July Minireviews – Part 2 – #20BooksofSummer

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley – 3*

//published 2016//

I really struggled with rating this book.  There were a lot of things I liked about it, including the main characters (for the most part), the concept of the bookstore with its letter room, and the way the book explored grief and healing.  But I hated the way this book ended so much that I almost gave it zero stars.  It was never going to be a 5* read, but it definitely could have rated higher if the ending hadn’t been so incredibly cliched and stupid.  Plus, there was tons of swearing – it felt excessive for a YA book, especially since people are just, you know, hanging out having regular conversations.  Sorry, I don’t need f-bombs every three paragraphs.  Honestly, the further I get away from finishing this book, the more I can only remember the things that annoy me, and I’m already thinking about dropping my rating another star…

The Chance of a Lifetime by Grace Livingston Hill – 3.5*

//published 1931//

A lot of GLH’s books are way too preachy or saccharine, but every once in a while she writes one that’s just a nice story with characters whose faith is very central to their lives, and that’s where this one falls.  I actually really liked the people in this book, and felt that the central theme about what a “chance of a lifetime” really means was developed well.  While there were times that the plot was over-simplistic, on the whole it was really an enjoyable book.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – 3.5*

//published 1962//

I was going to wait and review this book after reading some more of L’Engle’s books, but I’m realizing that even though they are loosely connected, they aren’t all exactly a series in the traditional sense.  I’m reading all her books in their published order that have crisscrossing characters.  Which means I actually should have read Meet the Austins first, but didn’t realize until it was too late…

Anyway, I hadn’t read Wrinkle since probably junior high.  I remember having a vague feeling of not-liking it, but this is considered a classic, and I’ve heard so many people talk about how much they love this book, plus it’s a Newbery Award winner… so I thought I would give it another whirl.  At the end of the day, I just felt kind of ambivalent towards it.  It was a decent and interesting story with likable characters, but it didn’t really have that intensity that made me love it or feel like I urgently needed to keep reading.  I didn’t mind having a lot of “God talk” in the story, but the religious message felt a little vague to me, and it also seemed like the entire point of saving Earth from this “darkness” was really rather left open-ended.  Like, is Earth still under attack or….???

So all in all, not a bad read, but not one that I loved.  I still found it interesting enough to want to try some of L’Engle’s other books.  As for this one, a good read and also #5 for #20BooksofSummer!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 4*

//published 2008//

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve joined a “Traveling Book Club” where each member chose a book to mail out, and each month receives/mails the next book in the circle.  Eventually, I should get my original book back, complete with annotations from all of its travels.

Funnily enough, this month’s book was another Newbery Award winner.  I had only ever read one other Gaiman book before, quite a long while ago, so I was interested to pick up another of his stories.  I still hear so much about him around the book blogging world, and have several of his books on my list.  This one was quite enjoyable – an engaging story with a unique setting and memorable characters.  It didn’t capture me completely, but I still really enjoyed it, especially the gentle humor throughout (“he had died of consumption, he had told Bod, who had  mistakenly believed for several years that Fortinbras had been eaten by lions or bears, and was extremely disappointed to learn it was merely a disease”).

While I’m not racing to find my next Gaiman book, I’m still interested to read more of his works as I come across them.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – 4.5*

//published 2011//

I initially read this book back in October 2016, and was pretty excited when it came up on my random draw for my #20BooksofSummer list, as I’ve been wanting to reread it.  Honestly, this book was even funnier and more perfect than I remember it being.  Lincoln is such a wonderful character and I love the way that he doesn’t necessarily have to change himself, but change his perspective of himself in order to become more content and comfortable with his life.  You can read my old review for more details.  For here – a genuinely funny, happy, yet thoughtful read that I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting.

#8 for #20BooksofSummer!

Attachments // by Rainbow Rowell

So I think I have actually now read all of Rowell’s books except for her newest, Kindred Spirits.  While I have enjoyed her books for the most part, Attachments definitely jumped to the top of her list for me, with Fangirl close behind.

attachmentsushardcoverhires

//published 2011//

In Attachments, it felt like Rowell really got her setting right.  All of her characters were believable with their ages and situations in life, and the setting of just before Y2K was a great way to give the novel a time that was specific and fun without weighing it down with too many references.  I adored Lincoln, and really liked the way that Rowell had his character grown and change throughout the story.

If you haven’t read it, Attachments is about Lincoln, who has a job at a newspaper – he’s in charge of reading everyone’s emails.  It’s all part of the company’s policy to make sure people are only emailing about appropriate, work-related things.  Lincoln is a little uncomfortable with the job, but it is what it is – until he starts reading the email exchanges between Beth and Jennifer.  Their emails are definitely “between friends” with all kinds of gossip and stories, and Lincoln should definitely issue a warning to them for “inappropriate” use of company email…  except he’s kind of finding himself interested in their lives.

Here’s the thing: this book sounds like Lincoln should be really creepy, but somehow Rowell pulls this off.  I  never felt uncomfortable with Lincoln or his actions.  Instead, he comes through as incredibly likable.  I was also concerned about how in the world Rowell was going to make everything come together in the end without being super weird – but she did it.  A+ ending.

3b8ef549f953c3866a8726a0b44cacda

//perfect collage is perfect//source//

One of my favorite things about this story was how Rowell never portrayed various hobbies or lifestyle choices as being immature or wrong in and of themselves – it was the motivation behind them that made them so.  Throughout the story, Lincoln plays D&D, lives at home with his mom, and doesn’t socialize much.  At the end of the book, many of Lincoln’s circumstances are the same – he’s still playing D&D and going to the movies by himself – but it’s obvious that Lincoln has grown as a person and is way, way more comfortable with who he is as a person, instead of feeling stuck there.

The side plots in this book were also really good.  Beth’s relationship with her boyfriend and the whole situation with Jennifer and her husband trying to decide if they should start a family – they were things that were handled well, adding a lot of depth to the story.  Rowell did a great job giving the right amount of information about the “other” characters – enough to make them feel like more than cutouts, but not so much that it interfered with the main movement of the story.

All in all, I really enjoyed Attachments.  4/5 and recommended.