Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Names They Gave Us will be available May 16, 2017.

When I think of Emery Lord books, I think of trying too hard.  Even though I’ve liked some of her other books (especially The Start of Me and You), I always feel like she just tries way too hard to be deep and meaningful. It comes across a little self-indulgent and melodramatic to me. While this book did have cute, funny, and even poignant moments, it still felt like it was trying too hard.

I felt like I should’ve found Lucy really relatable (pastor kids unite!), but I never fully connected with her. She was a mostly likable character, though. I mostly liked her group of friends at camp, though I wish they would’ve been developed just a bit more. I did really love Jones, Lucy’s new love interest. He was so sweet and I enjoyed pretty much every scene he was in. I also liked the camp setting and the kids there.

I have heard from people who are hesitant about this book because there is some religious content. If you are one of those people, I would say you might be slightly annoyed at times, but I don’t think it’s written in a way that will “ruin” the book for you. I have also heard from people who were very happy to see a “realistic” Christian character not be a complete psycho. To those people I would caution to not get too excited. Yes, the main character comes from a religious background and is not awful. However, this is NOT a Christian book and the overall message is not of Christian faith. There are definitely a few themes throughout that is congruent with the Christian faith, but at the end of the day the message is more one of universalism and the goodness of people. I mean, it’s still a hopeful message and is more than is in most YA, but I just want to caution my Christian friends.

Overall, The Names They Gave Us, was just ok for me. I felt like it was too long for what little was going on and a little repetitive and then it had a pretty abrupt ending. I did really enjoy Lucy and Jones’ slow burn romance, though. I think that Emery Lord fans will probably still enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2017

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Winging It (Corrigan Falls Raiders #3) by Cate Cameron. Read February 28 – March 1. 3 Stars.

This was a quick, fairly cute read. It was a little more friends-to-love trope than fake-relationship, but since I like both of those, it was ok. I didn’t really care for Natalie. I enjoyed the chapters from Toby more, but he fell a little short of being a character I could really love. Overall, it was a good palate-cleanser from all the more serious books I’ve been reading lately.

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The Rule Book (The Rule Breakers #1) by Jennifer Blackwood. Read March  9-11. 3 Stars.

I really enjoyed pretty much every interaction between Lainey and Brogan in this book. I liked the romance and even all the times Lainey just said really stupid stuff in front of him. There were a lot of humorous moments, too. However, there were a couple things that bothered me. I’m not sure if it’s ever stated how old Brogan is (I think 30 was hinted at it) and Lainey is 24. I know that’s not a huge age difference, but I felt like there was such a difference in their maturity (plus he’s her employer) that the romance almost felt uncomfortable for awhile. (I did get over that eventually, though. Like I said, I liked almost every interaction between them.) My major problem, though, is that if you cut out all of Lainey’s inner-monologues about wanting to do her boss, the book would be about half as long. It just kind of annoyed me. There was a lot of good about the book, though, and it was a cute romance, overall.

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A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab. Read March 12-25. 4 Stars.

I had a lot of issues with the previous book in this series, but I’m really glad I decided to still read this one. As always, Schwab’s writing is excellent. But in addition to that, I feel like the plot was advancing in almost every chapter. Though it did get a little slow at times and there was a great deal that I felt didn’t really have purpose and could have been cut to make the book a little shorter, I still enjoyed the story. I didn’t HATE Lila so much, either. I loved Kell and Holland and Rhy (even though he really frustrated me most of the time). I have a hard time giving this a proper review because I took a week off from reading right in the middle of it due to illness, but overall I thought it was a pretty good end to the series and probably the best book of the three.

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Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read March 25-26. 4 Stars.

After being really disappointed in the last few JLA books I’ve read, I’m so happy in how much I enjoyed this. It veered a little more towards romance than suspense, but I was a fan of the romance, so I was ok with it. I really liked both Sasha and Cole and their relationship. I liked the mystery aspect, even though I basically figured out who the bad guy was really early in the book. ***SUPER MILD SPOILER*** There was a really random detail about one of the characters given on early in the story and then nothing was really done with it. It gave a bit of a motive and while it was nice that the killer didn’t come out of left field, it was a little disappointing that it was included so early in the story and – at least to me – done in a really obvious way. ***END OF SPOILER*** Overall, I just really enjoyed it and didn’t want to put it down. It’s restored my faith a bit in JLA.

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The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. March 27-28. 2.5 Stars.

I have heard from people who are hesitant about this book because there is some religious content. If you are one of those people, I would say you might be slightly annoyed at times, but I don’t think it’s written in a way that will “ruin” the book for you. I have also heard from people who were very happy to see a “realistic” Christian character not be a complete psycho. To those people I would caution to not get too excited. Yes, the main character comes from a religious background and is not awful. However, this is NOT a Christian book and the overall message is not of Christian faith. There are definitely a few themes throughout that is congruent with the Christian faith, but at the end of the day the message is more one of universalism and the goodness of people. I mean, it’s still a hopeful message and is more than is in most YA, but I just want to caution my Christian friends. Full review to come.