The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro 3/5
Right after finishing the first book, A Study in Charlotte, I started this second book in the trilogy. I like this modern version of Holmes and Watson. I didn't score this one as high as the first book because the end was super confusing.
The story takes place shortly after the end of the first book. (The first book was pretty much their fall semester at boarding school.) This book takes place during their winter break. Charlotte and Jamie spend their break together, first at Jamie's house and then at Charlotte's. However, while at Charlotte's house, her uncle Leander goes missing, and they must solve the mystery of where he is and rescue him. Leander was in the middle of trying to solve his own mystery about art forgeries in Germany, so Charlotte and Jamie travel to Berlin. They figure if they can solve the art forgeries mystery, then they'll also find Leander in the process. Keep in mind these are 16-year-old kids traveling around Europe and doing detective work by themselves, but whatever. It's fiction.
And now I have to wait until next March until the final book comes out.
Running with a Police Escort: Tales from the Back of the Pack by Jill Grunenwald 3/5
I stumbled on this while on a sub shift at the library. I saw in the upcoming events booklet that "This Cleveland librarian will be talking about her new book..." I was intrigued because she's a local author, and she's a librarian, and she's a runner who is usually one of the last people to cross the finish line. I thought I'd like to read her book and go to the author event. I did both!
I liked the book, but not enough to buy it and have her sign it at the author event. She writes about what her life was like before she started running, and why she started running. (Jill's sister had sent her an email expressing concern for Jill's unhealthy habits.) She wrote about getting started with running and building endurance. Then she wrote about each race in pretty much the same way. "I couldn't believe I signed up to do a [5K, 10K, half-marathon]. I thought it was going to be really hard, but I trained anyway. Turns out it was really hard, but I finished. And I was in last place." The races had some differences of course, but it seemed repetitive.
I think part of the interest for me was that Jill lives in a Cleveland suburb, so I was fairly familiar with all of the places and landmarks she referred to. I also like how she doesn't worry that she doesn't look like a runner, or that she's so slow at running. That part is inspiring.
The author event was cool. Not huge - about 40-45 people. Jill talked about her story of running, which I already knew from reading the book. Then she read an excerpt, which was neat to hear in her voice. The best part was the Q&A because people asked questions that weren't answered in the book.
A Mile in My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson 1/5
In choosing another modern Christian romance, I guess I got confused. I thought this was the same author as the really good one I liked last month. It wasn't. Lots of annoying things in this book, but I was still prepared to give it 2 stars until the end. Then the ending was really stupid.
The story is about Gretchen, a 32-year-old kindergarten teacher. 18 months earlier, her fiance broke up with her four weeks before the wedding. She still hasn't quite gotten over it. Now it's the end of the school year and she decides to spend the first part of her summer break flipping a house. She knows exactly how to do this because she watches HGTV all the time and her dad is a retired contractor. Her dad has some health problems so it turns out he can't help her much with the renovations. Instead, he recommends she hire Noah to help. Noah is a carpenter and a single father. Gretchen's dad tried to play matchmaker six months ago and get them together, but she wasn't interested because he's too gorgeous (?) and also divorced.
Annoying things about this book:
- There are tedious conversations going over every detail of a plan. And tedious descriptions of taking care of pets. I don't need to know every time she lets her dog out or feeds her dad's cats.
- The timing of events seemed way off at the beginning. Like saying school ended in a week, and today is Wednesday, but later, school ended on a Friday. And she has six weeks to renovate the house - the first week is clean-up, then she takes a week off (on such a tight deadline?), but somehow she still has five weeks left.
- Gretchen buys Noah's daughter some clothes so she can help at the house without worrying about getting her nice clothes dirty. The new outfit consists of overalls, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. And Gretchen buys flip-flops for herself too. Why are these people wearing flip-flops while renovating a house?
- How does Gretchen not know what a circuit breaker is? Even I know and my dad is not a retired contractor.
- Gretchen is really judgmental.
- Gretchen's response to new information is always, "Oh."
- Gretchen calls her best friend Holly to come RIGHT NOW and look at this house she wants to buy. Holly can't come right this second because she has plans. It's her father-in-law's birthday. Gretchen gets angry and jealous about this. She's seriously mad that Holly isn't available at a moment's notice.
- At this point, I'm sure none of you are going to read this silly book, so I'll tell you the ending. Noah secretly puts in an offer on the house, but he has one condition. Gretchen goes to the house to talk about the condition with her potential buyer, and she's surprised to find Noah there. Then he proposes marriage and she says yes. While I believe it's possible for a whirlwind six-week romance to result in many years of wedded bliss, that isn't exactly what happened here. They weren't dating or romantic with each other during the six-week renovation. They had one semi-date when Noah offered to escort Gretchen to a friend's wedding. But she wasn't even considering it a date. And a couple weeks later they shared one kiss. And the next thing you know, they're totally in love and engaged? That's pretty far-fetched.