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MelissaJJ

MelissaJJ

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The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion
Meghan Daum
Beauty Queens
Libba Bray
Over My Dead Body
Kate Klise, M. Sarah Klise

The Last Anniversary

The Last Anniversary - Liane Moriarty I loved The Husband's Secret, so after finishing it I immediately read What Alice Forgot, which I also loved, and The Hypnotist's Love Story, which I did not love at all. Months passed, and then I read Big Little Lies and loved it, so I thought I'd try another older one. I think The Last Anniversary could have been a good 50 pages shorter - at times I felt like I was reading the same thing for the second or third time, just in slightly different words - but overall, it was satisfying. Not as good as the three that I loved, but better than the Hypnotist's Love Story. As usual, serious issues (post-partum depression and verbal abuse, just to name two) are dealt with in a light and easy but still credible manner. The multitude of characters did get just a little confusing at times, but they were all interesting enough. And the ending made me happy.

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty I almost never stay up late to finish a book, I mean really, there just comes a point at night that I would rather sleep. And yet last night, there I was. Finishing this book. Maybe I did the same with The Husband's Secret, I don't really remember, but as of this moment I think I liked this one better.

The story of Madeline, Celeste and Jane is both funny and disturbing - how this author can write such a light book that is also such a dark, dark book is beyond me. The secrets, lies, and gossip of this group of kindergarten moms is entirely entertaining, and knowing all along that it will lead to some tragedy - but not what that tragedy is - makes it compulsively readable as well. I even liked the bad guys in this book. And the ending - sometimes a perfectly good book can be ruined by a perfectly stupid ending. The ending of this book did not disappoint me at all. I never expected it, which is good, and though it was sad, it was still exactly how I found I wanted it to end. Loved it.

She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana

She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana - Haven Kimmel Well... maybe it's because I didn't read the first one (A Girl Named Zippy). Or maybe that wouldn't have mattered, I don't know, but either way I just wasn't too into this one. It was fine. Cute anecdotes about childhood, but nothing particularly outstanding or noteworthy... just, fine.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary - David Sedaris, Ian Falconer It seems more than a few reviewers found this book to be sick and twisted, and I can see where they're coming from. But I thought it was cute.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes - Diane Chamberlain Much of the plot of this book was so very unbelievable that it made it hard for me to read. I nearly put it down altogether by a quarter of the way through - but I ended up finishing it, and it did get somewhat better. Three stars because once I was further into it, I enjoyed it enough, I guess. One note, the Kindle version has approximately seven thousand typos. I mean, to the point of distraction.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made - Stephan Pastis This was a cute book. And hilarious. I was less than impressed by the plot, which was silly at best, but the character of Timmy Failure made up for it. I do believe that once my boys are around 8 or 9, they'll love this book, provided that, by that time, they like to read at all. Fingers crossed.

No, David!

No, David! - David Shannon I'll tell you why I love this book...because my kids have been able to read it on their own since they were around 4 & 5 years old, and because we laugh and laugh and laugh every time we read it together. Love it. Period.

One Last Thing Before I Go

One Last Thing Before I Go - Jonathan Tropper Well. I loved This Is Where I Leave You. This one, not so much.

First, it was not nearly as funny. Second, the MC - inexplicably called Silver - was just not the lovable loser he was made out to be. And, the reader is beaten over the head with the lovable loser concept. Perhaps in an attempt to make it be true.

Silver's daughter is pregnant, his ex-wife is getting married, and he discovers that he needs surgery, soon, or else he will die. So he decides, eh, I'm never going to be anything more than a lovable loser, guess I'll just go ahead and die. Never mind that his wonderful parents are totally distraught, never mind that his daughter appears to want him in her life, never mind any of it, the story must go on and the story is that Silver would just prefer to die. He knows what changes he'd need to make to have the life he'd like to have, I guess he just doesn't have the energy to make them. Ugh.

The worst of it for me, though, was the quirky movie scene-ness of most of the book. I say, write a book, and if you're lucky enough that it's made into a movie, they can add the stopping-dead-on-the-highway-on-ramp scene, or the sing-your-one-hit-wonder-song-out-of-nowhere-at-some-kid's-bar-mitzvah scene later. Almost all of the scenes in the book felt like they were written to entice a movie producer. Or many of them. Just annoying. Did not love this book. At all.

The Next Time You See Me

The Next Time You See Me - Holly Goddard Jones This book was good, but depressing, but good, but I hated the ending.

The story is told from several character's POV, and I have to say that each of these characters is depressing in his or her own way. There's just so much desperation going on, not so much outright, but it's there. You'll cringe at some of the things these characters do, and feel sad for them, and also think about all of the pathetic things you've done and had thought you'd successfully forgotten.

And yet it was a good story, very absorbing even though it wasn't so much a suspense novel as a character study. Well-written, I mean, you could see and imagine and feel just like you're supposed to, when reading fiction.

But the ending, I hated the ending, it did not alleviate the depressing-ness at all, and I try to avoid actual life circumstances that are actually depressing, let alone made-up ones that I bring upon myself. Still, it was good. Worth reading, but maybe only if you are on a relentlessly cheerful streak that you'd like to put a stop to.

The Truth About Alice

The Truth About Alice - Jennifer Mathieu I just did not see the attraction, with this book. It was fine, nothing to hate about it, but nothing in particular to like. Rumor-spreading, slut-shaming and bullying are certainly worthy topics, but dealt with here in a very unsurprising way.

**SPOILERS**

What I liked - well, not really anything. The multiple POV's were okay.

What I didn't like - Alice, having been shamed to the point of being accused of responsibility for some arrogant ass's death, does nothing. She just changes into a sweatshirt, puts the hood up, and goes to school every day. She does not deny, defend herself, scream at the ex-BFF who has deserted her, nothing. I just didn't believe that. It might have been more interesting if she'd actually done the things she'd been said to have done. Or something. I don't know.

Elaine - too straight-up bitch. Nothing redeeming about her. I don't think there necessarily has to be something redeeming about every MC in a book, but there should be something that makes them human. This girl could have been a computer program set to 'bitch'.

Kellie - Equally one-dimensional, just with different reasons.

The friend? What was his name, Josh? Anyway, I am pretty sure he had a crush on Brandon, didn't he? Why wasn't that ever expanded upon?

In general - the whole book was, here's how rumors spread. Here's what happens as a result - oh wait, really nothing, except the subject of the rumors becomes friends with a nice nerdy guy. Who, incidentally, is also kind of one-dimensional.

And now it's possible I like this book less than I did before writing this review.

Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia - Kimberly McCreight As many other reviewers have said - this book was fine. I more or less enjoyed reading it, and throughout, I was interested to find out what actually did happen to Amelia, as well as how all the other seemingly random plot lines would be tied up. And then came the end, where we realize that the seemingly random plot lines were, in fact, quite random indeed. Which is when 3 stars became 2.

**SPOILERS AHEAD, ALMOST NOTHING BUT SPOILERS**

The things that really sort of pissed me off:

1 - The pointless "who's your daddy" storyline. I didn't care that Daniel was Amelia's father. I cared even less to find out that it was actually Jeremy. These were minor characters, and what did any of it have to do with anything? Seemed thrown in to add mystery and tension. Eh.

2 - So Kate knew all about the condition that caused Amelia to have one green eye and one hazel, but did not know that same condition causes prematurely gray hair? As in Jeremy? And she slept with him at around the right time, and still it never occurred to her?

3 - If I were at the edge of the roof of a building, I feel pretty certain that my best friend could not knock me off said building by poking me in the chest with her cell phone.

4 - The teacher writing the blog - why? Again, what did it have to do with anything??

5 - Amelia and Zadie the mean girl are half sisters. And? Zadie never even knew it.... aaaaggggghhhh, this book was just too frustrating. On the same topic, Zadie's mother had a problem with Jeremy allowing Amelia to end up at the same school as Zadie. But THIS HAD ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT ON THE STORY.

6 - Zadie walks in and uses her phone to film naked Amelia and Dylan, and then Amelia freaking out. Yet her freak out does not involve TAKING THE PHONE OUT OF THAT EVIL GIRL'S HAND and throwing it down and stomping on it. Who wouldn't do that? Who would let her leave with this video on her phone? ANNNND - why did the video never come out again???

7 - As Kate and Detective Lew investigate (because the victim's mother is always welcome to be a part of the investigative team), they learn, oh, almost nothing. Everything that was discovered by anyone was due to the tracking down of texts from anonymous numbers. Now, here's the chapter where we learn where Ben's texts actually came from! Here's the chapter where we learn who texted Kate, "she didn't jump"!

8 - Daniel - a grown man and licensed attorney - is another of the anonymous nasty texters. All because he wasn't given a case that he wanted. And this too REALLY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REST OF THE STORY.

I'm stopping now, because I don't want to think about it anymore. Also because I dislike writing bad reviews. The thing is, I like reading incredibly frustrating and disappointing books even less.

The Vacationers: A Novel

The Vacationers: A Novel - Emma Straub Annnnnd another one where I am bewildered by the overabundance of good reviews.

The Post family goes on a two-week trip to Mallorca, sadly leaving me with the near certain conviction that now, I will never want to visit that area of Spain, or maybe Spain as a whole. Because if I do, I will think of them. And I DID NOT LIKE THEM.

Mom Franny is upset because Dad Jim has cheated on her and lost his job, all in one big disaster. Son Brian has issues with his (gasp) older girlfriend. So does the rest of the family, primarily because she is (gasp) older and also wears makeup (gasp) every day. Daughter Sylvia is upset over her own jerk of an ex-boyfriend. Friend Charles and his husband are trying to adopt a baby.

And that's about all that happens. Unless you enjoy reading about a family actually playing Scrabble. It got to the point where I was actually feeling sort of panicky, as if I myself were also stuck on this vacation with them. Playing Scrabble.

I just don't know. I did not like any of the characters, there was very little going on, and even though all of the plot lines did get wrapped up in the end - that's just it, they were wrapped up. Sigh.

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey It has been several days since I finished this book, and I still don't know what I think of it. It was good, though not as good as many other reviews led me to expect. It's told from multiple points of view, but centers primarily on 10 year old Melanie and her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau. A very grisly fungal infection has taken out most of the population, except, go figure, they're not dead. At times it seems there's not much point to the story except the very gory results of the fungus, 'fungus' being a word that kind of makes me queasy to begin with. At other times the question is, what would you do and who would you save when the world is ending? Even more uplifting: is humanity as it exists today worth saving at all? Ultimately not a particularly cheery book, but I'd recommend to friends who hate cheery books.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie -  Jennifer Ashley It was fine. It didn't turn me into a late-blooming lover of romance novels, but then, that's probably not possible no matter what I read.

The Interrupted Tale

The Interrupted Tale - Maryrose Wood I still love this series. And I do realize it's written for middle-grade readers. BUT . . . I have officially reached the point where I am glad the next installment isn't available yet, because the storyline is actually getting a bit redundant.

The clues, or perhaps red herrings, that have been exposed seem to be pointing to several obvious conclusions. Or at least semi-obvious conclusions. But these same clues have been blatantly exposed throughout the series, with little forward progress. Penelope's hair color has been hidden to keep her safe. Her hair color matches that of the Incorrigibles. Someone secretly took care of the Incorrigibles when they were living with the wolves. Old Timothy seems to be everywhere and know everything. Judge Quinzy, or whoever he is (no spoilers here) is up to something.

I'm beginning to feel that the secret or secrets, whatever they are, are not going to be too very astounding because it just TOOK TOO LONG TO GET THERE.

Anyway. This one was still funny, taking the readers away from Ashton Place again, this time to the Swanburne school, which seems to be in a bit of financial (and other) trouble. Penelope delivers a filibuster, chickens perform a dance routine, and Frederick Ashton learns that howling at the moon might not be so bad. Still an enjoyable read, but I, for one, am happy for a break.

The Unseen Guest

The Unseen Guest - Maryrose Wood What is it about these books? I can't stop reading them. This one was another adventure in the lives of Miss Penelope Lumley and the Incorrigible children - and a ridiculously far-fetched one, in my opinion. Certain aspects/plot points were downright silly and unbelievable, well beyond the normal unbelievability level you normally find in this series. And as with the previous two entries, answers are alluded to but rarely (if ever) given. To the point that as I was nearing the end of this one, I thought, THAT'S IT, I'm done, if I don't find out SOMETHING - I refuse to go any further with this series. And yet, I finished the last page and immediately went in search of the next.
They're funny, for one thing. And full of generally good attitudes toward living. The narrative asides I could do with less of - even if I were a child reading this book instead of an adult, I don't think I'd want quite such an extensive lesson on synonyms.
But, I don't know. I just love these books. Dammit.