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Monday, June 01, 2015

Books of May 2015

June is off to a chilly start (52 degrees as I write this). Brr. May seemed long. I was sick for a week at the beginning, ran three races, and had a few family outings for graduations and birthdays. I had a mini-meltdown at work (and consequently some soul searching), we finished some long overdue house projects, and I actually ran more than normal. I had to train for my last half marathon alone (recap coming) and while my long runs were pretty bad, I did a great job keeping up with my weekday milage. I'm looking forward to a vacation later this week, getting freelance work out of the way, and getting more finished around the house.

So, what did I read in May?

Finished May 1, 2015
Where They Found Her
by Kimberly McCreight

Review: 3.5–4 / 5 
Yikes. I think I need to stop reading crime books for a while. (I read a ton in April.) Having said that, it was engaging and kept me intrigued from beginning to end. I don't always like multiple perspectives, but like The Girl On the Train it worked for unraveling the mystery. I also enjoyed McCreight's Reconstructing Amelia, so I will keep an eye on her future releases.

Finished May 7, 2015
Vanishing Girls
by Lauren Oliver

Review: 4 / 5 
Well, this book was fine but unfortunately I read two other books within the past few weeks that contained the same subject matter and used similar story-telling devices. I'll still give this a four because I imagine I would have liked it better had it been the first of the three. This would probably be a good audiobook. Lauren Oliver books usually are.

Read May 11, 2015
by Wil Wheaton

Review: 4 / 5 
I didn't realize this was a super short story available online when I added it to my to-read shelf a year ago. As one reviewer mentioned, releasing a short story was a good move. Why would anyone trust a sci-fi actor with a full book? Instead, this was a quick 10-pages that proved Wheaton can actually write.

Anyway, interesting premise - especially with Nina and her tricks. Honestly, this would make a great one-off sci-fi episode on a show like Twilight Zone (or Black Mirror if they added some more tech). I'm not sure it could fill an entire book, but I could see Nina's story becoming something more complex and exciting with the Hunter as one of many encounters along the way.

Finished May 14, 2015
The Art of Baking Blind
by Sarah Vaughan

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

This wasn't my normal type of book (ladies with children, cooking) but I was pleasantly surprised. I think this book will do well if lots of ladies get their hands on it; then the word-of-mouth can spread. It had the feel of best sellers from a few years ago and it was refreshing that it wasn't about murder, sex crimes, or kidnapping!

The descriptions were a little too gooey for me at times. While the baking and cooking scenes made me very hungry, the medical scenes made my stomach queasy so soon after dreaming of baked goods. I also couldn't handle how many times the characters' "bowels turned" or "bile rose" -- but I read the book quickly, so it may not be an issue if someone takes their time.

Overall, I enjoyed the different characters/viewpoints. I really only liked Jenny, Claire, and Mike -- but I enjoyed not liking Vicki (grow a backbone!) and Karen (so bad she's good). I hated Alfie (spoiled brat) and Nigel (same).

Because I don't cook/bake much I can't tell you how accurate the food prep instructions and descriptions were, but if they were anything like the running scenes, I assume the author is a cook. (I assume she is a runner, too. Who else would have two prominent running characters with heavy descriptions of the act?)

Anyway, stepping out of my comfort zone a bit, but it was better than expected.

Finished May 18, 2015
Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love
by Sherry Petersik, John Petersik

Review: 4 / 5 
I found their blog last week (via Pinterest, of course) and guess what? They're done blogging! I read the last few posts and looked through their house tours and thought they both had an interesting approach to decorating so I got their book.

It's fine. Had I read this in 2012 or in conjunction with their blog perhaps I'd be blown away. Their conversational tone is cute (a little annoying in the intro because it's soooo "funny"), but I really like that they keep it real. They know their projects may not fit everyone's tastes and they keep it simple. They also do a good job breaking down each project by time and cost.

Probably due to Pinterest, most of these ideas weren't new and I wish they showed more of the completed projects within an entire room layout. Oh well, I guess that's what the blog is (/was) for!

Read May 20, 2015
Sex Criminals, Vol 2: Two Worlds, One Cop
by Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Review: 3.5 / 5 
I like these and some of the jokes/background gags are laugh out loud funny, but this one was kind of all over the place. I really enjoyed the new characters, the art, and the plot - but it was a little jumbled. I think the structure is probably awesome if you're reading them as they are released instead of in the collection. I'll keep reading.

(By the way, if you're easily offended don't read these.)

Finished May 20, 2015
First Frost
by Sarah Addison Allen

Review: 3.5 / 5 
I enjoyed the characters again, but not much happened. Or at least, once everything happened I wasn't surprised at all. I'd still recommend it to folks who enjoyed Garden Spells. I'll keep reading Sarah Addison Allen as long as she keeps writing. Her books make me feel nice and content.

- - - - - - - -

As always, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads.

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

What I'm looking forward to: Finishing A God in Ruins, which I won through Goodreads. I know it's supposed to be a great book –the writing is lovely– and I enjoyed Life After Life, but I'm 150 pages into it and I have yet to see why it's a sequel/continuation and not a stand-alone story with a new central character. So far I can't find a reason to tie it to Ursula's purpose in Life After Life – beyond Teddy being alive – and it's dragging on. 

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