July Reading Wrap-Up & the Goodreads Bermuda Triangle #amreading

Hello, fellow book junkies!  I’ll say it right out, July was a total hodgepodge of reading, and somehow I read a record number of books: 16–too many to review in one wrap-up, so I’ll just highlight a few.

Surprise Faves

I’m one of those people who can’t watch violence of any kind. If a character on television is being beaten or stabbed, my hands are clamped firmly over my eyes until a family member says it’s safe to remove them. That is why it came as a surprise that two of the most entertaining books I read this month–Ice Massacre and Red Risingalso happen to be the most violent. In Ice Massacre, a band of island girls battle mermaid-sea demons.See my review here. As for Red Rising, I didn’t mind that the story of godlike military academy cadets battling each other on Mars was heavily influenced by Hunger Games. What did give me pause was the contrived reason for their barbaric battles. But guess what? I still enjoyed the book– kind of like crushing on a bad boy you know you shouldn’t have feelings for.

July 2016 violent but entertaining Ice Massacre & Red Rising

And The Award for Most Haunting Book Goes to. . .

There’s this thing I like to call the “linger effect,” when a book haunts me long after I’ve finished reading it. That’s what happened with The Walls Around Us, penned by the queen of atmospheric writing, Nova Ren Suma. In The Walls Around Us there’s a cutthroat ballet dancer, violent girls in a detention center, paranormal happenings, and just. . . can someone give this book a better cover, please?

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Off-the Hook Writing & the Goodreads Bermuda Triangle

Three books this month that featured notably exceptional writing were This Savage Song,  Station Eleven, and Reality Boy.

I have no qualms about declaring Victoria V.E. Schwab as my favorite author. I even say it right out on my blog’s “about me” page. V’s books transcend genre, and This Savage Song is no exception. I just adore the monster boy August. (Note to publishers of Nova Ren Suma’s book: THIS is how to do a good cover. . .)

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Then there was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Literary post-apocalyptic ? Sign me up. There is a reason this beauty won a National Book Award. In St. John Mandel’s expert hands, the story kept morphing in unexpected ways.

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Here’s where we get to the part about the Goodreads Bermuda Triangle. On a whim, I picked up the YA contemporary Reality Boy and was blown away by A.S. King’s writing. “Reality Boy” is 17-year-old Gerald who’s enraged and damaged by his seriously dysfunctional family and how his home life was broadcast on a reality show when he was a little boy. I tried looking up other A.S. King books on Goodreads and, no matter how I typed her name, with or without initials, neither she nor her books came up. Thus, I have determined that A.S. King resides in the Bermuda Triangle of Goodreads. Okay, so I found a workaround, and the next A.S. King book I plan to read is Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. Great title, right?

A Book That Hurt My Brain (in a Good Way) but Didn’t Touch My Heart Like I Thought it Would

A book that stretched my brain–not always painlessly–was Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? This adult memoir penned by well-known UK author Jeanette Winterson was loaned to me by a friend who raved about how Winterson so eloquently expresses the condition of being an adoptee (which both my friend and I are). The poetry and classic literature Winterson weaves into Why Be Happy made me feel smarter.  🙂
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Disappointments

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – I’m actually kind of mad at this book. I went into it with high expectations. I mean, it was made into a movie, right? Everyone knows about it. It must be amazing, right? Well, the writing style is decent, and the story does introduce us to the beautiful culture Afghanistan, but the whiny, ungrateful, traitorous main character and the melodrama turned me off.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – Rich world building, mythical creatures, tons of characters with exotic names, Japanese cultural influences (bonus!), best of all, the main character Tea has the dark power to raise the dead–including her brother Fox (my favorite character). What I didn’t realize when I started the The Bone Witch is that it is the highest of high fantasy–not my favorite genre. For me, genre isn’t a deal breaker but never connecting with the main character is. And I didn’t.

Sleeper Hit

The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman – It’s not perfect but well worth reading.
Goodreads synopsis: When Ari’s boyfriend Win dies, she gets a spell to erase all memory of him. But spells come at a cost, and this one sets off a chain of events that reveal the hidden—and sometimes dangerous—connections between Ari, her friends, and the boyfriend she can no longer remember.

July Reads At a Glance w/Star Ratings

YA PARANORMAL
Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black audiobook 4/5 stars
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma 4/5 stars
Inborn by Amy Saunders approx. –Netgalley ARC 3/5 stars
The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman  4/5 stars
Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner –Netgalley ARC 5/5 stars
(Secret Project) by Megan Crewe  –by author request, not allowed to post review until August.

YA HIGH FANTASY
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco-Netgalley ARC 3/5 stars

YA DYSTOPIAN FANTASY, or whatever the f*** brilliant new genre V.E. Schwab decides she’s writing
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab 4/5 stars

MIDDLE GRADE FAIRY TALE
The Wishing Spell, Land of Stories #1 by Chris Colfer  loaner from friend 2.5/5 stars

YA SCI-FI DYSTOPIAN
Red Rising by Pierce Brown 4/5 stars

YA CONTEMPORARY
Reality Boy by A.S. King 4/5 stars
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews audiobook 3.75/5 stars
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins buddy read w/Beth, Sophie, Emma @ The Books Are Everywhere 4/5 stars

ADULT POST-APOCALYPTIC
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 4.5/5 stars

ADULT CONTEMPORARY
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini audio book 3/5 stars

ADULT MEMOIR
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson  loaner from friend  3.75/5 stars

— Eve Messenger

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29 comments

    1. It is kind of insane, isn’t it? I honestly don’t know how it happened. What’s ironic is it was kind of a so-so month for books. I’m super hopeful about August–in terms of quality, not necessarily quantity. 🙂 What’s a book you loved recently?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Here is hoping for better quality in August! I’m finishing up The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater and loving it so much still! I also just finished a book called Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood that I enjoyed but not sure if it would be your type of book. It is very odd… Not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I also read a YA contemporary (not my usual genre) called The Problem with Forever and was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was a very well done YA contemporary.

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    2. The Raven Cycle, yes! I’ve had The Raven Boys sitting by my bedside forever but can’t seem to get around to reading it. I’m intrigued because I keep hearing how the series gets better and better. Maybe I’m reluctant because I wasn’t a big fan of Shiver (except for Sam *swoon* and the beautiful descriptions).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. lol i did not like The Land of Stories at all either. And oh no, I’m sad you didn’t enjoy the Kite Runner; I really liked it when I read it although I haven’t read it in a while so maybe my feelings would have changed..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed The Walls Around Us as well. Some other A. S. King for you = PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ and EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS. I read them ages ago – before I was on Goodreads.

    I never read ME, EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, but I saw the movie recently, and it was so well done. Reminded me of John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oo, thanks for the A.S. King recs, Madeline! Yeah, Jesse Andrews and I have kind of an odd reader-author relationship. He’s kind of like a kid brother who’s entertaining and good-hearted but can also be annoying because he goes off on goofy tangents. That didn’t stop me from reading both his books, though. :-p

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  3. Wow! What an incredible reading month you’ve had! I just ordered Red Rising and I can’t wait to read This Savage Song!

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  4. OH MY GOSH SO MANY OF THESE ARE ON MY TBR. (Except for Anna and the French Kiss- I read and loved that!) Red Rising, This Savage Song, The Walls Around Us, and Station Eleven are some at the very top of my list.
    Now, what were you saying about similar tastes?
    -Amy XD

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh no, I’m sad to hear that Rin Chupeco’s new book was a letdown. :/ I adored ‘The Girl From The Well’ and ‘The Suffering’, so her next book was highly anticipated. At least I’m forewarned of the genre, I didn’t realize from the blurb that it was high fantasy either, that’s not my fave, but maybe knowing that going in will help…

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    1. In this case, I think it really will help to know about the genre going in. If you’re already a fan Rin Chupeco’s writing then hopefully you’ll like The Bone Witch too. Before reading the Bone Witch, I was interested in reading Th Girl from the Well (especially because, for some reason, I’m drawn to any book with ‘girl’ in the title) but now I’m not sure. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m definitely a fan – coincidentally just had her two books delivered today! I love ‘The Girl From The Well’, but the writing style is very…individual. It’s from the vengeance ghost’s pov, and because her mental state is rather suspect, the writing reflects that being all choppy and formatted oddly. I really enjoyed that though, it was very unique and helped me get into her mindset, which was super cool. It’ll be interesting to see how I go with ‘The Bone Witch’ when I finally get my hands on it.

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  6. I am EXACTLY the same way with on-screen violence… though in books I don’t mind them that much, haha. I think it’s because when I read I don’t really visualise the scene, I’m just… reading. 😛

    I’m glad you liked Red Rising! I haven’t read it yet but I have no doubt I will get to it eventually – I’ve heard so, so many good things about it and I am in the mood for something like that. And I actually like the cover for The Walls Around Us – probably not super suited to the story as I thought it was a contemporary, but hey. 😛

    Sorry to hear about The Bone Witch, though. I like high fantasies but connecting with the character is a must for me for sure.

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