My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick 3/5
I had listened to The Boy Most Likely To a couple years ago, not knowing that it was a second book that focused on different characters. This book was the first. While I knew some of the events of this book before I read it, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of it. It's about 17-year-old Samantha, whose life seems so easy and perfect. Her mom is a state senator. They have a big, luxurious house, and Samantha attends a private school. However, Samantha isn't such a fan of her pristine world, and instead, longs for the world of her next-door neighbors, whom she watches from her bedroom balcony. Her neighbors are a big family with eight kids. They're always playing in the yard, swimming in their pool, and being generally noisy and rambunctious. Then, Samantha meets Jase, the neighbor boy who is also 17. They start dating, but she has to keep it a secret from her mom. Then things happen that force everyone, especially Samantha, to make difficult choices.
I'd put this in the genre of teen romance drama. It's a good story, and well-written. The drama doesn't really come from the romance though. Samantha and Jase are basically perfect as a couple from the start. The drama comes from other events that happen to them.
Away with Words: An Irreverent Tour Through the World of Pun Competitions by Joe Berkowitz 4/5
Pun competitions are a real thing! I had no idea. I saw an article online about this author and his new book. I thought it sounded really interesting! And it was! This book focuses mainly on two pun competitions: the monthly Punderdome 3000 in New York City and the annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships in Austin, Texas. The two competitions have different structures, but the basic idea is that contestants have a topic and a time limit, and they have to come up with as many puns as they can.
One of the cool parts about this world of pun competitions is that there are contestants who are well-known in that world, and I was able to find YouTube videos of them competing. So I could read about their stories and then also see them on YouTube.
The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin 4/5
I read an advance copy of this book through NetGalley. It's a contemporary Christian romance, which I was in the mood for, and this one was really good! Mia is a 29-year-old nurse practitioner in Denver. She's had two broken engagements and isn't in a hurry to meet anyone new. Her 18-year-old sister, Lucy, calls her with the news that Lucy is pregnant and going to Las Vegas to marry her boyfriend, Sam. Mia is shocked, but flies to Las Vegas to be the maid of honor.
Sam's mother was a police officer, but she died three years ago in the line of duty. Sam asks his mother's former partner, Jake, to be his best man. So Jake also flies to Las Vegas.
Then Mia and Jake meet and it's all cartoon hearts. Except that Mia is planning to permanently join a medical mission group and she'll be sent to a different country for the foreseeable future. So she tries not to get involved with Jake. Plus, due to past relationships, she has trust issues. But with her feelings for Jake and her commitment to the mission group, she is torn about what to do.
It's a book about wanting to follow God's plan, but not knowing exactly what that is, and about learning to trust. I felt like the characters and story were relatable, and not eye-rolly. I'm interested in reading other books by this author.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro 4/5
Technically finished this book this morning (August 1), but I don't care. I want to talk about it now.
16-year-old Jamie Watson is the great-great-(etc.)-grandson of Dr. John Watson, the friend and colleague of Sherlock Holmes. Jamie is sent from London to a boarding school in Connecticut on a rugby scholarship. There he meets Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-(etc.)-granddaughter of Sherlock. When one of their schoolmates turns up dead, Jamie and Charlotte are the prime suspects, and they have to work together to clear their names. Charlotte, like her ancestor, is already very good at noticing details and piecing clues together. Jamie, on the other hand, is new to the business of solving murders.
I thought this idea for a modern Holmes and Watson was very clever. The story is interesting too. Some of the reviews on Goodreads are from people who already love all things Sherlock, and they tended to think this story didn't bring anything new to the fandom. Maybe my perspective is different because I'm not familiar with all things Sherlock. I've read some of the original stories, and I liked them, but I haven't watched the movies or TV shows.
This is the first book of a trilogy and I'm looking forward to reading more!