Monday, June 17, 2019

Book Reviews - Tech Free, Bees & RomCom Love

First off, I have to say that this round has two of my favorite titles of the year - Waiting for Tom Hanks and Honeybees and Frenemies! It was definitely a mixed bag, but some great stuff. Also, with this quartet, I'm at 100 books for the year!

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerri Winfrey was just a light summer read. If you are a fan of rom-coms, you'll be a fan of this. It's fun, it's predictable, but with that, it's appeal is in its relatability and enjoyable supporting characters. The twentysomething version of me love, love, LOVED romcoms, and I like to think about her when I read/watch stuff like this. I can tell you this would totally be her jam. Not to say, it wasn't for the thirtysomething version because I dug it, too. Anyway. This story focuses on Annie. Annie loves romcoms, and she is waiting for her own to play out, so she can have her happily ever after. In other words, she wants her own real life Tom Hanks as seen in You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. Via a connection from her uncle, she finds herself working on the set of a movie being filmed in her hometown starring Hollywood heartthrob Drew Danforth. Drew is the opposite of a Tom Hanks type, and that said, you might be able to infer what happens from here. With Annie's story taking the lead, there were also some great supporting storylines and characters that really made this book - I particularly enjoyed her uncle. Again, this one is heavy on the cheese y'all, so if that's you, you'll so be ready for this. 

Read this book if - You want a romcom in a book. You're looking for a light, fun read.

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport was a read that gave me a lot to think about - as it's meant to do. This is part of a growing (and needed) collection of books around unhealthy relationships with technology and how to better recalibrate to life. What I appreciated about this one was that it was grounded in values. What we say we want out of technology isn't bad. In fact, it's stuff we need to feel fulfilled. However, the reality is that we're not actually getting these outcomes at all, and that's a problem. The book then has two components to achieve said minimalism. The first is to explain why and how to make this happen. Other books use more of a step-by-step guide to making this happen. This author advocates for a total break. From there, you can focus on re-integrating what you actually want into your virtual space. The other part is then finding the stuff you actually say you want out of technology and seeking that out. I really liked this part of the book as it shows how technology doesn't even need to be part of the equation. There are so many better and healthier ways to get fulfillment, and he does a great job of explaining how to make that happen. This is a book that makes a lot of sense, and I found it be a refreshing read. It was a good reality check for me, and it caused me to do a refresh on some of my own habits immediately.

Read this book if - You want/need to evaluate your relationship with technology. You want to restructure your habits and self-care.

Honeybees and Frenemies by Kristi Wientge is the story of Flor and a summer that is anything but what she thinks it'll be. First off, y'all, I wanted more bees. Each chapter began with a bee fact, and there was some bee stuff interspersed throughout, but I just was intrigued enough that I wanted to know more. Given this is a middle grade novel, I suppose that's good in that it'll make kids do research to find out more on bees. I will also say it did a great job of showing the benefits of bees and promoting them as a non-threatening entity. The way they did this was just so unexpected and great. Bees aside, this story focuses on Flor who is spending her summer away from her best friend, working at her family's mattress store, and then, she gets the terrible news that her family might be moving. Then, she's competing in a town pageant with her friend now enemy Candice - or a frenemy (#seewhatididthere) - and navigating a whole bunch as they prepare. This book did a good job of capturing the angst and emotion of a middle schooler while telling Flor's story. Ultimately, the bees were what I loved most about this one, and I really did like how they were used to advance Flor's story. Also, I do have to say that the cover of this one is just gorgeous - one of my favorites of the year.

Read this book if - You want your middle school angst with bees. You want some drama with lots of education.

Leave it to Christy by Pamela Curtis Swallow was a quick throwback read. It had the cheesy eighties/nineties cover that I just loved. This is the story of Christy who just wants to help others. She's trying to navigate middle school, and I particularly resonated with the stress of figuring out a locker, as well as the pressure of finding the perfect science project. Y'all, middle school had some stuff to navigate! Christy is also really trying to help a classmate. She knows something is off, and she wants to do what she can to help him out. I could also remember having (and y'all, I still do) this want to help others out. This was a good storyline as Christy had to ask for help, get help, and see the results of her choices. This was a good, quick read with a good message. 

Read this book if - You want a nostalgic read.

Onto the next 100!