An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This book is amazing even though I never knew how I felt about it while I was reading it.  All I knew was that I needed to keep reading it.  It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I knew that it was a very special book.

Jones has taken on a heavy and difficult topic, dealing with wrongful imprisonment and the way that it affects the world around them.  She has created three very different characters who can never all be happy at the same time but I couldn’t help but root for all of them at the same time.  This book made me so incredibly mad at the world.  Our prison system is broken and needs to be changed.  Fiction like this is important because it brings issues like this to the forefront and really helps show a whole new audience what is happening.  Combine that with Jones’s amazing prose and you have an unstoppable book.

5-stars

Wizardmatch by Lauren Magaziner

This book is SO MUCH FUN!  Magical children, a wizard competition, lots of references to goats.  What more could you ask for?  This is a true underdog story as well as a great girl power tale.  Magaziner’s writing is hilarious and filled with adventure and whimsy.  She has created a fully formed world that I never wanted to read.  A must read for children and adults alike.

5-stars

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Undermajor Domo Minor is one of my all time favorite books and so I was very excited to see that Patrick deWitt had a new book coming out.  That said, I was quite disappointed.  I think that this would have been a fine book if I didn’t have such high expectations going in.

Let’s start with the good.  I really love the way deWitt writes dysfunctional people.  His characters are terrible people that I want to hate so badly yet I want them to succeed and have good lives, something I don’t usually feel with unlikable characters.

Not much actually happens with those characters, though.  The plot is underwhelming and I didn’t feel like I actually got anything out of the book when I finished reading it.  The story didn’t stick with me and I probably won’t think about this book much.

3-stars

My Top 10 So Far

So apparently I need to get a life because I completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 100 books the other day and decided that this is the perfect time to step back and take a look at what I’ve read so far.  I’ve read a lot of really great books this year so it was hard to decide on a top 10 but here you go!  They are in order from what I read first to what I read most recently.

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1. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton

The genius minds behind My Lady Jane have done it again, this time tackling Jane Eyre (my favorite classic) and adding ghosts.  Plus, Charlotte Bronte is one of the most kick-ass protagonists I have read in a long time.

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2. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

I listened to the audiobook of this one and man did it take me for a trip.  Amber is in a hospital, in a coma, and she has no idea how she got there.  I’m not usually a thriller reader but this one has turned me into one.  Every section left me guessing and the twists were SO SO GOOD!

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3. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

If you know me in person, I have probably talked to you about this book.  I have made so many people read it and the love for this wonderful graphic novel just keeps spreading!  Prince Sebastian has a secret.  At night he loves to dress up and become Lady Crystallia.  And the only person who knows this is his dressmaker (and best friend) Frances.  This is one of the most amazing books about acceptance and being yourself that I have ever read.  Let me know when you have finished it and I will tell you my favorite panel in the entire book.

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4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I was lucky enough to hear Tayari speak about this book before it came out and fell in love with her.  And then I read this book and fell even harder.  To be honest, the entire time I was reading the book, I didn’t feel strongly any way toward it.  The only feeling I had was “I have to keep reading this!” I read it in record time.  But the second I closed the book, I knew that this book will always be with me.  Tayari is an amazing writer and she manages to make three very likable characters who are all stuck in a very unlikeable situation.

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5. The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

I read this one at the recommendation of a friend from my life in Wisconsin because Tom Miller and I grew up in the same Milwaukee suburb.  I am so glad I took that advice because this book is great!  A gender swapped account of World War I (with magic involved), Miller puts a unique spin on a terrible gender divide.  And it’s just so much fun!  What more could you ask for?  I was so upset when the book ended because I wanted to spend more time with these characters.

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6. Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

I will always take more books from Stephanie.  In a dark, scary world, her books are the perfect happy read.  And this one is filled with pastries and cooking and Paris and love!  The only thing that would have made this better is if I had had a baguette in my hand to munch on the entire time I was reading it.

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7. Female Persuation by Meg Wolitzer

This book is so timely yet, because Wolitzer didn’t set out to write a timely book, it is in no ways preachy.  Bringing together two feminists from different periods of time, Wolitzer points out the problems with each and how the different philosophies can work together to be even more powerful.

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8. What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

I am a huge Pushing Daisies fan so when I came across this book, I knew I had to read it.  I loved everything about this book.  Julia Fine has created a fantastic world and filled it with wonderful characters.  Every time I thought that I had something figured out, she managed to flip it on its head and take me on an adventure I was never expecting.
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9. Calypso by David Sedaris

David Sedaris has been my favorite author for a long time.  As a writer and comedian, his essays perfectly embody everything I want to create.  This book is much grittier than his past collections, delving into illness and suicide, yet filled with the laughs that you expect.  I also got to introduce David when he did an event at our store last month and he wrote my name down in his tiny notebooks and I’m still freaking out about it.

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10. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

I am still dealing with my emotions after finishing this book so please forgive me that I don’t quite have the words to describe it yet.  Rebecca Makkai has written a heartbreaking book that is filled with so much love and acceptance that it repaired the holes in my heart that it was also creating.  I laughed, I cried, I felt every possible emotion.  It reminded me that there is a place in the world for everyone, even if it feels like the whole world is crumbling around you.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

YA thriller meets serialized podcast in this great and unique read. Sadie has gone missing, run off to find the man who killed her sister. Flipping between Sadie’s point of view and a podcast trying to find her, Summers has crafted a beautiful puzzle. There is a three gap period of time between Sadie and the podcast, which really messes with what you think you know at any given time.  The dramatic irony is off the charts, making me yell at each of the characters at some point. This was a tough book to read because of the subject matter but so worth it.  Be prepared to throw this book against the wall when you finish it (in a good way).

4-stars