Friday, January 22, 2016

2015 Book of the Year Bracket Challenge: Elite Eight

How is your bracket going? I'm in a bit of turmoil over here...I know what pain is coming. As if yesterday's loss of some incredibly good 5-star rated books wasn't hard enough, today we remove another fine handful of books to get down to the Elite Eight.

As a reminder of the pain that is real, here is where we start today... My Sweet Sixteen.

I'll be honest, this round was actually a lot more simple for me. Thank goodness. The majority of the books paired up nicely and made for some easy decision making, unlike last year.

As we get to the smaller rounds, I'll go through the analysis for each pair. Once they make it past the Elite Eight, it's only fair that they each get a little attention. Today though, I'm just going to focus on a couple of the pairings that made me a little heartbroken. I hate eliminating good books. It wears on me.

Now...I recognize that picking the winner for this pair was a given based on star ratings alone, but that doesn't mean that I didn't hurt a little at saying goodbye. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood was an ARC that I received last fall. If you've ever read anything by Margaret Atwood, then you know how talented that woman is. She's pretty freaking amazing. This book was really a good one, a bit of a creepy, futuristic thriller that was mildly reminiscent of YA dystopian fiction (think grown up version of something like Divergent, Matched, Delirium). It's one that I want on my bookshelf and will likely read again.

But if you were here for yesterday's eliminations, then you also know of my intense love for Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop. There really wasn't a question that this one would pull through in this match up. It's just so freaking good. My heart is full just thinking about it. 

So obviously...moving on to the Elite Eight... The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.

What are the odds that two bloggers would get paired against each other? Apparently they were stellar, because here we are with my blogging friend Chris Van Hakes paired up against the illustrious Jenny Lawson (AKA The Bloggess).

Jenny's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, was the BOTY winner back in 2012, so obviously she's got the chops for this. She is a magnificently funny writer and I adore her. In fact, Rory (the raccoon from her cover) just happens to be the background on my computer screen at work.

You thought I was kidding, didn't you?
Jenny is funny and real and awesome. I'm pretty sure she's my spirit animal in human form. We should totally be BFFs.

Once again though, ratings would have to prevail. And thus...regardless of how much I love Jenny, the winner for this round is the very wonderful Nothing Like Looking by Chris Van Hakes.

The last painful pairing in this round was the pitting of John Green's Looking for Alaska against Alyson Richman's The Lost Wife. Both of these were fantastic dramas and (unlike the earlier mentioned pairs) both were rated the same, making this choice a bit tougher.

Looking for Alaska is sad and haunting and the amazing freshman novel of John Green's that I had been considering reading for quite a long time. It didn't quite do 5 stars for me, but it was certainly worth the read and will probably warrant a reread in the future. (Side note...I'm a fan of the name Alaska and actually had a conversation regarding that toward the end of last year.) Looking for Alaska got me out of a reading slump and helped me actually accomplish some reading in 2015. It definitely holds up as a good book.

The Lost Wife was another novel I had totally stalled on reading. This one was recommended to me (and lent to me) by Patti. It sat in my nightstand for several months, got put on the TBR list for several read-a-thons, and somehow just failed to see the light of day. I don't know what in the world I was thinking. It's a beautifully haunting story that totally broke my heart. I enjoyed it quite a lot, but the ending led me to drop it to 4 stars based on a lack of closure. The writing is solid, I just have issues about endings that remain mildly open. It's a pet peeve.

Based on my pet peeve revelation, it should be no surprise then that the ultimate winner in this round (and the book moving on to the Elite Eight) is Looking for Alaska by John Green.

And...with those difficult choices and sacrifices out of the are this year's Elite Eight. 

Tomorrow it gets ugly. Four competitions and three of them are painful. As if enough book blood hasn't already been spilled, tomorrow gets cutthroat. Brace yourselves...the Final Four is coming.


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