Banana Peels on the Tracks by Jason Lockwood

Banana Peels on the Tracks by Jason Lockwood

The author of Banana Peels on the Tracks spent a year (1992-93) teaching English in Slovakia. I’d hardly say he “came of age” in post-communist Slovakia as his book cover says (he was already an adult with college and some years of work under his belt). He spent the year looking down on his students, judging them hard, and traveling, always looking for whatever he could find that was most similar to what’s found in the US (because it is, obviously, far superior to anything local). His attitude toward Slovakians and pretty much anything in Slovakia started out mildly annoying and got downright infuriating by the end. He was just kind of rude (and then spent the last chapter talking about how open minded and accepting he is, particularly compared to his friends who only think they are, which just made me laugh because of the incredible lack of self-awareness). He described most of his younger, high school age, female students as “pretty” which was a bit creepy given the age difference. Some of his reasons for disliking Slovakians included things that happen in the US as well (a woman being dragged by her husband/boyfriend, a man being assaulted in a subway tunnel). As with many memoirs, he did not seem to know how to end it and went on for about two chapters too long. Some things in the book are interesting enough, but I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to read it.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 113
Pages Read in 2022: 39,266
Graphic Novels: 4

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Maus is a graphic novel in two parts (you can get Maus I and Maus II separately or together as The Complete Maus). It is mostly about the author’s father’s time in the ghetto in Poland and then in Auschwitz. It is sometimes brutally honest in its portrayal of his father which adds to the big picture of how he was affected by the Holocaust. The pictures are all drawn in black and white which adds to the starkness of the topic. I recommend this book to everyone.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 112
Pages Read in 2022: 38,989
Graphic Novels: 4

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Filed under Graphic Novel, History, Reason: Grim Readers

Lost and Found by Amy Shojai

Lost and Found by Amy Shojai

The attitude toward those with autism in this book is a bit alarming, clearly a “they are damaged and so we must fix them” sort of thing. Also, the medical people refer to the medication they are giving as a cure. A medication that must be given daily at precise intervals for life in order to prevent violent side effects and keep the person taking it free of signs of autism is not a cure. The premise is kind of over the top unbelievable. Refusing to involve the police makes no sense. That they just wanted a flash drive and were willing to kill and kidnap multiple people in order to get it also makes no sense. It’s a quick and easy read and, while totally unbelievable, the writing itself is excellent. It’s not a must read, but it’s not one that should definitely be skipped either.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 111
Pages Read in 2022: 38,989
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Thriller

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

I am not a fan of CS Lewis. I do not love the Narnia series. It was fine, but it’s not something I’ll read again and I’m definitely not a fan. So when I read the synopsis of Once Upon a Wardrobe, which was picked to read for my book club, I was not thrilled. As it turns out, I absolutely loved it! The story is very sweet and a little sad. CS Lewis answering the question of where is Narnia through stories of his life is delightful. The way his stories are woven with Megs and George’s lives is lovely. It’s a pretty quick read and quite enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who loves Narnia, CS Lewis, or just a sweet story about the love between siblings.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 110
Pages Read in 2022: 38,715
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Book Club

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Using the fake dating trope extremely well, The Love Hypothesis is very predictable (this is not a bad thing). Olive is pretty dense for such a smart woman, but her character is written so incredibly authentically that I can “see” people I’ve known in her. All the characters are well written for that matter. The sex scene is not overly graphic and I found myself laughing out loud a couple times at just how clinically Olive was viewing what was going on. I was a little sad when the book ended. I had grown to really care about Olive and Adam (and Malcolm too… he’s hilarious) so closing the book was like saying goodbye to friends. I recommend this book to adults who enjoy smart, funny romances.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 109
Pages Read in 2022: 38,404
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: It sounded interesting, Romance

1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, & Change

1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, & Change

1789 covers a diverse number of topics with the unifying theme of it mainly happening in the year of 1789. Each essay was relatively short (10-12 pages usually). Everything was very western focused (Europe/USA) so it’s not a worldwide snapshot of the year. I found each one fascinating and sometimes found myself wondering just why when told to write an essay about 1789 the author chose that particular topic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves history.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 108
Pages Read in 2022: 37,902
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under History, Non-Fiction, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: Literati

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the Colleen Hoover of the 90s. Popular books, mainly because they are emotional rollercoasters, with mediocre writing. The Pact is billed as a love story. It’s not. It’s about a toxic relationship that everyone except the dead girl thought was amazing. There are a couple flashbacks, one when the main characters were 9 and one when they were 13 and 14, where they don’t act remotely like the age they are supposed to be. The nine-year-olds act more like 13 and 14-year-olds and the 14-year-old acted more like he was 9. The lawyer’s son being all impressed that his father was bringing woman after woman to their apartment was also not at all believable. He was 13. He’d have been completely grossed out thinking about (and hearing) what his father was doing with those women. The courtroom part got a bit tedious. It was odd that the dead girl’s mother’s character was never really developed. You’d think she’d be important, but she was pretty much a non-entity (except when destroying evidence, something that is never mentioned again). It does give a bit of a snapshot of 1997, though, and the way teens felt pressure to never say the word suicide because you might give someone the idea. Also, the book reminds us that rape culture was so much worse back then. All in all, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. If you like emotional rollercoasters and don’t mind plot holes, you’ll enjoy The Pact.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 107
Pages Read in 2022: 37,702
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reason: The Coven of Forbidden Books

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton had a way with writing that made me actually enjoy sci-fi. He was able to explain scientific sounding things in a way that made them easy to understand. The Andromeda Strain progresses at a steady pace making you feel like you are in the lab with the scientists. Often it’ll say things like “he wouldn’t realize his mistake for two days” letting the reader know that something was missed or done wrong and there will be repercussions that you are just waiting to watch unfold. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sci-fi thrillers or is a fan of Michael Crichton’s writing.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 106
Pages Read in 2022: 37,190
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Science Fiction, Thriller

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

I did not much enjoy Heir of Fire for the first half. There are three different storylines going throughout the book. Celaena in the land of the fae learning to control her magic and return to her true self, the witches learning to fly the wyverns, and Dorian and Chaol at the castle. Nothing much happens with Celaena until the third quarter of the book. Before that it’s basically the same thing over and over including lots of refusing to speak for the first bit. The witches storyline I never did like. Any time it switched to them I was more than happy to put the book down and do something else. What was happening at the castle (and to those surrounding the castle) I actually found interesting from the start and enjoyed those sections most of all. The whole thing is overly wordy. The book could be about half as long if it wasn’t so wordy and repetitive. This book sets up what happens from here pretty well. The last 3% was downright amazing. As a book, it is just mediocre, but of course if you are invested in the Throne of Glass series, it’s a must read.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 105
Pages Read in 2022: 36,806
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Buddy Read, Young Adult

Remember Me: The Last Story

Remember Me: The Last Story by Christopher Pike

I feel like Christopher Pike probably should have left the Remember Me story alone before the third (maybe even before the second). The first was great. The next two not so much. The writing in The Last Story was extremely juvenile. The way Shari behaved was not at all the way she had previously. The story within a story was absolutely awful. It made little sense and was such a different genre that it felt more like an intrusion than anything else. It was not clever or insightful like the book seemed to think it was. While The Last Story has good points, it’s one to skip for sure.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 104
Pages Read in 2022: 36,238
Graphic Novels: 3

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Filed under Reason: I Like the Series, Young Adult