Many milestones to report!

My goal for August:

This next month should be much better for reading so I’ll go with 4.

What a joke. I traveled to NY twice – once because my grandmother had a stroke and two weeks later for her funeral. This year is a nightmare. But reading is escapism and August was a good month in that way, if nothing else.

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.)

Haunted Southern Tier – Elizabeth Tucker – 3* – (Aug 3)

I was expecting a collection of complete short stories rather than a lot of summaries and a report structure. Still, I learned quite a bit about the history of the area where I grew up, including some lore that may or may not be grounded in fact.


Tiny Little Thing – Beatriz Williams – 3* – (Aug 8)

This book… I’m not sure. I wasn’t particularly taken by any of the characters, including the protagonist, Tiny. Her sister was interesting, but I didn’t find any of the main cast to be sympathetic. We’re meant to cheer for Tiny and true love but it all felt so shady that I couldn’t get behind it. There was a twist near the end that I did not see coming and I found it kind of cheap. As if they used that particular twist only to give Tiny an out. It wasn’t my favorite book by Williams.

The Forgetting Time – Sharon Guskin – 3* – (Aug 15):

The psychological/spiritual aspects of this story were very interesting. It’s essentially a reincarnation story in which a little boy has memories of his previous life. A doctor, facing his own mortality, is attempting to prove this phenomenon actually exists. In tracking down the family of the boy whose memories haunt Noah, they address a lot of topics and situations I haven’t seen in fiction. However, I never really connected with the story enough to rate it higher than 3 stars.

If You Were Here – Alafair Burke – 3.5* – (Aug 18)

This book requires a lot of what my high school English teacher called “WSOD” – willful suspension of disbelief. There were so many coincidences, so many far-fetched situations and reactions, I found myself just shy of rolling my eyes several times. However, the story was quite engaging as McKenna used her handy contacts from her careers as an attorney and a reporter to track down a friend from twenty years ago.

The Sea of Tranquility – Katja Millay – 4* – (Aug 20)

Heart breaking. Also, lovely. Two teenagers, broken and coping in completely different ways, come together based on their similarities. Secondary characters are well-developed, though there is a bit of the typical adult-absenteeism that creeps into a lot of YA. This is a wonderful example of a protagonist who does unlikable things but because you understand her motivation, you still feel for her.

Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough – 2* – (Aug 23)

It was kind of trippy and then it took a turn and then it took another turn and now I’m not even sure what I read. I deducted an entire star for the second twist at the ending and another full star for the complete dive off the deep end.

I want to rate this book higher because it wasn’t what I was expecting. But in the end, I felt tricked. The central theme is control. Louise is trying to control cross-contamination between her sexual relationship with her boss, David, and her friendship with Adele, David’s wife. Adele is trying to control her life. David is trying to control Adele. Adele and Louise bond, in part, over controlling their dreams.

In the end, nobody comes out particularly likable or capable. And the book turns on an aspect of the dreams that there was no way to see coming, leaving me feeling cheated.

The Trespasser – Tana French – 3.5* – (Aug 30)

It pains me to only give this one a 3.5* rating but it wasn’t at the same level as other books in the series.

I found the investigation to be frustrating – I know these are “rookie” detectives, but they spent so much time chasing down a wild goose chase that was based almost completely on conjecture. The protagonist had such a chip on her shoulder that it was impossible to trust anyone or anything. Also, I kept forgetting that the protagonist was a woman. It wasn’t that I expected her to be constantly twirling her hair or applying lipstick but her characterization fell flat for me in many ways. However, shoutout to Aislinn because THAT was a fascinating character. It’s nice when the victim in a homicide story becomes so well realized.

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

  1. Read 40 books: – Complete! I’ve finished 42, which is 15 ahead of schedule. Usually when this happens, I adjust my overall goal but at this point, I’m just going to keep reading.
  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 – 4 (new-to-you classic author, banned book, historical event, famous author never read)
    5. May – 2 + 1 alternate (purple cover, coffee table book, Bonus: TBR 3+ years)
    6. June – 1 (book with a flower/plant in title)
    7. July – 0 (ouch! 7 left to go)
    8. August – 1 + 1 alternate (family history/heritage, Bonus: punny title)
    9. Still to complete 4 + 1 bonus): year I was born, another belief system, biography/memoir, one-hit wonder,  Bonus: written by a doctor, (Corrected May to include purple cover, April to include banned book, famous author & historical event)
  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 – 78/32 (I decided to donate some but mostly read from the library)
    8. July 31 – 82/32 (Some people buy magnets on vacation – I buy books as souvenirs)
    9. August 1 – 77/32 (Despite buying 2 and reading several library books, I managed to decrease the TBR – assuming my count is accurate)
  4. Read more political/activism books: Nada.

Diversity? I guess so. Several thrillers but some were YA or part of a series. I could do better here.

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: 18 books
  • 3 stars: 18 books
  • 2 stars: 2 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 0 books

Pages read:

  • January – 2936
  • February – 1075
  • March – 1380
  • April – 1786
  • May – 1064
  • June – 2272
  • July – 1157
  • August – 2409 (wow!)

I’ve almost completed a short story collection so that’s an easy addition to my September plans. I’m feeling optimistic and will set a goal of 5.