Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Show Us Your Books - What I Read in July

As a booknerd, today is my favorite blogging day of the month. It's the Show Us Your Books linkup with me and Jana of Jana Says! Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & me, as well as a few other blogs who've linked up below so you can get your money's worth and get some book talk going.

But aside from being book talk day, it's my stepmom's birthday. Happy birthday Carol! I'm very lucky to have you in my life and I hope you have a great birthday month.
I liked how I set it up last month with Engrossing Reads / Passed the Time Just Fine / Hard No so I'm going to go with that.

Engrossing Reads

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams - My authoress queen of the summer strikes again, in a good way. I loved this read.

Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde - I loved everything about this story. The characters, the setting, the dog. All of it.

Passed the Time Just Fine

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen - This is my second foray into Dessen and I liked it just fine. It was a little too teen angsty for me in some areas, but I really liked the character and I liked the big issue which must not be named because we've all found ourselves in a situation before where we've had to stop and say how did I get here? I appreciate that Dessen doesn't go for the easy happy ever after too.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - I rated this book two stars on Goodreads for this reason: I still have doubts about the circumstances in which it was published, and it reads like what it is - a first draft of a novel that was turned into another novel that is more familiar. I am annoyed with people whining about this book, flaming Lee like she killed their father because of some character failings on the part of Atticus Finch, a much beloved literary character. You guys - she created the characters and can do what she wants with them. And this is actually the first incarnation of Atticus Finch, not the sequel to the Mockingbird Atticus we've put up on a very high pedestal in the literary character world. All that quibbling aside, I think Watchman has some real insight into the racism that hides in the hearts of people in America, and if you can get over the tumbling dialogue, sloppy writing, threads of story that go nowhere, and your notions of what the book should or shouldn't be based on your relationship with TKAM, there is some value in reading this book.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd - Read after Watchman and its commentary on racism and slavery, this book broke my heart in a million pieces. The things done to slaves...I can't even wrap my head around it. Kidd weaves a nice tale, like she always does, falling a little flat in depth of characters. There was so much more to these people, right under the surface. I could feel it but didn't see it in the pages.

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett - Well. This 662-page behemoth is one of the weirdest books I've ever read. It was totally not my type of read - some science, some paranormal shit, some space shit, some horror - yet I stuck with it and even stayed up past midnight to finish it. Would I recommend it? It takes balls to recommend a 662 page book you thought was okay to someone. So sure, I recommend it, at your own risk and if you have the time or inclination.


Hard No

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - Everything this book was hyped to be, it was not. Luckily, I don't really buy into hype of any type so I am not disappointed when things aren't as good as they're reported to be. However, this book was just not good period, hype or not. Knoll glosses over some really serious shit and produces the hugest asshole of a narrator that is so fucked up and unreliable that you can't feel bad for her no matter what has happened to her. But I don't need to like characters to like a book as long as the plot and writing are good. No and no on those counts also. Better luck with the movie you're making this into, Reese Witherspoon.

This link up happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next one is Tuesday, September 8. 
Life According to Steph

Non-bloggers, what have you read recently? Let me know what you recommend and what to stay away from. Bloggers, link up your posts below.



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56 comments:

  1. I'm number one, woo hoo! :P The Invention of Wings is on my list to read this summer. I'll discuss it with ya after then :).

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  2. Take Me With You sounds heart-breaking, and I added it. I've heard mixed reviews about Luckiest Girl Alive. I assume I'll read it, but I probably won't push it up the list.

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  3. I think I need to re-read TKAM before getting into Go Set a Watchman. I just don't remember it very well, and don't think that would be fair considering they're related. I think I would enjoy it though. Do you think the fact that Take Me With You was set around Yellowstone and you're heading there soon had a an impact on your review? I agree with Erin- it sounds heartbreaking!

    I added Tiny Little Thing to my reading list :)

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  4. I'll make it easy this last month all I was able to read was the Charlie Manson book Helter Skelter, yes it took me a WHOLE month to finish the darn thing.

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  5. I am happy to read your reviews on Go Set A Watchman and The Invention of Wings. I hardly want to read anything heartbreaking anymore as I age. Slavery is the worst. Any mistreatment of our fellow humans - ugh.
    I just keep sending the lights to everyone and everything everywhere.
    Love, Your Momma.

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  6. Sad to hear you didn't like Luckiest Girl Alive - it was a quick read for me because of how engrossed I was in the book - kept wanting to know more! Didn't know the story behind the Harper Lee book so that was interesting to read your take on it!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  7. I tend not to buy into hype either and rarely read a book just because others are reading it UNLESS it falls in my preferred genre, and THEN I'm like "am I reading the same book?!" I do like this set up and have had so many people ask me if I'm going to read GSaW and my answer is most likely no. Not because of the first draft to pub problems a lot of people would notice, but because it's just not my style no matter how much of a classic TKaM is.

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  8. Take Me With You is on my list to read it sounds really good. I have heard good and bad things about Luckiest Girl Alive. I'm going to keep an open mind but no expectations.

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  9. i had the invention of wings but had to return it because i had way too many books on my roster! i'll pick it up again soon.

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  10. I was not a huge fan of Luckiest Girl Alive either. I had no idea they were making it into a movie. I definitely won't go see that one. I was really disappointed with the ending too. Going to check out those first two you mentioned tho!

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  11. I felt the exact same way about The Invention of Wings. It was heartbreaking at points but I wanted more "umph" from the characters too. Also, Tiny Little Thing sounds very intriguing! That will be next on my list.

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  12. good to know about luckiest girl alive, i keep saying people recommending it but i'm not feeling it.
    also good to know about watchman, i don't think i have any desire to read it because i'm not very good at separating things like that and I only JUST read TKAM so it's fresh in my mind. If I had read TKAM in high school (which I also might have but memory is a fickle thing) I might. I can't believe people are getting all up in arms about it like she wrote it as a sequel to piss them off.
    both of your engrossing reads are on my TBR list!
    I'll have to add Dreamland for when I wants some teenage angst in my life. the invention of wings has been on my list forever but i feel like i really need to be in the right mood for it.

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  13. I didn't even want to share my bad ones. :P I think they were all from authors who are getting started, because they bundled up 16 stories from random authors together, and I'd be surprised if a more established author would want to do that. Books about slavery (and anything about Native American culture) are so hard to read. I think it's valuable, but getting through all the tragic details is usually, like you said, heart breaking. The last thing I read in that general genre was Sing Down the Moon and then I needed a break for a while.

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  14. Go Set A Watchman showed up at the library for me after I put it on hold when the news of it being published broke. I took it back without reading, I don't feel like I'm in a place where I want to read it. Maybe some day but not now.

    Tiny Little Things is still on my wait list, I wish it would hurry!

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  15. I had trouble with an asshole of a narrator this month, too. It just ruins a book for me, especially if it's not even a study into the flawed nature of character or the illustration of constraints of a particular time or situation, the person is just an idiot. No good. Also, congrats on a 662 page behemoth that you just weren't that into, that's impressive work. I'm adding both of your engrossing reads to my list. Thanks for the recs!

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  16. Tiny little thing was good!! Putting Invention of wings on my list. I also read The Wednesday group and Water from my heart this month. Both really good!

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  17. So many books that are on my list! Dreamland is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books, but I haven't read it since I was younger. Have you read This Lullaby? It's my favorite book of hers, and just a favorite YA in general! I'm interested to read Go Set a Watchman, but it will probably be a while.

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  18. I may have to read "Take me with you" - I usually steer away with anything with a dog because I'm always afraid that the dog dies & I cant handle it..

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  19. I am so adding Dreamland to my reading list! I really liked Saint Anything. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  20. I've read Dreamland and gave it 4 stars. I've added Tiny Little Thing and Take Me With You to my to be read list. And oh no about Luckiest Girl Alive. That is my next book to read once I finish The sea of Tranquility!!

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  21. I just read my first Dessen and I'll be reading more for sure. I'm intrigued by The Invention of Wings, but I'll probably pass on Go Set a Watchman and American Elsewhere.

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  22. I can't believe we didn't discuss Luckiest Girl Alive because our sentiments were very similar. And I agree, I can overlook a subpar plot OR terrible narrator/main character, but not both. What was the author thinking? Ugh.

    I totally question myself when I start to recommend a long book to someone, too. I'm not a science fan so I'll pass on that one but I'm definitely looking into a few of your top pics. And as for Watchman, I'm still torn. I liked reading your thoughts and if it just isn't that great then I probably won't waste my time.

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  23. Oh mannnnn. I have Luckiest Girl Alive on my to-read list. Boo

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  24. I want to read Go Set a Watchman out of curiosity more than anything else... even though I already feel like it's going to disappoint me. Totally agree on what you said about characters... if someone creates them then they can DO WHAT THEY WANT with them. Cry about it.

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  25. Just added American Elsewhere to the list, challenge accepted :) No, I like sci-fi stuff and I haven't been reading too many of those lately. I can't believe there was ever a time I had to look for books to read, I feel like I have a never ending list now :) At least Luckiest Girl Alive is one I don't need to add to the list.

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  26. I have never even heard of the first two! I will add them to my list ASAP! Love what you said about Harper Lee doing what she wants with her characters. They are HERS! She made them up she can do what she likes with them!

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  27. I wasn't crazy about Go Set a Watchman- but I'm so glad to hear from someone who acknowledges that it was a rough draft not actually the complete story!

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  28. Very interesting insight on "Go Set a Watchman". I have been hearing so much about the book was getting my hopes up on what to expect. In hearing your take on it, I will be better prepared with my expectations. Thanks

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  29. 'Mercy' by Jodi Picoult - flat, had to force myself to finish it because of my OCD

    'Take Me With You' by Catherine Ryan Hyde - best book I've read recently. The dog so reminded me of Grace that I fell in love with him.

    'Wonder' by RJ Palacio - nicely written and a good story to discuss with Reghan, but predictable

    'Stolen' by Lucy Christopher - written in the first person to another, "You". somewhat predictable, but I liked it.

    Currently reading 'Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's' by John Elder Robison - The author is the brother of Augusten Burroughs. I did not know this before I started the book. I did not much care for 'Running with Scissors' because it didn't ring true. Same for this one, but I like the Asperger's influence. Jury is still out on this one; I'm not even halfway through it. Will let you know next month.

    I read 'The Invention of Wings' a few years ago and I liked it.

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  30. I had similar feelings about Luckiest Girl Alive. I read the whole thing, so it's better than some I've tried, but I hated the main character too. Really bad. I think I'll see the movie just because I love seeing how certain books are brought to life. I'm excited to add a few others to my to-read list. I love that you do this link up :)

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  31. SHOOT! so sad i missed this. the whole move has thrown me off. I have tiny little thing on what i'm reading next!!

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  32. I'm definitely adding Tiny Little Thing to my list of books to read now.

    I'm a fan of Dessen because she writes light distracting books. I don't expect literary genius but I'm always happy with the story.

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  33. I have A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams on my to-read list! Have you read it yet???

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    1. Hey! I did. That was the first Williams novel I read and my favorite out of the four of them. I tried to email you but your email is not attached to your comment!

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  34. I love your honest review of Luckiest Girl in the World, I was so close to picking that one up next so I'm so glad to have read your thoughts on it. And happy birthday to your step-mama!

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  35. I love that you gave an objective review of Go Set a Watchman. I don't really have any interest in reading it. I mean, I did, but once I learned it was basically the rough, rough draft of TKAM, I passed. I want Scout, Jem and Atticus just as I remember them... in final form.

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  36. Thanks for hosting! I gotta hope that Reese Witherspoon is gonna do a good job, have you seen Wild? I loved that book and I think Reese did an awesome job w it!

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  37. I am not sure that I care to try Watchman. There has sure been a shit storm over it though, hasn't there? I liked your honest thoughts on Luckiest Girl Alive. I really try to not buy in to book hype as well because I hate being let down.

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  38. Happy birthday to your stepmom! And thanks for all the good book suggestions. Always fun to know where a resource is for future book picking.

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  39. how you managed to read a 662 page book in a month along with several others is beyond me. I'm impressed!

    I have yet to read "To Kill a Mockingbird", it's on the list but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

    I'm a little bummed "Luckiest Girl Alive" didn't rank well. I've been on my library's waiting list for this book for a month now and I hoped that that was a sign that it was good.

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  40. I added your first two, plus The Invention of Wings, which I've been meaning to read since my sister recommended it. I'm still on the hold list for Watchman, but I'm not in a hurry for it.

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  41. I feel so far behind already because 1) just found your cute blog and 2) I haven't read any of these! I'm glad I saw these reviews, though! They are super helpful for what book I will read next :)
    xo, Candace | Lovely Little Rants

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  42. Ahhhh do I take Luckiest Girl Alive off my audible list?!? Hmmm...Checking out your engrossing reads to add to my list :)

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  43. I really want to read Luckiest Girl Alive, but am starting The Knockoff tonight!

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  44. Definitely checking out the first two, Dreamland is already on my TBR, and I really don't know what to do about Go Set a Watchman.

    I'm reading a behemoth of my own right now, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It's a little tedious by quite good. I feel I'll need light and fluffy when it's done. Literal and figurative.

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  45. You've succeeded in making me more curious about Luckiest Girl Alive...we'll see...

    Maybe I'll try Dreamland...sometimes you need just a story.

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  46. Really glad to read your review of Go Set A Watchman. I'll definitely read it at some point because I think Lee is a genius and TKAM is easily one of the most brilliant books of the century. But yeah, people definitely need to realize Harper Lee didn't just wake up 50 years after her one and only publication and say "hmm, let's do that again." This was always known to be, essentially, a draft of TKAM, wasn't it? The publisher definitely pushed for its release and that should be taken into account.

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  47. Take Me With You, The Invention of Wings, and American Elsewhere have been added to my "To Read" list. I probably won't start American Elsewhere until I've gotten pretty far along with my reading goals for the year, though. I don't mind a long book, but I'll be pissed at myself if I fall behind on my 50 book goal because I've picked up a book I can't get through in a week or less. (Side note: Speaking of long, weird books … It took me a solid 6 months to get through House of Leaves years ago. I don't know if you've read it, but that was quite the beast.)

    This is shocking and embarrassing, but I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird. I know, I know … I need to get on that. I have no idea how I managed to get through high school and college without finding this on a required reading list (or why I never bothered to pick it up on my own once I graduated and realized I wouldn't be required to read anything for a literature class ever again).

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  48. I tried to give my mom my copy of GSAW when I went to visit recently. She wouldn't read it! Her stance is that the publisher is taking advantage of Harper Lee in her old age and released the book to make an insane profit off of the hype. She gave me a speech how they wheeled her out of who knows where and wheeled her back in after the release. Ha ha. My mom gets really passionate about things (I read HL is of sound mind but who knows!) and it was just so funny that she acted like the book was a bomb or something. I've heard so many good things about The Invention of Wings, need to add that to my list!

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  49. Oh god, I read so much this month! I read A Practical Wedding, which was super zen and helpful and made me feel like I'm doing this whole wedding planning thing totally normally. I read Dietland which was super subversive and great. I listened to The Smartest Kids in the World, that was really fascinating. I had to return a bunch of books unread. Started Saint Masie and hoping to bang that one out before classes start on Monday.

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    1. Ok apparently I didn't actually read that much. I just DID a lot.

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    2. It's always good when a book centers you about something going on in your life, especially something like wedding planning!

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  50. I look forward to this linkup every month. Love everyone's book recs!

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  51. That Sue Monk Kidd book has been on my list for awhile now. I'm with you about all the hype that was around Go Set a Watchman. I do think the circumstances around it are shady. I'm going to check out American Elsewhere and your first two.
    I like how you've set up your book list too!

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