It had been quite a while had been quite awhile since I’d read anything by Nina Lacour when I picked up We Are Okay. I’d seen a lot of positive feedback on Twitter, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for the emotional journey it took me on. I read it on a hot summer day in Florida, melting by the pool. At one point, I couldn’t tell if I was sweating or crying (not kidding, it was feels like 103 that day.) This is such an emotionally stirring story.
In 99 Days we find out early on that Molly’s mom has done the unthinkable – used the love triangle of her own daughter’s (disastrous?) adventures in love – as the plot for her best-selling novel. Because who isn’t going to read about the sweet girl betraying the boy she grew up with, her first love Patrick, by getting together with his older brother Gabe? Dramatic, I know. So what does Molly do when this story lands itself on the cover of People magazine? Run off to boarding school out of state, of course. Even with a year hiatus from the town holding the secrets of her past, she can’t stay away forever. So, the summer before going off to college in Boston she finds herself back at her mom’s place. Of course, Molly does what any teenager practicing avoidance and any kind of social interaction would do – lays in bed eating Red Vines and watching Netflix documentaries. Not surprisingly, though that’s a comforting activity, it gets old fast. So, Molly unexpectedly finds herself with a new job to busy her self, (helping with the re-opening of a restaurant at the country club,) and slowly tries to mend the pieces of her broken friendships.
Cotugno tells Molly’s story of learning forgiveness (extending it to others, like her mom and looking for it with her friends by owning up to mistakes she’s made.) We all know I’m a sap, but I felt Molly’s struggle of trying to listen to her heart screaming to her about someone she knew like the back of her hand, and someone new who was fun and present and real, and seemed open. Cotugno also delved into the meaning of family – with Molly’s relationship with her mom but also her relationship with Patrick’s family – she used to be like one of their own.
While yes, this has a great pace for an indulgent read by the pool or at the beach – don’t dismiss it as a fluff read. 99 Days is heartfelt, emotional, funny at times, and it’s true to life. Maybe you see yourself in Molly, or one of her friends. It’s a refreshing take on coming into your own from the throws of teenage-hood, and growing up.
If you haven’t read this one yet, check it out!
Happy New Year friends! Hope everyone had some great days this holiday season. I know I haven’t posted as nearly as often as I should lately. Although we’re five days into this new year, I thought it’d be fun to share my reading list from 2016. I’ll let you know, which ones were my favorites (and I’ll even add in some of the books I started but didn’t finish *insert eye covering emoji here.*) Some of these books have stuck with me in such a way that I think about them several times a week. When you find books like that, it’s hard to find a follow up. What were your favorites you read last year? What are you most looking forward to reading this year? Right after Christmas I started reading A Game of Thrones, but this one is going to take me a while. These are in the order I read them, not by my affection for them. The titles listed in bold were my favorites, and if I already featured it on Meg Says, I linked to the original post. See below for a variety of non-fiction, adult fiction, and young adult books I found this year!
*Note: I apologize for any weird formatting issues, I’ve been trying to sort out the kinks.*
How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (Adult Fiction)
Save the Date by Jen Doll (Adult Non-Fiction)For my girlfriends that are always attending weddings – bridesmaids, guests, etc. you will probably find yourself relating to some of these stories. Some of them are funny, and some you’d feel the embarrassment, or you’d get the tensions that can fly in these situations. Nothing too crazy or surprising, but a reminder that a lot of us might feel like we’re in 27 Dresses (as my brother’s friends used to point out about my life, haha.) We probably all have enough of our stories to compile a book like this.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Adult Fiction)
Soon to be a mini series on HBO with a stellar cast, you should read this before it airs. I was HOOKED, immediately. I love multi-view point stories, and this is a little bit mystery, somewhat amusing, a touch sad, but all around intriguing. It’s one of my favorite “fun” books to recommend.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (Adult Non-Fiction)
Mindy Kaling never disappoints. I love how real she is, and getting a peak into her life and relationships. She is definitely comfortable and completely embraces all that she is – brilliance and flaws, and all. I feel like I’m having a couch convo in my PJs with a friend while I read her stories.
30 Shades of Grayton by Kyle Petit (Adult Non-Fiction)
I picked this up at one of my favorite little independent bookstores over in Seaside, Florida. It’s a quick read, and was mildly entertaining about a woman in a small coastal town dating after a divorce.
Room by Emma Donoghue (Adult Fiction)
A story abut a young woman who was taken, and brought to live in a room. She doesn’t know life outside of those walls anymore, until one day she has a son. Her son changes everything, as she tries to create a world for him within this space. This was another book I just couldn’t put down. I still haven’t seen the Oscar nominated film, but I was convinced it was finally time to set aside any fears I had that this was going to psychologically torment me and finally read it. I’m so glad I did. This is a beautiful story that I’d say is more about love and life, and the ties that bind then about the awful abduction and treatment during that time. It’s written in a format I wasn’t expecting, and I think it’s completely original.
Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas (Adult Fiction)
This little British book kept calling to me from the shelf at the library. It felt like I was immersed in a reality television show. A story about a group of random strangers brought together by responding to an ad. I still feel unsettled by the ending, but it was definitely interesting and not like the other books on my list.
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Adult Fiction)
I know it’s unfair to compare this novel to Gone Girl, but I think that was expected as it’s written in a similar vein. This one’s hard to provide details without ruining anything but our main character has blurred memories of a variety of events she’s witnessed. Her alcohol issues have caused her to lose her job. Instead of admitting this to her housemate, she continues on her way with her daily train commute. When a woman she’s seen from the train (and has watched her relationship) turns up missing – she gets involved. It had a bit of a slow pace for me, but still managed to create suspense and I’ll admit it took me more than three quarters of the book to “figure it out.”
The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian (YA Fiction)
Undoubtedly, hands down one of my favorite books of the year. Not just the year – all time. I freakin’ love this book, and you should read it. The first several chapters were released online prior to the pub date to increase anticipation and oh my goodness – I was glued to my computer screen. I’m not even going to tell you more, but get this book in your life.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (Adult Non-Fiction)
My favorite non-fiction book of the year. Aziz is brilliant. He’s hilarious, and he’s so insightful. I only wish I had been a collaborator in this creation. A look on modern dating, and how it’s evolved over time, and what it looks like in different parts of the world. Simply fascinating.
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (Adult Fiction)
I have to admit I was majorly disappointed in this book. I finally got around to reading it when I saw the film trailer released, (which I never ended up seeing the movie). The trailer made me cry, and all of my friends thought the book would destroy me. A story of a young woman who is out of a job, and ends up taking on the job of caring for a man who’s been injured and permanently paralyzed and lives in his parent’s home. There were somewhat tender moments, but everything seemed so shallow. The characters were apparently experiencing intense emotions, but they were so poorly conveyed that I was unable to connect.
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Shneider (YA Fiction)
Schneider just crafts such beautiful stories. I thought, “oh! I’m going to make it through this one without crying.” Joke was on me, as this story inevitably ripped my heart out. It follows a group of people who are brought together by an usual connection (their TB diagnosis), where they’re all living in a boarding school/treatment center of sorts. It’s one of those stories that extra makes you appreciate the beautiful intricacies of relationships.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichiw (Adult Non-Fiction)
Short, but powerful. Read it if you haven’t!
Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn (YA Fiction)
Morgan Matson’s alias. I was excited to finally dive into the Finn world, and while it was somewhat amusing I didn’t feel compelled to read the follow-up novels. Though the light read that has some of the appeal of an MTV reality show like Laguna Beach could be something fun to try.
The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (Adult Fiction)
This novel was fantastic. Following the relationship of a young couple who met in New York, and later move to DC as the husband pursues a career in politics. This is a work of fiction, but it felt so realistic. I felt like I was reading a blog, or my friend was emailing me about her life. It definitely made me want to read another Jennifer Close book.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (Adult Fiction)
READ THIS. My only qualm with this one was the designer brand name dropping. Once I got beyond that, I was mesmerized by the story. I knew it was building up to something, but I was taken by surprise when I found out what. (Like gasp a loud, close my eyes surprise.) Then when you find out the similarities of Jessical Knoll’s own experiences, it’s even more heart-wrenching. This is a powerful story that I have chills just referring to right now.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (YA Fiction)
With this historical fiction novel, Ruta Sepetys raced to the top of my list of favorite authors. It’s a unique take on parts of history, and some of it I was ashamed to realize I was unaware of. It’s painful to read at times, but also beautiful. It’s another book that reminds about the strength love gives us, and the grit and determination fueled by that love can pull us through even the seemingly most impossible situations.
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA Fiction)
Huntley Fitzpatrick is so great at weaving stories about friendship, love, family and the importance of trust and communication in our relationships. There’s always a twist in her stories, that you’re not expecting and I think that just adds to the appeal. I felt like my heart was literally aching for the characters in this story. Tim Mason grows immensely in this book, and it felt like watching a friend experience some really hell situations and come out the other side.
What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (YA Fiction)
This story had me fired up. Especially because I was reading it around the “grab her by the p****” comments from earlier this fall. It’s just one of those that drove me crazy because unfortunately you can’t shake your shoulders and say it’s just a story. It’s real, it’s inspired by true events, and victims of sexual assault have been shown over and over that even with video proof of them being violated, people will still try and silence and discount their stories. I think this is an important book to read. I think it shines light on a different perspective. And it takes you outside of the exact event that happened to third party characters which I think lends an interesting view point. This text also lent one of my favorite quotes of the year:
“You’re doing the right thing,” she says.
“Doesn’t feel like it.” I wipe my eyes. I am so tired of crying. She nods, reading back over her list and flipping to a new page in her steno pad. “Sometimes, that’s how you know,” she says without looking up. “That’s how you know.”
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter (YA Fiction)
The librarian seemed a little disturbed when I was checking out this title, but assumptions aside this is an important piece of work. Sure all families have their own sorts of dysfunction, but some have more than others. This one delves into that divide when parents have their own personal issues they project on their children, and take away the chance for their kids to bond with them in normal ways. Of course, that causes all kinds of psychological damage. I can’t imagine feeling the degree of betrayal Cassie experiences, but man what a journey she traverses to get through it. This is one of the grittiest stories I’ve ever read. Sure, there are some positive spots but there’s no glossing over the anger and heartache. I think the straight forward approach to all sorts of topics in this story is brave and important.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (YA Fiction)
The second book I read by Ruta Sepetys, and it was just as good as the first. Another look into world history, surrounding Stalin and Hitler but referencing some events I still had no idea about. Somehow Sepetys is able to expand your world view, and your heart at the same time. The friendships that blossom through the pages are just so endearing and painstakingly beautiful. It aches to think about the atrocities they witness together, but you’re glad they’re at least together. She has one more title I haven’t read, and this book dissolved any doubt (I didn’t really have) to read anything she’s ever written.
Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This by Bobby Bones (Adult Non-Fiction)
A memoir from my favorite radio host. I laughed, I cried, I was amazed being reminded of the stories we all carry with us that make us who we are, and sometimes we have no idea what others around us are carrying. This is a great, inspiring story. And it’s all about stories.
The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn (Adult Fiction)
A little psychological terror short story. Definitely had no clue what to expect reading this one, and found it to be just the right amount of creepy.
What Light by Jay Asher (YA Fiction)
This was a perfect read in December with Christmas lights up in my room. A family who goes to their Christmas tree farm every December? Perfect. If you’ve read Thirteen Reasons Why – this one doesn’t have the same life changing punch, but it’s a sweet story. It’s also a good reminder to get to know people on your own, and don’t take their “reputation” at face value because who knows what you could be missing out on.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Adult Fiction)
In the last week of the year, this was the final book I read. It was actually the second time I’d tried to read it. This time I finished. It was an okay story. I really enjoy weird futuristic, post-apocalyptic stories (The Road, The Age of Miracles), and this one was interesting enough I guess, but it seemed to fall a little flat. There were multiple points of view, and I liked the way it came together in the last seventy-five pages or so, but there were so many more things I wished she’d done with it. Maybe it didn’t help that in December I also watched Netflix’s The OA and was obsessed with all the theories it made me think about. I just wish some of the stories had been further expanded on.
Unfortunately, I started but didn’t finish (and am still working on them):
- Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh (Adult Fiction)
- The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (Adult Non-Fiction)
- The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (YA Fiction)
- Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
A Few Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading in 2017:
The Serpent King by Jeff Zettner
- Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
- Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
- Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King
- The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
- All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
- Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
- Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Danler
- Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
- The Girls by Emma Cline
- Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
- When We Collided by Emery Lord
E. Lockhart is one of my favorite authors. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is one of my favorite novels. Her characters are typically independent, witty, strong, smart, inspiring young women and their perspective on life and adventures is such a breath of fresh air. Being that I follow about a zillion YA authors on Twitter who were all buzzing about it, I was in the camp of complete anticipation to get my hands on a copy of her latest, We Were Liars. I was following the Tumblr (check it out for awesome quotes, photos, playlists and more) with all it’s bits and teasers, so I knew there was a certain mystique surrounding the story, and I didn’t want the suspense to be ruined before I could read it. I pre-ordered the book, and brought it with me to the beach one weekend, and I read it in a few beach sittings. It’s not my favorite Lockhart novel, but there’s still something…special about it. The curiosity sparked by the mystery was enough fuel for me to keep reading. Plus, the gorgeous description of the Sinclair cousins, and friends? Those beautiful words were enough to suck me in immediately. (Example: “He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.”) It’s funny because the characters are so articulately and artistically described in these acute details, but at the same time you don’t necessarily feel like you know their depth. At first this frustrated me as a reader, but later I came to think that it may have been more of a story-telling technique, intentional in its design. I don’t want to spoil the aura of surprise with this one, but I’ll say it’s a story with much more than meets the eye. Perhaps you pick it up and think it will be about a snotty rich family’s summers in the Vinyard, or first love, or teenage rebellion and careless days spent in the cloak of invincibility. Maybe it’s all of those things, but it’s more…there’s the flip side of love in loss, and there’s the struggle of navigating uncertainty in friendship and relationships, there’s the drama of coming to terms with the fact that our family members are humans with their own flaws and mistakes, and it’s about the moments that shape and define who we are and what we will become. Summer may be coming to an end, but there’s always time to pick up this book and jump right back in. Be prepared to get attached to these characters, and maybe for a little bit of shock and surprise. At one point, I felt like I’d been punched in the chest by surprise, and while that caught me off guard, I also wanted to applause the success of plot twists. Definitely a READ THIS! recommendation.
(via We Were Liars Tumblr)
I’m not gonna lie, this is not a recent read for me. I read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour a while ago. By that I mean before I started keeping a log on my Tumblr, so like spring of 2011 I think. When I first read it, I didn’t even know how to blog about it because I knew no amount of enthusiasm in a blog post would do this beautiful story justice. Look, it’s May of 2013 and this book still gives me butterflies when I think about its awesomeness. Morgan Matson is a master of her craft. It seems that every time I go to write a post for Top Ten Tuesday on The Life of Mugs, I find myself wanting to include this title. It almost doesn’t matter the topic, I seem to find a way to work it in. I guess you could say it’s one of my favorites, and I have a really hard time showing favoritism for books like that – but it just seems to come naturally with this story. So much time has passed, so obviously my recounting the story won’t be as clear as it would’ve been in 2011, but I can’t not share it with you any longer or hold back from urging you to read this one as soon as you can. I own two copies of this book, which means if you want and you’re anywhere near me I’ll totally let you borrow one so we can gab about it afterwards.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour appeals to me through so many different aspects: self-discovery, music loving, ROADTRIPPING, romance, summer, navigating grief, spontaneity, adventure…
When the book begins, Amy Curry is not in one of the greatest seasons of life. Tragedy has stricken her family, her heart is still aching, and now her mom has decided to uproot them across the country just in time for her senior year of high school. Amy’s mom is pretty protective, so in order to get from California to Connecticut, she’s enlisted an old friend’s son as a companion of sorts. Enter Roger. Of course, spending hours upon hours in a car with someone you’re going to get to know them – thus the opportunity for readers to see a friendship develop between Amy and Roger. What about more than a friendship? You’ll have to read it to find out! Where would the fun be in a road trip if you didn’t ditch the itinerary a little? And what about travelin’ songs? Any author who includes playlists in the chapters with artists such as Jack’s Mannequin, Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend, Nekko Case, Elliott Smith, Matt Pond PA, Damien Rice, Elvis, Broadway Tunes, – I could go on and on, but the point is she has phenomenal music taste and instantly scored a million cool points in my mind. Plus there are little tid bits of mementos like you’re viewing a scrapbook from pit stops along the way. There are so many layers to this story, as we watch Amy delve into emotional territory and baggage she’s shoved aside for a while, and we see her and Roger gain trust in one another. Just blogging about this story makes me want to go ahead and read it again.
It seemed that the more I read, the more overwhelmed I was with just how wonderful each aspect of the book was. Like if people could be books, than I had found my match. I hate to label things but really with it being May and all, this is a great “summer read.” (But if you see this entry later or you know, you’re in Australia or something, read it regardless of the season.) Be prepared because even if you’re like “ohh! Summer, adventure, roadtrips! yada yada” this story has some depth to it, as well. It’s one of the greatest character transformations I’d seen in a while. Even still, and look how many books I’ve read since then? Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour will always hold a special place in my heart, so do yourself a favor and go check it out.
Also, after you’ve read it go check out the incredible playlists from the book!