Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What I read in September

Life According to Steph
2016 Reading Challenge COMPLETE!  It wasn't that difficult for me, but I purposely set my goal low so that way I wasn't feeling obligated to read just to fulfill numbers.  This means that I selected books that were enjoyable to me and I stopped books that I felt weren't making me happy.  It took over a year to get to this point.  #progress



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.
3.5/5 - I liked parts of it.
4/5 - I liked the whole thing.
4.5/5 - I liked it a lot, but not sure I'd read it again.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

*Subject to change based on my mood, the phase of the moon, or other unpredictable variables.

Skimmers, stick with the bold text (TL;DR* parts).
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty 3/5 (ebook)
This book was disappointing for me, but it could have been my own fault.  It took me forever to get through this book so I kept forgetting who was who, which meant that I wasn't as invested as the characters as I could have been.

Tess and Felicity have a weird friendship and they are both incredibly vein.  Congrats on not being fat though.  Bleh.

The old lady was a whiny crone.  Just because your daughter died your son should stick around the area for you?  You who refuse to get close to his wife because you're bitter about the death of your daughter.  You who are a complete bitch?  Meh.

Cecilia and John Paul.  Double first names are difficult for me to read.  It just seems like so much extra name.  I was glad that it didn't take 75% of the book to actually find out what the letter said, that would have annoyed me greatly.  But then the lack of dealing with it and the ultimate happening was just.. weird.  Congrats on being horrible, dishonest people and choosing to believe that your maimed daughter is the retribution for your shitty choices.  WTF?

TL;DR: While the characters seemed real enough, they often got on my nerves.  Passed the time ok.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff  2/5 (ebook)
A few years ago, I forced myself to read The Interestings and this felt almost exactly like that.  It wasn't super interesting, but it wasn't super uninteresting.  The character felt pretentious.  The subject matter felt pretentious.  The names of the characters were weird to me.  Also, from that beginning chapter, I thought she was pregnant.  Not the case.  This theme was carried on throughout the book due to Lotto's strong desire for children.

I think we were supposed to feel like Mathilde was some sort of hero for dealing with Lotto, but mostly, everyone annoyed me.  The themes of the plays were completely lost of me, maybe they would have been more relevant if I had known more about whatever mythology the plays were based on? 

Also, who the hell cares about who ends up with the original copy of a play?  See, more pretentiousness.  Also, the awkwardness of the random youth Mathilde has sex with and that coming full circle was the only intriguing, abet disturbing, thing this book held for me.

TL;DR: Don't waste your time on this one.  Several people tried to tell me, but I was stubborn and wasted my life.  For some reason I thought this book would be like Percy Jackson, but nope.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon 3/5 (audiobook)
THAT CLIFF HANGER THOUGH!! OMGGGGGG.  So crazy that I emailed Kristen right away to tell her I had finished and I wasn't sure what to do with my life.

This book had classic 2nd book syndrome.  It was just a connector for things to come.  Foundation building, if you will.  At times, it was quite tedious.  My biggest annoyance with this book was the constant references to the same things.  Amber (as in the color of whiskey mostly) and pulses mainly.  I'm pretty sure that Claire's first thing she does when she meets someone is to look at their neck to see if they have a heartbeat/pulse.  Not just people she's caring for, everyone.  Especially Jamie.  Jamie needs his pulse checked frequently.  As for Amber, I get wanting to explain the relevance of the title, but if you have to set it up over and over, it's too much work.  Explain it once and move on.

For me, most of the historic period could have been glossed over.  There were some interesting parts with Alex Randall, Jonathan Randall, and a nun, but most other people were just filler.  There were several battles that took place, which also got old after a while.  There was some time spent at Castle Leoch, which was homey and shit and of course, I love some good sibling exchanges.  The drama of Paris and the battles got old quick.  We get it, Claire has medical experience and she's a good nurse/doctor/medic/thing.  But that's all she's really good for.  Well, that and scaring people with her made up reputation.

While Gabaldon does a great job at historical accuracy, I struggle with some of Claire's interactions with men.  There are times that even I would have gotten glares for speaking the way Claire does, but she speaks towards men this way during the 1700s, which was even more unacceptable and there are no repercussions.  Strange.

Nonetheless, those tender moments between Jamie and Claire make me swoon. 

Come back to present time (1968 for those of you who may remember why that date is special) and Claire is telling her daughter, who is obviously not the son of her modern times husband, who her real father is.  Brianna just gets pissed and storms off because wtf, cray cray?  Valid reaction.  But then after some shady shit she sees someone else disappear through the stones and maybe it's not so crazy after all? 

My confusion is how the time lapsed/overlapped from the 1968 woman's travel and Claire's travels, but maybe book 3 will explain to me without as many words as it took in book 2?  Haha, probably not.

TL;DR: Skim the parts in the 1700s and the beginning about Roger Wakefield (because who cares?).  Read the parts about the Randall's, the awesome nun, and enjoy the banter that would have gotten Claire backhanded between Claire and Jamie's grandfather.  Finally, when you get to that cliff hanger, email me so we can talk about it.

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler 1/5 (hard copy)
DNF.  18-22 year old Megan would have enjoyed this book.  30 year old Megan has since moved on.  #sorrynotsorry

TL;DR: This book is exactly what the title describes, one-night stands.  So stories about sex with randos. 

Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard   4/5 (ebook)
This is a prequel novella to Red Queen about Cal's mom and how she ended up dying.  Short and sweet, about 100 pages and available through my library, oddly enough.  To read this at any point after reading Red Queen won't ruin anything for you.

TL;DR: You can read this one after reading Red Queen and before the series ends.  It won't spoil anything.

Steel Scars by Victoria Aveyard   3/5 (ebook)
This is a prequel novella about Farley that kind of explained some of the history behind Farley and her father.  It didn't add anything to the story for me.  That said, Farley is one of my least favorite characters, maybe after Mare though.  Yep, still bitter.

TL;DR: If you like Farley, read this, but it may spoil some things in the 2nd book for you.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy  4.25/5 (ebook)
This book is about "fat" teenagers.  One of them has a pageant queen mom and while her inner monologue is conflicted and often reflects thought I've had, she was annoying.  Will is classic teenager.  Except that she wants to crash the annual pageant and then trashes her friendship with her best friend because her best friend, essentially, isn't ugly enough to crash the party.  Who's the ugly one now, Will?

Another book with weird character names: Willowdean?  Why? 

Coincidentally, Jolene by Dolly Parton was just covered by Pentatonix, which was pretty much the ultimate listening experience after finishing this book.  This is because Will sings Jolene at the end. 

My least favorite thing was how Will was leading on Mitch while pining over Bo.  I just can't.  Woman up and be honest.  Don't drag someone along because you're a shitty person (which we were shown over and over again).

TL;DR: A story of teenage angst, friendship, relationships, and body image.  If you can't deal with some drama, don't read this. 


  1. The Husband's Secret was the first Moriarty book that I read so I enjoyed it, but then I read Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot and liked those better. Dumplin has been on my TBR for awhile now. Really need to get to it, so many people raved about it.

  2. I loved Arcadia by Groff. Fates & Furies was a big disappointment and very over-written.

    Loved Dumplin'!

  3. good job on making a low goal - i did that too, but then i surpassed it and i thought well this would be fun to double it.......... and was in front for a long time but am now on track/almost behind and i can feel the pressure (i put on myself) building lol. i'm gonna try and just choose books i want to read though, and try not to worry about number of pages like i did last year. we'll see.
    i'm gonna read the 2nd outlander book now, so we can talk about it haha.
    i loved dumplin. the name though, seriously. that's okay, i read a book last year and the characters name was honeysuckle. wtf.
    i don't mind Farley. i don't think? i don't remember actually. it's been a bit and my memory is shocking.

  4. It's been a few years since I read the Outlander books (and I stopped at book 4 so if I ever start again I will probably have to re-read) but I can definitely imagine how you felt after finishing that one. Pretty intense cliffhanger, haha. I have yet to read The Last Anniversary but I will sometime because I think I've read almost all of her other books. The Husband's Secret was not my favourite but I generally find that most of her characters are somewhat unlikable (and yet I still love her books)!

  5. I need to get started on the rest of the Red Queen series! I read Red Queen last year and loved it, but haven't had a chance to pick up Glass Sword or the novellas. I need to get on it!

  6. I read two or three of the Outlander books. They were good but long. Eventually, maybe, I'll get to the rest and it's been long enough that I can't exactly remember the cliffhanger but I do recall reading books 2 and 3 book to back. :) I read Red Queen and enjoyed but am feeling old and forgetful in the moment because I can't remember who Farley is! :) I need to read book 2 and the novellas too. Dumplin is on my TBR already.

  7. Steph and I did a whole podcast episode on Fates and Furies. I did not enjoy it as much as I'd hoped I would but the second half was WAY better than the first.

    Dumplin' was one of my favorites of last year!

  8. I think I was on the fence about wanting to read Fates and Furies. Then, I heard the characters' names, and I said "nope". Willowdean didn't bother me as much because Texans like to join two names and turn them into one.


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