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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Books of June 2015

June was a pretty good month. We went to North Dakota, ran a 5k (which I guess I should recap), saw Alex's family, went to a few Columbus festivals, and made some minor house progress. I had a lot of freelance and regular work last month and that seems to be the case for July, too. 

I'm not sure what happened with reading in June, but I definitely slacked. I'm going to blame the books. Only one of them kept me up reading at night. The others inspired lots of phone time. 

Finished June 14, 2015
A God in Ruins
by Kate Atkinson

Review: 3 / 5 
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. 

I'm in the minority on this book. While I think others will love it (and see many folks already do) it took me weeks to finish and now that it's over I'm equal parts relieved and angry. Kate Atkinson is a great writer. Her characters, dialog, and settings are all top notch, but unfortunately I hated the ending of this and Life After Life

I think I can only review this with minor spoilers: (stop reading if you care! They're minor, but they mention the plot!) While I zipped through some of the more exciting passages about Teddy's WWII experiences, I could never find the point. I kept wondering why Ursula saved Teddy in Life After Life (I assumed this from the ambiguous ending and fact that Teddy got his own book). But ultimately why did it even matter? The final Teddy chapter of this book was ridiculous. And I usually love author's notes, but in this case it felt like Atkinson justifying her actions. If you're going to have a zinger of an ending (blargh) then let it speak for itself! I understand her decisions / her direction / what it all "means," but ultimately it felt like a waste of 500 pages. 

Again, this was a bit of a slog for me, but a well-written novel that I think many others will enjoy. I don't often like gimmicks, and this fell flat for me.

Finished June 21, 2015
In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume

Review: 4 / 5 
First off, I love Judy Blume. 

Second, my review: I've read so many multi-perspective novels with newspaper clippings as chapter intros this year, but in the case of In the Unlikely Event this device works well. I tore through the book and couldn't believe I'd never heard of the events. Reading about part two and three were completely nerve wracking. (I've had a fair number of plane crash dreams over the years and it always freaks me out.) 

Unfortunately, the final act (or at least part four) seemed rushed and kind of came out of nowhere. I'm not sure I like how quickly things changed- especially with Rusty. Was it all a device to get Miri to fly home 35 years later? Surely that could have been accomplished via "college" or some career choice. 
I would have given this a 5 had it ended after part three. (Could still have the flash forward.) Judy Blume is so good at teen girl perspective.

Bonus (above): an exchange between Judy and me on twitter in 2013 about this book! 

Finished June 28, 2015
Brutal Youth
by Anthony Breznican

Review: 3 / 5 
From the glowing reviews on the back (from a few of my favorite authors), I expected this to be amazing. And for some odd reason, I thought it was a dark comedy or private school satire. (It wasn't.)

Overall: entertaining. But the entire story constantly felt like a set-up for a big moment. "Hey, see that clue I dropped? It'll be important later!!!" "THIS IS A BIG BUILD-UP TO AN EXPLOSIVE FUTURE SCENE" Guess what? The ending to almost every storyline was super predictable. In fact, I kept thinking, "ok when are we going to get to X," which was pretty distracting. 

There were some standout scenes, and I really liked Davidek and Hannah, but overall it wasn't as great as its cover art and blurbs.

Finished June 30, 2015
Finale (Hush, Hush #4)
by Becca Fitzpatrick

Review: 2 / 5 
First off, these books are ridiculous. They're a direct result of the Twilight and True Blood thing a few years ago. (I enjoyed reading Twilight as entertaining fluff. The last three movies were crap). The Hush, Hush series has an odd premise, but I liked the first book. As it continued, I realized I enjoyed hate-reading these (complete with eye-rolls) more than I actually enjoyed the content. It's also an excellent source of content for a YA pitfalls or anti-feminist literature blog!

Honestly, I think this series would have been better if the main character were in her twenties. There are so many scenes where she has to skip school or convince her mom she's staying at a friends when she's grounded (or has just been kidnapped), which present annoying continuity errors. Or makes her mom look stupid. (Let's be real: her mom might be the dumbest character in all of YA.) Plus, Patch seems so much older than Nora and not in a sexy way. Kind of in a "Why are you a pervert, Patch?" way.

Anyway, this book: The final battle scene was exciting, but gosh there did not need to be four books. What even happened? SPOILER: Also, love how she left the cemetery to get some instead of checking to see if her best friend was alive! (Or mourn her other best friend for more than one minute!! He died FOR HER.)

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As always, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads.

What did you read in June? 
What are you reading now? 

What I'm looking forward to:  I just reserved seven books at the library for my upcoming trip to Canada. I hope I can find a quiet spot –away from the mutant bugs – where I can plow through them all! 

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