Monday, September 10, 2018

Hitting 100!

Y'all, for the fourth straight year, I will have read at least 100 books! While it's becoming a bit commonplace for me, it's still an exciting moment to hit this moment in my reading journey for the year. So here's the quartet that got me here.

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves was outstanding. This is an ARC I received from St. Martin's Press. My biggest critique? This book doesn't come out until April. I will now spend the next seven months telling people they must read this one as I wait to have people to discuss this gem of a read. Y'all, this was just one of those books you speed through, but also you hope it'll last forever. The story revolves around Annika and Jonathan. The two were once connected over chess while students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the early 90s. The book picks up in 2001 as the two reconnect. Through the voices of Annika (rhymes with Monica) and Jonathan in both the 90s and the present, the story of their relationship is built. Annika has a certain quirkiness about her, and Jonathan finds himself drawn to her. The two find love in those years. However, as I said, in 2001, they are no longer together, or even connected. The book pieces together how they were connected, but also then how they fell apart. This was such a unique read, and Annika was one of those characters I was absolutely captivated by as I read. This one was an emotional and beautiful ride (especially the last 30 pages, my goodness), and I cannot wait for those love story to get shared with the masses in 2019. 

Read this book if - You want a book driven by characters and relationships. You enjoy love stories with a twist. You are looking for any book to read after April 2, 2019 because y'all NEED to read this one in life.

The Art of Secrets by James Klise is a YA mystery of sorts told in a unique format. Saba Khan's family's apartment is burned down, and there are questions of this being a hate crime. Given the family has lost everything, the community rallies around them to help them rebuild. One of the fundraisers they have for them involves an auction, and by way of this, a very expensive piece of artwork is donated. This piece of art can give the Khan family the financial support they need to rebuild. That's great until the artwork goes missing. The book is then piecing together what the heck happened. Through a variety of correspondence, including emails, police statements, and news articles, the question of "Whodunnit?" is raised and explored. The answer to that question was one I definitely didn't see coming. I liked this one, and I did appreciate the way privilege was explored in the community as fingers were pointed, and assumptions were made. 

Read this book if - You want a book that looks at the complexities of privilege and identity in a unique way. You want a YA novel with a mystery twist.

Cypress Point by Diane Chamberlain was an older read, but I loved it. As I've said before, Diane Chamberlain has become one of my go-to authors. This one started as a story about Joelle, a hospital social worker. Joelle's best friend Mara had brain damage during the delivery of her son. Joelle reaches out to a healer from her childhood in hopes that Carlynn can help her now as she once did then. Oh, and in the meantime, Joelle has connected with Mara's husband Liam. The story goes back and forth between present day, how Joelle and Carlynn connected, and how Carlynn discovered her gifts. I will say that while the story was centered on Joelle, by the end I was most captivated by what was happening to Carlynn. In fact, I'd almost forgotten about Joelle's stuff because the emotions of Carlynn's part of the tale got me. Diane Chamberlain has a true gift for writing about relationships, and 16 years after putting this one out into the universe, I'm glad I could go on this journey.

Read this book if - You want a book with incredibly complex relationships. You want a book that has a lot of emotion with some unexpected twists. You are a fan of Diane Chamberlain and haven't yet read this one.

Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older is an upcoming release that I received as an ARC. This one is a kid's book about dinosaurs in the Civil War. . . I'll pause for you to re-read that one. Yes, there are dinosaurs. Yes, it takes place in the Civil War. This one is a bit of alternate history. The story focuses on children from the Colored Orphans Asylum which was real. The children are trying to find safety (from the war, slavery, and dino-based risks), learn who they are, and navigate a very different world. For me, I think this would have read easier as a graphic novel. I visualize as I read, and it was hard to simultaneously navigate a vision of the experiences of the kids, the happenings of the Civil War and the presence of dinosaurs. I recognize this is a children's book, but I just needed so much more detail. I loved the premise as it's so uniquely ambitious, but again, I just had so many questions as I crafted the story in my own head. I would be intrigued to see if the target audience (who is not me) was able to digest and dream this one as they read.

Read this book if - You are a fan of alternate history. You want to see what a story about the Civil War and some dinosaurs is like.

Onto my next hundred reads!