Once you start, you don't have to wait long for something to happen. If you decide to read it, be sure to go into it with an open mind. (And maybe don't read it right before bed. I had a few nightmares.)

Rating: 3/5

Book 24 of 12:
"All the Bright Places" by Jennifer Niven

Niven's website itself puts it best: "An exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die." Theodore Finch and Violet Markey each think about death every day, for different reasons. Finch contemplates the various ways he could kill himself. Violet wonders if there's anything she could have done to prevent her sister's fatal accident, for which she blames herself. The two cross paths their final semester of high school, and over the next few months, it's hard to say who is saving whom.

"All the Bright Places" felt like a cross between John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" and "Paper Towns" (not a bad thing). I liked that it had characters with mental illness and that they weren't painted as "crazy" or unstable. Mental illness wasn't a punchline, it was something the characters were dealing with.

I saw some reviews criticize the fact that it sometimes felt like the characters were defined by their illnesses. I can understand that. A person with depression isn't always sad, and I'm sure Violet and Finch had a lot of other great traits that weren't addressed. At the same time, I think they were portrayed this way because the characters themselves felt defined by them. And I can't say it's inaccurate. In fact, as frustrating as Finch was at times, he reminded me of an old friend. I felt that the overall representation was realistic.

The big downside for me was the very end. I won't give anything away, but I wasn't a fan.

"It's my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting,
and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other recognizable disease just to make it simple for me but also for them."

"Maybe even the smallest places mean something. And if not, maybe they can mean something to us."

"I know life well enough to know you can't count on things staying around or standing still, no matter how much you want them to."

"What a terrible feeling to love someone and not be able to help them."

Rating: 3/5

Book 25 of 12:
"Scrappy Little Nobody" by Anna Kendrick

"Scrappy Little Nobody" is a (hilarious) collection of autobiographical essays. Through her tales, we learn about Anna's childhood, fashion fails, dating experiments, journey into the life of Hollywood, and eternal struggle to pass herself off as an adult who has her shit together.

Pretty much every other line in this book made me laugh, no joke. And there were so many good quotes. It's just as witty, comforting, funny, and relatable as you would hope and expect from Anna Kendrick.


Rating: 5/5

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