Friday, September 11, 2015

what i read in august

Now that all the celebrating that marks the opening ten days of September is over, we can return to regularly scheduled programming. Programming that talks about my favorite things and seems to attract the greatest buzz. Programming like BOOKS. Oh, and like the coffee date that's coming next week. And then, the week after that, we'll write letters to those we love because who doesn't want a love letter? But for now, books.

I really enjoyed this book when I listened to it. So far it's my favorite of all the audiobooks that I've purchased. I couldn't put it down, couldn't stop listening, and, in fact, carried my phone around in my pocket so I could listen to it over speaker.

I don't know that I'd have read this. Actually, I wouldn't have made it through the first 100 pages if I'd read it. There's lots of thick scientific conversation that I'd have got hung up on and just given up. But, BUT the narrator of The Martian audiobook was fantastic AND the main character, Mark Watney, was hilarious in the driest, more sarcastic of ways. The plot was good, fascinating, but really tied in with a lot of space race conversation that is happening worldwide.

But, the thing about this book that's the MOST interesting is that it was rejected by a whole bunch of publishers. So, Weir decided that he loved his novel and believed people would too so he published it chapter by chapter online. And people did love it. In fact, they loved it so much it caught the attention of a publisher who went on to purchase and publish the novel. (Thanks Lindsay for sharing this with me!) The confidence alone require in all that makes me love Andy Weir.

I know there's a movie coming out. I saw the trailer for it and I was sad to see Mark has a family and the being away from home dynamic is going to be added because, while he missed earth in the book, Mark was single and just really lovable. I think adding a family dynamic is more suitable for Hollywood, but isn't particularly something I'm a fan of.


Well, fancy that. Two hugely positive ratings in one month. Who knew that was going to happen? Not I. But let's talk about how much I thoroughly and deeply loved Dear Mr. Knightley .

This is the first novel I've read by Katherine Reay (though I have Lizzy and Jane out from the library and next in my pile To Read) and I was not disappointed in any part of her work. She's a wonderful writer with a gentle, beautiful, approachable way to words. She points at and references the classics of Jane Austen and others with such ease that I want to try and read them again. She brings the characters from their places in olden day tales into the modern sphere, applying them to daily life in a way that removes all the intimidation of Classic Literature.

But more than that, Reay dances around and through some really challenging topics: family, adoption, and entering adulthood. She handles all the pieces with grace, giving each of them the attention and detail they deserve without boring you half to death. You're cheering Sam, the main character, on, while wishing you could help her in more practical, deep ways. You want to see her succeed, but often find yourself worrying about Sam being her own biggest stumbling block.

It's a must read, really. But it's especially relevant for those of us trying to find our way in the land -oh wait, that's all of us isn't it?
I received this book free for review from Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own. 

I've got a fascination with the psychological thriller type of books. I see the words troubled or dark or misunderstood and I just need to read it. So, when I logged into the Blogging for Books request page and saw Hyacinth Girls I was beside myself. It was fate. And, for the first half of the book, I was thrilled with what fate had declared for me. Frankel's writing was addictive, the characters rich and deeply troubled, the story line fascinating to no end. But then, the middle of the novel came and I found myself not as interested. Maybe it was the switch in perspective, but I lost my deep hunger to know what happened in the character's pasts and what stood in their future. 

Regardless of my feelings about the plot, Frankel captures the way childhood forms adulthood while illustrating the effects a parent's decision has on their child -accidental or not. The consequences of action -or lack thereof- reverberate outwards until the very end of the novel (and perhaps beyond). Small bits and pieces that felt lacking or rushed in the plot were certainly not where my focus centered at the close of the novel. Instead I've spent days thinking about the power or our words, the damage done by labels, and the way I can perpetuate kindness (rather than injury) in my future. 

There was an eerie feeling about the way we don't know everything about anyone but ourselves. Frankel illustrates how vulnerability and honesty is important and valuable, but is carefully balanced between any two people. And then I wondered the way I portray things to be no-big-deal that are, or vice versa and then WHOA. 
I read this one for #Collaboreads and wrote all the details about it here. But, of course, wanted to remind you of its goodness.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, Mr. Thomas and Me will receive a small compensation from your purchase. 

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