I’ll just be honest – June was a nightmare. At least the latter part of the month. You know I’m out of sorts when I can’t even read to escape it.

My goal for June:

“The magic number seems to be 4 books a month so I’m holding steady despite some upcoming travel.”

If only travel had been the only issue.

Actual vs. planned: (Link to my Goodreads 2017 shelf where you can find individual reviews that may or may not differ from what is posted here.)

The First Time She Drowned – Kerry Kletter – 4* – (June 6)

As for the book – I wanted to smack the hell out of Cassie’s mother. What a horrible person! Cassie, after leaving the mental institution, tried to do her best. However, no matter how destructive a parent can be, there’s almost always an urge for the child to please them.

This book is a prime example of why I should review things right after I finish reading them. I don’t remember how it ended. I remember liking it overall, though it wasn’t the most uplifting book. I’m giving it 4 stars for making me feel so strongly about her mother.

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout – 3.5* – (June 8)

It was interesting to follow Olive as she starred in her own stories and featured (to varying degrees) in the stories of others. I found it an interesting way to move forward in the timeline – in one story, she was at her son’s wedding. Later, her son has moved away. Olive is a unique character – slightly hard, ferociously protective and loyal. Still, I was left feeling slightly cold to the entire experience.

False Memory – Dean Koontz – 4* – (June 17):

It’s been a long time since I read anything by Koontz but I saw this one on a list somewhere and it looked interesting.

It’s about mind control, and as I remember from his books in the past, it’s about an almost untouchable mad man. I thought it would be a quick read but I found it rather burdensome in its descriptions and rantings. There were some fascinating aspects, which is why it gets 3*. I felt as if I was reading something very intelligent but it didn’t inspire me to pick up more Koontz any time soon.

X – Sue Grafton – 3* – (June 25):

Typical Kinsey Millhone mystery. You’ll like it or you won’t – and since we’re 24 books into the series, most readers will know where they fall.

There were a few issues of failed “Chekov’s Gun” scenarios where something mentioned in one act didn’t come back around later as I expected. It’s always interesting to see someone get past Kinsey with a scheme and this book had that several times. The way she handles it and recovers is always well executed.

Also, since the beginning of the series, I wondered what “X” would stand for, since that’s the series’ conceit. “A is for Alibi” and so on. X wasn’t for anything. Sure, plenty of names with “X” showed up in the book but it was a little disappointing.

Fall of Marigolds – Susan Meissner – 4* – (June 30):

The writing was good. The stories and characters were believable and compelling. It was a fascinating look at how paths cross and the world is such a small place. Reading about the (fictionalized) lives of nurses and patients on Ellis Island in 1911 made me want to learn more.

But it also made me think about fictionalizing history. This story is told in two time periods. The first is 1911. A nurse, who survived the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in Manhattan (a real event), takes a post on Ellis Island to escape what she has seen. I didn’t have a problem with using this real tragedy. But the more recent timeline takes place in 2011 and involves a woman who witnessed the towers falling on 9/11. That felt too soon to me (though I realize it was almost 16 years ago now).

It’s interesting to think about why one event feels more off-limits. Also, I haven’t come across much 9/11-related fiction. Some, yes. But it seems like proportionately little.

I started with three reading goals this year but added a fourth:

  1. Read 40 books: – Currently at 32, which is 13 ahead of schedule according to Goodreads.
  2. Complete the Rhymes with Croatia 2017 Reading Challenge: There are 24 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 – 5 (set somewhere you’ve never been, set in a school, thriller, library, kick-ass woman protag/female author)
    2. February – 4 (teaches something new, recommended by a friend, embarrassed to be seen with in public, takes place during winter)
    3. March – 3 (collection of short stories, one-word title, adapted to tv/movie)
    4. April – 1 (new-to-you classic author)
    5. May – 2 + 1 alternate (coffee table book, one-word title, Bonus: TBR 3+ years)
    6. June – 1 (book with a flower/plant in title
  3. Decrease my TBR: 
    1. January 1 – 88 physical/29 digital
    2. January – 91/29 (read 2 physical, added 5 – 2 were gifts)
    3. February 28 – 91/30 (read 1 physical, bought a few, donated and otherwise updated my shelf to reflect what’s actually there)
    4. April 6 – 88/31 (no new physical, despite my birthday, bought 2 digital)
    5. May 3 – 89/32 (bought 1 physical, received 1 at a writing conference, bought 3 digital)
    6. June 1 – 86/32 (I only read 1 – the other 2 are being read slowly now)
    7. June 30 – (I decided to donate some but mostly read from the library) 78/32
  4. Read more political/activism books: I read one in February. None in March. I might count Slaughterhouse-Five and The Handmaid’s Tale for this category.

Diversity? Historical fiction, a couple of mysteries, and a short story collection

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
  • 4 stars: 16 books
  • 3 stars: 11 books
  • 2 stars: 1 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 0 books

Pages read:

  • January – 2936
  • February – 1075
  • March – 1380
  • April – 1786
  • May – 1064
  • June – 2272

Again, upcoming travel so I’ll stick with 4.  If you haven’t joined the Rhymes with Croatia 2017 Reading Challenge yet, consider checking it out!