LAST Quarterly Book Review of 2018!
The very last quarterly book review of 2018 is here. This one is a doosy because as you can see I’ve read 12 books since our last book review post! I’m currently reading one more book that I will probably finish before the new year, but I wanted to get my last book review post up before Christmas/New Years week begins. I’m going to keep the reviews a short as I can so this post isn’t 20 miles long and the two trilogies I read will be reviewed together since I don’t want to give away spoilers! These posts have been so fun to share and I hope you’ve found new favorites to read or just had a fun time following along. I can’t wait for next year’s reviews. I already have a pile of 10 books to start reading 🙈!
If you don’t follow me on Instagram then you probably don’t know my deep deep love for this series (If you do follow me on Instagram, I’m not sorry for all the #TALBILB overload this year!). I had read the first two books in 2015 and the third hadn’t been released yet so instead of picking up where I left off 3 years ago I decided to read the whole series from the start. I instantly fell in love with the series and the characters again and flew threw all three books in only three days! You follow the story of Lara Jean, a high school junior, whose secrets letters to her crushes throughout the years get sent out by accident. They are sweet, funny, and will make you feel like you’re in high school again (hopefully in a good way). If I had to put them in a favorite order it would go P.S. I Still Love You (2), To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (1), and then Always and Forever, Lara Jean (3). If you haven’t read this series do so and then immediately watch the Netflix movie. After you’ve done that you’ll understand my fandom. (P.S. Brett and I even recreated a scene from the movie for Halloween!)
Rating (as a whole): 5/5
I was on a teenage rom-com Jenny Han high and immediately after finishing To All the Boys I picked up her older series, The Summer I Turned Pretty. The trilogy follows Belly’s summers at a shared beach house with her mom’s best friend and her two boys. Growing up Belly, her brother, and the two Fischer boys were all like siblings until one summer Belly comes to the beach house not looking like the the old Belly (hello puberty!). If you can’t tell already a love triangle forms between Belly and the two Fischer boys and over the next two books which spans about a little less than 10 years a LOT happens. She loves both boys for different reasons and she has to figure out if she should listen to her heart or her head. Like To All The Boys, the books are fast reads (I polished them off in a another three days), but this series was harder for me to get into. Mostly, due to Belly’s immaturity. Lara Jeans is VERY responsible and mature for her age, so it was hard to like Belly when I loved Lara Jean so much. If I had to place a favorite order of the series it would go We’ll Always Have Summer (3), It’s Not Summer Without You (2), and then The Summer I Turned Pretty (1).
I read this book for the Bad on Paper Podcast book club and loved it! It was like stepping into the making of a Nancy Meyers movie, which is automatic win in my book. It follows the large and loud Grant family who had been semi-famous due to their mother’s widely successful weekly comic, Grant Central Station, that fictionalized the family over decades. Charlie, the youngest daughter of the family is having an early life crisis. Her family is selling their house, she’s going off to college, and she’s desperate to have one last perfect weekend with all her siblings during her sister’s wedding hosted in the backyard. Like all good wedding related books, anything that can go wrong does almost to the point where you start to question how much more could actually happen! Charlie also learns a lot about the changing dynamics of family over the years and realizes she lived with rose-colored glasses on. While a bit exacerbated at times (the book is 432 pages!), the story is entertaining and very relatable. I’m eager to pick up more of Morgan Matson’s other bestsellers.
Another book for Bad on Paper Podcast! Charlotte Walsh the CEO of a multi-billion dollar humanitarian company in Silicon Valley decides to run against the old and questionable Republican incumbent Senator in her home state of Pennsylvania, the same home she ran from and never looked back after college. The book discusses the double standard women in politics have to endure to get elected (no matter their party affiliation), what it’s like to be a mother and the bread winner, reconciling with your past, and living with the consequences of your secrets. The book is an easy read and very honest, which I always appreciate. When it comes to politics I wasn’t bothered at all. I call myself an open-minded Republican, so when I read certain policies or ideologies I didn’t agree with I just kept on reading (reading this book or any book doesn’t mean you have to vote that way!). If you’re a Republican who is strong-headed and easily angered by the left, I’d maybe skip this one. And if you’re questioning my rating because I’m a Republican and this is clearly a Democrat’s book, my lower rating is due to the excessive F-bombs (my brain and soul die a little every time I hear/read that word) and the ending — not my political party affiliation.
Ohhhh man you guys these next two books aren’t the most intellectually stimulating but man were they a fun read. It’s you’re classic rom-com in the best way possible. Drew and Alexa get stuck in a hotel elevator. As they sit and past time they develop quite the flirtation (obviously) and Drew asks Alexa for a favor. Will she be his fake girlfriend for the wedding of his best friend and ex-girlfriend this weekend? Out of character, she agrees. I think you can see where this book is heading. The characters in both of Guillory’s books are well-developed and likable (at least I liked them) and the story is very fun and quite steamy (think a low key and less graphic version of Fifty Shades).
Guillory’s second book is a non-sequel sequel of The Wedding Date. It centers around Carlos (Drew’s best friend) and Nikole. It opens up at a Dodger game that Nikole is attending with her non-serious actor-boyfriend who proposes to her out of the blue on the jumbo-tron. Completely shocked (they had only dated for 4 months) and angry (he spelled her name wrong on the jumbo-iron!) she says no while the entire stadium is booing here. Carlos is also at the game with his sister seated a few rows behind Nikole. He and his sister decide to be good samaritans and come to her rescue to help her escape from the booing people and the camera crew making their way to her. Grateful for the out she invites them out to a drink with her friends and a friendship and flirtation form between Nikole and Carlos. The Proposal has almost the identical plot outline of The Wedding Date, but the characters are very different so it’s definitely worth a read. Guillory is set to release The Wedding Pair in July and I’m so so excited to get my hands on it!
After a year of not so “smart” books I decided to choose This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald’s first novel, for November’s Book Club pick. I chose This Side of Paradise rather than The Great Gatsby because I wanted to see the writing style that made him famous (The Great Gatsby is in my 2019 pile already!). The book is semi-autobiographical and follows the childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood of Amory Blaine (aka Scott). The first 75% of the book was a struggggggggle to get through. Trying to get used to the language of the 20s was a real adjustment from all my other reads this year and reminded me why I need to add more classics into my future reading lists. Amory was also a very hard character to like. He was incredibly self-obsessed and very single-minded, which frustrated me to no end. The last 25% which focused on Amory’s life after WWI was my favorite and I drank it up. WWI made Amory think less selfishly and deeper and I finally started to like him. I felt like I was back in AP Lit, underlining section, placing sticky notes on interesting observations, and writing in the margins (My English teachers Mrs. Wyllie and Mr. Brown would be very proud.). That last quarter made the first three worth it and ignited my literary mind! I'm definitely going to be reading far more classic next year.
(Also fun fact: In the last quarter Amory is standing outside the finest steakhouse, Delmonico’s, in New York City. Brett’s great-great-grandfather, Charles Ranhofer, was the head chef of Delmonico’s and is responsible for creating the “Delmonico’s Steak.” This is probably why Brett is such a great natural cook! Thanks Grandpa Charles!)
My most recent read (finished it last night!) was Nicholas Sparks’ new book and my Book Club’s December pick. I’ve read quite a few Nicholas Sparks books but after Last Song (which I LOVED!) I haven’t any since until Every Breath. I think I got kind of snobby about books and thought Nicholas Sparks was just too cliche to read, but after reading Every Breath it reminded why this guy gets most of his books made into movies. The book starts in the 90s in Sunset Beach, North Carolina with 36-year old Hope and 42-year old Tru. Hope is itching for marriage and children but her boyfriend of six years still has some growing up to do, so she stays at her family’s beach cottage for a weekend alone before a friend’s wedding. Tru, a born and raised man from Zimbabwe and safari guide of 20 years is in the States to meet his biological father for the first time and is staying in the home next to Hope. The first part of the book is their week long romance and the second part is what happens after they both leave the beach. It’s a two decade long story and it’s very heartwarming and a quick read (I finished it in two days!!). I would really love to see this become a movie, so fingers crossed!!
Wow that was a lot of books and if you’re still reading this post you are my favorite. Next year I’m planning for these book review posts to be a monthly occurrence seeing that I surpassed my 12 book goal of the year. I’m going to shoot for 30 books for 2019! If you read any fantastic books this year, please let me know so I can add them to every growing pile. And if you haven’t yet done so, friend me on Goodreads to see what I’m currently reading throughout the year and to see my ratings of each book even before I review them on the blog.