Here are ten of the best books I’ve read so far this year.  It was a tough decision for sure!  There were so many other books that I would have liked to include, but in the end, these won out by just a little bit.

What are your favorites so far this year?

The year is almost half over…

How are you doing on your 2015 reading challenge?

I’m just over the halfway mark of my 100 book challenge, and I have 19 books left on my Popsugar challenge.  I would have been further along, but I had some real doozies in June that put me behind schedule.

I’m looking forward to reading at least 50 more books this year.

How’s it going for you?

Goodreads   Amazon

I’ve heard such great things about Timebound that I was surprised to feel kind of… ambivalent, I guess, toward the whole storyline. This book has been on my radar for years, and almost every review I’ve seen has been practically glowing.  Even the negative reviews aren’t so negative. So when I picked it up, I was expecting to be wowed. And I just wasn’t.  This is a thing that happens with hyped books. I get so excited, build them up in my mind, and when they’re good, but not amazing, it hits me so much harder than if it had happened with a book of never heard of before.

Anyway, let’s get to the review.

Prudence Katherine Pierce-Keller (PKPK, or, more commonly, Kate) possesses a very strong time travel gene, and is therefore asked by her grandmother, a former time traveler from the future, to correct the past that Kate’s grandfather has taken off course. Confused yet? It’ll make more sense soon.

Kate has always known that something was different about her, even if she didn’t know what it was. Sometimes she’d just get this awful feeling that something was wrong, but she couldn’t explain more than that. The doctors tools her it was anxiety, panic attacks, but she didn’t think so. Turns out she was sensing anomalies in the timeline – every time her grandfather changed something major, Kate could feel it.  Without training, it affected her more than it would the average time traveler. Now, with her grandmother’s training, she not only feels better, but she can do something to put the world back to normal…  But what is normal?

Let’s start with the good.

Kate is a strong, teenage, female protagonist.  She’s smart.  She’s a quick learner.  She can take care of herself.  She has the drive and the ability to do what needs to be done.  Kate fits right into her role as a time traveler, improvising and thinking on her feet as she travels to the past to hopefully set history on its correct course.  Even as things go wrong and the unexpected happens, Kate is able to save herself and those she cares about.

But…

The love triangle?  It was unnecessary, and more than a little creepy.  Kate’s implicit trust of just about everybody got on my nerves, and I was surprised that it didn’t come back to bite her.  I can’t imagine that everybody would be so accepting of time travel!  I wonder if, in the later books, someone Kate trusted will betray her.

The story also dragged a bit.  Nothing too awful, but based on what I’d heard, I expected better.  I’ll read the second book since I already have it, and I’m intrigued about Saul’s plan and how Kate will counteract it.  I’ve heard the second book is better anyway, but we’ll have to see.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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I received a free copy of Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty at a meeting I went to for work last year. Why, at a meeting for medical administrators, about Ebola, no less, did they bestow upon us autographed copies of Diane Keaton’s memoir? It’s a complete mystery. Anyway, the book sat in the closet at work for about eight months before I finally decided to suck it up and read it. And, ugh, it was just as horrible as I’d heard.

I knew I would have a problem with this book when, in the first few pages, Ms. Keaton refers to a wall filled with photographs of famous men as her “prisoners.” That was my first inkling that something was going to be a bit… off about this book. It only gets worse as, throughout the next several chapters, she rambles about her thinning hair, her dislike of the bump on her nose, how she’s never liked the slant of her eyes, and how she would never, ever think about having work done. Not that she’d shame another woman for it, but, wait, maybe she would.

The book is completely disjointed, with certain themes repeating over and over again – her thinning hair, for one, is mentioned frequently, as are her frequent trips to the dermatologist to get her precancers frozen, her skin cancers removed, and her prescription for Solaraze. I’d reference this book at my job – celebrities get skin cancers, too! But I’d feel so bad making the patients struggle through it. There’s nothing to tie the chapters together, so it just comes across as a laundry list of things Ms. Keaton doesn’t like about herself.

While much of the book was odd, I felt, in particular, that the chapter on her daughter’s first trip to Victoria’s Secret was completely inappropriate. A detailed debate of her then fifteen-year-old daughter’s bra size – 32B vs. 34C – culminates in her buying $200 worth of bras and underwear, and don’t worry – there’s a detailed description of her choices, too. I’m sure this was put in to make Ms. Keaton more relatable to the average mother, but it came across as attention-grabby, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for poor Dexter, who now has her lingerie choices on display for the world.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why this was published. There’s no flow – in fact, there are sections of the book where Ms. Keaton literally just lists every cliche phrase she can think of relating to the topic at hand. There are sections where she analyzes her dreams. Sections where she just quotes lyrics from songs her daughter likes. It’s a mess.

Do yourself a favor, and don’t waste the two hours it takes to read this book.

Final rating: ★☆☆☆☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #26: a memoir.

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Three years ago, Meg fell in love with Josh, a man who was utterly obsessed with his work. Shortly after, she got pregnant… and he left. Now she and her daughter have returned home to the family that’s always judged her for being too wild, too reckless, too free-spirited. But Meg is determined to show them that she’s changed, that for her daughter’s sake, she’s had to grow up a little. As if dealing with her family wasn’t enough, now Josh wants to be a part of her life again. Wants to be a father to their daughter. Says he’s changed. But can anybody – Josh, or even Meg, for that matter – really change who they are?

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this book? It’s just incredibly unrealistic. Sure, I can suspend my disbelief for some things. I guess it’s possible that Meg’s elderly grandmother could be the best sharpshooter in town. Sure, I guess that she could shoot Josh without any repercussions as long as he didn’t press charges. But seriously, some of the stuff that happens in this book is beyond belief. Giving your business to someone you barely know? Just being handed a child without any proof that you’ll provide a stable home or loving environment? And don’t even get me started on the family trees within this book. Absolutely ridiculous.

In addition to that, both Meg and Josh are actually very problematic characters.

For one, Meg seems terrified of Josh at the beginning of the book. He’s been stalking her. LITERALLY. Actually following her around with some CIA-grade tracking device. Pestering her about wanting to be part of her life again. Not taking no for an answer. And then Meg just gets over it, mostly because she’s horny. I mean… really??? He was literally tracking you, like prey, twenty pages ago.

And then we have Meg, who complains that Josh isn’t involved in her life anymore while simultaneously telling Josh to stay away. But come back. But stay away. It’s so frustrating! She’s all over the place! And I couldn’t help but be extremely offended by the way she referred to her supposedly “best friend” – constantly putting down her clothing choices and the amount of men she’s dated. Her attitude on a lot of things was just… gross.

It Had to Be Him fell flat for me in a lot of ways. It took too long to get into, wrapped up way too conveniently with a neat and tidy marriage proposal (because forget everything else, there’s a ring involved!), and I absolutely hated the fact that all the children in the book were just used as plot devices. I’m glad I got this for free, because I’d have been upset if I actually spent money on it. Unfortunately, it seems like Kindle First is really going downhill.

I received a free copy of this book from Amazon’s Kindle First program. 

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆