Amanda Reads – November 2016

Another month, another set of books read.  November was a busy month for me—I ended up traveling for work, I ran both a ten-mile race and my first marathon, and I spent a lot of my time writing book reviews (which I love doing, so that was fine).  But I did get some reading in, don’t you worry.

 


Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

I was encouraged to buy this book based on reviews by one of my good friends from high school back in 2012.  Yeah, that’s how long it’s been sitting on my shelf!  I’m glad I finally picked it up and read it, but it was far from my favorite of the year or anything.

The story goes back and forth between present day Los Angeles (mostly) and Porto Vergogna, Italy in 1962.  A young actress shows up at a tiny hotel in a tiny town in 1962, convinced that she’s dying of stomach cancer.  The hotel owner tends to her and through her, learns how to live the life that he wants to live.  In the present day, a movie executive is confronted with a ghost from his past and goes on an adventure to find the lost beauty from a movie he worked on in the 1960’s that was filled with scandal and intrigue.  It all ties together in a beautiful narrative of old Hollywood (so if that’s something you like, read this book, definitely).

Okay, so.  I didn’t hate it, but there were a lot of characters and plots to keep track of.  I could tell early on that everything was likely to tie together in a certain way, and it ended up being pretty close to what I guessed.  I think I’m just starting to learn that literary fiction may not be my cup of tea.  I never hate the books but I also never love them.  I don’t know.  The story was intriguing and it kept me reading, but it was the slowest I read a book in long time.  How’s this for a wishy-washy review?

Rating: 3.5 stars


Once Should Be Enough, by Nikky Kaye

After Beautiful Ruins, I needed a cleanse, something that I could read quickly that was light and playful and easy.  I got it in this short novella, which I received as part of the Read It and Review It program in the New Adult Book Club that I joined on Goodreads.  You can see my full review over at Booknista, but here’s the short version:

Cassie doesn’t think she likes sex, and she says so to Will, her friend-zoned lab partner.  He takes it as a challenge and convinces Cassie to give him one chance to prove her wrong.  She says “Once should be enough” and the rest is history!

Like I said, I was looking for a little escapism.  This was so perfect for that.  I was in it, I was invested in how the little challenge was going to turn out, and I honestly wanted more of the hotness.  If you’re looking for a quick read, pick this one up.  But only if you’re ready for the fairly explicit sex scenes (they’re well-written though, I promise).

Rating: 4 stars (I had some issues with the POV, as I discussed in my full review)


Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick

I’ve always wanted to be into books of essays by celebrities, but most of them fall flat for me.  It was definitely the case when I read Lena Dunham’s book last spring, and while I enjoyed a couple others that I’ve read (most notably, Cary Elwes’ book about the Princess Bride), most of them don’t work for me.  But I keep trying,  And look at this!  I finally found one that I actually loved.

There’s no real need for a synopsis here, so I’ll get right into it.  Anna Kendrick is my girl.  I’ve written two separate blog posts about her, and she continues to impress me every single time I watch one of her movies.  This book only made me love her more.  I didn’t know she was a Broadway star before getting into movies.  I didn’t know anything about Oscar season or how exhausting it is.  I didn’t know how honest and hilarious Anna Kendrick really is—this is like if her tweets were chapter length.  It was fabulous.  I highly recommend.

Rating: 4.5 stars


An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

This is the only John Green book that I hadn’t read, up until this point.  And I… didn’t love it.  I think I had been putting this one off because I didn’t think I’d be into it, based on the blurb.  Hey—I know myself, because I was right.  Others might like it though, so I’ll carry on.

Colin Singleton has dated nineteen Katherines, and he was just dumped by the latest.  He was a prodigy as a child, but is now fairly normal, although he can read really fast and anagram everything and is pretty socially awkward.  As the depression hits after his breakup, his best friend Hassan Harbish suggests they go on a road trip.  They end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, where they meet Lindsey Lee Wells, another Colin, and some other fascinating small-town characters.  Hilarious small-town things happen while Colin and Lindsey get to know each other.  It’s another good summer-before-college book.

Sorry if I don’t sound super enthused, but guys—Colin is SO whiny!  I could hardly stand it.  I kept reading because I loved Hassan and Lindsey and the people of Gutshot.  But Colin, man—ugh.  The worst.  Also, a lot of things weren’t explained until so far into the book that I hardly cared anymore—I hate that.  And as someone who has queried literary agents, I know that will make it very difficult to get an agent at all!  So anyway.  It was entertaining.  It’s my least favorite John Green book.  It was only okay.

Rating: 3 stars


As I was writing up this blog post, I realized that I didn’t read a single stand-out book this month.  That’s disappointing.  I can tell you this, too—I haven’t read any yet in December either.  But anyway.  One more month left before the beginning of the Diverse/Lady Book Project!  Now THAT is something I’m excited for.

Happy reading!

-A.

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