Tuesday, August 8, 2017

SYUB: July 2017

Life According to StephWe're a little over a month into Erin's Challenge and I'm making great headway.  Additionally, I'm owning my Goodreads challenge for this year.  I will admit that I purposely low-balled my reading goals because I didn't want to stress myself out meeting a goal that doesn't really matter, but I like having a goal.  To say I'm killing that goal doesn't hurt my feelings.

PS.  Today's Shirt Woot was fated for today!

Do you even read, Bro?


 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 Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid   5/5 (audiobook)

I almost nevaarrr give books a 5/5.  I'm extremely stringent in my ratings.  But TJR knows the keys to my heart.  This book blew me away.  The life of Evelyn Hugo had me completely enthralled.  It makes me sad to think that we (the US) is reverting back to ways of the 20th century in terms of gay rights.  Maybe it just felt like we had made significant progress to me because I'm not directly affected by the lack of rights.

Evelyn has a huge secret that she never let ruin her career: she's gay.  Except that in the 50s/60s, that is unacceptable and even illegal.  She goes to great lengths, and mulitple marriages, to protect her secret.  Eventually, she "marries" Cecilia.

The twist though.  There's always a twist with TJR books, I just happened to forget because I was so into the story of Evelyn's life.  It was like all the air was sucked out of my car when I got to the twist.  I won't tell you because I don't want to ruin it.  BUT HOLY SHIT BALLS.

TL;DR: The story of an actress's life and, eventually, how the actress's life connects with the journalist's.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson   4.25/5 (library ebook)

Lawson does a good job in this book about making it about her mental illness rather than just talking about random things from her life.  The reality is, a book is not a blog, and this book shows that.  The same self-depreciating humor is there, but with a tenderness that reaches out to other people who suffer from mental health issues. 

TL;DR: If you have a mental illness, you are not alone = the key takeaway from this book.  With some funny stories.. and pictures of taxidermied raccoons, which I've become uncomfortably interested in recently...

South of Broad by Pat Conroy  3.5/5 (audiobook)

I've never read a Pat Conroy book before, but now that I live in Charleston, it felt like a right of passage.  I selected this book for Erin's Challenge last winter but it didn't make it the cut.  For this challenge, it made the cut.  Right off the bat though, Conroy has a way with words.  Not a short amount of words, sadly.  Verbose is probably a good description of Conroy's writing.  While the narrator did a pretty solid job with the various Southern accents, there were certain words that glared at me.  It's not Cupper River, it's the Cooper River.  I've never heard an old Charlestonian pronounce it Cupper.  Also, no one from the mountains of NC calls the Appalachians "Appa-LAY-shun."  It is pronounced, "Appa-LATCH-un."  Trust me on this, I'm from there.  #IWillCorrectYou

I didn't get to finish this before the library took it back, but with 3 hours left and some discussion within the FB group, I'm pretty sure I know what happens and I will finish it when the library finally deems me worthy again, hopefully soon since I requested it 2 weeks ago and that's the max check out period time

This book is spent discussing the lives of a group of friends who meet while they are in high school and it skips around in time.  The main character, Frog/Leo, has a ho-hum attitude about life.  His friends seem like they could be real people, with the exception of Sheba Poe (rarely mentioned without her last name) who mostly just got on my nerves.  I'm interested to see what happens between Starla and Leo and mostly for this drudgery to end, but since I am so close to the end, I will consider this read for July.

Side note: Poe is a famous name around Charleston since Edgar Allan Poe spent a little over a year here while he was stationed at Fort Moultrie and the setting for 3 Poe works are set in Sullivans Island.

TL;DR: A ho-hum story about a ho-hum life.  Nothing really special, IMO, unless you like very descriptive descriptions of the Charleston Battery.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman  6/5 (library ebook)

Let me preface this review with a disclaimer: I had sworn never to read another book by a Swedish author.  I suffered through 3 different Swedish books before I finally made that vow and Beartown got suuuuchhh good reviews that I broke my vow.

Stop reading this post right now.  Go to your favorite book source and obtain a copy of this book and read it IMMEDIATELY.  I'm just going to detail out my thought process while I read this book for you.  It's easier.
  • Wtf is that banging?  I'm so glad this isn't an audiobook.
  • Hockey is cool.  I like hockey.  I wonder when the Stingrays start up again?
  • Ohhh, I get it, banging = the hockey puck.  
  • Hockey is cool.
  • I'm confused at all these white people names.
  • Are we in Minnesota? Yeah, cause Canada.
  • Why are there so many characters?
  • Wow this book is really tackling some 2017 issues.
  • Oh, this party will end well.
  • No.  Why aren't there trigger warnings on books?  Why didn't I read the summary?  This wasn't in the summary.  Ok, I can get through this.  It is not the same.  It's kinda the same.
  • Holy fuck.
  • A definitive yes is the only go ahead for sex.  No doesn't mean yes.
  • Why is no one saying anything? Faaaakkkkkkkk.  Not that it's any different.
  • This book speaks on so many levels to different levels of character within people.  I love this book.
  • That feeling of responsibility for the fall out of honesty.  I completely get that.
  • Is that helicopter parenting?  Is Maggan (a horrible spelling btw) a good example of that type of parent or is her character playing up to the stereotype?
  • Why does this 15 year old have the weight of everyone's happiness on her shoulders?
  • I appreciate that all the tragedies are realistic.
  • Oh Benji, why are you a twat waffle?
  • Kevin, I know too many people like you.  Nothing is ever your fault.
  • Go Team Mom!
  • Go Team Dad!
  • Go Team Kevin's Mom!
  • I think that screaming in the middle of a forest is an undiscovered pleasure that I seem to be missing out on.
  • I knew it, Benji!  I knew it!
  • I think I need to go back and read the intro.
  • Ohhhh, we're in Sweden or in that area.
  • Please don't die, BabyKindle.  Pllleeeaaassseeeee...
  • Please don't take this book away from me library, puuullleeeaasssee, I'm so close to the end! 
  • Please don't let David be a homophobe.
  • She's gonna kill herself.
  • She's gonna kill him.
  • She's gonna kill herself in front of him!
  • WTF is happening?!
  • That ending though.

TL;DR: an unexpectedly good story about human character and hockey and so many 2017 issues.  There are so many different themes going on in this book and there are so many takeaways that I feel like I didn't get to discover all of them.  This book is still resounding through my brain.  In fact, I gave this a 6/5 because it was so good.  I never love books quite this much.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer  4/5 (library ebook)

A retelling of Cinderella that kept me interested throughout the entire book!  There was expected sister drama, but I really like the way Meyer set this world up.  I did struggle with some inconsistencies, but I think that was more of an editing issue.  The narrator also struggled a bit, but I'm OCD.  I am planning on continuing on with the Lunar Chronicles, so I'm glad to finally start this.

Cinder is a cyborg, which are apparently bad.  Cinder's stepmother is, unexpectedly, a bitch.  Slowly we learn that Cinder is a mechanic.  She's immune to some disease that is killing everyone.  Cinder is obviously special.

I really liked the world of androids and cyborgs and humans.  This book was an easy listen and I enjoyed it very much.  It is too bad that Cinder was an obvious set up for the rest of the series.

TL;DR: Cinderella isn't the housekeeper anymore... and I won't get to find out what happens unless I read the rest of the series.


In Progress:

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach  */5 (library ebook)
Morning Star by Pierce Brown  */5 (Audible audiobook)

On Deck:

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh (..if by some miracle it actually gets published..)
A Dog's Journey (A Dog's Purpose #2) by W. Bruce Cameron
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Outlander 4-infinity, including the novellas (most of which happen to be contained in one handy dandy book).

YAY for books!
*TL;DR = too long, don't read


  1. I loved Evelyn Hugo! I have Beartown downloaded and just need to get to it. Furiously Happy is on my TBR too so glad you liked it.

  2. Conroy is a descriptive master. South of Broad was far from his best. If you liked him a little, try Beach Music.

  3. You might have finally convinced me to read TJR, as I am the only person who has not read her stuff yet.

    The Conroy review makes me a little sad :( I LOVE HIM! But, I can see how an audiobook would not work...traditional form makes me swoon though. I have this book at home but haven't finished it. Beach Music & Prince of Tides rocked my world, if you feel like giving him a second chance ever.

    Okay, I've seen a lot of good reviews for Beartown but none that actually made me want to read it...until now.

    Loved TLC, hope you do too! Different people seem to have different favorite individual books, but it's overall such a fun world.

  4. i really should have low balled my goodreads challenge but i didn't and of course it stresses me out which is stupid. i adored evelyn hugo. so so good.
    yes, i feel like beartown needs a trigger warning, but i don't know if i would have picked it up if it had?
    all your feelings and thoughts were how i felt too. so good. unexpectedly good story is the perfect way to say it.
    the lunar chronicles are some of my favourites so i really hope you continue to like the series.

  5. Evelyn Hugo was my first TJR book and I loved it so much. Beartown has gotten so much praise and it's on my TBR. But your review has really gotten me curious and even more interested in the book, so I'm giving it a high priority now! I really enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles.

    1. TJR is such a stellar author. She is under appreciated by the world.
      Beartown happened to be available from my library and I was like, "Eh, why not?" #WORTHIT
      I'm going to descend on TLC as soon as I finish with the Challenge.

  6. I don't think we'll ever see Allie's book, unfortunately.

    I adore TJR. I will (and have) read anything she writes and Evelyn Hugo was her best one. Beartown is on my list after I get through what I have and then my NetGalley queue reduces a little.

  7. Beartown is on my list for this month, and I can't wait to read it! Backman is such a great author, and I hope that you'll give some of his other books a chance! I still haven't read a TJR book, but I really need to! They all sound so good! And hooray for starting up Cinder! The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series and I hope that you enjoy the rest of the books!

  8. I'm reading Beartown now and I didn't like Ove at all so I'm taking a leap lol.

    Ugh, I could deal with Evelyn Hugo but I wasn't blown away by the book. The story was good but I didn't like the characters. I liked Harry and the daughter though.

  9. I'm finishing up The Lunar Chronicles right now, and they're SO good. I really liked Evelyn Hugo, too! Can't wait to read Beartown soon.

  10. Loved Beartown and the Lunar Chronicles. I really appreciate your thoughts while reading Beartown because I can 100% relate. That book was a million times better than I was expecting and I can't stop talking about it.

  11. As I mentioned to you already, after seeing so many praises for Beartown, you're the first to convince me that I must read it. In fact, my "B" pick for the bonus round is Behind Closed Doors. Maybe I should change that... hmmmmm, decisions, decisions.

  12. I loved the Lunar chronicles. Scarlet and Cress are my favorite books. Beartown I have heard rave reviews from everyone. I can't wait to read it. Not into the premise of Evelyn Hugo, though I know most people liked it a lot as well! Good reading month for you. I am making headway on Erin's 7.0 too! Here from SUYB. XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  13. Alot of your reads are on my TBR. I tried Furiously Happy on audio about a year ago and just didn't like it. I picked up a softcover copy recently and I want to give it another try. I might have just been taking it too seriously and need to lighten up a little. ;)

    1. I actually wanted to listen to Furiously Happy on audio, but the ebook came first. I feel like if you are someone that struggles with anxiety like she does, it would be good to read, but if not, then I wouldn't force yourself. She very much embraces her awkward and accepts her anxiety and does what she needs to do to take care of herself first... the taxidermy-ed raccoons are mildly entertaining.


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