This year is just flying by! I’m going off on a European adventure in less than three weeks! This past month, I haven’t had a job, so it was easier to read a little more. I also played a lot of Stardew Valley, though. I was able to listen to some audiobooks while playing, since there isn’t much dialogue to pay attention to, and that was a fun way to slack off and read books at the same time.
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
I had no idea what to expect about this before starting the audiobook. I heard that it was about a guy living in France, and the funny anecdotes he had about learning French. That was part of it, but mostly toward the end. I had to sit through a lot of weird ramblings before I got to him living in Paris. I was kind of put off my his comedy style, but I did enjoy some of it. I just wish I’d known how strange he was. A lot of his anecdotes were about his weird family, especially his dad, and about his life in art school doing drugs and putting on crappy performances. I have mixed feelings about recommending this because if you like his dry, strange humor, you might like his audiobook. His voice and overall demeanor somewhat reminds me of Tales of Mere Existence, but even less normal. However, I could have done without most of it. I did like the parts where he was learning French, but I wish I could have skipped straight to those chapters.
We Were Liars – e. lockhart
I have seen this book everywhere. Everyone on BookTube recommends it, tons of book lists recommend it, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I listened to the audiobook version of this, which was very enjoyable. The narrator had a very soft, girlish voice to match the main character and I think it fit well. She had some weird voices for the male characters, but I eventually got over it. The story itself was very strange at first and through most of it, I felt like nothing was happening. I felt bad for Cady, the main character, because she seemed to be stuck in a horrible family. Her crush on Gat was cute, though through most of the book, it was unclear whether anything would happen with them, or if anything had already happened. I didn’t read anything about the plot before starting this book, which is how I recommend everyone read it. It would be really sucky to have it spoiled for you.
SPOILERS: Scroll down if you want to avoid spoiling the ending.
I really hated the snobbiness of most of the characters in the book and I didn’t understand why some of them were friends. I liked how the ending was this huge reveal because it totally took me for surprise. I had no idea that her friends had died and had set fire to the house. I was shocked and devastated to learn that her best friends and boyfriend died, leaving her alone. I totally understood her guilt for running to safety, leaving them to die. However, the ending left me more confused. Was I supposed to have picked up on the twist before it happened? Because any clues the author left me (the gas can, the smoke, etc.) were so vague that I had no idea until she spelled it out. I thought the ending would be where we found out that Cady had been raped or that she and Gat got into a fight and she hit her head on some rocks in the water. That’s what the author led me to believe. I understand that she wanted to add mystery and intrigue and a twist ending, but I felt completely duped. I had just listened to tons of dialogue that was all fake. Like they were all ghosts?? Really?
I had the urge to go back and reread parts of the book because I wanted to know if I’d missed the clues or hints that Cady was just repressing a horrible memory. Her head hurting a lot didn’t do that for me. After the ending, I understood what the author was trying to do, but I’d almost wished there were flashback scenes like in a movie or something. Like all those times she’d been talking to her friends, she’d been alone talking to herself. I don’t know… it was a strange book overall. I think it was more entertaining than meaningful, though the author pumped in a lot of fake meaningfulness. Like every time Cady said “Gat is ambition and strong coffee. Mirren is rain…” I was like yeah okay who cares. Later I realized she had just added it to make the reader more sad that they all died. Her mom also seemed like the bad guy most of the time, and in the end we learn that she tried her best to help her daughter remember. I guess the author wanted to leave us with all those lines she put in like, “Do what you are afraid to do.” and “Be kinder than you have to.” But I didn’t feel like I understood why any of the characters were so emotional all the time. Maybe I’d have liked it more as a teenager? As an adult I felt it really over-the-top. When I first finished it, I wanted to recommend it to everyone because the twist ending was so unexpected. But now that I think about it, I don’t really think I got anything more out of it than a few hours of intrigue and entertainment.
The Sun is Also a Star – Nichola Yoon
I bought the hardback copy of this when I was in the States last October because I’d already read Everything, Everything and absolutely loved it. I knew I could read this in a day or two because Yoon’s books are so digestible yet so addicting that I can’t stop once I start reading. I liked this one a lot, maybe more than Everything, Everything. I had no idea who the characters where or what the plot was before reading, and I was pleasantly surprised. The main characters are Natasha, a Jamaica-born New York City resident who learns that her family is being deported, and Daniel, a Korean-American boy also living in New York City, trying to decide what to do about his upcoming Yale interview. The two meet as the distracted Natasha is almost hit by a car and Daniel pulls her out of the way. It almost seems as though they will part ways forever, but fate keeps pulling the two of them together. Natasha is adamant about not liking this boy, and Daniel is head-over-heels, begging her to take a chance on him. I loved their dynamic and I was so excited to read another book about a Korean male love interest (the only other one I can think of is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell). If you like cute, romantic stories that also have deep, meaningful character developments, definitely read anything by Nichola Yoon. I don’t reread books, but I’d reread this one in a heartbeat.
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
This was our book club book for June, and it was pretty interesting to discuss all the crazy stuff and deeply flawed characters in this book. I had no idea what this book was about before reading it, but I knew it was somewhat similar to Gone Girl. I have been into mysteries lately, so this was a fun read. I had trouble relating to the main character, Rachel, who is an alcoholic divorcee pretending to go to work every day by taking the train to London to fool her roommate. While on the train every day, she imagines the lives of the people in the houses she passes. One house in particular catches her eye and she creates a story of the couple there in her head. One day, the wife goes missing and Rachel, with nothing else to do with her life, goes on the hunt for clues and gets herself mixed up in the fray. This book was a good book club read because there was a lot to discuss and speculate on. The beginning was a little slow, but once you hit the middle, you don’t want to stop. It also has a fulfilling ending and character development is nice and strong.
Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
I saw the movie trailer for this and it had been on my TBR for a long time, so I decided to read the free version through my library card on Libby. I had to wait WEEKS to get it, but once I did, I was pretty hooked. It starts out kind of strangely, with an Asian family visiting London with a hotel reservation. The hotel manager sticks up his nose at them and they end up buying the entire hotel, much to his surprise. It’s a crazy start to a crazy ride. The book goes back and forth between different families and people, so it’s hard to get used to at first. Also, there are huge chunks of the book where the rich characters ramble on about how much money they have and what brands they buy and who they think is below them. I got it the first ten times, but the author keeps peppering those kinds of things in, and it got boring. I started skipping paragraphs I could tell were just rants about money.
I loved the intricate relationships between the characters and the friendships and romances along the way, but to get to those, you have to get through a lot of: “So-and-so had so much money that she buys this exclusive couture in Paris named blahblahblah”. I know this is a series, but the ending was unfulfilling. It was kind of cheeky, but come on, you have to close the story arc! Kwan didn’t do that. It does make me want to read the rest of the series, but his writing style is something to get used to before you get to the really amazing story. I also thought some of the dialogue was completely unedited because I had to keep going back and rereading to make sure I read it correctly. It only happened a few times, but I hope he polished up his writing in the sequels. Overall, I’d recommend this book because it’s entertaining and hilarious at times, and as someone who has lived in Asia a long time, there are some things that are just so unfathomable to people who have never visited, and it was funny to watch the main character Rachel encounter the crazy, amazing things Asia has to offer.