I’m determined to finish this post early this month.

First, we’ll review last month’s goal:

“My goal for August is to finish eight books and 2000 pages, as well as cross off a couple of difficult categories on the reading challenge…”

Let’s see what happened. (Link to my Goodreads 2016 shelf where you can find individual reviews that may or may not differ from what is posted here.)

Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey – 3* – (Aug 3):

elizabethIsMissingI gave this 3 stars because I couldn’t decide if it was brilliantly written or just really confusing. It’s like a character you love to hate because the actor does such a wonderful job of portraying the evil layers within.

The main character of this book, Maud, has dementia, and it seems like a fairly realistic portrayal, which makes her an unreliable narrator. Her friend, Elizabeth, is missing. Or is she? Maud’s not quite sure and she’s trying to puzzle that (and the rest of her life) together via notes scribbled on various days. This is intertwined with another missing person story about her sister Sukey who disappeared 70 years ago. By the end (no real spoiler), questions about the wherabouts of both missing women are answered (duh, of course they are) and I didn’t find either to be very satisfying. One seemed meh while the other seemed random in its resolution.



The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah – 5* – (Aug 7):

NightingaleTwo very different sisters living very different lives during WWII, but of course they come together and then grow apart again.

The story of each woman is individually inspiring and heart-breaking but the real power of this book comes from the relationship between the two (and their father).

There was plenty of action, a ton of drama, and just enough romance to keep me glued to this book until the end. I may have even felt a feeling or two.

Black-Eyed Susans – Julia Heaberlin – 4* – (Aug 8):

blackeyedSusansThis was a dark look at a woman suffering from awful survivor’s guilt with the added fear that she had helped convict the wrong person of the crimes. It was interesting to see how she had attempted to keep the details from her daughter, yet she still lived in the same town where her life had been so notoriously defined.

I initially rated this book a 5 based on how much I enjoyed reading it, but I’m taking that down to a 4.5 based on two things – the killer didn’t quite fit for me (I picked up a few clues so I wasn’t surprised but it seemed both too convenient and too implausible at the same time) and I tired easily of people running around without the authorities digging up potential crime scenes and disturbing clues for no good reason.

The Lost Girl – Sangu Mandanna – 4.5* – (Aug 11):

lostgirlIt turns out I can handle sci-fi and dystopian when the world-builder only shifts an element or two. I found the concept of living as an engineered twin, your entire purpose to replace the original should something happen to them, completely fascinating. And then, when it happened, to see how it actually worked, how it didn’t, how everyone involved felt about it.

There’s no sequel to this, but I’d be completely open to reading it if it existed. There were enough openings left that it could happen. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before about anything sci-fi or dystopian.

Mistaken Identity – Lisa Scottoline – 3* – (Aug 23):

mistakenIdentityThis is the second book I’ve read from this author centering around this law firm. Everything about these stories works for me on the surface – law, crime, forensics, tough professional women. And they just don’t resonate for some reason.

This particular story bothered me because the lawyer was so personally involved with the client, who was possibly her twin sister she never knew existed. Bennie (the lawyer) kept going back and forth so often about whether or not she believed the twin aspect, it took me out of the story.

Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica – 4* – (Aug 24):

prettybabyThis was another intense, fast-paced read from Kubica. However, it didn’t quite live up my expectations after reading “The Good Girl.”

The biggest issue I had with the book was the actual baby. No spoilers, but the relationship between Willow and Ruby didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Willow was clearly damaged and it showed in her entire thought process with the baby.

I like the plot of this less as I look back on it so I’ll quit thinking about it and leave it where it was – a quick, dark, dirty read.

I have three reading goals this year:

  1. Read 50 books: – I finished 6 in August, for a total of 39. According to Goodreads, I’m still 6 books ahead of schedule.
  2. Complete the PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge: There are 40 categories, and I’ll count no book for more than 2. I also decided not to count re-reads (unless the category specifies it must be a re-read). Numbers below are new/add’l categories completed.
    1. January – 4 (blue cover, murder mystery, set in Europe, takes place in summer)
    2. February – 3 (culture unfamiliar with, translated to English, library)
    3. March – 10 (autobiography, political memoir, graphic novel, over 600 pages, satirical, guaranteed to bring joy, poetry, finish in a day, NYT bestseller, under 150 pages)
    4. April – 2 (road trip, published in 2016)
    5. May – 4 (YA bestseller, recommended by someone you just met, written by celebrity, protagonist with your occupation)
    6. June –  2 (Oprah’s book club, science fiction)
    7.  July – 4 (becoming a movie this year, 100 years older than me, takes place on an island, book and its prequel)
    8. August – 4 (recommended by family member, dystopian, future romance, home state)
      1. (Total = 33)
  3. Read at least 3 classics from new-to-me authors: 
    1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Diversity? Dystopian, murder mystery, historical fiction – it could’ve been wider, but I’ll take it.

Star ratings: I base this on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.

  • 5 stars: 4 books (1 re-read)
  • 4 stars: 19 books
  • 3 stars: 13 books
  • 2 stars: 3 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 2 books (both books I started and abandoned)

Pages read:

  • January – 1608
  • February – 1420
  • March – 2521
  • April – 1258
  • May – 2197
  • June – 886
  • July – 549
  • August – 2433

I didn’t hit my target number of books, but I nailed the page number. I’m pleased with that. September will likely slow down with some travel and the return of class. I’ll go with a timid goal of 4 books and try to hit at least two more reading challenge categories.