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In The Club

This post might be late. Might be. I’m going to plead vacation. Then I’m going to get technical. My brain is packed with all sorts of random trivia, such as ISO 8601. ISO 8601 says the first day of the week is Monday, so for once I’ll adhere to guidelines because it works for me and my reading resolutions. I’m in a bookclub. More than one actually. The one I’m focusing on today is a book club with two teachers. Two friends. Two friends who happen to be teachers. It’s a small book club, but not the smallest. The book club began over a year ago, and we’ve read 23 books. We definitely don’t always agree, which is perfectly perfect. I’m also willing to admit that I might be the harshest critic of them all, which is also perfectly perfect. Since I’m typing this in an airport on my phone there won’t be anything fancy here. I thought I’d just share what we’ve read, how I rank them, and just a few quick thoughts about each, so another list. When I say quick thoughts, I mean my kind of quick thoughts, which could be sort of long but also sort of short. Here we go. 1. Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue* - What else is there to say? My love for this book is boundless. Christian Coulson, the one and only Tom Riddle, narrates and he deserves every award. Every. Single. One. 2. Eleanor & Park* - My former and future number one. When I think of stories about love this is always the first book that comes to mind, but it’s so much more than a love story. I’ll describe it in three words . . . 3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda* - I love Simon and Blue. It isn’t lost on me that like the books in the first and second slots on my list, this is a love story. It’s also more than a love story. 4. The Hate U Give - This is the book the world needs right now. This is the book for everyone. It’s a book for those that know black lives matter, but it is definitely a book for those who react to the Black Lives Matter Movement by saying all life matters. Read this book because I want you to get it. 5. When Dimple Met Rishi* - A story about family expectations, pushing against those same expectations, or adhering to those expectations because you feel beholden. It’s also a love story. Maybe I am a softie. No, I’m not. 6. City of Saints and Thieves - I love the increase in YA books that are taking place on the African continent. We’re getting there. There are parts of this book that are pedal to the metal. 7. Truly, Devious - I feel like this ranking is too low, but is top third really all that low? I feel like it is because I really really like this book. I didn’t know it was part of a series when I first started reading, so as I inched closer to the end, and realized the story wouldn’t be completed I was frustrated and sad. 8. White Rabbit - Here’s another book that feels too low given my enjoyment of the action packed story. You’ve got to love a thriller than unfolds in the space of a single night. This is another book ripe for television adaptation. Instead of making additional unnecessary seasons of 13 Reasons Why, Netflix should look to the vast YA and middle grade landscape for the new and the next. This book would be a great place to start. 9. One of Us is Lying* - I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. This would make for an incredible Netflix series. It would be a bingeworthy treat. I’d be there for it. 10. The Belles - This book did a lot of world building. A lot. But what a world. The protagonist was so frustrating, and I’m still working on forgiving her. But there was a bad boy-and what a bad boy he was. By the way, the audiobook is made of magic. 11. Puddin’ - The more books we read the harder it becomes to rank them. I don’t know if this is the right place on the list for Puddin’, but I can’t imagine it higher or lower, so here it sits. 12. The Serpent King - This holds a special place when it comes to our book club, albeit a middling place on my list. This was the first book we read, and we did not agree. Lydia really is the worst. Travis deserved better. Dill is so broken. I miss him. 13. Looking for Alaska* - This was a reread for me. I liked it better the first time I read it. I think Alaska becomes more elusive, but also more unsympathetic with every read. She isn’t the protagonist, but she’s one of those characters John Green barely writes because that way it’s easier to trick people into describing them as edgy and elusive. Ditching Alaska, we won’t ever find her, this is a solid story-Green’s second best. 14. The Darkest Minds - Our latest read. It was my pick because the movie comes out soon and the trailer has peaked my interest. I won’t say too too much, but I do have things to say. 15. Burn Baby Burn - Flawed book with a fantastically evocative setting. My mother has lots of stories, all negative, about what New York City was like during the summer of 1977. She talks about it like it’s a veritable wasteland of heat, drugs, and death. This book makes me feel like maybe she isn’t exaggerating by much. 16. Everything, Everything* - This book is a rare thing because I recommend the movie over the book. I know I’ve said something sacrilege, but Maddie is half as precious and the love story is twice as palpable in the movie. This book is the dividing line. We’re about to go into the deep end with no lifeguard on duty and questionable swimming ability. Let’s try to stay afloat. 17. Kids of Appetite - I barely remember this book. I remember our protagonist had a facial deformity that caused a lot of drooling because the drool was described in great detail. I think that possibly maybe someone or two someones died, but really I can’t be bothered to remember. 18. From Twinkle, with Love - I don’t care what anyone says-author, publisher, your best friend, the former Secretary of State-this was not a YA book. This was a middle grade book with 16 and 17-year-old characters. Maybe this book deserves more credit, but it is shockingly inferior to When Dimple Met Rishi. And talk about annoying protagonists. 19. Turtles All the Way Down - The only things worse than this book are the four books beneath it and the audiobook of this book. The audiobook is an attack on your ears, an assault on your nervous system, a form of torture. The book is just all over the place. It’s a mystery. It’s not a mystery. It’s a love story. It’s not a love story. It’s a portrait of mental illness. It’s an excuse to talk about little dinosaur lizards. It’s a story of friendship. It’s a story about grief. It’s encyclopedic in what it is, but not one of those things was executed well enough to capture me. 20. A List of Cages - I like one of the supporting characters. I hate this book. A lot. 21. Leah on the Offbeat - I wrote a review of this book. It said it all. Hateful characters, personality transplants, a Mary Sue, and everything done to serve the plot makes for a crappy book. This is a crappy book. 22. S.T.A.G.S. - My review of this book is not nice, and I held back. This book is incredibly problematic in the way it deals with race. Unforgivably so. In addition, the plot is terrible and the characters are worse. This book pissed me off. 23. People Like Us - No.

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