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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Books of August – October 2016

It's been a few months since my last book post. I usually prepare monthly round-ups, but life got crazy (mainly work) and my reading took a hit. In year's past I've been able to read through the craziness, but I'm not sure why I wasn't able to do that this time. I think because I tried to read books I didn't care about just because they were "must reads" or short. I abandoned 2 books during September and I don't regret it one bit. (I've listed one below because I made it more than halfway. I dropped another around page 50.)

I'm at 43 books for the year, which is much lower than normal. I will more than likely hit my base 52 books a year goal, but I will not reach 75–90 as in year's past. Oh well.

I'm currently reading Lauren Oliver's Replica, which I'm enjoying. I've won 4 books on Goodreads in the past month, so I will slowly make my way through those. I also plan to buy the second book in Stephen King's Bill Hodges trilogy.

Without further ado, here are the books I finished between August and October:

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A Woman's Guide to the Wild: Your Complete Outdoor Handbook by Ruby McConnell
Review: 5 / 5
This is a great guide to the outdoors that works for beginners and advanced outdoorswomen alike (probably more of a refresher for the latter). There are helpful illustrations throughout and the content is divided into chunks by topic. The author is very thorough, especially with her packing lists and map reading tutorials. There are also stories and tips from experts (all female, of course). Most importantly, she dives into what can be embarrassing issues for women while camping. I was very pleased with this book and recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in hiking and camping.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Review: 3 / 5
J.K. Rowling did not write this. Yes, she outlined the story and had final approval on the stage production, but this was so cheesy she couldn't have possibly written a bit of dialog (minus what came from the books).

I kind of enjoyed it. I think I'd like it more as a movie or play (probably play so I wouldn't focus on new actors. I did imagine Hermione as the new actress, so I suppose I was subconsciously keeping my original trio (head trio, not movie trio) separate from this new, older set.)

The dialog was painfully trite at times. I didn't feel like any of the characters (minus maybe Ron) sounded like real people. 13 year old boys do not have deep conversations about feelings and friendships -- something JKR MASTERED with Harry and Ron. It was to the point where I wondered, are Albus and Scorpius in to each other? (Which would be fine, but they weren't!)

I love the world of Harry Potter and this felt like fan fiction. There were major plot holes and conveniences that work well in a film or on stage due to time constraints, but the gaps are hard to accept when you're made to believe J.K. Rowling wrote a story (she didn't! she didn't! she... etc) I have a whole list of things I liked/didn't like on Goodreads. There are spoilers. YEESH. Lots of feelings.


A Shoe Addict's Christmas by Beth Harbison
Review: 3.5 / 5
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.  First off, if Hallmark or Lifetime doesn't scoop up the rights to this story they're doing it wrong. It's your classic lonely girl/works too hard/hates the holidays story with a guardian angle. I thought it'd be a direct A Christmas Carol rip-off, but there was a twist to the flashbacks that I enjoyed. Definitely predictable and obviously written very quickly (lots of typos, some inconsistencies), but some scenes were really great that you can tell Harbison is a good writer.

You don't need to read the Shoe Addicts series to get into this book (I haven't read them and it seems like those characters are on the sideline here).

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
Review: 2 / 5
I chose the audiobook and well, ... I like Drew Barrymore and enjoy when celebrities read their memoirs, but man, she was a little over the top. It felt like listening to that SNL monologue about her family members (others speaking in the famous DB voice). It was all too much. Combined with her surprisingly mundane stories and her periodic screaming re: aha moments and I had to peace out about a third of the way through. I was going to finish since I only had 4 more hours, but a friend (T) said, "why do you like to torture yourself?" and I didn't have a good response. So, I stopped.

The Girls by Emma Cline
Review: 4 / 5
This book held my interest and went quickly (which was welcome after almost a month of inactivity). It was an interesting look at true events under a new name; to see how someone could get sucked into the community and ideals. I felt bad for the girls. I'm glad I didn't know what the book was about before I started it, though I don't think knowing would have kept me from reading. Just glad it was a surprise.

Emma by Jane Austen
Review: 4.5 / 5 
Minus Pride & Prejudice, Emma is the Austen novel I know the best, but for some reason when I went to read it this summer, I could not get into it. I took a break during August and came back in September, finally interested.

I thought Emma was a bit insufferable in the beginning (maybe a mix between her snobbery to R. Martin and because I wasn't in the mood to read about her), but it was fun to watch her evolve. Happy to report Frank Churchill has a much larger role here vs. in the 1990-whatever movie, though he is a bit insufferable, too (of course). Overall, another lovely Austen book. I felt like I got to know the townspeople and am thankful I don't have to spend time with Mrs. Elton. Oh, and My Knightley was great, but I needed time to get over the nearly 20 YEAR AGE DIFFERENCE. ;)


Sense & Sensibility (The Austen Project #1) by Joanna Trollope
Review: 3 / 5 
After reading Eligible I decided to go back and read the other Austen Project books from the beginning. The real Sense and Sensibility is a bit boring, but I still enjoyed it.

Where Eligible excelled in making the Bennet siblings look lazy, but not completely useless, I felt like the Dashwood women –minus Elinor, of course– were insufferable. (Honestly, in this version Elinor is also insufferable from her martyrdom, but at least I understand that she's trying to help her family.) Bringing Marianne into the modern age is tough. She's gorgeous and bohemian, but she's also sickly and laaaaaazy. She's supposed to be a passionate balance to Elinor's suppressed feelings, but she kind of came across as a rock dragging the family down with her selfishness. This is also kind of true in the original S&S, but because of the 1810 setting you don't really wonder why Marianne doesn't have a job or a better doctor.

Despite not liking the main lady characters very much, the side characters were great. I wish someone would have punched Fanny, but they took the high road. Bill Brandon needed a little work (is he old? hot?), but I was happy every time he reappeared. Edward's portrayal, on the other hand, honestly seemed to rely on Hugh Grant's character in the movie because he was pretty underdeveloped and described in the same manner you'd describe HG in any of his 90s roles.

(Ack - this is getting long.) In summary: not as good as the source material because it didn't modernize well. Eligible seemed to handle it better, but maybe that's because Pride & Prejudice is a more familiar story.

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King
Review: 5 / 5 
Great book. Can't really say too much without ruining the plot, but I enjoyed the villain and side characters. I'm looking forward to the other installments in the series. If I had time, I would have read this in one sitting.

A side note to non-SK readers: his recent books are mysteries and thrillers vs. horror.

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As always, these reviews were taken from my Goodreads. For past months, click here.

What's the last book you read?
What are you looking forward to reading? 


  1. Thanks for sharing. I don't usually like Stephen King much, but you have me intrigued ! Going to check it out. A shame for JK Rowling... if her name is on it, she has some responsibility for the content and dialog.

    1. My mom and I were talking about Stephen King recently and she agreed that his newer books are much less scary and gory.


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