Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wrap-Up

July wasn't a bad month for me, but it wasn't amazing either. I was far busier than I intended to be and was only able to finish nine books.

Even though I've already finished my goal of reading 50 books this year, I want to push myself to spend the majority of my free time reading rather than mindlessly surfing the Internet.

I mildly failed on that front since I spent quite a bit of time watching anime. Watching an entire season in one night definitely breaks my rules, but sometimes you just have to relax and enjoy yourself.

I did manage to finish some good books this month, though, so let's get into my July wrap-up.

The first book I finished this month was Absent by Sherri Vanderveen. I've already written a full review and mentioned this book in other posts, so I'll just say that this was my favorite July read and the best novel I've read this year. I gave it a raving 5 stars.

Absent was a weighty read, so afterwards I wanted to indulge in lighter fair. I ended up choosing Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I really enjoyed it and finished it in one night.

If you want to see more of my thoughts on this and other books by her, be sure to check out my Rainbow Rowell spotlight post. This received  3.5 stars.

Next I continued going through the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles by CLAMP with volume 3. It was still good, but I'm starting to tire of the same plot repeated. They go to dimension, they save dimension, they find a feather. I know things start to get darker and change up further along, so I'm ready for that. I gave this volume 3 stars.

Around this time I participated in the #AYearAThon classics read-a-thon, and I wanted to finish three books, but I ended up ignoring the others in favor of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. 
When I was a kid, this was my least favorite of the series, and I actually hadn't reread it since that first time. As an adult, however, I appreciated it so much more.

I see how the events of this book mark the dramatic changes in, not only the wizarding world, but in Harry. I was to young to really understand that before, but now I love this one. It definitely gets 5 stars from me. 

I picked up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell next and devoured it in one night. This is my favorite Rowell book to date. Cath is a really well written relatable character, whom I connected with in so many ways even though I'm much older than her. And all the rest of the characters were just as wonderful.

I especially appreciated her relationships with her parents. I don't think those dynamics are explored enough in YA, so it was a pleasure to read.

And, of course, the Simon Snow homage to Harry Potter was just the best. I want to read Cath's fan fic! 

Fangirl gets 4.5 stars. 

The next book is not a novel, but a photo book called Humans of New York,  shot by Brandon Stanton.

Basically, he wanted to document the different boroughs of New York, so he ran around with a camera, taking pictures of people and getting blurbs about their lives.

I actually follow his website, so I'd been wanting his book for quite some time. I really enjoyed it. He captures a variety of types of people, from the outwardly normal to the flamboyant to the homeless to the old money. I gave it 4 stars.

A lot of people claim Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events as their favorite childhood books.  I was already in high school by the time the series became really popular, so I missed out entirely.

I have finally decided to read them, though, and finished The Bad Beginning this month. It was imaginative, and Count Olaf is a fiend. I would have enjoyed this series as a child.

The only thing I can't decide is whether I like the way the author breaks up the story to input explanations to the reader, such as definitions to long words. When I was a kid, big words meant using a dictionary or looking at the word in context to figure it out for myself. I can't decide if having the author do this for the reader helps them learn or promotes intellectual laziness.

All in all, it was a fun read, and I gave it 3 stars.

Whilst reading these other books, I was labouring away at The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. This was my classics book club July pick, and I meant to start and finish it during the #AYearAThon, but I just couldn't.

Reading this book is like swimming through molasses. The language is so descriptive that it becomes cloying and slows the pace of the entire book.

Had this not been for a book club, I may have given up on it, but I wanted to discuss it. I also wanted to see if the ending justified the struggle.

It didn't, so I had to give this 2 stars.

The last book I read this month was a new release - Rainbow Rowell's new adult novel,  Landline.

I enjoy Rowell's writing, so I was awaiting the publication of this book. Plus, it covers the more adult themes of marriage and marital issues, so I was hoping that I would connect with it more than her other works.

This actually ended up being my least favorite of her books. I still enjoyed it and read it in one sitting, but I didn't care for the main character. Georgie was so selfish that I couldn't pity her at all. I thought she deserved every problem she had.

I also wish that the book focused more on the dissolution of their marriage and less on the magical realism. The magical phone was a cool concept, but it didn't provide enough substance to the book.

This one got 3 stars from me.

So those are all the books I finished in July. I also started a few that I'm hoping to finish in August.

August should be a more productive month for me with #AYearAThon doing a middlegrade read-a-thon and Bout of Books towards the end on the month. Be on the lookout for my TBRs for those.

What books did you read this month? Do you have any recommendations for next month's read-a-thons? Tell me in the comment section.

Happy reading!

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