As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews.

Holes by Louis Sachar

9780440414803_mresRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction, young adult

GoodReads rating:  3.95 / 5 (862,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 1/5 – 3/5

Summary: When Stanley is wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to dig holes at Camp Greenlake, he makes friends that help him uncover the truth about the area’s past and his connection to it.

Thoughts: Wow. If anyone knows me well, they know I rarely give out five stars to books. This is my first one of the calendar year and it’s well-deserved. I grew up with the movie and loved it a lot and the story is just as captivating on paper.

Other adaptations: As I said, the Disney movie with Shia LaBeouf (along with many other well known stars such as Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette and Tim Blake Nelson) is well-liked.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

81MGfnTQ9ZLRating: ★★★★

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir, mental health

GoodReads rating: 3.90 / 5 (165,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 4/5 – 6/5

Summary: 18-year-old Susanna is admitted into a mental institution famous for its clients. During her two years there, she observes her troublesome peers as well as looking inwards at her own problems.

Thoughts: Good, but not great. The book is more conceptual than the movie, obviously, being told from a first person perspective. I was expecting more of day-to-day life in the hospital, but most of her time there was self-reflection on her own psychoses.

Other adaptations: The ’99 movie with Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder has mixed reviews, but I like it enough. Although Jolie won several awards for her performance, the author thinks that the movie is more sensationalized than her actual experience, which can be dangerous when talking about mental health.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

51EXdVtCfkLRating: ★★★

Genre: Young adult, historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.13 / 5 (389,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 6/5 – 7/5

Summary: Ten-year-old Annmarie must be brave in the face of danger when Nazis inhabit Copenhagen… and her best friend is Jewish.

Thoughts: This book was fine, nothing exceptional. It’s very short and wish it was longer as I’ve never read a story about WWII in Denmark, only Germany, Poland and France. Just because the characters are so young doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to unpack with the story. However, I understand the audience is for younger people and can’t complain too much.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

x510Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Young adult, contemporary, LGBT

GoodReads rating: 4.33 / 5 (205,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 8/5

Summary: Simon’s romantic e-mails between with anonymous male classmate “Blue” falls into the wrong hands and he tries to meet his blackmailer’s demands while coming out on his own terms and keeping his relationship with this stranger and his friends in tact.

Thoughts: I listened to this audiobook for most of my 8.5 hour drive home last week and loved it! The only reason I didn’t give it five stars was because I wasn’t the exact target audience. I could totally relate to Simon with the online relationship (although I always knew who my special friends were) and the portrayal of high school was actually accurate with each character having distinct personalities and emotions. This book is really great for the target audience as it also has a moral of opening up to those closest to you.

Other adaptations: The movie (Love Simon) from the last year is pretty well received and I jumped through it and thought it was not bad, but not great. It’s like the screenwriters were homeschooled in high school and had no idea what teachers are like (I can’t believe they did Buster Bluth so dirty) and the change of Leah’s love interest was a very poor choice. I also hated how they revealed the secret identity of Blue almost right away. One of the best parts of the book was that the author kept you guessing along with Simon. However, Nick Robinson is peak eye candy.

Have you read any of these? Which did you enjoy most?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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