Wednesday, July 8, 2015

what i read in june

The big reading news for June is this: I listened to my first audiobook. Yes, totally did. And talked about it here (go say hi to #collaboreads), but I wanted you to know that I'm a convert. I'm an aubiobook convert because of Helene and her wicked awesome hook-up for some free Audible.com books. 

So, now on to reviews: 
My reading attention span sits pretty solidly at 250-350 pages. Any book much longer than that tends to lose me, to drift on and on with dawdling details and little resolution. I often find myself rolling my eyes and ready to be done at the 300 page mark, sure that all the surprise and emotion a novel could hold must end there. But the Semi-Charmed Summer Reading Challenge says I need to finish up a novel that's more than 550 pages so I had to keep reading and I did.

I did read it all and my mind was blown. I sat on the couch at the end of the book and talked Jason's ear off about the merits of The Book Thief. The richness of the characters, the beautiful heartbreak of the plot line, the honest depiction of a dark time in the world's history had me broken all over the place. Honestly, I was flattened by the terrifying truth contained in this novel to the point that no other book would do. I picked up a half a dozen other books to follow this one up with and just couldn't manage to feign interest (much less be truly engaged in a new cast of characters).

Basically, if you haven't read it, you need to. If you know someone who hasn't read it, MAKE THEM.

(Also, Jason is reading the book right now and has been staying up WAY too late each night because it's THAT good.)

I wanted to love this one. I mean, I really, truly wanted to love this one because I'd heard many good things. I'd heard it was going to be like The Fault in Our Stars but funnier. It's been made into a movie so it's got to be awesome. There's the angst of our high school years -filled with every ounce of hilarity and awkwardness we remember them- melded with the heartbreak of death that comes too early. I knew what I was in for and I was excited.

Except it fell short. It fell really short. Earl, the best friend of the main character, was hilarious but vulgar. The writing was casual -the way a teenage boy would write- to a fault. Every one who's been touched by death in one way or another takes something away from it, something that is profound -even if not completely obvious. But this lacked that and more. I found myself laughing -almost out of embarrassment- at the vulgarity of Earl, but come the close of the novel, I wanted more.

I already talked about this one for #Collaboreads (see here), but I'll just put a little piece in here too. This was grand. I'm a fan of Kidd's writing in general, but this one melded the beauty of history with the wonder of fiction. I mean, really, the main character was a real woman who made a difference in the way our nation handled slavery and women's rights. I found her refreshing, the way she could imagine life in such a distinctly different way than it was in her nation, and inspiring, with her bold and eloquent ability to act on her convictions.

Also, it seems important to share: I listened to this as an audiobook. It was the first time I made it through an entire novel (the whole 13 hours) and found the two narrators to be wonderful. They embraced their roles beautifully and were the perfect balance between rich, white girl and her black slave. The writing is gorgeous, the plot wonderful, and my only difficulty was the narrators didn't talk as fast as my little heart wanted them to because GIMME ALL THE GOOD WORDS.

I know there was a lot of fanfare about this book. I know we're supposed to hate it or love it and have all kinds of big feelings. I know that. But I missed that train and was late to the #Girlboss party. And, quite honestly, I'm thankful for it because I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. Before you have a heart attack over my poor taste in business books, let me share why: 
  1. I was expecting Amoruso to be annoying and elitest. I found her very approachable and interesting. 
  2. The NastyGal brand does nothing for me, but the woman who started it does. 
  3. This rag to riches story wasn't candy coated, she struggled, she learned the hard way, she succeeded, and now she's sharing. 
I know that many have said her advice is trite and typical. It is. Except she gives it all in the context of her story to CEO of NastyGal and that did it for me. She talked about her days of thrifting, her distaste for the typical 9 to 5, her constant struggle to conform to the roles expected of her. She does it all in a way that kept me interested. I know part of the coincidence is the opening of Amber Thomas Makes and my desire to understand the way other brands grow and create themselves, so I was more interested than normal.

As I finished the book that I'd borrow from the library, I decided I wanted a copy of my own. I felt Amoruso was daring me to work my ass off and chase the wildest dream my little heart can fathom throughout the course of the book. Still waiting on Amazon to drop my copy off on our porch. 

And an update on the reading challenge:
(This month was harder because of the 550 page book I decided to take on, 
but I'm hoping to be done with the challenge next month!)

A Freebie (5 points):  DONE!
              The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison  
A book you have never heard of before (10 points): DONE
              Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews 
A book that has been on your TBR list for at least two years (10 points)DONE
              Little Bee by Chris Cleave  
A book that won a 2014 Goodreads “Best Book” award (10 points)DONE
              #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso 
A book by an author who is completely new to you (15 points)DONE
              Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler   
A book by an author you have read before (15 points)DONE
              The Rosie Effect by Graeme Samson 
A book with "light" or "dark" in the title (15 points):
               The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow (296 pages) 
book with the name of a city, state or country in the title (20 points):
               The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst  (261 pages) 
A book with an animal on the cover (20 points)DONE
               A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas  
A book that is part of a series with at least four books (25 points)
              The Giver by Lois Lowry   (240 pages) 
A book that is longer than 500 pages long (25 points)DONE
              The Book Thief by John Muzak 
A book with an alliterative title (30 points)
              Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (287 pages) 

I had a struggle this month because all kinds of book recommendations came my way and that makes me frantic in setting reading priorities. Regardless, I knocked a couple books off and I'm ending the second month of the Semi-Charmed Life Summer Reading Challenge with a total of 110 points! 

26 comments:

  1. The Book Thief is next on my list to read, so glad to hear you liked it! Also, Amber Thomas Makes is AWESOME, you've got some serious skills.

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  2. The Book Thief is my of my all time favorite books. So glad you loved it so much.

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  3. LOOOOOVED The Book Thief so good. I haven't heard of many of the others though. As usual- adding them to my Goodreads! haha

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  4. June was a great month for five stars. I have been on the fence about the Invention of Wings but I'm putting it on my list.

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  5. The Book Thief...just so beautiful.

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  6. I was disappointed in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl too. It was funny, and I appreciated the honesty, but there's a difference between honesty and not having a heart. So I liked it, but not as much as I had hoped.

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  7. Good for you, Amber! I'm doing the same book challenge except I'm sitting pretty with 0 points. I swear I've started books and intend to finish them, but I just can't get myself to sit and read! UGH. And now I need to add The Book Thief to my to-read list because I've heard so many good things!

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  8. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvJuly 8, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    So glad you loved The Book Thief!

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  9. THE BOOK THIEF!!!!! I finally read it and LOVED it!!!

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  10. I can't wait until you read The Dogs of Babel. I read it in high school and still read it every few years because it's that good and interesting to me, and even more relevant after my best friend died suddenly. I found your blog a couple months ago and have been completely enamored and inspired by it and can't wait to see what you think of one of my favorite books. Adding The Book Thief to my list!

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  11. Confession: I've had The Book Thief on my Kindle for MONTHS but haven't read it yet. I need to get on that!

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  12. I loved The Book Thief, too! Although I will say that lately it seems like EVERY popular book is historical fiction from WWII and they're all kind of blending together in my mind!

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  13. It's SO WORTH it. I promise. Like, PROMISE. It takes some getting used to (the narrator is unexpected) but you'll love it. :)

    And thank you... It's so fun and so tiring all in one swoop! :)

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  14. I really struggled through the first 65 pages, but then once I got used to Death narrating and the way the novel moved I was captivated.

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  15. Girl, it tore me up! Jason immediately started reading it after I finish and he was like WHOA too. :)

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  16. It was honestly SUCH a great month of reading... There was one flop in there that I couldn't get through so I skipped listing it... Though those books might totally be worth sharing as "not my favorites". :)

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  17. RIGHT?!? It killed me in the best of ways.

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  18. YES. I wanted them to grow and change and just become more adult in the whole thing and I felt like that wasn't even SORT OF what happened and that disappointed me. Like a lot of disappointment. Plus, Earl was hilariously vulgar... But then there was no point to his presence but for the comedic effect and that always bugs me.

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  19. Well, I realize that my problem is I get too focused on the points and then I'm jut drowning myself in pressure to read which makes reading not so much fun. :) REGARDLESS, I had some wonderful reads in June and now July has a lot to live up to! :)

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  20. Honestly, I struggled at first. Like the first 65 pages were constant back and forth, back and forth for me. But then, I got used to the flow of the book and fell in LOVE.

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  21. It was delightful! It took a little bit of getting used to, but then I fell in love with the characters and the heartache and the beauty in it all.

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  22. This month! I'm hoping to read Dogs of Babel this month! :) I've had it FOREVER and yet have never read it... BUT WHY?


    And thank you for sticking around! :) I love knowing there's new readers who are thoroughly enjoying themselves. :)

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  23. YOU DO. IMMEDIATELY.


    It takes a little bit of getting used to because it's unexpected in so many ways (took me 65 pages) but then I was SO STUCK in it.

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  24. So funny because I just said that to Jason the other day! I am not a big war/history reader but my To Read list doesn't reflect that AT ALL because so many great novels are coming out set right there in that time! :)

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  25. Yes!!!! For another good book, you've got to read "The Mapmaker's Children" by Sarah McCoy!

    *~ Victoria*

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