2022 Book Challenge Quarter 2: Books 5 – 13

2022 Book Challenge Quarter 2

Actually surprised that I managed nine books this quarter since I was traveling pretty regularly from April on! Maybe it was the long plane rides with nothing else to do…

Anyway, I also realized I disliked quite a lot of books this quarter though I loved the other ones. One thing I’ve learned is that BookTok definitely has some shit tastes in reading material! Check these below and let me know what you thought of these books!

Everything I Read from April – June 2020

5. The Paper Palace

Elle and Jonas, lifelong friends, have just slept together for the first time at her family’s summer home while their respective spouses and families slept. Over the next 24 hours, Elle explores what led her to this point and what she should do moving forward.

  • Author: Miranda Cowley Heller
  • How I Read: Kindle/Libby
  • Category: Modern Fiction
  • Location: NYC & New England
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

Honestly, coming back to write this, I forgot what this book was about momentarily. I actually enjoyed Heller’s writing and description, but the plot and pacing of this book was utter crap. It tries to do this present day switch with past scenes but really just kind of drags.

Heller also does a terrible job in making us believe in Elle and Jonas’s friendship, which is nonexistent even when they’re young. The big, bad secret is so utterly cliched too. Also the main question of the novel isn’t even answered in the end! It just ends.

Besides the great descriptions of Elle’s family summer home and New England summers, this book was not worth the journey.

6. The Spanish Love Deception

Catalina enlists in her workplace enemy, Aaron, to pretend to be her date to her sister’s wedding in Spain where the groomsman is her ex.

  • Author: Elena Armas
  • How I Read: Audible
  • Category: Modern Romance
  • Location: NYC and a small village in Spain
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

I’ve read a lot of not-great books this year and this one has to take the cake (maybe tied with Beautiful World Where Are You). You know, I got this on Audible expecting a fun, sexy listen while I was training for my 10k and trying to disassociate my brain from my legs on long runs. I did not expect Pulitzer Prize winning writing. I expected romantic tension, some lovely descriptions of Spain, a few gratuitous sex scenes, and a satisfying happy ending.

This book did not deliver in ANY of these fronts. There was no romantic tension because Aaron clearly liked Catalina from the get go and her weird dislike of him was so petty and one-sided.

The shoehorned office #MeToo stuff also felt out of place and just not well executed. The book BARELY takes place in Spain. Like blink and you miss it, might as well have put the wedding in New Jersey or somewhere. And, you know, the one thing that could’ve saved this book, some very sexy kissing and sex scenes, only got started like 75% of the way through!

Oh, and the ending is happy, I guess, but it drags on and on and on and on. Like who ever was the editor in charge of this book needs to be demoted or sacked because no chick lit book should feel never ending. How much did Atria Books pay Business Insider to say the pacing was perfect? BECAUSE IT WAS NOT.

7. Beach Read

A romance writer and a literary writer make a bet to swap genres and see who can come up with the better book.

  • Author: Emily Henry
  • How I Read: Kindle/Libby
  • Category: Modern Fiction
  • Location: North Bear Shores, MI (fictional but Lake Michigan isn’t!)
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

Emily Henry is an author who gets how to write a good chick lit. Even if this was my least favorite of the three of hers I read, I still enjoyed the characters, the build up, the setting, and the heart! Yes, you should expect a happy ending. No, you the tone does not get super intense or dark even though the characters have some baggage that needs attention. Are you going to get a novel that breaks barriers? No. But you are going to get sucked into a quirky world with two characters you can’t wait to see kiss? Yes! Her writing is modern and her dialogue for the most part feels natural.

January and Gus make for a cute pair with her being the normally happy romance novel and him being the grumpy ~literary~ writer. They unwittingly become neighbors when January moves into her dead, cheating father’s previously unknown lake house and it’s right next to his.

The book is cute! I do think it loses a bit of charm when they actually get together and the dialog gets a bit deeper, but I still read it happily. I also love the setting of North Bear Shores and all the fun locals that pop in and out.

8. Daisy Jones & the Six

Told in a documentary style, this book details the rise and fall of the rock band Daisy Jones & the Six

  • Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • How I Read: Kindle/Libby
  • Category: 1970s Historical Fiction
  • Location: L.A. mainly
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

This book makes me irrationally angry because I actually loved the unique way Reid wrote it but the plot is the biggest nothing burger ever. It’s the most whitewashed version of rock n’ roll I’ve ever witnessed and LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENS. I can’t even remember if Daisy and Billy kiss. It’s just “tension” that’s not really there.

Also, dear God, I never want to read a book about a waifish manic pixie girl with a drug problem as the most ideal beautiful woman ever again. Spare me.

9. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

An epistolary novel from a Vietnamese-American son to his other who cannot read.

  • Author: Ocean Vuong
  • How I Read: Physical copy
  • Category: Modern Fiction
  • Location: Around the UK
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

This book as been on my list for quite a while, and I finally picked up at a store in Saigon when I was doing a little shopping. It’s just a breathtakingly beautiful book and you can tell was written by a poet. The main character, Little Dog, is just so fragile and so vulnerable, you want to hug him and tell him it’ll all be okay.

I want to swim in Ocean Vuong’s prose.

10. Beautiful World, Where Are You

Two friends keep in touch via e-mail while they navigate their unusual love lives.

Thoughts

This book was so bad, I think I wrote on Instagram that its existence makes me angry. I borrowed it from my friend, Silvia’s, mom, and I should’ve known it’d be bad because she made a face when I asked her if it was good.

WHO green lit this self-important crap? I actually don’t mind Rooney’s writing and something about Normal People really drew me in (TBD on Conversations with Friends), but it was like she was given free rein and a word count to meet with her third novel.

The emails are literal trash. You could skip them entirely and not miss a single thing because they were basically a tool for Rooney to wax on about whatever pretentious ideas she has about society from her rich, white women world. I don’t know how a single person reading or editing this was like, “Brilliant, Sally, keep this in!”

The actual love story plots are fine. Alice and Felix’s story is so boring, I had no interest whenever they came onto the page. Eileen and Simon’s was much more compelling but Rooney is stretched too thing shoehorning in those damn emails and Alice and Felix that she scrapes the surface and the end result is bleh.

Also in case your wondering, the writing is particularly bad in this one. Like she was definitely trying to meet some sort of word count because why the fuck do you need to dedicate a paragraph to describing Google Maps?

11. When We Cease to Understand the World

An overlook at the past century of scientific discovery and its link with madness. that becomes increasingly fictional as the novel continues.

  • Author: Benjamín Labatut
  • Translator: Adrian Nathan West
  • How I Read: Physical copy
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • Location: Around the US & Europe
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

You know, some books I think are meant to be read slowly and in a group setting, and I think this is one of them. I only read it because Silvia read it in, like, a day while we were in France and it had me intrigued! Like it sounded extremely boring – the history of 20th century science – but she was totally engrossed and wanted someone else to read it so she could discuss!

Turns out she was correct, and I read this book pretty steadily while I was in Italy. The only reason I didn’t read it faster was because I had to drive. I don’t know how to sell this book because you just have to read it to get what I mean!

Labatut covers a few significant players in 20th century science – Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Hesenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and more and splits the book up with each of their stories. (Can’t remember if Einstein gets his own or is just a supporting character). The catch is that as the book progresses, the stories go from fact to fiction. I imagine Labatut did this to help the reads see how all these incredible discoveries brought on a sense of craziness, but I don’t really know!

The catch is that you never know what’s real and not real, which kind of makes you have to look up each scientist and read their Wikipedia pages. This is where I think this book would be really good in a classroom setting or a really dedicated book club. Like imagine going chapter by chapter with supplemental reading material based and then discussing with classmates why Labatut would change what he did.

Anyway it’s a really intriguing read and I also want other people to read it and dissect it with me!

12. What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

A look into the lives of the bohemian Pre-Raphaelites.

  • Author: Kristin Newman
  • How I Read: Kindle/Libby
  • Category: Memoir
  • Location: All Around the World
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

I’m really not one to read too much nonfiction, and I especially don’t enjoy memoirs from people I don’t know. I can’t say I love reading travel memoirs either!

However, my friend, Caitlin, really pushed me to read What I was Doing While You Were Breeding, and I’m so glad she did! This book was so much fun, and Kristin seems like my kind of travel buddy! I like how active she was while traveling even in her thirties and how eager she was to see the world! The love stories and flings were such a fun touch, it makes me wish I had a bit more romance in my last decade of travel. (Mine have been unrequited crushes lol).

It’s funny to think that this memoir was about the early 2000s and published in 2014 – before travel as we know it today came to be. Like I studied in Spain in 2012 and it already feels like a different time let alone a decade prior! Newman was traveling without SIM cards, with no social media, and in a much less globalized world than we live in today. Crazy to think it wasn’t that long ago.

Anyway, this book will have you laughing and awing and wondering what ever will happen with the cute almost-priest Father Juan. Can’t recommend enough!

13. Book Lovers

If life was like a Hallmark movie, Nora was the cold-hearted city girlfriend the male lead breaks-up with so he can be with the sweeter country girl instead. She only has one soft spot, and that’s her little sister, Libby, which is why she agrees to spend a month of her time in the tiny town of Sunshine Falls, NC despite her misgivings.

  • Author: Emily Henry
  • How I Read: Kindle/Libby
  • Category: Modern Fiction
  • Location: Sunshine Falls, NC (fictional but near Asheville)
  • Shop Local // Buy on Amazon

Thoughts

Book Lovers is Emily Henry’s newest book, and it keeps in line with what I loved about her other ones. Nora is definitely my kind of main character, and I love the way Sunshine Falls comes to live in all its not-so-great-but-winds-up-great glory. If you’re wondering about the love story it comes in the form of Charlie, a book editor to her literary agent. Turns out he’s from Sunshine Falls and besides one awkwardly tense meeting a few years prior, they’ve both stayed clear of each other.

This plot is super cute and does feel kind of like a meta Hallmark movie but with much better dialogue, and I was pretty happy with how the plot works itself out. I do think it had some sappier moments but nothing that dragged the story down (have I become devoid of emotion??) and the chemistry between the two leads is perfection.

And that’s that on my Quarter 2 reads. As is the norm for me, I’m behind my 52 goal. Going to try to play catch-up so I’m not power reading through December like last year. Anything I should add to my ever growing Goodreads list?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.