The Godparent Trap by Rachel Van Dyken

The Godparent Trap by Rachel Van Dyken

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 6. Household object on the cover (pillow, houseplant, picture frames)

Other Possible Prompts: 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 15. A five-syllable title, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Utterly shocked by just how many prompts this one fits. Anyways, like I wrote on Goodreads, I’m giving the story of this one four stars and the writing two stars – so I’ll meet in the middle at three. Objectively, this is not a great book, but if I’m being honest with myself, I also couldn’t put it down? So that’s still worth mentioning.

After a fatal accident leaves their best friend and sister dead, Colby and Rip become the guardians of their godchildren, Ben and Veira. They move into their friends’ house and attempt to keep some semblance of normalcy for the kids – even though Colby and Rip hate each other’s guts.

The pair had a failed date years before that left a bad taste in their mouths, and their lifestyles couldn’t be more opposite one another – Colby is flighty and carefree, where Rip is strict and rigid. The two are like oil and water, but it seems their friends knew more than they did about themselves when they left their children to both Colby and Rip. The two battle their grief and battle parenthood, as best they can, together.

First off, I just need to clear the air and say that Rip is literally the dumbest name I can think of. Rip (*shudders*). Rest in peace. Which honestly makes this story SO MUCH WORSE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT. One time I literally read it that way in my head and I outwardly cringed. Who in the hell came up with “Rip”?

Additionally, this book totally reminds me of Life as We Know It, that Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel movie. I do enjoy that movie, because Katherine Heigl rocks, obviously, but this book feels like *literally the exact same plot* and it would be unfair not to acknowledge that fact when talking about the merits of the story. Did I like it? Sure. Was it original? Yea, nope.

Which leaves me to the writing. Which, also, not stellar. There’s a lot of inconsistencies and a lot of implied time gaps that need to be filled differently. I have to note that I’m reading the advance readers copy, so hopefully some of that will work its way out before final publication, but there’s something about the entire tone and flow of the novel that feels disjointed and amateur-ish. Apparently Van Dyken’s written ninety books, so I’m not sure why I’m getting the amateur vibe…but it’s there. Trust me, it’s there. It feels a bit like some moments you’re on the floor with our characters, participating in the action and watching a scene unfold, and then at some points I am a figure just hovering above it all, not even quite able to hear the characters’ voices clearly enough.

I have to give credit regarding the characters, however. Both Colby and Rip (*shudders again*) are well fleshed out and are both likeable in their own ways. They’re certainly the most round and most understandable, whereas some of the supporting characters make odd choices or don’t feel real. But, I suppose, it’s best that our main characters feel the most relatable to the reader.

I just have to say, especially if you’ve gotten this far down into my review, this is objectively not a good book. Like I can’t recommend this to you on it being good literature. It’s fine entertainment for a few hours, but no, it is not a good book.

I hope all that is helpful! Thanks to NetGalley for the advance readers copy of The Godparent Trap, in exchange for my honest review. This book is set to release July 19, 2022.

Have a most fantastic week! 🙂

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 39. A Middle-Grade Novel

Other Possible Prompts: 14. A Character with Superhuman Ability, 15. A Five-Syllable Title, 22. An Unlikely Detective, 37. Set in a Rural Area

I feel like my “Other Possible Prompts” section always looks the same…I appear to read some very similar stuff, haha. I picked up 100 Cupboards to fill my middle-grade novel prompt, but there’s also a backstory here! This novel was not a random choice, nor just one that sounded interesting…I’m pretty familiar with what’s popular in middle grade novels from my work at the library, but 100 Cupboards has additional meaning to me.

Henry York’s parents are missing, so he’s being sent to live with his Uncle Frank and Aunt Dottie for the summer in Henry, Kansas. Summer with his cousins is finally helping him taste some sense of normalcy from his own life, and letting him be a kid – but better yet, he’s discovered cupboards buried under the plaster in his attic bedroom. Slowly, painstakingly, scraping and picking away at the plaster, Henry and his cousin Henrietta discover ninety-nine cupboards that seemingly help them enter other worlds. The cupboards are doorways to somewhere else…but the thing about doorways is that things can come back through them, too – and that’s where the trouble begins.

When I was twelve, my grandparents gave me 100 Cupboards as a Christmas present. We almost always got at least one book for Christmas in those days, and N.D. Wilson’s novel was mine. I love the creepy cover and the horror look in its coloring. I recall reading it in the sixth grade and just absolutely loving it – this was roundabout the time I was finally becoming a reader, for real, primarily because I was picking up good books like this one instead of that weird regurgitated garbage we feed kids, ie. “sad animal story”, or “magic animal story where they’re weirdly human”, or “girly drama about a boy that reminds you about true friendship”. There’s nothing wrong with reading those and enjoying them, but I think they became so much of a fad when I was in school that I forgot to just try to read things I actually enjoyed. And oddly enough for a kid with anxiety, I loved horror. Now an adult with anxiety, I still love horror! And I think this is one of the first books that got me hooked on that.

I really enjoyed completing this prompt, and not just because the book was pretty decent. I think this one really gave me a blast from the past, and made me evaluate where my reading tastes originally derived from. I recalled very little of the story, so as it unfolded for me nearly ten years later, I enjoyed it just as much the second time. I thought it was so interesting to see one of those pivotal turns in my reading taste.

I did remember, however, this book being much scarier to twelve-year-old me than it was to twenty-one-year-old me. I found very little of this book truly frightening, but I can see why it may have felt ghostly and horrific to a younger version of myself. And that said, I still really enjoyed it. This is a good yarn, if you will, and I would actually love to know what happens next. I may try to squeak both sequels into my reading for the rest of the year, just to see what happens.

This book is also more fantasy than I typically read, in keeping with my last two reviews! I think you should always expect some fantastical element of something when reading a middle grade novel, but the depth of this fantasy also went much deeper than I recalled. Even as a kid I didn’t read a lot of fantasy; I never read Harry Potter and I wasn’t into the Warriors series…I was more likely to pick up science fiction, or realistic fiction. This novel held a much higher rating in my head prior to me getting to the last quarter of the book or so, actually, because it was about then that it got really wild and a little harder to follow. They’re trying to get you to read the sequel…but really they lost me quite a bit when it started developing further. It was just an interesting observation for me. As a child, I never read the sequels – so clearly I was not so entranced at that age either.

And as much as I enjoy reminiscing about my childhood reading habits, I’m writing this review as a twenty-one year old bibliophile, so not all of this should come from my twelve year old self. And as an adult, I have to say, this book is stellar. It’s well written, it’s got well-rounded characters, and there’s just enough to it to keep the pre-teen following the plot and the adult pretty interested. There’s just little specks of suspense here and there that I was absolutely living for.

I had so much fun with this prompt and reading this book, so I was really excited to share this one. I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my nostalgia!

Have a great week, friends!