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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Books of August 2014

Besides running races and skipping a lot of training runs due to humid weather and general laziness, I don't remember what I did in August. Let's see. Yeah, I guess that's about it. 

It was a recovery month. Recovery from being too busy with family and friend commitments, work, freelance, and running. I needed a break. I probably slept more in August than any other 2014 month. I know I spent way too much time on the computer (or my phone). Luckily, I finished a few home organization projects, though the largest (cleaning the basement) fell on September 1. 

When life gets too intense and I have one of these rare lazy months, my book choices tend to skew young. Unfortunately, some of the YA novels I read / listened to this month were terrible. Too much angst, not enough plot development. As a result, it looks like September will return to business as usual. I'm currently reading Stephen King's The Long Walk and continuing to plow through House of Leaves. I don't have many new releases on deck, so I'm not sure what's in store. As always, I will try to make a dent in my physical to-read bookshelf, but it hinges on my mood. 

Without future ado, my books of August 2014: 

Finished August 1, 2014
by H.G. Wells

Review: 4 / 5 
I really enjoyed this story. I love books set in the late 1800s early 1900s, so this was right up my alley. The story itself was smart without over-explaining (and thus, losing credibility as the book ages and science progresses). I found some of the events almost slapstick in nature and got a kick out of the character interactions. I've read a couple H.G. Wells stories now, but this is by far my favorite. 

Finished August 4, 2014
by Sophia Amoruso 

Review: 4 / 5 
I could have read this in one sitting, but chose to sleep. (I'm such a hard worker.) I read in some reviews it's geared towards teens, and that makes sense; it certainly seems like some of the juicier bits of her story are missing. Despite that, the overarching themes are work hard, be yourself, spend within your means, and consider your customers. 

I feel like I already have the makings of a great businesswoman – errr #GIRLBOSS – but unfortunately, outside of my current job, I don't have a channel for my (still unknown) "passion;" so while this was a mildly inspirational read, I am no closer to owning my million dollar business. Sigh.

I would recommend Lean In to those that want hard data and #GIRLBOSS to those that want to be entertained. I'd hang out with Amoruso.

Finished August 5, 2014 (Audiobook)
by Lauren Oliver

Review: 3 / 5 
I listened to this during training runs and the Scioto Miles 10 Miler and found myself zoning in and out. It did not hold my attention like book two (Pandemonium), but I may have enjoyed it more than book one (Delirium) because of Hana.

I liked the switching perspectives of Lena and Hana. I'm not usually a fan of authors introducing a new storytelling device in the third book of a series, but it worked; mainly because Hana had such an interesting and different experience from Lena, as she lived on the "inside." 

SPOILER: Unfortunately, I did not care one bit about Alex and Lena. Where's the teenage passion? Instead of lover's quarrels (think The Notebook), I felt like they hated each other as the story progressed. As a result, the romantic (?) ending was odd.   

Overall, kind of a cheesy non-ending for the series. It's been a few weeks and I can't remember how the story was resolved; I only remember being disappointed. Not a good sign. 

Finished August 16, 2014
by Rainbow Rowell

Review: 3.5 to 4 / 5 
At first, I did not enjoy the main character ...or her job ...or her family. I did not care. Almost as soon as the yellow telephone showed up, I began paying attention and couldn't put the book down. I loved the back and forth and flew through the last half of the book (maybe even the last two-thirds). Thank goodness because I was really starting to think this might be a Rainbow Rowell letdown! 

I don't know what the future holds for the characters and I was really starting to worry about Georgie's lack of underwear and clothing choices (gosh, especially at the end), but the resolution was really intriguing (trying to avoid any spoilers). I think she'll find her way. 

I almost cried full-on crocodile tears at the end of this, which is very rare for me! (I can only remember bawling during HP 7, a delirious one-night read of The Notebook, and obviously The Fault in Our Stars.)

My only mini spoiler: So glad she didn't give a hoot about Seth. He didn't deserve her!

Finished August 19, 2014
by Lisa McMann

Review: 4 / 5 
What a fun series. I love that McMann cuts to the chase and doesn't include a bunch of filler fluff. She gets to the meat of the story —quickly. I must say, the event kept my heart rate up and it was exciting to have more people involved in this round. I also enjoyed the change of scenery — getting away from the piles and pizza! The conclusion was interesting, too. Not too convoluted, which could have been a terrible letdown. 

Jules is a great character and I'm sad this is the end. 

(Also, when I picture Trey I imagine Nolan from Revenge.)

Finished August 21, 2014
by Dave Isay (/StoryCorps)

Review: 4.5 to 5 / 5 
We recieved this as a wedding gift last year. Originally I thought it would be super mushy and "not my thing", but I was wrong! I picked it up last night because I saw a StoryCorps animation on PBS last weekend and I hadn't actually read the subtitle of this book. 

Generally collections of personal stories remind me of the Chicken Soup books (which I used to enjoy, but probably aren't "my thing" anymore). This collection was well curated. I love that they're taken from audio clips and they move fast. 

There are some gems. I enjoyed stories of interesting meetings and wild courtships. (And there's a terribly sad/nerve wracking tale about 9/11.) As other reviews have suggested, if you love the couples in When Harry Met Sally... you'll adore this book.

Finished August 22, 2014 (Audiobook)
by Megan Abbott 

Review: 3 / 5 
I may have made a mistake choosing this as an audiobook. Had I imagined the girl's voices, I may have liked them more (if it's possible to like a bunch of self-professed "bitches." They really are horrible people.) 

There were a lot of repetitive sequences which I could have skimmed while reading, but I had to power through while running. Not very motivating. Addy was kind of an idiot, but by the end everything clicked (for her and the reader).

I really enjoyed Addy grilling Tasi (can't spell a name I've only heard, sorry) because it felt a little noir. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how I felt about the ending. The big Addy-centric reveal was not surprising... lots of clues dropped along the way (including her love for the coach). And the eventual "event"-related reveal was also kind of ho-hum. Honestly, I wanted it to be (SPOILER) Beth, because I hated her. But goodness, how is it okay that Beth "got away" with everything?

Finished August 28, 2014
by Becca Fitzpatrick 

Review: 1.5 to 2 / 5 
I really enjoyed the first book, but this one made me so angry. Nora is an idiot. Near the end she was almost logical about one thing (Scott), but by that point it didn't follow her established pattern. She consistently put herself in ridiculous situations. Situations that could have been avoided had she 1. thought about it for two more minutes or 2. told someone (anyone!) the truth. 

Let's compare this to New Moon: Bella is sad Edward leaves so she puts herself in the path of danger to hear his voice. Her danger includes riding a motorcycle with her werewolf friend. Nora, on the other hand, convinces herself she doesn't want Patch's help, yet voluntarily goes to some weird biker gang/angel pool hall (the second one in the series!) AND hangs out with people that might be murders. Good plan. 

Vee is also an idiot. She was funny in book one, but I thought she was a pretty shitty friend here. Nora is constantly left home alone by her mother*, gets into even more terrible situations than those mentioned above (I'm still wondering how she got her schoolwork out of the library), and Vee's like, "hey I have a boyfriend now so I'll just drop you off at this dark place and drive away before making sure you're safe. Bye!"

FINALLY -- I've heard it a million times how terrible the relationships in Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight are. I enjoyed those books as fluff and didn't really follow the logic because it seemed like the power dynamic shifted as the stories progressed. Lordy, the same could not be said with this book. I felt sick when Nora and Patch were talking. It was not sexy - it felt like abuse. I get that he was unable to be honest (and we knew how it would end up), but that's no excuse. Edward and Christian – as turd-ish as they could be when angry– where never so horrible.

Anyway, the cliffhanger was exciting. I'll keep reading, but this one was a dud. 

(Sorry this was so long. I had a lot of feelings)

*By the way, after the detective comes to her house when she's been assaulted, how is it OK that he leaves her home alone?! Isn't she 16? And isn't this the second time she's been threatened (possibly third if he believed her library story)? Good police work. And not to mention, Vee is once again terrible for not offering Nora a place to stay.

- - - - - - - -

For the most part, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads. 

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

What I'm looking forward to: The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman and making a bigger dent in House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. (I'm about 180 pages into the 700 page book! Enjoying it so far.)

As always, be my friend on Goodreads.

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