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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Books of August 2015

Hey, I've been doing this monthly recap for a year now! So, let's do a minor format change. Instead of giant book images before each review, I'll simplify it down to one feature image. Okay, moving on to August. I read two very boring books that took almost the entire month to get through. As a result, I crammed in a few light reads. As far as non-book August goes, I had my highest milage running month (89.11 miles), did a lot of patio eating/drinking, and generally lazed about.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Review: 3.5 / 5
First off, TifAni FaNeli is a terrible name. She had pretty terrible parents, but you'd think her image-conscious mother wouldn't have been so tacky. Second, the review: I was able to read this pretty quickly. Ani isn't a nice person, but deep down I think she might be. Surprises weren't really surprises with some of the heavy-handed clues, but the story played out relatively well.

The chapters were a little long at times (there is a spoiler on my Goodreads review). I wanted Ani to redeem herself by the end; to become the victorious party. After reading other reviews maybe I'm crazy for wanting that? Seems like so many others found her insufferable. I thought she seemed very insecure. I'm a little bummed the ending was so abrupt, but honestly I was glad to be done. The last third was tiring.

The Worrier's Guide to Life by Gemma Correll
Review: 3 / 5
I really enjoy Gemma Correll's comics online and I think they're better suited one at a time. I'd seen a handful of these on her Twitter or linked from tumblr and I usually chuckle and move on. In rapid succession they lose a bit of punch.

Since I draw and design things for a living I tend to look for time saving techniques in the art of others (gosh I sound like a tool). It is evident she has a template when she uses the 12 or 16-up layout. I can't imagine they take long to draw. So, a really fantastic technique for daily comics, but not as fun in book form. (I still think this would make a safe gift for a hip millennial.) By the way, there were three comics in a row that were fantastic. They were all related to olden days.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Review: 4.5 / 5
4.5, art is a 5 for sure. Honestly, I wish this had a cover that reflected the interior art. The smiles are cheesy (and I think the cover for Smile is also cheesy). I really felt the rage of annoying siblings reading this. This book is also excellent birth control. Three kids and no privacy in a tiny van (or apartment) sounds terrible.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Review: 3 / 5
I had to listen to this on audiobook because I kept falling asleep while reading. I think it's a bad sign that I thought, "Oh God, just be over" as soon as I saw there was one minute remaining.

I really love books from 1800-1910 and even enjoy new books pretending to be from the time period. For some reason I never got into this story. We spend the entire time getting to know Alma and she was just ho-hum. (I can't believe I'm saying this about a strong, intelligent woman!) Maybe she was too good (even when she sees herself as selfish... for one minute)? She ended up having an exciting life, but she herself was so bland that I never pictured the travel as particularly breathtaking (c'mon she was traveling across the world as a single woman in the 1800s! That should have been amazing.).

I enjoyed her father's backstory, her adolescence with Retta, Prudence, and all of the dinner guests, but every thing after... it all just happened. I was excited for the arrival of Ambrose and when that fizzled I had to question why the heck Alma went to Tahiti. It worked out well for her professionally (even if no one knew), but... really? At least she found family and a purpose in Amsterdam.

The swift passage of time echoed classic books and Gilbert's writing was impressive. I only know her from Eat, Pray, Love so it was great to see she can write a non-memoir. Even with that, I rolled my eyes so many times at descriptions. I don't know if they were truly cliché or if the narrator made them feel that way.

Obviously, this book is meticulously researched, but I could never feel truly immersed in Alma's world. So, while I respect the effort I just DID NOT CARE.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Review: 3.5 / 5
This started with a lot of promise, but fizzled out with a bit too much coincidence and manufactured drama. I think this would have been better in it's original bi-monthly installments. Might even be better in a classroom setting so you could discuss all of the obvious, not so subtle symbolism.

I Saw You...: Comics Inspired by Real Life Missed Connections Edited by Julia Wertz
Review: 3 / 5
I didn't realize this was a collection of comics by multiple artists and not all by Julia Wertz.

Lots of variety in art style and tone, but with such short source material the artists really had to pack a punch to be remembered. There were some comics that were so poorly drawn/executed I wondered if Wertz needed to fill space or how these people are making a living. Despite those, there were a few gems and honestly the two from Wertz were some of the best. But overall, it seemed like some of the artists put their assignment off until the last minute and that kind of ruined the flow.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Review: 4.5 / 5
Happened across this at Half Price Books and paid a lot ($9) because I enjoyed the first paragraph so much. Sometimes talking about (or thinking about) running feels ridiculous, but I think Murakami does a great job breaking it down and aligning it with other segments of life. It's inspiring to see he didn't become a writer or runner until 33.

I think non-runners would enjoy the memoir, too, but who knows.

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As always, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads.

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

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