What I read in June

June was a rough month.  I'm hoping now that I've committed to these reading challenges that I'll start getting into some good books.



Life According to Steph

Rating scale:

1/5 - Hated it, didn't finish.
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish, didn't like it.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it.  Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
4/5 - I liked it.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

Skimmers, stick with the bold text.


The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer  2/5
Nothing about this book or these characters was overly interesting.  Maybe Wolitzer was being sarcastic with the title?  I can only hope.  If nothing else, the main character, although whiny and completely self-absorbed and worried forever about money or the appearance of having money is believable if you know people who are completely wrapped up in "keeping up with the Joneses."  At times I struggled with the hyper focus of being at summer camp and the flashbacks to being at camp.  This could have been due to how long it took me to actually get through the first 100 pages.  Additionally, this book is way long for nothing to have really ever happened, except that one big thing when they were young and that just kinda gets swept under the rug-ish-kinda.  IDK how to describe it, but it was weird and finally resolved at the end when Wolitzer had finally decided that she was tired of rambling on and on and on about how depressed and poor the main character was... especially compared to her rich friends.  /facepalm

TL;DR: Just don't read this.  I only bought it because it had a pretty cover and it tricked me.  The dust cover made me believe that the main character was a reasonable individual who was slightly jealous of her friend's lucky wealth but was well-balanced.. nope.  I just can't handle vanity.  


Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty  3.5/5
I didn't really enjoy the first book, despite expecting to love it based on other blogger's raves about it.  Then I learned that most of the people who loved this series loved it when they were in high school and I'm a few years behind on that..  That said, the senior Jessica Darling was much less pain-in-the-assy than sophomore Jessica Darling.. and by less-pain-in-the-assy I mean, more tolerable.  I still struggle with the whole not doing what you want and hating everyone you know, but whatever.  There was some resolution with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.. but of course, I'd have to read the 3rd book to find out where it ends up (which I'm considering which is why it gets +.5).  I was also pleased with the pulled back perspective that Jess finally got of everything that was happening.  I can only imagine how self-absorbed I was as a teenager...

TL;DR: The 2nd book was better than the 1st, but I'll have to read the 3rd to find out what happens with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and I'm not sure I'm ready for that kind of commitment.


Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh  4.5/5
I read Brosh's book because a friend told me that the writing make them think of my style of writing AND she talks about dogs.  I was so serious about reading this book that I clarified if I should get the paperback or digital version and ended up with the paperback for fear the images wouldn't do well on the Kindle.  I felt like I was supporting a fellow blogger, so I didn't mind waiting for the hardcopy since I'd be able to display it on my bookshelf after I was done.  Also, it touched on depression and part of me wanted to explore that a bit.  Some of it seemed a bit exaggerated, which is totally a blogger thing, but most of it had me giggling and crackling up and reading bits to Mr. Scrooge who would just look at me like I had 6 eyes.  I gave it a 4.5 because I'm not sure if I'd go out of my way to reread this book, but who knows.  Maybe someday I'll need a laugh and Helper Dog and Simple Dog will be there for me.

TL;DR: If you aren't down with shitty drawings and cussing and stories about dogs and life, then don't read this.  If you are, then do.


Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch by Nick Pavlidis  4/5
I read this in one sitting after a suggestion from Jana.  Honestly, if it hadn't been on the Kindle Lending Library for free, I probably wouldn't have, but it was, so here we are.  If you're not a regular Gentle Reader, then you may not know that my relationship from the past 9 months is on rocky ground and I recently moved out.  That was part of the reason I wanted to read this book.  Was I part of the problem?  I've been the asshole who realizes what I'm doing and tried to change things and it wasn't appreciated, so I wanted to see if Nick was coming where I was coming from.  He wasn't exactly and he didn't tell as many stories as I really wanted, but for a short book, he made his point well.  Also, this book is geared towards men, but applicable to both genders and I don't normally read stuff geared towards dudes, so this was a little out of my comfort zone.  That said, there were good points that Nick made about being in a relationship of any sort.

TL;DR: Worth the read if you're looking for reasons why maybe your relationship isn't working and you're willing to be the change if you're the problem.


Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life's Greatest Questions by John Schlimm  2/5
**This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  So it's gonna be a long one.**

I didn't overly enjoy this book.  I finished it on principle.  I wasn't so riveted at any point that I couldn't stop reading, which is always disappointing.  After seeing the summary that a man in his 30s befriends a nun in her late 80s, I was thinking that his book would be similar to Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, which I loved.  A friend brings John, the main character, to the local convent's ceramics shop one day and John meets Sister Augustine.  Due to his unhealthy obsession with ceramics love of art he decides to visit again and eventually befriends the nun after several visits.

The reader is told over and over and over and over of the same details.  The quaintness of the ceramics shop, how adorable the shop was, how splendid the shop was.  How Sister's eyes were always twinkling, always.  Maybe she had cataracts?  I'm not sure, but her eyes were ALWAYS twinkling or sparkling or shining or light was reflecting from them in a way that needed to be pointed out.  Within the ceramics shop, we were told of the different paint color names, the strokes of the paintbrushes, the process of painting forget-me-nots, details that weren't always necessary to be repeated.  John's secrets, his life, his art, his cookbook, his dog.  Everything was overly described.  Not always in the amount of detail (but sometimes), but in repetition.  Each time John visited the ceramics shop, it was described.  Each time there was an intimate conversation, John would point out that he was withholding information from his "friend."

If they were so close, why were there so many things he didn't share with her?  Especially after so many years of being friends?  Also, who peer pressures a 90 year old nun into working harder than she already does?  This conversation actually happened at one point during the book where John admitted he felt like he was pushing Sister into doing more things and she said it was ok.  I just wanted to shake John and ask him what was wrong with him, why was he so selfish?

His instance that she take credit for everything she created, while I understood it, it also felt forced.  So little of the conversations were fleshed out, which would have really made the story feel more genuine and would have taken the place of ALL those details that were repeated over and over.  For instance, for many instances when John swiped the wind chimes we are reminded of WHY he swiped the wind chimes.

I just never felt the closeness that the author claimed to have had with Sister Augustine.  It felt more like he was visiting a nursing home and chatting with the residents, except he was going to a ceramics shop where he purchased items from a nun.  I didn't walk away feeling like I knew the characters very well at all, which was a serious struggle for me.

The prelude was entirely pointless.  Honestly, I'd completely forgotten about it until I was writing the review looking for how many different ways the ceramics shop was described.  A book about a 90 year old nun is only going to end one way, so I wasn't surprised when the end came.  Sadly, irritation over so many aspects of this book stopped Sister Augustine's lessons from touching my heart like I think Schlimm had intended.

TL;DR: Maybe it was just the wrong point in my life to read this book.  I wanted to be touched by the lessons from Sister Augustine, but never felt close enough to any of the characters to take what they were saying to heart.  We only got limited peeks into the lives of the characters outside of the ceramics shop, which I really struggled with because I wanted to like this book.


Attachments by Rainbow Rowell  5/5
I've been wanting to read another book by Rowell since reading Eleanor and Park and haven't had the time.  I finally buckled down and did it.  WORTH IT.  I was pleased that this book was focused on adult characters, who are around my age, dealing with the same problems as me (what am I doing with my life, where do I go from here, and am I ever going to find someone that loves me like Pi?).  So identifying with the characters was super easy.  The start was slow, but not uninteresting.  I was also distracted because life.  Once I got about 30% (I'd give you a page number, but #fuckAmazon) into the book, I didn't want to put it down.  The characters seemed like real people you'd meet, which always brings me great joy.

I struggled with the letter that Lincoln leaves because it was so cryptic.  I probably would have written a novella to explain myself.  Granted, it worked out better his way because she was able to get pissed off, then get over it.  The theater scene was a bit weird for me, but when he goes and tracks her down at the newspaper offices and they talk it out, my heart melted because I want someone to do that for me!

Part of me wanted to read more about after they got together, but at the same time, Love like Pi, was the perfect ending since the book was about the struggle to get together, not them actually being together.

TL;DR: If you're almost 30 and single, you'll easily identify with these characters.  There is no huge mystery about what is going to happen, but it's nice to see the story fall together despite the initial complications between the characters.  Also, this appealed to my nerdy side since he worked in technology security.  I want to reread this years from now to see if it still appeals to me in the same way. 


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai  5/5
I honestly expected to struggle with this book based on the topic.  Sometimes I have a very difficult time wrapping my brain around the struggles of others.  This book was perfect though.  I think part of my infatuation was that the writing format was that it wasn't pages and pages of paragraph after paragraph.. it was written in a poem-esque structure.  This meant 2 things, something different than most books I read AND the ability to get through the book faster than a normal book.

Besides the length of time it (didn't) take me to read this book, it was amazing at showing Ha's culture and the things she endured when she arrived in America.  It also shows just how cruel kids are and would be an excellent book for kids to read to help understand the life of someone that is different from them.

TL;DR: A good read about cultural differences and bullying and it was short(er than expected)!





In Progress:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
New Stories from the South 2001 by various (Shannon Ravenel)
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

On Deck:
Any of these




Comments

  1. Attachments is really not a book I would guess I would enjoy as much as I did. But it was too dang adorable.

    I'm glad to read your review about The Interestings. You are the 3rd person who did not care for it. It seemed like a book I wanted to read, but I'll give it a pass.

    I'm totally going to read Inside Out & Back Again.

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  2. I have had Attachements on my to read list forever, I feel like the only person who has not yet read a Rainbow Rowell book.

    I have Hyperbole and a Half on my to read list too, I wasn't sure I would like it but your review makes me want to leave it on the list so yayyy!

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  3. I read Attachments and loved it too! I also read Fangirl and liked it a lot too. I still haven't picked up Eleanor and Park but I want to

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  4. I hated The Interestings and didn't bother finishing it.

    I see Kelli's comment above. I feel like the only person who has only liked one Rainbow Rowell book. LOL I liked Eleanor & Park. That's it.

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  5. Hyperbole and a Half looks interesting. I haven't read and Rainbow Rowell which is unheard of. I hear she's good but just haven't gotten there.

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  6. LOVED Attachments. Did not love Hyperbole and a Half as much as I wanted to. Not sure what I'm going to do about The Interestings since I have yet to read a good review about it. And Nick's book is definitely geared towards men. That's his target audience but I'm glad you liked it. I'll have to let him know.

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  7. I've heard about that Confessions Of A Lazy Husband book...I know I just read an article about it somewhere. I really want to give that book a try. Now I'm also adding Attachments to my list to read too. If you gave it a 5/5 I'll definitely give it a go. I did love Eleanor and Park too.

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  8. perks of being a wallflower is an amazing book! i'm not a fan of rainbow rowell...i thought eleanor and park was just "meh" and didn't really do much for me. usually i stalk the author's full list of books if one of their books capture me but hers did not.

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  9. I really need to pick up H&aH, but i always forget.

    I'm wary of books not written like books, but will possibly look into it. I need to grow, lol

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  10. I HATED and could NOT get through The Interestings. I laughed at the title too because 'interesting' was the last thing that book was; I couldn't make it past the first 100 pages either. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hyerbole and a Half and hate that Allie stopped blogging there. I've been meaning to read the book but heard it doesn't quite live up to the site. I should just re-read all her old posts again.

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  11. I freaking loved Attachments, but you already knew that. I saw Confessions Of A Lazy Husband on Jana's Blog and I need to get around to reading that. I think we can all use books about relationships whether we think we are a problem or have a problem or whatever..or not...just for perspective!

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  12. I want to read that husband book recommended by Jana as well! I also liked Attachments! It made me smile. And Inside Out sounds like an interesting read. I'm reading Perks right now for my book club that I host!

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  13. I'm sad you didn't like The Interestings, it's been on my list for awhile. I adored Attachments, and hope to read Eleanor and Park next. Guantanamo Diary and Saint Anything are also on my TBR. I'm adding Inside Out and Back Again to my list too. Sounds like a very interesting read, though I'm hoping not to get thrown off by the structure!

    What does TL;DR mean?

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  14. ahhh love that you loved Attachments! I wish I could wipe it from my memory so I could read it again, I freaking loved it!

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  15. Inside Out looks good! I love Rainbow Rowell so much. I'm glad you liked Attachments. I can't wait for her new book.

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  16. I am SO GLAD that you loved Attachments. It is my favorite Rowell book! I will be adding Hyperbole and a Half to my list immediately! Inside Out looks awesome and will be getting that one at the library tomorrow!

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  17. I liked Eleanor & Park but I haven't picked up any of her other books yet (even though they are on my to read list) because I'm so afraid I'm going to hate all of her other stuff.

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  18. Attachments I really liked Attachments too. Eleanor and Park is on my list too. The Terrible Husband book sounds really funny, I am adding it to my list.

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  19. Ugh, Attachments is one of those books on my TBR that I want to read. I need to just request it from the library. I really enjoyed her other adult centric novel Landline, and E&P was so cute, so I am looking forward to more by her.

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  20. I really liked Attachments too. I'm glad you had a solid 5/5 on your list. Always disappointing when everything is a dud.

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  21. Kelli isn't the only one who hasn't read any Rainbow Rowell; I haven't either. Yet. I hated The Interestings. I wish I hadn't finished it - such a waste of time.

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