I thought I’d try something new – a monthly wrap-up post including all of the books I’ve read during the month with a brief review of each.
And imagine my surprise when I looked back and saw what a big month July turned out to be – 8 books! Yes, a couple of them were kind of weak (2 cat-themed sort of light/comic-y illustrated books) but that still leaves 6 actual novels.
Also, during July (yesterday), this happened:
Some years I struggle to make 30 books by the end of the year, this time around I can’t get enough books and suddenly I hit the goal of 30 before August 1st? So I’ve officially increased my goal to 45. I’m not quite confident looking at my calendar that I can reach 50 but I’m going to try. Wish me luck!
Anyways, on to the books! (The date listed is when I finished reading it.)
The Monsters of Templeton – Lauren Groff – 4.5* – (July 2):
I bought this book for almost nothing at a used bookstore based on the lovely black and white cover. It also has a nice map inside. The GR rating is lower than I think it deserves because I really enjoyed it. It’s a story about a woman who returns to her hometown and explores her family history while trying to discover her biological father. Her ancestors come alive through chapters from their own perspectives, which is very interesting. Biggest nit-pick is that potential male father-figure candidates aren’t well-developed leaving you a bit ‘meh’ on the outcome. Whether or not she figures it out and who it is just isn’t something you’re as invested in as you should be because of this. Still, I gave it a strong 4.5* and really enjoyed it.
Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray – Nick Bruel – 4* – (July 6):
When the owners go away, Uncle Murray comes to stay with Kitty and Puppy. Kitty is not a fan. This is a cute illustrated book depicting the adventures of Bad Kitty when her life and routine are invaded by a stranger. Not much else to say about it – you either like this kind of thing or you don’t.
The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom – 4.5*- (July 9):
I deducted half a star only for sadness. And perhaps that sadness is just reality for the people who lived and worked on plantations but it was so hurtful to see their dreams and joy come crashing apart again and again. It’s a complicated tale of the blurred but distinct lines between classes, both within the slaves and between the slaves and owners. I read this for book club and it was an excellent book to discuss with friends. I highly recommend it but not as a solo read. Longer review at Goodreads.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon – 4.25* – (July 12):
I had no idea what I was getting into with this book but everyone was talking about it and I found it for almost nothing at the used bookstore so I bought it. Plus, it was short. It’s the story of a boy with autism dealing with the death of his mother, investigating the death of a dog in the neighborhood, and generally going about his life. It was interesting to see him go about his days, functioning within our world but seeing it through his eyes, playing by his rules. Mostly, it was fascinating to see how brilliant he was and how aware he was of his differences at times. A very interesting read.
Take Our Cat, Please: A Get Fuzzy Collection – Darby Conley – 3.5 *- (July 16):
It’s a book full of the comic strip from the Sunday papers. If you like that, you’ll like this. I was a huge fan for a long time. Maybe I’ve kind of moved on. Or maybe this was just way too much of Bucky and Satchel and Rob all in one place. A small dose each week is probably about the right amount for me.
A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby – 3* – (July 22):
I wanted to read this because it was made into a movie but now I don’t have much interest in the movie. Four people meet by chance when they decide to jump off the roof of a building on New Year’s Eve. They end up not jumping. And then not much happens for the next 300 pages. Which is why they wanted to jump in the first place, really. Except most of them are kind of unlikeable or outright horrible, which seems like a good reason to want them to jump (hey, it’s fiction, I don’t encourage REAL people to do such things).
People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks – 4.25* – (July 27):
I enjoyed this a lot. It’s the story of a rare Jewish book, saved multiple times throughout history, restored most recently by Hanna Heath. Hanna discovers a few ‘secrets’ hidden within the manuscript and travels around the globe trying to find answers about the people of the book (get it?) while becoming part of its story herself. The book itself becomes a bit formulaic, not necessarily in a bad way, as Hanna travels, meets with an expert about Exhibit X, they give her a scientific answer, and then the next chapter is a historical account of how that actually came to be. In the end, we know a lot more than Hanna, but it was still a very interesting read.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin – 3.75* – (July 30):
My second book club read of the month, very different from the first. This one is about the life of a bookseller that has taken turns he never imagined. Zevin writes some YA (which i have not read, though I have one on my TBR shelf) and while this isn’t classified as such, I feel like the writing style almost qualifies. Something about it felt very uneven, between the simplistic writing style and an odd meandering between heavy and almost fairytale-like topics. There were bits I enjoyed very much and passages I strongly disliked but overall it was a very quick read that held my attention. I wanted to see what happened next.
Not a bad month – guess we’ll see what August brings!