Friday, April 28, 2017

2017 Backlist Reader Challenge: April Roundup

It's time for another round of mini-reviews for the Backlist Reader Challenge!  I think I'm making pretty good progress - I've read 12 of the 26 books on my TBR for this challenge, so I'm about 46% done!

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey (2013)

A teenage girl searches for her brother when they are separated after an alien attack decimates Earth's population.

I'm always up for survival stories like this, whether it's a natural phenomenon like an avalanche or something more science fiction-y, like an alien attack.  I'm always interested to see how people change and adapt.  In this case, Cassie was a great main character - just an average teenager before the alien arrival, she becomes a street-smart, resourceful survivor.  That is, until she meets Evan Walker, and then she becomes a ball of mush more concerned about the chocolate-y color of his eyes. 

I enjoyed the parts of this book that were gritty and intense and emotional - Cassie's desperate search for the last living member of her family, her younger brother, and Ben's indoctrination into an army that he thought would be fighting against aliens, not for them.  Unfortunately, the book suffered a bit when it came to the romance portion, which I felt was unnecessary.  It would have been enough for Cassie to gain an ally without having the two of them fall in love for no reason.

There are lots of POVs in the book, which I liked because it allowed me to see the invasion from many sides.  I didn't think it was confusing at all; it was pretty easy to figure out who was talking.  All in all, this was a good (but not great) and fast-paced read.  3 stars

Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6) by Louise Penny (2010)

In the 6th installment of the series, Inspector Gamache is in Quebec, trying to recover from a terrorist plot, when he is asked to join a local investigation of the murder of an amateur archaeologist.

This was my favorite book of the series so far.  Three separate story lines kept the pace fast.  The main storyline involved the murder of an archaeologist trying to find the remains of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec.  It was an interesting mystery and I learned a lot about the tense history between the French and English in Quebec. 

The second storyline brought us back to the murder of the Hermit in Three Pines from the last book.  Olivier had been convicted of the murder, but his partner Gabri was not convinced of his guilt.  Gamache, too, is now feeling uncertain about the outcome of that case, and he sends his second-in-command to Three Pines to do some subtle investigating.  I had a feeling this story wasn't over!  And this time, the outcome is very surprising!

But my favorite parts of the book were the flashbacks to something that happened off-page, between this book and the previous one.  One of Gamache's detectives is kidnapped, and the team finally realizes it is part of a much larger terrorist attack.  I don't want to give too much away, but this storyline was so tense and heartbreaking; I teared up a few times.  There's an underlying sadness that permeates the whole book, as Gamache tries to heal both physically and emotionally.  You can just feel the guilt weighing heavily on him.  5 stars
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2015)
With each book I read of hers, Taylor Jenkins Reid is quickly becoming one of my new favorite authors.  In Maybe in Another Life, two parallel stories take place, sparked by a decision made by Hannah Martin - should she go home with her best friend, or stay awhile longer with her ex-boyfriend?
This concept isn't new - there are movies with this plot device and at least one book that I've read (The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver).  But Taylor Jenkins Reid does it so well that I didn't mind it.  Her stories are very relatable and the writing just resonates with me.  It's not over-the-top or too flowery or poetic - it's just straightforward good writing.

The decision Hannah makes sets off two very different paths for her.  Almost immediately, things happen that will drastically change her life.  But, as different as things are, there are some things that remain the same - her deep friendship with Gabby and a thawing of the distant relationship she has with her family in London.

Like with her previous books, the author touches on deep topics - the "what ifs" in life, is there such a thing as a soul mate, and how much of our life is predetermined by fate.  Without giving too much away, I like that each story ends with Hannah in similar yet at the same time very different places in her life.  I think it shows that there are some things we are meant to do, but that in other areas, we choose our own way and could be just as happy with any outcome.  4.5 stars


  1. You are doing an awesome job!! I am failing at reading backlist books. Maybe in Another Life is one of my favorite books from her and all time!

    1. Thanks! I've really been loving TJR, I'm so excited to read more of her stuff!

  2. I never got around to reading The 5th Wave but for some reason I don't think I'd like it too much? I don't know... :P

    1. It was ok. I'd say if it's not your type of book normally, I probably wouldn't read it.

  3. Great job on your backlist challenge. I've read 12 backlist titles for my challenge as well and am pretty happy about that. I've been wanting to read Maybe in Another Life so I'm thrilled to see that you enjoy it.

    1. Ah, it was so good! I hope you love it as well!

  4. I thought Maybe In Another Life was quite good, and I've been kinda meaning to read the 5th Wave books but never seem to get to them. Maybe i'll squeeze em in this year. Hopefully!

  5. You are doing so great with you Backlist challenge! I am getting a bit behind with mine. I picked a goal of 50 books but I've only read 14 so far. I'm going to try to catch up with it in May.


I'm so glad you stopped by, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Comments are always greatly appreciated!