Blogmas Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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GoodReads Summary:
Annika Rose likes being alone.
She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.
Annika Rose likes being alone.
Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.
The Girl He Used to KnowReview:
I’m going to start off by saying that I read this book because it was one of the GoodReads Choice Awards final nominees and it was available from my library. I wish I never read this because it was…not good. I haven’t decided if I’m going to include spoilers in this review or not but proceed with caution in case I do. I waited a bit to write this review because while I enjoyed the story while I was reading it after I finished it just didn’t sit well with me. The more I thought about it, the more it made me uncomfortable.
This is a story about Annika, who is autistic, and her college sweetheart. The writing flashes back and forth between the past and the present, giving us the story of how they met and fell in love, and then also how they reconnected. I liked this method of storytelling using the past and present to develop the characters. I just, didn’t like them?
Annika is described as delicate, childlike, and too often treated like a child. I really didn’t like that because, despite her autism, she’s still a capable adult. I didn’t like her being infantilized in the way she was. It might have been okay, but the author answered a GoodReads question saying she does not have any friends or family that are on the autism spectrum so everything she wrote was from research. This is clear because it almost seems as if she went down the checklist of traits.
Jonathan was nothing special. He was a guy that happened not to be a complete piece of shit. I know Annika experienced some of the more unpleasant men in the world, but Jonathan was just a decent guy. I mostly liked him, but all around just didn’t care.
I also didn’t really care for the event that broke them up. I feel like it may have been used as a plot device which is not okay to me. I cannot speak to the accuracy of Annika’s experience because it’s not something I’ve gone through. I just have to say that it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Finally, the ending. This is going to be where I get into spoilers. So, if anything above had somehow made you want to read this book, stop reading this review so the ending is not spoiled. It came out of nowhere, though I should have seen it because of the dates that head the chapters. Jonathan and Annika have a fight about how she runs when faced with problems, which is true, but they work it out and she agrees to stop running when things are hard and to fight for him. That’s great, I liked this exchange. But I did not at all like the situation the author set up for Annika to prove that she would fight for him. It’s September 11th and Annika is home taking a mental health day. She’s watching the news and sees the first plane it the World Trade Center. It just so happens that Jonathan is in the South Tower for a meeting. She calls him and tells him to get the hell out now and explains what happened. The towers fall and Annika does not hear from him. She puts aside her fear of driving, rents a car, and drives from Chicago to New Jersey to meet her best friend. They scour the city in search of Jonathan. Eventually finding him as a John Doe in the hospital. Great, awesome, she showed shell fight for him and there’s a happily ever after. But using one of this country’s worst days in the history of this country? NOT OKAY. I mostly liked this book up until this point. It was shocking and I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading. The author could have come up with countless other situations for Annika to prove that she was willing to fight for Jonathan and wasn’t going to run away when things were hard. Instead, she chose to use one of the worst days in America’s history as a plot point. Her editors thought this was okay? I’m blown away by the number of people this went through that all somehow thought this was acceptable.
Okay, now that I have ranted about this book. I’m going to leave you with some suggestions that I think are much better for you to spend your time on than this book. If you’re looking for books with autism representations try reading The Kiss Quotient or The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, both were very good. If you’re looking for a well written and well-handled story about 9/11 try reading Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum. That’s all I’ve got for you today folks. Thanks for coming to my rant review.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Fourteen: GoodReads Choice Awards

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Hello, lovelies! I thought it would be fun to do a final wrap up of the GoodReads Choice Awards winners and which ones were winners thanks to my vote. I’m only going to be including the categories that I voted in. Check out my last post about which books I still needed to read for the final round of voting.

Best Mystery/Thriller

My Vote: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanenn

Winner: The Silent Patient by Alex Michalides

This is not overly suprising to me with all the hype that surrounded The Silent Patient. It also, sort of, makes me want  to move this book higher up on my TBR list.

Best Historical Fiction

My Vote: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Winner: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is also not overly surprising to me. I’m glad it won. I adored the audiobook and voted for it in each round.

Fantasy

My Vote: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Winner: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Another one that’s not a surprise. There were so many great books for this category,  it was a hard choice to pick just one.

Romance

My Vote: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Winner: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This one was so deserving of the win. I did really like some of the other books I read from this category, but I’m so glad RW&RB won.

Science Fiction

My Vote: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Winner: Recursion by Blake Crouch

The winner is one of the few books in this category that I didn’t read. I can’t say whether it deserved it, but I wish my vote won.

Graphic Novels & Comics

My Vote: Bloom by Kevin Panette & Savanah Ganucheau

Winner: Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Another non-surprise, Rainbow Rowell is such a beloved author. I personally don’t read her work, so I think any of the other books should have won.

Poetry

My Vote: Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from Myths and Monsters by Nikita Gil

Winner: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

I love that Shout won. I have not read it yet, but it’s on my shelf. I definitely plan  to read it in 2020.

Debut Novel

My Vote: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Winner: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I think it should be a rule that books can’t win more than one category to give the other books a more fair chance. RW&RB already won the Romance category and there were several other deserving books in the Debut Novel category.

Young Adult Fiction

My Vote: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Winner: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, & Tobias Iaconis

I’m sorry, but HOW did this book win? Wasn’t this written based off of the movie? This was rigged. I don’t understand how this could have won over any of the other books for Young Adult Fiction.

Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction

My Vote: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Winner: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Is anyone surprised by this? No? Me neither.

Middle Grade & Children

My Vote: Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi

Winner: The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan

Insert lack of surprise here. Uncle Rick is king. But I would have liked to see one of the more diverse stories by a newer author win.

So, that’s it lovelies, the 2019 GoodReads Choice Awards have finally come to an end. It was fun trying to read all of the books so that I could vote properly. Which books were you happy to see win?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s GoodReads Choice Awards Challenge – Final Round

Hi, lovelies! I’m back today with the final nominees for the GoodReads Choice Awards. I will only be going through the categories I will be voting in, or will be deciding between more than one book to vote for. I’ve been having fun with this, the pressure to catch up on the series I’ve fell behind on has been motivating. Let’s get into it.

Fantasy

Read:

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts
The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

TBR:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Romance

Read:

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

TBR:

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Science Fiction

Read:

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

TBR:

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

Graphic Novels

Read:

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo

TBR:

Heartstopper Vol. 2 by Alice Oseman

Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction

Read:

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff & Aime Kaufman
The Toll by Neal Shusterman
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
The Wicked King by Holly Black
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Finale by Stephanie Garber

TBR:

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Middle Grade

Read:

Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi
Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

TBR:

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

So, I have around two weeks to read twelve books. Will it happen? Who knows. But I’m going to try! Some books are higher on my priority list and I will make sure to get to them first. Have you read any of the nominees? Share with me below which you think you might vote for!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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