Sunday, January 22, 2017

2016 Book of the Year: Right Side Opening Bracket

This weekend, I was actually planning on participating in the 24 in 48 Read-a-Thon. But...I was lazy with my schoolwork this week and fell a bit behind, plus I have a pile of projects that really need to get finished/started/worked on around here. Baby is only about 2 months away and things are still a bit chaotic and unprepared. Okay...a lot chaotic. So...I bailed. Besides, I said that my next post was the right side of the bracket, so at least I'm keeping to my word on that.

As a reminder, this is what the starting bracket for this year's Book of the Year looks like. I went through the basics of the left side last time, so now we're moving on to the other half of the challengers.

Ready? Here we go...

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

I had been wanting to read this one since it caused a stir in my local community. I snagged it as a used book and, while still worth the read, it's one that I'm glad I got at a discounted price. (I'm a book snob, so I always like a deal.) To put it bluntly, I really didn't see the reasoning behind the controversy. I've read much more shocking books. This one seemed pretty tame, all things considered. It's on the younger end of the young adult fiction spectrum; I would say geared toward middle schoolers. For my thinking, it's appropriate for that age set and provides a good set of moral lessons for an age group where learning to treat others with equality and fairness is paramount.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (adaptation by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne)

Genre: Play / Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars (3 1/2 outside of Goodreads)

For those living under a rock, this is the script for a play based on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. I bought this very shortly after its release and read it within a couple of days. I wrote a fairly lengthy review on it on Goodreads, but the basic gist of my feelings for this were that it was good, but not as good as the core Harry Potter series. I didn't mind the play format, but I didn't like that it was so obvious in the writing that J.K. Rowling was not the sole writer. Her writing is magical and wonderful and this just wasn't it. I had attachments to the characters based on the earlier books and this story didn't seem to keep true to them as much as I had hoped. It's more like fan fiction than a true Potter work, but in the was worth the read. 

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Since You've Been Gone had been sitting on my bookshelf for a very long time. I think I was afraid to read it because of how much I loved Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. I didn't want to be disappointed when I expected so much of Morgan Matson's writing. But...when it came time to grab books to take on a plane, this one went in the bag because I figured it would be a good and fast read. I was right. And it was worth it. It had playlists just like Amy & Roger and I just wanted to hug Morgan Matson for that. It's such a fun and cute thing to do. But...because I'm getting apparently stingy with my 5-star ratings, the overly perfect ending just didn't sit right with me. I don't know why. Why can't I just be happy for these characters?!?! Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical. Either way, I still gave it a nice solid 4.

Genre: Memoir / Humor
Rating: 3 stars

I had been anticipating the release of this book for quite a while and managed to get it for review, which totally had me stoked. And yet, for some reason, I then let it sit on the shelf untouched for a few months. Eventually, I buckled down and read it. I was pretty entertained by Harris's cheeky humor and his way of just infusing his happy-go-lucky personality into everything, but I was surprisingly disappointed by the Choose Your Own Adventure approach. I must just be too much of a traditional reader at this point because I couldn't play along with the game...I had to read the book start to finish in order to make sure I didn't miss anything, but didn't have to read the same thing more than once. I know...I'm such a party pooper.

Genre: Historical Autobiography
Rating: 2 stars

This was required reading for my Asian history class. While it did provide a lot of good historical context that gave me a first-hand view of the events we studied for the course, it was incredibly slow to get started and he seemed to be a bit cocky with his writing. The book is filled with piles of footnotes that probably take up more space in the book than Fukuzawa's actual memories. Ultimately, this just wasn't my thing.

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

Genre: Play
Rating: 4 stars

I read this play as part of my Literary Analysis course. I wasn't originally thrilled about reading a play, but I will admit that I enjoyed a little bit of cover lust. This play has an interesting plot structure with the entire plot taking place in a single location, but with two different plot lines 100 years apart. It's incredibly smart and fun. I actually expect that this one will be up for a reread. That's how much I enjoyed it.

Binge by Tyler Oakley

Genre: Memoir / Humor
Rating: 4 stars

Binge was my first read of 2016 and was a gift from the boyfriend after hearing me talk about how much I enjoyed Tyler Oakley. For those who don't know him, Oakley is a popular YouTuber and he's incredibly sweet and funny. He's a character with a love for life and he has no problem with being 100% genuine, no matter the circumstances. His memoir was a lovely collection of funny stories and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion.

Genre: Memoir / Humor
Rating: 4 stars

I've liked Lindsey Stirling since the moment I first saw one of her YouTube videos. She's a smart and sweet girl with a huge bucket of talent. When I saw that this book existed, I just felt a need to read it. I'm not huge on autobiographies (though my 2016 reads would certainly make everyone think otherwise), but I had some odd need to know more about her. Her memoir (an odd thing to call the book of a 30-year-old) was as cute as she is and read incredibly easy. She is an honest and down-to-earth person, but still manages to keep some of her personal life respectfully private during the narrative. The Only Pirate at the Party was worth the read and the money.

And there you have it! Sixteen competitors all wanting to win the title of my 2016 Book of the Year. Have your predictions for the final four? Or maybe you already think you've picked out my number one read... We'll have to see. Half of the contenders get the ax in the next post. Are you ready for some heartbreak?

Oh...and for the record...yes...I already know the winner.


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