Mini Reviews

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One of the things I’m most proud of about this blog and my reading this year is that out of the 157 books I’ve read so far in 2014 I’ve reviewed 144 of them. As good as that is it kind of drives me crazy that I haven’t reviewed 100% of them so I thought I’d use this post to write a few sentences about the 13 books I haven’t reviewed this year. (And if you’re wondering how I figured this out I just looked at my list of books I’ve read this year and counted how many weren’t linked; there are some that aren’t linked where reviews are still to come.)

bet me

Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise: This is the second book I read in 2014 and I liked it. It didn’t quite blow me away in the way I had hoped, I hated how it was told from multiple perspectives, but I did really like the main characters. It was a fun premise that was mostly well done and if you’re looking for something to read on a plane or during a winter beach vacation I would recommend it. 3.5 stars

seasonforscandal

Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain: I had wanted to read this since last fall, but I never realized it was a Christmas book so when I picked it up in January it was a little weird. That said, I enjoyed it. Not as much as some other historical romances, but it was a good story with interesting characters that played into my love of established couples (in this case they get married towards the beginning of the book). 3 stars

speechless

Speechless by Hannah Harrington: I loved this book. I had heard so many good things about it going in and this is the case of a book living up to and probably surpassing my expectations. I wrote a really terrible review for it that I never published, it jumps around between talking about the book and talking about how I try not to gossip. Crazy review or not this is really good and if you haven’t read it you should. 4.25 stars

saywhatyouwill

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern: I was so into this book at first and then in the middle and then towards the end it just lost me so completely that it totally ruined all of the good things at the beginning. It was interesting to read a book with a main character with cerebral palsy and I thought the author handled that aspect really well. I just wish she wouldn’t have gone in such a strange direction at the end. 3 stars

foreplay

Foreplay by Sophie Jordan: This has a pretty ordinary new adult concept, but it was pretty well done. I’m not dying to read the other books that are in the series, but I also wouldn’t rule out reading them one day if I was in the mood. Pretty much a very middle of the road book for me. 3 stars

whathappenedtogoodbye

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen: I don’t know if it’s possible for me to love a Sarah Dessen book (they’re a bit too formulaic for me), but after The Truth About Forever this might be my favorite one of hers. Mclean was a fun main character and I particularly liked her relationship with her dad and eventually her relationship with her mom. The romance is fun, too. 3.5 stars

rebelbelle

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins: This is a crazy book, I mean it’s about a southern belle who is an ancient demon slayer or something, but I really liked it. It was a really fun book and the main character was great. It’s pretty wacky and probably won’t be for everyone but I really enjoyed it and I’m excited to see what happens next. 3.5 stars

alllinedup

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack: I was really disappointed with this overall. I enjoyed Cora Carmack’s other books and I was excited to see her take on college football. The story was too cheesy and bad new adult for me and I hate that it’s constantly compared to Friday Night Lights (the TV show, not the book). FNL is one of the best TV shows ever and All Lined Up was just ordinary to not-so-great. 2.5 stars

queenofkentucky

The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker: It took me months to read this book because I just couldn’t force myself to be interested in the very character-driven story. The story and the characters aren’t bad, but it was just very slow moving and there wasn’t so much a problem to be solved as there was a girl just living her life. The main character is younger than most the main characters I read about, but she was handled well. 3 stars

freetofall

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller: This might be my biggest disappointment of 2014. I loved Miller’s first book, Parallel, but Free to Fall just never worked for me. I didn’t buy the setting, the characters, the relationships, or the concept of the story. It just didn’t make sense to me and didn’t seem plausible and there was just too much suspending of disbelief for me to really be into it. 2 stars

landline

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: It’s not Fangirl or Attachments, but it was still a good read. I wanted to shake the main character and tell her to spend time with her kids and her husband, but she was really relatable in a lot of other ways. Also, the whole magic phone thing wasn’t anywhere near as strange as I thought it would be. 4 stars

foreverinterrupted

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I’m an idiot for reading this right after After I Do because I loved After I Do and I think I could have really liked Forever, Interrupted, but it was a tough act to follow. Especially because Forever, Interrupted was such a different, much sadder, story. But it is a really interesting story that’s handled beautifully. If you’re in the mood to cry I would definitely recommend it. 4 stars

crownofmidnight

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas: I liked it more than Throne of Glass but still not as much as I liked the novellas. I know everyone loves the Throne of Glass series, but I’m thinking it just might not be for me, as much as I like Celeana and some of the situations. It’s not even the fantasy stuff I struggle with, it’s the different perspectives, slow pace, and slightly disjointed story that drive me crazy. 3.5 stars

Ok, there you have it. I feel much better now :)

One Year Ago: Book Review: Here Without You


Book Review: In a Handful of Dust

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Title: In a Handful of Dust (Not a Drop to Drink #2)
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: 09/23/14
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In a Handful of Dust left me feeling more impressed with Not a Drop to Drink than I already did and I was already pretty impressed with to begin with. Not a Drop to Drink surprised me in the best possible ways. It was a pretty sparse book, fairly quiet, and full of description and introspective, much like its main character, Lynn. In a Handful of Dust, however, couldn’t be more different. Like its main character, Lucy, Lynn’s adopted daughter, the story is open, adventurous, and pretty fast-paced.

The story picks up 10 or so years after Not a Drop to Drink ends, right after the death of Lucy’s best friend, Maddy. Lynn and Lucy have been happily living in the community that was established at the end of Not a Drop to Drink, but after Maddy dies of what Lucy’s grandmother, a former doctor, suspects is polio the peace and safety of their community is destroyed. Lucy and Lynn decide to leave the community, which is a combination of their own choice and reasons beyond their control, and they set out in search of California and the desalination plants that Eli had told Lynn about in Not a Drop to Drink.

There were a few different ways I thought of this book, it’s definitely a survival story, but it’s also the story of an epic journey across the United States. As someone who loves learning about the US from all different points of view there was something really fascinating about Lynn and Lucy’s journey, even if it was in an imaginary version of the US. The journey from Ohio to California on foot obviously is a long one and it was interesting to see what Lynn and Lucy thought about all the states they passed through and the things they passed along the way like the Mississippi River, Rocky Mountains, and the city of Las Vegas.

For about the first 70% of the book the story is about Lynn and Lucy’s journey. They sometimes struggle to find food and water and they meet a few people along the way (it was pretty amazing how few people they actually met), some good and some bad, and while there was certainly an underlying tension to the book, it wasn’t like Not a Drop to Drink where Lynn was facing constant threats to her home and pond. Because this is a story about Lucy rather than a story about Lynn this really worked. Lucy constantly talks about how she’s a people person and how unlike Lynn she lacks the hardness the kill and survive in such a bleak world. It makes what Mindy McGinnis did with these two books so impressive because, although both stories center on the same world, they felt very distinct and unique, much like Lynn and Lucy.

The issue with Lucy’s story here is that because the story is focused on this journey and moved along at a faster pace there wasn’t the intimacy of Not a Drop to Drink where so much of the story is spent one-on-one with Lynn as she struggles to survive after her mother passes away. Lucy is a lot more open and easier to know than Lynn, but somehow I still came away feeling like I knew Lynn better and understood Lynn more than I understood Lucy.

About 70% into the story things got real. Prior to that point I was kind of happy to read for a while, put the book down, pick it back up later or the next day, etc., etc., etc.. But once I reached that 70% mark things started happening and I was flipping the pages as quickly as I could. There is a bit of a disconnect between the meandering pace of the first seven-tenths of Lynn and Lucy’s journey and the last 30% and in some ways that is frustrating, but overall the story was so strong and compelling that even without the sense of immediate urgency the first 70% is still very good. The things that occur towards the end are all connected and lead to each other so it makes sense, but it still is a bit odd that the first 70% of the journey was so easy compared to the final portion.

Bottom Line: Once again Mindy McGinnis blew me away. There’s always the worry that a sequel or companion won’t live up to the original, but with In a Handful of Dust that worry is totally unnecessary. Both Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust are set in the same world and feature the same characters, but the focus on Lucy rather than Lynn and the fact that they are on a journey across the country rather than protecting one piece of land help to make both books completely distinctive in terms of story. Yet both feature the strong writing, unique setting, and interesting characters that leave me so excited to see what Mindy McGinnis does next.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: Split Second


Top 10 Tuesday: Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

As I went about doing this week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic about authors I’ve only one read book from but need to read more I actually came across very few authors who have published more than one book where I haven’t read another book the author. Which leaves me with a list of (mostly) authors who have only written one book who I’m seriously wishing would write another one.

1. M. Molly BackesThe Princesses of Iowa is one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2014 and will definitely be appearing on my list of favorite backlist books at the end of the year. Backes’ portrayal of high school was just so spot-on and intelligent and I wish she’d tackle the topic again. (My review of The Princesses of Iowa)

2. Julie Berry: I know Julie Berry has authored books besides All the Truth That’s In Me but none of them really catch my eye. All the Truth That’s In Me is such a unique, well done, smart book and I’d love to read something else like. (My review of All the Truth That’s In Me)

3. Suzanne CarrollOver the Edge reminded me so much, in the best possible way, of the chick-lit I read 10-15 years ago. I don’t think if I’ve come across such a fun chick-lit book in the year-and-a-half since I read Over the Edge. (My review of Over the Edge)

4. Colleen Clayton: A bunch of authors on this list wrote really tough books to read for their first book and What Happens Next is certainly one of them. But as tough as it was to read it was also really good and the characterization and story were so spot-on. (My review of What Happens Next)

5. Katie CotugnoHow to Love was one of my most pleasant surprises of 2013 and I can’t wait to see what Cotugno does next. The storytelling in How to Love was so unique and handled so perfectly. Luckily for me Cotugno has another book coming out next year! (My review of How to Love)

6. Lauren Graham: Talk about surprises! Never in my life did I think I would love a book by Lauren Graham so much, but what do you know, I did. Not only was Someday, Someday Maybe well written, it was also realistic and relateable. (My review of Someday, Someday Maybe)

7. Corrine Jackson: Another author who’s published other books, but ones that sadly don’t appeal to me. If I Lie was a tough book, but so compelling and with great characters. (My review of If I Lie)

8. Makiia Lucier: If I had to pick a favorite historical fiction book this year it would be Death-Struck Year. I talked a lot about it in my review, but what made it so good in my mind was the fact that you not only got to see and learn about something that took place 100-ish years ago, but the micro-story of the main character was so relateable and applicable to 2014. (My review of Death-Struck Year)

9. Emily Murdoch: Another author with a book planned for 2015, thank god! The basic story of If You Find Me is not particularly uncommon in YA lately, but Murdoch handled it so well. It could have been cheesy or over the top, but it was just perfect. (My review of If You Find Me)

10. Tess Sharpe: For years I have searched high and low for a YA thriller that actually thrills me and what do you know, this year I actually found one. And now I desperately want more. (My review of Far From You)

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Books on My Fall TBR List


Book Review: Lock & Key

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Title: Lock & Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: 04/22/08
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’d love to tell you that I’m in a reading slump, but that’s not actually true. My new job leaves me with a heck of a lot less time for reading than my old job and school combo, but I am still reading. I think I’m more in a reviewing slump, which really sucks because I love this blog, but, whatever, that’s my problem, I’ll get through it. Still, Saturday, the first day in forever that I had zero plans I wanted a book to read. On the train home from NYC the night before I had finished Whatever Life Throws At You and none of what I was “supposed” to be reading next appealed to me. Enter looking through my Kindle and iPad and coming up with Sarah Dessen, good old Sarah Dessen who then provided me with hours of entertainment on Saturday. The good thing about Sarah Dessen, besides her books just being good, is that you know what to expect. Lock & Key was no different. There was the strong, interesting main character, the screwed up family, the flashbacks, and the romance.

It was a struggle to get to know Ruby, the main character at the beginning of the story. Ruby has been living on her own for a few months after her mother, an untrustworthy alcoholic, picked up and left with no word to Ruby about where she was going. Ruby is eventually discovered by her nosy landlords (she had been secretly covering for her mother at work to make money) and the department of social services contacts her older sister, who she hasn’t seen or heard from in 10 years, to take care of her. There was this disconnect between the smart, observant narrator Ruby and the Ruby that lived in filth, did drugs, and wasn’t doing so well in school. Ruby’s struggle to leave her mother behind made sense, as did her difficulty accepting her sister back into her life, but Ruby’s former life was a case of telling rather than showing which left me a little miffed.

One of my favorite parts of the story had to do with Ruby’s brother-in-law, Jamie. In the time since Ruby has seen her sister, Cora, Cora has graduated college and law school and married Jamie, the founder of UMe.com, a social networking site like Facebook (which also figures into Dessen’s other books). Cora and Jamie’s marriage doesn’t seem so great at first, but Jamie is great from the beginning, and as time goes on and we get to know them better their relationship becomes sweeter and more involved and, maybe just because I’m close in age to them, I found it a really compelling part of the story.

Ruby has always bought into her mother’s version of the past, that her sister went off to college and never looked back, but as Ruby gets to know Cora she starts to see that it might not be that simple. A lot of the story deals with family because of how Ruby is discovering hers and because of an assignment she gets at the fancy new school Jamie enrolls her in. Over the course of the school year she needs to figure out what family means, both to her and to the people around her. Dessen does a great job at showcasing different types of families, both ones you are born into and ones you choose, throughout the story.

The part of the story that left me feeling disappointed was the romance. On her first night with Cora and Jamie Ruby meets the son of their next door neighbor, Nate. At first she thinks Nate is just a dumb jock, but as she gets to know him she sees that he’s really a good guy who’s dealing with heavy expectations from his father. Ruby and Nate start as friends, but, even though it was clear their friendship was going to evolve into more, there were never any swoon-worthy moments or real chemistry, which is especially disappointing from Dessen. Even when Ruby and Nate finally got together it was kind of anti-climatic and, again, lacking in chemistry. By the end of the book I decided it was more about Ruby’s journey than a romance, but still, I wish the romance, as small of a part of the story as it turned out to be, had some more emotion and tension.

Bottom Line: While I don’t think this is my favorite Dessen novel or her strongest it was still an enjoyable read and one I’m happy I picked up. Dessen’s exploration of family was great and Ruby is a strong, interesting main character. There were stretches where the story stalled a bit in Ruby’s head and there was more telling than showing, but the rest of the story made up for it. If you’re looking for a classic Dessen romance this falls flat, but if you’re ok spending time with a classic Dessen main character Ruby mostly makes up for the lacking romance.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Where the Stars Still Shine


Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

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illgiveyouthesun

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Release Date: 09/16/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

When I first picked up I’ll Give You the Sun and started reading my brain was confused. This was a book I was excited to read and wanted to love, I really enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere and was so happy that Jandy Nelson finally had another book out. And then I met Noah. Noah who’s 13-years-old and, no offense, but, really flipping weird. Noah is an artist, a kid who has few friends and is consistently targeted by bullies, and someone who’s very much trying to figure out who he is as a person and what role he plays in this family. He’s a very imaginative person and his narrative really reflects that. His descriptions of people/places/things that happen are beautiful and intense, but they’re also not always rooted in reality. Noah would say something like “and then bats swooped down and attacked his, sucking all the blood out of his body,” but then in the next sentence say what really happened. Going in I knew the story would eventually switch over to Jude, Noah’s twin sister, several years later and I found myself bidding my time hoping that switch would come sooner rather than later.

Then the story switched over to Jude, sooner than I expected (it actually switches back and forth between the siblings maybe three or four times) and things were not better. Jude, who’s described by Noah as being the fun, “normal,” social twin has, no offense, but, turned into a bit of a freak. After a terrible tragedy, I won’t spoil it even though it happens fairly early on, Jude has retreated inside herself and wears baggy, unflattering clothes, has sworn off boys, and has zero friends. Jude also puts a lot of stock in a book her deceased grandmother left her that she calls “the bible” which is full of old wives tales and superstitions. Oh, plus she routinely sees/hears/feels the presence of the ghosts of a couple dead family members.

Basically things were weird. Really weird. Imaginative descriptions, very unique personalities, and ghosts aren’t really my thing. In the first 100-150 pages of the book I probably considered putting it down 100-150 times. But I kept going because of Jandy Nelson and because there were moments I loved the story, the characters, and I dying to keep turning the pages and find out how Noah and Jude rebuilt their relationship.

As I read more and more I became really invested in Noah and Jude’s story and I really couldn’t put it down. Part of that was helped by the way the story moved back and forth between Noah and Jude. Both of their stories, the before and the after, were so interesting and compelling and the fact that each of them only had half of the story helped to make me just as interested in one part as I was in the other. It was also just insane to see Noah and Jude at the beginning of Noah’s story and then, in Jude’s part of the story, see how terrible their relationship had become. It wasn’t unbelievable in the bad sense of the word, but it was just heartbreaking and terrible.

The way that Jandy Nelson constructed the story was just so remarkable. Not only the way Noah had the story of the past and Jude has the story of the present and neither of them knew what had happened/was happening with each other, but the way that each of their individual parts of the story unfolded was so smart and well done. There were some moments with some convenient coincidences that in another book might be a little unbelievable, but Jandy Nelson is just so smart and her writing is so strong and since she already was using such imaginative story telling and descriptions and ghosts and magic it all just worked together.

Bottom Line: I’m not going to lie, this is a weird story and as a fan of realistic contemporary fiction the oddness of the story threw me at first and it took me a while to settle in, but it was so worth it. I’ll Give You the Sun is smart, unique, interesting, heartbreaking, and by the end I came to completely love and admire it. I’m not going to tell you it isn’t a weird story, but I will say it’s worth it in the end.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Dead Girls Don’t Lie


Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

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Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: 08/14/14
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

I make no secret of the fact that I don’t understand why people love Anna and the French Kiss. Anna is an annoying, spoiled brat who goes after not only another girl’s boyfriend, but the guy her only friend has been in love with for years. I’m all for unlikable characters, but jesus effing christ there is just a point where I am pushed so far I cannot come back. Plus I find St. Clair ridiculously annoying and stupid in pretty much every way. However, I’m obviously in the minority and every one else loves it, blah, blah, blah.

But, because I’m a masochist I like to give people a second chance I read Lola and the Boy Next Door and…I liked it! A lot! Yay! Luckily for me I only read Lola around the holidays last year so I didn’t have too long to wait for Isla. I was, however, super nervous, when it takes so long for a sequel/companion book to come out and it gets rescheduled I get nervous and pretty much expect a disaster. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that I kind of went into Isla with really low expectations?

Low expectations or not after finishing Isla and the Happily Ever After I was so impressed! While I’m still not fully on the Stephanie Perkins train (I will never get over how obnoxious I found Anna to be), I’m about 85% on-board and excited to see what she does next.

Let’s talk about Isla, shall we? We met Isla briefly in Anna and the French Kiss (the very smart Isla knew not to stick around that disaster for too long), but when we meet up with her in Isla she’s in New York City, her hometown, for the summer and while wandering one night she runs into Josh (also from Anna) who she’s had a crush on forever. Josh has recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend and Isla hopes after running into him once they’ll continue to see each other (Josh lives in NYC, too). Unfortunately that isn’t the case and Isla heads back to Paris at the end of the summer no closer to dating Josh.

Once she’s back at school Isla is back to her shy ways. She has her best friend Kurt, a friendship between a straight girl and a straight guy which was great to see, and her younger sister who’s recently started at the Parisian school, but unfortunately they’re not very close due to her sister’s witchy attitude. As the school year begins Isla runs into Josh more and more and eventually they become friends and then more. The fact that Isla and Josh get together towards the beginning/middle of the book was especially refreshing and a nice differentiation from Perkins’ other books. Plus it’s also great to see a couple figure out their relationship rather than the back and forth of will they or won’t they be together.

As much as I liked Isla and Josh’s relationship, and I liked it a lot, what really sold me on Isla and the Happily Ever After was Isla herself. Throughout the story she’s really trying to find herself and figure out what she wants to do. She always assumed she would stay in one of her “home” cities for college and go to Columbia or the Sorbonne, but what will she do once she’s there? Like a lot of high school students she puts a lot of stock in figuring out her life at a pretty young age and it was interesting to see how that attitude developed and changed over the course of the book.

Isla’s family was also fairly present, especially her younger sister. At first her younger sister is a typical, annoying little sister, but, much like Isla’s feelings about her future, it was nice to see her relationship and feelings towards her sister evolve over the course of the book. There’s also an aunt who is never physically in the book, but her presence and apartment play a nice part in the story. Isla’s parents aren’t terribly present, but most of the story takes place in Paris and they’re in NYC so that makes sense. But when they were around they were nice additions to the story, as was Isla’s older sister. Basically Isla’s family wasn’t the ever present presence of Lola’s dads or the pretty much completely absent Anna’s family, but a balance somewhere between.

 

Bottom Line: Love or hate Anna and the French Kiss I dare you not to be charmed by Isla and the Happily Ever After. The romance, setting, and family are all great, but the fantastic, interesting, smart, funny main character of Isla really makes the book. I never thought I would say this, but I’m sad there won’t be another book in this series, that’s how much I loved Isla and Isla.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Until it Hurts to Stop


Where Are All the Good Independent Bookstores?

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I have this dream. A dream that at some time in my life I will live near an independent bookstore that even if they don’t regularly stock books I want to read or host authors I want to see (which are my ultimate dreams) they are at least staffed by nice, friendly people who are happy to help me find a book or order it for me. Having worked in publishing for nearly six years I can tell you that the myth of the independent bookstore is alive and well, but, I ask, where are these stores? Now that independent bookstores are fairly rare do the type of stores staffed by knowledgeable, intelligent, helpful people really still exist?

What’s brought this on? Recently I stopped by my local indie, Books & Books in Westhampton Beach, NY looking for a copy of After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I walked into the store and immediately went up to the cash register and this is how the conversation went:

Me: Hi, I’m looking for a book would you quickly be able to tell me if you have it/where it find it?
B&B: (looked annoyed) Yes.
Me: It’s by Taylor Jenkins Reid and it’s called After I Do.
B&B: (searched in the computer) We don’t have it.
Me: Ok…well…could I order it?
B&B: Well I would have to enter it in our system.
Me: Ok…
B&B: I mean, it might take a while…

At this point I really wanted to say something along the lines of “Oh, I’m sorry, this is a big inconvenience for you? Because I thought you were trying to sell books and make money and I’m pretty sure I’m offering to buy books and pay you money. Do you not need my money? Because I could be home, in bed, ordering this on Amazon for less money and a quicker and more convenient delivery.”

This is how to rest of our conversation unfolded:

Me: That’s ok, I’ll just wait here. I would actually like to order three of them.

At this point the guy sitting next to the guy I’m talking to leans over to the guy helping me and whispers: “If she’s ordering more than one she has to pay for them now.” Which the guy helping me never actually tells me.

B&B: (after time entering the book into their system) Ok that will be $51.00.
Me: (hands credit card over)
B&B: (hands credit card back) You’re all set.
Me: So you’ll call me when they’re in? (He had looked up my name in their system somewhere in there.)
B&B: Yes.
Me: Ok, thanks, have a nice day.
B&B: You too.

I left feeling so annoyed and honestly wish I had just left the store when he told me it would take long and just ordered the book from Amazon. I am a nice, courteous person, I want to give my money to local businesses, but I also expect at least moderately good customer service. Here’s how I would have liked the conversation to go:

Me: Hi, I’m looking for a book would you quickly be able to tell me if you have it/where it find it?
B&B: Yes, of course.
Me: It’s by Taylor Jenkins Reid and it’s called After I Do
B&B: (searches in the computer) Unfortunately we don’t have it, but I can order it for you and have it here in a few days, would you like to do that?
Me: Yes, that would be great, thank you, I would like to order 3.
B&B: Ok, it might take a few minutes for me to enter it in the computer.
Me: No worries, I’ll just look around here.
B&B: Since you’re ordering more than one we’ll need you to pay for all of them at once.
Me: Ok, no problem.
B&B: (after time entering the book into their system) Ok that will be $51.00.
Me: (hands credit card over)
B&B: (hands credit card back) Thank you, you’re all set, we’ll call you when the books are in in a few days.
Me: Great, thank you.
B&B: Thank you, have a nice day.
Me: Thanks, you too.

I don’t think that’s asking too much, right? The problem with the original exchange is that it’s not the first terrible exchange I’ve had with someone at Book & Books (clearly I just need to stop shopping there) or at many other independent bookstores.

When I lived in Park Slope my local indie was The Community Bookstore. I will admit I wasn’t a frequent shopper of that store, but I heard many complaints from friends about rude staff members and lack of selection. After Books & Books the closest indie to me is Bookhampton in Southampton. I stopped in there a few weeks ago and while I didn’t have a negative experience, it was still a baffling experience. It’s a small store, maybe 300 or 400 square feet, there were two people working, and maybe three other people shopping. Neither of the two people working there greeted me or asked if I needed help. The only interaction I had with them was when I had to squeeze by one of them between narrow bookcases.

I’m not someone who wants store clerks falling all over me, I like to look around on my own and have no problem asking for help, but I do think all customers should be greeted and either asked for help or have it made known that there is staff there to help if they have any questions.

In writing this post I’ve been considering all the independent bookstores I’ve lived around or visited (even though it’s hard to tell based off of one or two visits, but still, I think you can get a feel for them).

Lived around:

Books of Wonder: I had such negative connotations with this place from working for a publisher that it was hard for me to ever really form a connection to it, but they do have a great selection and do wonderful events.

Strand: Obviously amazing and the selection rocks, but not the type of cozy, neighborhood store I really picture.

powerHouse Arena: One of my all-time favorite indies, but it’s also not really what I have in mind. Their stock is highly curated and I love that, but the chances are high that they probably won’t have what I’m looking for. This is also, BTW, the place I probably most recommend people visiting NYC visit.

Book Revue: I haven’t been here since I was young, but I constantly hear people complain about the staff.

The Odyssey: My relationship with The Odyssey is a bit fraught, it was our college textbook bookstore so I associate them with outrageous pricing (which isn’t their fault). The staff was also so rude, but they were also dealing with a bunch of terrible college students. I do really respect the store though, especially having worked in publishing and visiting them post-college.

Visited:

Moravian Bookshop: This place is amazing and I would love to live near it.

Clinton Book Shop: Small, but nice. Staff can be a tad unfriendly, but it’s a good store in an adorable town.

Powell’s: Just in a world of their own, not like a local indie, but obviously freaking amazing.

Kramerbooks: I love Kramer’s. I think their selection is great and the staff is friendly, plus they have one of my favorite chocolate cakes ever.

BookPeople: Another store I really like, but its size is kind of intimidating. I’ve bought things there on multiple visits and I always remember the staff being friendly.

The Dolphin Bookshop: One of my most unpleasant shopping experiences ever. I was in here for probably close to an hour once, with friends, looking around, we were the only ones in the store the entire time and no one from the staff acknowledged us in any way.

Ok, so, am I just being a huge rhymes-with-witch? Are my expectations too high? Am I the only one with this problem? I’ve worked retail, I’ve worked in sales, I’ve worked in tourism, and now I work in customer service and I know it’s not always easy to be nice to people and “on” but I really hope and pray a basic level of politeness is too much to ask.

One Year Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: Noggin


Top 10 Tuesday: Underrated Realistic Contemporary Fiction Authors

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

Eek I hate this “underrated” topics! It’s so hard to define “underrated” so this is just my idea of underrated based on how frequently I see these authors’ books reviewed/mentioned on other blogs, how many Goodreads and Amazong reviews their books have, and how likely I figured it was I would find their books in a bookstore here in the US. If you disagree with me about any of these I’m more than happy for you to tell me I am wrong :)

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Corey Ann Haydu // Caela Carter // Gwendolyn Heasley // Laura Buzo // Teri Wilson
Melissa C. Walker // Amy Spalding // Elana K. Arnold // Allison Parr // Jessica Martinez

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Would Love to See as a Movie or TV Show


Book Review: After I Do

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Title: After I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Release Date: 07/01/14
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Going into After I Do I was nervous. I’m not married, I’ve never been married, and I’ve never even been in a relationship that I wanted to end in marriage. Would I be able to understand/be interested in Lauren and Ryan’s story? I’m sure people who are married/have been married/came close to marriage take away something different than I did, but I still loved every moment of this book.

The story starts with the breaking point of Lauren and Ryan’s marriage. The first chapter is them arguing and then the story skips back 11 years when they first met in college. We get to hear about how they met and started dating, how Ryan proposed, and then see the slow breakdown of their marriage over the next few years. This is all told pretty quickly in the next 50 or so pages. The story catches up to the present and we watch Lauren and Ryan make the really difficult decision to spend a year apart in the hope of gaining perspective and being able to be together again.

Even though I’ve never done the whole marriage part of the story the fact that Lauren, Ryan, and I are the same age is part of why I really loved this story. Married or not, in a relationship or not, I think there’s something about reaching the end of your 20s and being about to turn 30 that makes you think about where you are and where you’re going. Plus, all of the cultural references were spot-on and I loved that the names were all real names for people born in the mid-1980s (I know SO MANY Laurens and Ryans).

As Lauren begins to tell her family and friends about her and Ryan’s decision she starts to see that everyone has a different opinion and their own experiences with love and marriage to share. At first the whole decision to spend a year apart seems crazy. Lauren misses Ryan so much and everyone she talks to, even with the different range of opinions, seems to think that living apart from Ryan for a year is crazy. At at the start of the story I wanted Lauren and Ryan to get back together, the end of their marriage was awful and a little scary, but knowing how great it was at the beginning and how much Lauren misses Ryan (the story is told from her perspective) I still wanted them to reconcile.

The way Taylor Jenkins Reid has the story play out is brilliant. There wasn’t one moment where Lauren started to miss Ryan less or even when she realized she missed Ryan less, like life it just kind of naturally played out and happened. There are no big moments or great realizations it just all kind of happens gradually. But it’s not at all boring. Not only is the story relatable, it’s extremely funny, I laughed all the the time despite the tough subject, and just plain entertaining. Which is weird because Lauren is sad and conflicted for much of the story, but she was sad and conflicted in a way where she never felt sorry for herself and never made me feel sorry for her.

A lot of the reason Lauren couldn’t feel sorry for herself and never seemed stuck had to do with her family. Lauren’s best friend is her sister Rachel who Lauren spends a lot of time with and who gives really amazing advice. Lauren’s single-parent mother and her wacky grandmother also figure heavily into the story as does her brother Charlie. Lauren’s family isn’t perfect, but they were all so perfect for each other and they were such a fun family to read about. Taylor Jenkins Reid also did a great job of giving the secondary characters, like Lauren’s brother, sister, and mother and even her best friend their own interesting, relevant, compelling stories of their own that added to the story while taking nothing away from Lauren and Ryan’s story.

As much as I related to Lauren and Ryan it was actually Lauren’s sister Rachel, who’s only a year or two younger than Lauren, who I really found myself relating to. There’s a point, in the second half of the book, where Lauren and Rachel are talking about Rachel’s love life and Rachel does such an amazing job of summing up why she doesn’t feel the need to be in a relationship. The way she explains how she’s different from other people her age blew me away and perfectly described how I feel. I wanted to quote it, but it’s told over several paragraphs and I don’t think snippets really make sense or have the same impact. I bring all of that up to demonstrate just how full and well rounded After I Do is.

Bottom Line: The highest compliment I can pay this book is saying I finished it and immediately needed to own it. Which is true. I can actually top that though by saying I needed to own it and I had friends that I knew needed to own it so I went out an bought three copies. That is huge. After I Do is just remarkable and I would recommend it to everyone, but if you’re in your late-20s or early-30s, married or not, in a relationship or not, you need to read this one.

One-Year Ago: Book Review: Rose Under Fire


My Week in Books

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ritesofpassage

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley: Much to my surprise I really enjoyed it! I reviewed it on Thursday.

fallingintoplace

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang: I respect it, but it wasn’t for me. I reviewed it on Wednesday.

suffragettescandal

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan: Really enjoyed this and I’m so happy I gave Courtney Milan another chance. You can ready my review on Goodreads.

startofmeandyou

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord: Finally finished this. The fact that it took me a week and a half to read speaks volumes. It’s a super character-driven story, which isn’t my cup of tea, but it was still a good book with an enjoyable story and interesting characters.

3

illgiveyouthesun

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: I think this is going to end up being another Falling Into Place for me. Lots of things I respect, but in general stories about ghosts and magic and god only knows what else (I’m about 70 pages in) is coming generally aren’t for me. 

4

unteachable onesteptoofar

Unteachable by Leah Raeder
One Step Too Far by Tina Sekis
The Harder You Fall by Joy N. Hensely (no cover yet)

10

aftertherain

After the Rain by Renee Carlino

I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend!