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September’s mini-review round-up!

WHAT September is almost over?! Where has this year gone?? Confession time: I don’t review every single book I read. Nope! I don’t do it for a bunch of reasons: I don’t have anything to say, the book was a random/guilty pleasure/spur-of-the-moment read and doesn’t really ‘fit’ with the rest of the books I review here, etc. So to see what else I’ve been reading this month, make sure you add me on GoodReads! That said, these books are ones I do want to discuss!

Reckless in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell | August 2, 2016
A huge THANK-YOU to Sourcebooks for providing me with a review copy!

With the future of her family’s rodeo up in the air, Violet Jacobs decides to take matters into her own hands. The rodeo is her life, she’s grown up around the horses and bulls, and she’ll fight to the very end to make sure it survives. She hires on a new bullfighter and is in for the shock of her life when superstar Joe Cassidy arrives at her door.

Summers are for fluffy contemporary romance novels and I thought this one would be perfect: Texas, swoony cowboys, the whole works. Instead, it was just…okay. I never became invested in the characters: Violet is a young single mother, Joe ran away to Texas to avoid drama with his old boss. While the behind the scenes look into rodeos and rodeo life (particularly on the road) were interesting, I found myself skimming the final chapters, eager to be done. It looks like the sequel, Tangled in Texas, focuses on Delon, the father of Violet’s son, and while I’m curious, I don’t think this is the series for me.

The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson | November 10, 2015

Matt has never seen The Office (HOW?!) and so we’ve been doing a series binge on netflix. I had finished an audiobook and was looking for a new one to listen to when Rainn’s memoir caught my eye. Guys, I listened to this one in two sittings. My dog got ALL the walks :)

With a forward by Dwight K. Shrute (who also butts in every once in a while with his own comments), The Bassoon King was a FANTASTIC look into Rainn’s upbringing, his faith, and his career. His parents were hippies, he spent the majority of his childhood in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, he had a sloth and parrot for pets, and once held a job working on a strawberry farm. The Bahá’í faith is a huge part of his life and he discusses it in detail, but never comes across as preachy.

The stories he shares are equal parts hilarious and horrifying (the birth of his son was like something out of a Stephen King novel!) and I was hooked. I was surprised he didn’t give more time to The Office, though. The few chapters he did devote to the show were more memories of his favorite moments than a juicy tell-all, but I still highly recommend this one in audio format – Rainn reads it!

All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead | August 16, 2016

This year I started reading (and listening to) memoirs and biographies and the moment I heard about this one I put in a request at my library. Decca, her boyfriend Tony, and their two young boys head to a tiny beach in Jamaica to get away for a bit. One morning their older son Jake goes swimming and nearly drowns before Tony is able to save him. In doing so, however, Tony is pulled under and Decca is witness to the entire ordeal. What follows is the story of how this unlikely couple got together (he, a career criminal and cocaine dealer; she, a Nice White Lady – and both were married-but-separated at the time their affair started), stayed together, and were brutally ripped apart.

I hate to say this, especially since these events actually happened to someone, but I was expecting something more heart-wrenching. I never got that punched-in-the-gut feeling and I think it was mostly due to Decca’s cold way of storytelling. She was only 9 years old when her mother died and she said she refused to allow emotions and grief to show. That same cold, unfeelingness comes through with Tony’s death and the only parts that really got to me were Jake’s insistence and belief that he was responsible for his father’s death.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | August 6, 2016

Lucy and Joshua hate each other. When their publishing companies merged, the two became stuck in the same office and have since been playing The Staring Game, The Make Snide Remarks Game, The Insult One Another Game. Theirs is a constant battle of besting the other and when a promotion is announced they’re both determined to win no matter what.

The Hating Game is taking the Internet by storm right now and I couldn’t request it fast enough! When I finally was able to grab it from the library, however, life got in the way and I didn’t have the time to sit down and read it until the day it was due. Well. Let’s just say it didn’t go back to the library that day and it was the best $0.75 I ever spent.

The one thing I couldn’t get over was the never ending references to their height difference. Lucy ALWAYS goes on and on about how short she is, how tiny she is, how she can never reach anything, etc. Meanwhile Joshua is described as this hulking behemoth and after a while it got old. ..particularly since Lucy is described as my height, a flat 5′. Matt is well over 6′, so yeah, there’s a noticeable height difference between us, but it’s nothing like Lucy describes.

The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey | September 20, 2016
A huge THANK-YOU to HarperCollins for a review copy!

Twelve-year-old Shane is just like other boys his age. He loves comics and has been working on his own graphic novel, he has a crush on a cute girl in his class, and baseball (he’s a pitcher for his school’s team) is his life. What his classmates don’t know is that Shane has been keeping a secret: he’s transgender. When a bully threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s world turns upside-down. How can he show he’s still the same boy he always was when his classmates label him a freak?

Oh, this book. I am loving the recent flood of LGBT novels – ESPECIALLY in Middle Grade! This is so, so important and I couldn’t be happier that novels like The Other Boy are being published. The emotions throughout this book felt genuine: some people readily accept Shane once his secret is out, others come around in their own time, and some can’t seem to see past Shane’s previous life. While his mother fully accepts and supports Shane – his doctor appointments play a large role in the story – his father firmly believes Shane’s just a tomboy, that his little princess is going through a phase. When his dad’s fiances asks Shane to be a bridesmaid at the wedding, my heart broke.

The Other Boy is a straightforward and simple story that packs a hefty punch and it’s one I highly recommend!

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards | October 4, 2016
A huge THANK-YOU to Sourcebooks for providing me with a review copy!

Back in July I shared a few YA thrillers I was looking forward to. One Was Lost was at the top of the list and has been one I’ve been looking forward to ever since. A senior camping trip turns deadly when the group is separated, drugged, and discover strange words written on their wrists. Damaged. Darling. Dangerous. What do the words mean and who is responsible?

Although One Was Lost was a VERY quick, engaging read, I have to admit it wasn’t as thrilling as I had expected. While I’m not a survivalist by any stretch of the imagination, I do have an ounce or two of common sense and well, these kids don’t. At times they literally walk right into traps. I will say though that several times I changed my guess on who was responsible – and turned out to be completely wrong, so that was a pleasant surprise! Unfortunately, there were several storylines that were abandoned or forgotten and Sera’s severe mommy issues were a bit too much to take.

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