Sweetbitter: This is a tough one…I had mixed feelings about it. In a way I enjoyed it, in another way it annoyed me at parts. It was an interesting story but it was told in such a way that everything was just. So. MELODRAMATIC. The brooding boyfriend, the mysterious older woman who’s teaching Tess (the main character) the ropes…they were sort of unrealistic characters to me in terms of the way they spoke and their intensity, but maybe there are people out there like that. It was like they took themselves SO seriously, I felt like if I was Tess I would have just wanted to poke one of them and say lighten the eff up! Which come to think of it, she actually sort of did at one point, so there’s that. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it – there were certainly some evocative descriptions of New York, and I liked the premise and I love food writing, and I think it was a good book but maybe just taking itself a little too seriously for me. I’d be really curious to hear anyone else’s honest opinion on it!
Modern Lovers: I liked it and got through it really quickly. Just a nice, light, easy poolside read. I kind of liked The Vacationers better but they’re pretty similar to me in terms of the writing and the plotting, so if you didn’t like The Vacationers I don’t think you’ll like this (though the characters are pretty different). As I read I was sort of expecting some sort of major incident or plot shift, but it turned out to be more like a slice of life – a peek at people working their way through middle age and through adolescence. I didn’t particularly love any of the characters, that was probably the main downside.
In a Dark, Dark Wood: I really enjoyed this one and flew through it because I was dying to see what happened. I sort of guessed the culprit before the end…it was a bit obvious, but I was still really interested to see how it all played out. The setting was definitely creepy and I liked the whole setup, but I thought the first half was better than the second which was a bit of a letdown. One downside for me was that it featured that familiar trope of a character who can’t remember what happened (like in Girl on the Train), which honestly I’m getting sort of sick of. I get that it’s used to create suspense, but I wish novelists would stop structuring their narrative that way (there must be another way!). It’s just not interesting to read pages upon pages of “I can’t remember….I need to remember….I want to remember…but I can’t remember.” I got bored just writing that, let alone reading whole chapters of it.
The Widow: This was good, another one that was a total page turner and which I flew through. It was really interesting in that you already know the outcome from the very start, but the intrigue comes from watching it all unfold and sort of seeing how messed up these characters are – how they justify messed up things in their heads. Also there was a little something that surprised me at the end, so that was impressive. Overall I really liked it and I found it suspenseful and creepy.
Bon Appetempt: I liked this. It was a memoir and I don’t typically love memoirs, but this author actually had a legit interesting family situation that immediately pulled me in. The rest of it was good but it seemed a little disjointed. I didn’t totally get how food became such a big thing to her…she kind of jumped from job to job then alit upon food. It was a little confusing in that respect but overall I enjoyed it. The book is based off of her food blog, which I’ve never read and wasn’t familiar with at all, so I’m sure for readers of her blog it’s a totally different experience.
The Clasp: I have no idea why basically all of the Amazon reviews for this book are terrible. I actually really, really liked it! I almost loved it, mainly because I honestly thought it was hilarious. There were so many wry, funny moments that were just great. I liked the characters, I liked the writing, and the scenario in which the characters found themselves, I get that some people might find it far-fetched but I didn’t have a problem with it. I don’t know, I just really enjoyed it.
He Will Be My Ruin: Another suspenseful page turner (I got really into those recently). I have to say up front that in order to enjoy this book, you might have to suspend…shall we say…a good amount of disbelief. There were some situations in here that I get were necessary for the author to include in order to move the story forward, but some of it was eye-roll inducing. If you can get over that though, it was a story that went to places I wasn’t expecting, it was fast-paced and intriguing, and I thought I guessed the end but surprise! I didn’t…which is a good thing. Pure entertainment.
The Book Thief: Beautiful, heart-wrenching picture of life in Germany during WWII. It was interesting to see the war from that perspective. It was so well-written and just such a complete story. The characters felt real and you felt you were there. It’s a great book.