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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Books of October 2015

Guess who almost forgot to do her book post? (It was me.) October is over, I'm a year older (November 2), and it's 70 degrees outside (not complaining). Last month I went to Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Cincinnati. I ran two races and got two PRs. And I finally moved over my 401k (yawn). All-in-all, it was a pretty productive month, even if I didn't read as much as intended.

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Once a Runner by John L. Parker
Review: 4 / 5
I felt like this took me eons to finish, but I'm glad I stuck it out. I'd give the first half a 3 and the last half a 5.

I could do without the side plot of athletic department "drama." I understand Andrea's presence (I think it was a necessary contrast to his solitude), but I felt like the school plot was sloppy. I understand the need for his expulsion, but it dragged on.

Regardless, I read this for a running group book club and the bits about running did not disappoint. I like "the secret" (ha) and really enjoyed the final chapters. The end wore me out, but in a good way.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Review: 4 / 5
Quick read with illustrations on every other page. It reminded me of reading a Nick Bantock book; by the end I wasn't sure what was real. While that was fun, I think I'm missing the deeper meaning so I'll keep trying to figure it out...

The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
Review: 4 / 5
For some reason I only read Sarah Dessen books on airplanes. Anyway, I liked this one. It wasn't set in the same fancy neighborhood from her newer books and the plot/conflict wasn't too hokey. There's not much to say except it went quickly and I didn't want to put it down until it was finished.

Dietland by Sarai Walker
Review: 3.5 / 5 
This was very different from what I expected. I can't remember why I added it to my to-read shelf, but I imagined it would be chick lit-ish but with a tough, funny edge. There were so many parts of the story that really went for it. Some worked and some didn't. Tonally, the book was all over the place and I wasn't sure if I should be laughing sometimes. Was it a satire? Was it serious? Additionally, there were some passages that were so graphic I felt sick.

I'm very pro-fem and feel strongly about many of the issues raised in the novel. I wish there was a bit more cohesion between Plum's life, the news stories and events, and her eventual transformation. Again, I really admire the author for "going for it" but I wish it was better and more consistent because there were some excellent and valid arguments against the treatment of women in society.

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin
Review: 5 / 5
(I've been reading a few children's books this year for research.) This is a great picture book. The illustrations are cool and the story is funny and original.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Review: 4 / 5 
I was not sure about this at first. I kept thinking about Fangirl and trying to figure out if this was supposed to be Cath's story, the "original" author's story, or Rainbow Rowell's fanfiction of her fanfiction. (Apparently it's option C.) I couldn't get it out of my head until I was 100 or more pages into the story.

I'm not sure I could recommend this to anyone but my mom and Tricia, but it really grew on me. I think the story assumes you've read Harry Potter (or similar) and have a basic understanding of the magical world and the school-year based story structure. It plops you into Simon's final year at fake Hogwarts and references past events that are familiar enough (but not ripped from HP) that you get the basic gist of the central conflict pretty quickly. I was not a fan of the spells, but I got over it about halfway through.

At some point I stopped trying to figure out who was writing it and ignored the silly spells and got into the plot. Once I did, I couldn't put it down. I flew through pages 250-490 and really enjoyed them. I loved RR's take on a magical novel. They cussed! They made stupid decisions! You got to follow the story from multiple perspectives!

Until the last 20 pages I was ready to hype this book on Goodreads. And then it kind of petered out with one of those "and then this happened..." endings. I know people felt the epilogue of HP was a letdown, but this just felt a little sad after all the buildup.

And yes there's a whole slash subplot and I'll be really curious to hear how mainstream readers feel about it (I think teens and twenty year olds are much more open).

Lovable Livable Home by Sherry & John Petersik
Review: 4 / 5
I liked this better than their first home book and I think it was because they featured projects from other people. The book is divided by space/function and I thought the most interesting bits involved clever problem-solving (anything from making a home functional for someone in a wheelchair to hiding cords easily). Even with the variety of spaces and decorators, the book has a cohesive style. I still think with things like Pinterest and decorating blogs it's hard to imagine buying one of these home decorating books, but I'll continue to check them out periodically.

My favorite part of the book was the use of Burger (the chihuahua).

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As always, these reviews were taken from my Goodreads.

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

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