book review · Uncategorized

Reading Each Other’s Favorite Novels

Hello friends! From the first time Sabrina and I started chatting, it was evident that our reading tastes are rather similar. We like the same genres, and many of our favorite books are ones we’ve both read and loved.

That said, we still wanted to put each other’s favorite novels to test, and ta-da, the idea for today’s post was born. Both Sabrina and I selected one of our favorite books from the 2010s, and then we got to reading each other’s pick.

VERA’S RECOMMENDATION

Like I said, our tastes are pretty similar, which means that most of the books I wanted to recommend were ones Sabrina had already read. 😞 However, I found that Sabrina had not read one of my all time favorite novels, Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer.

Letters to the Lost has a special place in my heart, as cheesy as that sounds, because by the time I picked it up I was pretty much done with YA Contemporaries. Reading Letters to the Lost, however, opened my eyes to how it’s unfair to write off a whole genre because of a few disappointments. I loved the characters, the friendship, the topic of grief and forgiveness, and the romance so much, and I’m hoping Sabrina will feel the same way.


Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

book cover of Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

SABRINA’S THOUGHTS:

It follows two main characters: teenagers Juliet and Declan, who are both dealing with extreme grief and loss.  Juliet has just lost her mother, but Declan’s troubles are a little more mysterious.  I loved how these topics were explored in depth and not just brushed aside to make way for romance and drama.  I particularly thought it was great how Juliet’s mother seemed very present in the story despite her not being alive.  She is constantly in Juliet’s thoughts and actions.

Declan’s past tragedies are less in the foreground, because he is struggling with a lot more in the present.  His stepfather in particular is one of my least favourite characters in the book – he made me so angry almost all the time.  However, there is a lot of nuance in their relationship and it is so interesting to see how it evolves over the course of the story.

“We were wrong,” she says. “You make your own path.”

This is not the only relationship that grows and changes.  There were so many deep connections and important interactions between different characters.  And, I’m not going to lie, some of these interactions made me tear up.  It was so touching to see characters genuinely caring for each other and actively trying to improve themselves. Declan and Juliet learn and grow together, along with their friends and family. Though there are setbacks along the journey, they find their way back on track through self-reflection and honesty.  I particularly enjoyed seeing a non-toxic male friendship, with equal emotional support on each side in a way that works for their personalities.  This didn’t come off as unrealistic or cheesy, but as genuine and personal.

Another plus was the presence and importance of multiple adults in each teen’s life.  Yes, you read that right – there are in fact adults in this YA contemporary that play a significant role in the story and are well-developed characters in their own right.  Frank Melendez, who works at the cemetery with Declan, was by far my favourite.  I would lay down my life for him – along with many of the other characters.

If there was anything not to like about this book, it was an idea that was brought up a couple times.  It was probably the only thing lacking a bit of nuance.  It was said that ”…it’s all but a capital offence to say some things, but you can tear down someone like [Declan] without worrying about repercussions.”  Further discussion implied that people who appeared vulnerable were protected from bullying, whilst those who seemed tough and rebellious were allowed to be subjected to it.  Of course, this is definitely not the case in all situations and that could have been made clearer.

Finally, I want to talk a little about the plot.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the author didn’t go in certain directions that I was worried about, but still wrote an engaging and surprising story.  There were a few points where I was so shocked by something that happened and struggled to put the book down.

Overall, this was an incredible novel that shows you don’t have to go through anything alone and you always have the capacity for change.

SABRINA’S RECOMMENDATION

Like Vera mentioned, we have similar taste – when it came down to it, there were a mere four books that I had loved and given 5 stars that she had not already read!  But, I hope I found a great choice in Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, which I noticed she already had on her shelf.

This book has a bit of everything – mystery, magic and romance.  The main thing I remember though, are the unique, loveable characters and the beautiful writing style. I hope that Vera will appreciate the characters like I did and enjoy the plot as well.


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

VERA’S THOUGHTS

I’ve owned Bone Gap for years, but I have to admit, I originally wanted it not because I was particularly interested in the story, rather because the cover is drop dead gorgeous. 🙈 I needed to own this beauty, and a friend of mine was kind enough to gift it to me.

When Sabrina suggested Bone Gap as the book I should read for this post, I was a little wary… and a lot hopeful, because I genuinely trust her taste. So even though magical realism (if a non-Latinx novel can be called that) is not my cup of tea, I was ready for this adventure.

And y’all, I’m so happy Sabrina chose Bone Gap for me! From the get go, I was intrigued by the characters, and yet, I was surprised when that fascination turned into proper love. One moment I was nodding along like “yeah, this is a solid book” and the next I was ready to die for this adorable bunch. They are so! precious! ASKWJOSJFD.

“People look, they don’t see.”

I loved Finn, would have been hard not to, but Roza and Petey stole the show for me. I don’t cry on books – or much at all, to be honest – but I was close to tears when reading Roza and her grandmother’s parts together. Roza’s grandmother is the most wonderful person ever, and her kindness was probably my favorite part of this book. That reminds me! I always appreciate when a YA novel gives its adult characters as much heart and soul as its teens, and that was certainly the case here. The aforementioned grandmother, Petey’s mom and even Sean and Roza were all adult characters I could easily get behind.

Bone Gap is an interesting mix of genres. It has a little bit of mystery, lots of contemporary, and quite a bit of fantasy in it; and this mixture works remarkably well. Really, it’s as though the author used the best aspects of all these genres, and voilá Bone Gap was created.

I think the only negative I could mention is the writing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, it’s just too wordy, too whimsical for my taste. I know, I know, our blog’s title is Wordy and Whimsical, I should love that type of writing… but I don’t. In fact, I found my eyes wandering and skipping lines over and over again, because I wanted plot! I wanted character development! I did not want more flowery language. Again, this is 1000% my own issue, for many, this is the best part of the novel.

Overall, Bone Gap is a marvelous novel, if a tad bit slow at parts due to the excessive writing. Because of this, my five star rating dropped down to four after a few days of consideration. (I know, I’m awful, don’t hate me.)


Let’s chat!

Do you and your friends have the same taste in books? Have you ever thought of reading their favorite book? Have you ever made them read your favorite? (Asking, ’cause I pushed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo onto at least five different people, I know no bounds when it comes to my favorites.)

30 thoughts on “Reading Each Other’s Favorite Novels

  1. This is a very interesting idea, ladies! I don’t have the same taste as my friends in books. Most of them are into science fiction and I do not like that genre at all. So I don’t think a challenge like this would work, because I would hate to burst their bubble and rip on their favourite book. But who knows, maybe something would surprise me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was so interesting to read! I actually have Letters to the Lost on my shelf and I’ve not been too sure about reading it, but this has definitely changed my mind.

    I have been known to push my favourite books on others – I’m currently at a total of 5 people I’ve convinced to read Illumimae, and I’m always looking to up that number 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would be terrified to have someone read one of my favorite books, because I get sad reading negative things from strangers about my “babies”. I couldn’t imagine how much it would hurt coming from someone I like, and whose opinion I care about. It looks like both of you got lucky though. I love all of Kemmerer’s contemporaries, and I am glad you (Vera) didn’t write off the genre for good. I have heard so many good things about Bone Gap. I tried to listen to it on audio, and it wasn’t working for me, but some genre’s don’t grab me via audio, and I have to read them. I am glad you each enjoyed your books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fair enough! And, I can definitely relate – I was really worried that Vera was going to hate Bone Gap 😅 It would have been sad, especially because I loved Letters to the Lost so much. But yes, we were lucky!!
      I find audio is tricky for some books too. I hope you get to try a physical copy or ebook of Bone Gap some day 🙂
      Thanks Sam!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah what a fantastic idea, I love this so much! I haven’t read Letters To The Lost, but I’ve heard incredible things about this book, I’m so curious to read it now.
    Bone Gap was such an experience ahah. I really liked the characters, but like you, I found myself a little lost with the writing, at times :/
    I hope you’ll do this again, it’s such a fun idea! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was such a great idea and I loved the post. I hate giving book recs a little bit because what if they don’t like it? But when it goes right it’s the best because you got someone to read that book they loved.

    I’ve only read Letters to the Lost but so glad you enjoyed, Brigid Kemmerer is one of my favourite authors. And I would probably add Bone Gap to my shelf for the pretty cover, but it’s good to see there’s a good story behind that cover (even if the writing can get a little flowery, I think that kind of works for a magical realism book).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Becky! I can understand the reluctance to give book recs – I don’t recommend books to my mum anymore because she just not like the same things as me 😅

      I have to read more by Brigid Kemmerer! So far I’ve only read Letters to the Lost but I am sure I will like at least one of her other books. The Bone Gap cover is so pretty. I think the pretty writing works for magical realism too.

      Like

  6. I love this idea (glad it didn’t backfire either)! I’m definitely guilty of pushing favorite books on people – I think I’ve been doing that with quite a few books recently on my coblogger Lupe and another blogger… oops. Lupe and I made a deal at some point where I would read Shatter Me and she would read Harry Potter – let’s just say it was kind of terrifying, haha. (I mean… I didn’t love Shatter Me though…)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t think I could possibly choose a favorite book. Maybe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Or the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden. Or The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Or…oh, I give up. Anyways, loved this idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awww this is such a cute idea! And both of these books sound FANTASTIC – I think I’ve seen Letters to the Lost in bookstores but I’ve never heard of Bone Gap! I’m not a fan of overly descriptive writing either, and I just recently finished Muse of Nightmares which has VERY flowery prose so it might be awhile before I can read Bone Gap, but you’ve definitely got me intrigued!

    Like

  9. I once did this with my friend back in Australia and it was such a laugh because we did not like each others books. They did not like the flowery writing of the raven cycle and I did /not/ like the Vegetarian for a number of reasons. We decided we have a very different kind of writing style taste. But I am glad this book swap worked out for both of you. It sounds like the emotions were running high for both books. And it’s good because both of these are on my tbr.

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  10. This post is so cute! I LOVED Letters to the Lost, and it’s actually a book that Malka made me read. We have pretty different tastes in books, but every now and then we force each other to read out favorites. The Bone Gap sounds so cool! I’ll have to check it out.

    Like

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