Books read in July 2014

With only eight books read, this month, it’s clear summer projects have taken over.  I also enjoy how I read two of each category listed.  Symmetry appeals to me.

None of the middle readers blew me away.
YA:  Fly on the Wall (making this month three of E. Lockheart being on the top recommends list).
Adult Nonfiction: Wild
Adult Fiction: Landlines

Middle Reader
The Thickety
J. A. White
Read for Librarian Book Group
I wasn’t sucked into the world building of this world and thus never really took a liking to this book. It also did that thing that I hate where the book ends abruptly, trying to pull you into the sequel, rather than tying things up and getting you excited about what comes next.

The Great Greene Heist
Varian Johnson
Read for Librarian Book Group
This was hard to start, because of the constant references to this book’s predecessor, which I didn’t have time to track down and read, but once I let go of the fact I was reading the second book before the first, I completely enjoyed it.  It was not believable, in the super fun way that the Ocean’s 11 movies aren’t believable, but so, so fun.  Props for having so many distinct and well-crafted characters (and from so many different backgrounds).  A fun read for the middle school set.

Update!  The Librarians tell me there ISN’T a book before this one. What I attributed to references to the first book were actually a choice the author made to plop us down in the middle of the action and fill us in as the story continued.  Seeing as how I just assumed I had missed a book, I find this to not be a very successful literary method.

Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything
E. Lockhart
Another good entry into the E.-Lockhart-can-really-write-a-good-YA-book pantheon. Gretchen wishes she was a fly on the wall in the boy’s locker room and gets her wish, learning much about the lives of boys, and her own life in the process.  It goes deeper than one might think from this description.

Sloppy Firsts
Megan McCafferty
I found this book odd, beginning with the title, which, I’m sorry, makes me think of the porn term “sloppy seconds” and seems an odd choice for a YA novel.  The main character is full of gripes for the entire book and also seems to hate all her friends but not have the ability to make new ones.  I did think the dialogue was pretty teenaged authentic, as was the level of angst.  Plus, I kind of liked that Jessica Darling was not really that darling.  Despite all these gripes, I was hooked by the end and have already ordered the next in the series.

An aside:  “Darling” as a last name is trending for me right now.  I think this is the third book in as many months using that last name.

Adult nonfiction
The Bookseller of Kabul
Asne Seierstand
Read for Book Group
Good for people who don’t mind reading about a big jerk of a man who rules his household as a tyrant.  Seriously, the bookseller himself was not a great guy, but Seirstand is quiet good at capturing details big and small of an Afghanistani family.  There were points where some of the family’s thoughts were recorded and I wondered how she captured those thoughts, but overall, this was an interesting read.  Although dispiriting from a female perspective.

Cheryl Strayed
People have formed their opinions and drawn their lines in the sand.  And now I’ve read it, so me too!  You can find me firmly on the side of: liked it!  I loved the writing (that horse scene will stay with me forever) and the pacing and the change and growth.  Though I think it was stupid to attempt a very long backpacking journey without once going backpacking, or even packing up the backpack with all the supplies, I also found that to be quite refreshing.  I myself tend to bog down in preparation mode and maybe I should skip or abbreviate that part of a journey now and then.  So count me as a fan.

Adult fiction
What’s Your Number (AKA 20 Times a Lady)
Karyn Bosnak
Oh how authors must despise the movie/book comparisons that appear once a book has been adapted into a feature film.  But I can’t help myself, I saw the movie first and adored it and could keep from comparing it to the book.

Firstly, let me say that the original title, 20 Times a Lady is so much better than What’s Your Number, which was the movie title.  However, the title was the only thing I thought was better in book form than movie adaptation. The two are very different.  I found the book Delilah (she was named Ally in the movie) to be unsympathetic and the things that I loved in the movie (the sister relationship, the interplay between Ally/Colin, the mother daughter relationship) to be almost entirely absent in the book version.  So this is the rare case when I recommend the movie over the book. But I thank Karyn Bosnak for writing the book that could then be adapted into a very good movie.

Rainbow Rowell
Oh Rainbow Rowell, you are so brilliant.  Here I am reading a perfectly serviceable portrait of a marriage in trouble and then you go and layer onto that pleasant-but-familiar plot something rather unexpected that completely works.  I also appreciate how different your four books about relationships have been and can heartily recommend them to many, many people. I can’t wait for you to write another one.  Maybe for your next adult novel you will get a cover that is just as good as your YA covers, because this one is not really happening.

2 thoughts on “Books read in July 2014”

  1. I need to read more. Oh wait, PhD reading is here now so I will be doing 200-600 pages a week. That doesn't really seem like a lot, but some of it is meaty stuff. All of the history and critical criticisms of curriculum history/development and the critical analysis of the kiddy lit/YA lit pack some punch. I'm still getting my flabby academic reading muscles back into shape.

    So I should say I needed to not have reader's block back in July and read more when I could completely choose what I had to read!

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