Monday, July 6, 2020

Book Reviews - I'll Take Potpourri Reads for $200, Alex

I hope my witty Jeopardy reference compensates for the fact that I don't have a great introduction to yet another quartet with no common theme. Here we go. . . 



Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary was a book I selected for my May reading challenge which was to read a book of letters - It didn't arrive in time for me to read it in May/time doesn't exist in 2020. ANYWAY. I actually can't recall if I read this as a kid, but it didn't seem familiar, so I don't believe I did. For those who haven't read, this is a book of a young boy named Leigh Botts who writes letters to his favorite author. He's navigating the challenges of grade school (including a lunch thief), his parents' separation, and just figuring out who he is. While Leigh is writing letters to someone, only his side is shown. However, Mr. Henshaw's voice comes through as he gives Leigh different writing and reflection challenges. Reading this as an adult, I could see crystal clear how this could be a comfort read to kids. In a very lonely time, Leigh finds connection. He puts his very real feels on paper which shows all he's processing. I already loved the timelessness and enduring power of Beverly Cleary's writing, and this is just another book to remind me of her brilliance.

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson was just what the title states. This was a collection of the author's mini comics and short essays documenting all the feels and experiences that were her young adulthood. As I'm now a thirtysomething, I can reflect on my twenties and acknowledge they were hard at times. While I was "an adult" I was still working through so much, and I loved how this collection really gave voice to that. I truthfully wasn't familiar with the author (and also have no idea where I heard about this book), so all of this was new to me. However, I loved getting to see her work and especially loved the simplicity of her art that also so perfectly conveyed the emotional depth of her experience. For me, the highlight and power was strongest in her comics on mental health, and while a quick read for me, it also was one I took a lot from!

Well Met by Jen DeLuca is this month's selection for my book club. This is a romcom i(n a book set) against the backdrop of a Renaissance Fair. Unsolicited Fun Fact About Me: I was in the Early Music Ensemble in high school, and we played at the KC Renaissance Fair. I even have a costume! I share this because this setting had a strange and uniquely special place in my heart. The story focuses on Emily who has moved to a small town to help her sister recover from an accident. Once there, her niece informs her she wants to participate in a Renaissance Fair. The catch is that an adult must be there, so she needs Emily to join. At the fair, Emily encounters Simon who is in charge of the fair. Simon interacts with Emily in one of two ways - He has a serious side as he coordinates the fair from the business end, and he has a more flirtatious side when he's in character for the fair. She can't figure out who the real Simon is, and that makes their relationship/friendship/romance potential a lot to navigate. This was one that was predictable as romcoms often are, but I still kept reading. Sometimes you just need a light* read (*light minus the steamy sex scene), and this was so much that.

One By One by Ruth Ware was just a solid thriller. As I say over and over, I often just need that in my life. These thrills are built around a company retreat at a ski lodge. Snoop is an app that lets you listen to what someone else is listening to at that exact moment. The Snoop team is headed to a retreat to navigate what might be next for the company. And then they get snowed in, and chaos ensues. The story's suspense builds with its dual narrators. Pause here for your obligatory reminder of how much I LOVE dual narrators. In this instance, the two narrators are one of the employees at the lodge and a Snoop shareholder who has power by virtue of her shares in the company. The two women's narration show how the group navigates not just the snowstorm, but the murder/disappearances/shady happenings around the Snoop team. It's clear there is a killer in the group, but who is it? Again, this one had some solid suspense that kept me reading. I couldn't figure out the killer's identity, but felt the feels as things got more hectic and dire, and I needed to know how it all played out! This one isn't out until the fall, but when it drops, it's a good thrill ride to have in your life. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this September 2020 release!

Onto the next ones!

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