Title: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 260
First line: Imagine this: You’re in your favorite bookstore, scanning the shelves.
Goodreads blurb: Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
I loved this book! I haven’t read any of the other books that Cohn and Levithan wrote together (though I plan to soon!), but I am so glad that I decided to pick this one up. Dash and Lily are such wonderful characters, and the whole premise of an epistolary scavenger hunt through New York City was so much fun. Plus, who doesn’t love a book that features a famous bookstore as a major setting? This is an original story about those hard years when teens are still trying to figure out who they are to themselves, and who they are in relation to others. And yet, it isn’t completely angst-ridden; it is so funny that I had to stop reading it at night in bed, because my laughter was keeping Kevin awake.
Title: One Hundred Names
Author: Cecilia Ahern
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from Library Thing
Number of pages: 496
First line: She was nicknamed The Graveyard.
Goodreads blurb: Journalist Kitty Logan’s career is being destroyed by scandal – and now she faces losing the woman who guided and taught her everything she knew. At her terminally ill friend’s bedside, Kitty asks – what is the one story she always wanted to write? The answer lies in a file buried in Constance’s office: a list of one hundred names. There is no synopsis, nothing to explain what the story is or who these people are. The list is simply a mystery. But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late. With everything to prove, Kitty is assigned the most important task of her life: to write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to. Kitty not only has to track down and meet the people on the list, but find out what connects them. And, in the process of hearing ordinary people’s stories, she starts to understand her own.
Thanks for the Memories was a fantastic audiobook experience for me, both for the narration, and for Ahern’s writing. Because of that, I was really excited to read One Thousand Names, especially after learning the idea behind the list of names. Unfortunately, this book took a really long time to come together for me. Part of my problem was the character of Kitty; I found her completely unlikable for at least half of the book. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t comprehend the damage she had caused by writing a false article about someone. Some of her romantic choices had me simply shaking my head, as well as the way she handled certain obstacles in her life.
Then you have the list of names. Because she is trying to find one hundred people and discover their stories, the plot was quite scattered. It took a long time for it all to come together, and I found myself losing patience, wondering when things were finally going to fall into place. The last quarter of the book did keep me from completely disliking it, but wasn’t enough to make me give it a high recommendation.
Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Laura McHugh
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
Number of pages: 320
First line: That Cheri Stoddard was found at all was the thing that set people on edge, even more so than the condition of her body.
Goodreads blurb: The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.
Oh, this book gave me the shudders. The Weight of Blood is a skillfully written, taut thriller that made me so tense as I read. It is one of those books in which the reader knows more than the main character, and there were so many times when I was reading that I wished I could warn Lucy! Even though the reader knows more than Lucy, this book has no shortage of suspense. The setting is a huge part of this book – I am always fascinated by the rural settings in the South and Midwest of the US. There is such an insular quality to the communities, and this makes for an almost stifling atmosphere in this particular story. Books like this are hard to review, because I never want to give too much away. You definitely want to read this one with as much of the plot unspoiled as possible. If you liked Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter or Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home, then this should be your next read.