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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Books of July 2014

Let's start a new feature, shall we?

Welcome to the inaugural installment of "Books of [Insert Month and Year]!"

July was a strange month. Lots of regular work, lots of freelance work, dog sitting, mini-trips, and catching up on sleep. (I had many 10 hour nights last week. I needed it.) Travel included a work trip to Dallas, a friend trip to Cleveland, two weddings, and a two-winery tour of Ashtabula county. Weird month, but these books got me through it:

Finished July 2, 2014
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Review: 4 / 5
I'm torn: On one hand, this is a great book about an important subject. On the other, it felt very... flat. Haley and her father would go into rages, but for some reason I didn't get upset. I didn't cry at the end when I was "supposed to." I didn't start liking either of them more as the book progressed. In fact, I think I liked Haley less.

Back to that other hand: military-induced PTSD is not something I've read about in fiction, let alone YA. I think this was great attempt. In the end, I wish there was more feeling (but maybe we were supposed to be numb like Haley?). And I do wish the author would have given us a better ending and not one of those wrap-up chapters I hate so much.

My rating goes from 3 for blah feelings to 4.5 for interesting subject matter.

Finished July 5, 2014
Blessing the Hands that Feed Us...
by Vicki Robin

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway... last year. It took me a long time to read... I started in April. That's not a reflection on the book, just a reflection on my non-fiction reading. 

Review: 3 / 5
I enjoyed the subject matter of this book (eating local), but felt it took a turn about 100 pages from the end. The 30 day challenge was complete and even though the author still had interesting points to cram in, they felt very disconnected. I found myself zoning out and skimming.

Overall, excellent points and an interesting challenge. I'm not sure this would work in locations with extreme climates, but her island seemed like a perfect testing ground. There were many do it yourself activities at the end of each chapter. Though I skimmed them, I appreciated the guidance.

Some parts were 5 star thought-provoking, but the repetition later on canceled out my initially high rating.

Finished July 15, 2014
The Girls from Corona del Mar
by Rufi Thorpe

Review 4 / 5
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Well-written debut novel. It was a quick read that covered a few disturbing topics. I enjoyed Lorrie Ann's last response -- it was an interesting look at the narrator.

I'd recommend this novel to most of my Goodreads friends.

Finished July 16, 2014 (eBook)
by Nora Ephron

Review 3.5 / 5 
The ending was great but the rest of the book hovered around a 3. It was fun to see lines that eventually made it into When Harry Met Sally... Based on the writing style* I'm sure this made a better movie. Now I need to watch it.

*This would probably make a great audiobook.

Finished July 18, 2014
by Cecily von Ziegesar

This was just about when life started catching up with me an I needed a good veg out!

Review: 4 / 5
I've only read book 1 and got this for 80 cents. Made for a good stress-free summertime read. Having watched the show, it was fun to see which stories made it onscreen. I enjoyed the book version more. Everyone's much more likable in my head. Blair and Nate together really works. Vanessa and Dan aren't as obnoxious. But Chuck and his pet monkey? No, thanks.

(I just read the summaries for the other books and I'm not sure I care. I think I picked the perfect one for skipping ahead.)

Read July 22, 2014
Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines
by Samantha Hahn

Review: 4 / 5
A beautiful book and a quick read. I have to admit I had some issues:

First, ONE Asian and ONE black character. Surely there are great non-white female characters in popular classics (there are). Second, the quote from Elizabeth Bennett was poorly chosen as a representation of her character. And finally, while I LOVE the art, the quotes and art became repetitive: quotes of suffering next to beautiful, young, white women.

Oh, and where was Tess?!

Mainly this got a 4 because it is gorgeous and I might be overly sensitive to the inclusion of POC. Anyone else?

Read July 25, 2014
by Wolfgang Parker

Review: 4 / 5
I found out about this book from a co-worker. Missing is a cute children's (chapter) book set in the Columbus neighborhood Clintonville. It was fun to read about familiar places, changed just enough to add drama. I'd definitely read another! 

Finished July 25, 2014 (Audiobook)
by Lauren Oliver

Review: 4 / 5 
3.5-4. MUCH better than the first. Things actually happened! A few "twists" were really predictable, but that seems to be the norm with this new wave of dystopian novels. I'm not sure if this was better because I listened to it while jogging (vs. reading), but it was an improvement, regardless.

- - - - - - - -

These reviews are ripped straight from my Goodreads. If it's not working, perhaps I'll write longer reviews next month. 

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

What I'm looking forward to: Gasp by Lisa McMann, Landline by Rainbow Rowell, The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman, and making a bigger dent in House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

As always, be my friend on Goodreads.

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