Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017 in Books

Hi everyone!  Here's the rundown of what I read this month.  Much more balance between the serious and not so serious.  On deck for next mont is a lot more juvenile lit.  Ellie just celebrated her birthday yesterday and has a whole new stack of books which I'l be expected to read (along with a bunch that she had already assigned).  Right now I'm finishing up Salt Houses which is SO good and I also just finally picked up Hillbilly Elegy which I'm way overdue for.  What are you reading?

Wonder - R.J. Palacio - Juvenile Fiction - five stars - This has been on my list to read for a while, and with the movie coming out I really thought I needed to get it read. Ellie and I both read and loved this one. It's about a boy named Auggie who was born with a serious facial deformity. The story is told from a variety of perspectives of those surrounding him. I really like how you get to see a little more about each of the different narrators and the particular struggles they face, it's a great book to use as a jumping off point when discussing bullying.

Chupacabra (Marty and Grace #3)
- Roland Smith - Juvenile Fiction - five stars - The third book in this series, Grace has been kidnapped by her Grandfather and is working on the inside at figuring out what he is up, at the same time Marty is trying to rescue her. We really love this series and really everything we've read from Roland Smith.

Oliver and the Sea Monkeys - Philip Reeve - Juvenile Fiction - Three Stars - One of Ellie's current battle books. This one was kind of meh for me. I think this one is geared towards the younger readers, to me it's kind of like a Captain Underpants style book for holder readers a little more meat/plot, but still pretty corny and kitschy.

Deep Dish
- Mary Kay Andrews - Fiction - four stars - One of the books I took on vacation with me, Mary Kay Andrews is always a great vacation read. This one is the story of Gina Foxton who is competing with Tate Moody for a show on the Cooking Channel. To win they are participating in a head to head competition (also a cooking show). The thing I love about Mary Kay Andrews books are that her characters are so likable and they make you laugh. This is another fun and easy read.

The Illusion of Separateness
- Simon Van Booy - Historical Fiction - four stars - A really quick read, this is told as a series of vignettes, from WWII through the present day that follow several characters that whose stories intersect. It was a little more fragmented for my liking, but I did find the overall story compelling.

The Lake House
- Kate Morton - Fiction - five stars - I really love Kate Morton books. They follow a certain formula, someone from present day is drawn into a mystery from years ago, and the story bounces between the present and prior time period. There is generally a twist that sometimes you see and sometimes you don't see coming. This was one of my favorites. Sometimes her books start a bit slowly, but I was drawn in immediately and there were several things that ended up being a surprise to me.

The Last Anniversary
- Liane Moriary - Fiction - five stars - Liane is another of my favorite authors.  Her books tend to have some amount of unbelievability in the story lines, but it adds to the humor and the characters are just so likable that you kind of don't care.  In this story, Sophie inherits the home of the aunt of an ex boyfriend (now happily married).  She becomes involved in the zaniness of his family as well as an ongoing mystery.

The Girl on the Cliff
- Lucinda Riley - Fiction - four stars - This is another of those books where someone from present-day becomes involved in a mystery from the past.  In this case, Grania Ryan comes home to Ireland after a miscarriage and is trying to sort out her life when she becomes involved with local noble family, which her family shares a past with.  I enjoyed the overall plot, but the book used an unnecessary literary device (where the narrator interjects commentary occasionally) which was kind of annoying.  I also thought some of the plot lines were pretty see-through/soap opera-ey, i.e. this baby is not really your baby.

The Sound of Gravel - Ruth Wariner - Autobiography - five stars - The autobiography of a woman raised in a breakaway polygamous Mormon sect in Mexico.  It was sad and scary and slightly fascinating.  The woman and her family regularly traveled back to the U.S. to get welfare disbursements and also lived for periods of time with family who were not practicing.  It tells about the struggles, but also the bonds between her and her siblings and how they were able to escape that life.

Mutation (Marty and Grace #4)
- Roland Smith - Juvenile Fiction - five stars - The final book in this series and just as good as the rest of them.  The book ties up all the loose ends, adds a bit of origin story and was a satisfactory end to it all.  As I've mentioned before, if you're looking for good reading for tweens, particularly boys, Roland Smith's books are great.  It's all action/adventure, not a lot of drama/angst.  Highly recommend.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - Arundhati Roy - Fiction - three stars - I really thought I was going to like this book, but I didn't.  It was kind of boring and a slog, mostly because I just never really identified with or liked any of the characters.  The one thing I will say is that I did learn a lot about the ongoing conflict in Kashmir, which I guess I never really knew existed until now.  

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