Tuesday, August 06, 2013

July Reads in Review 2013

I used to regularly post about my monthly reads in brief.  Not sure when or why I stopped doing so, but I can't load new photos (hard drive is full -- shocking!) so I was looking at this photo of the notes I took when I was re-reading The Illusion of Separateness and thought, "Month in Review!" So, here you go.  This photo might contain some spoilers but probably not.  I erased the only line I thought was clearly suspect but don't actually read the notes if you're concerned about potential spoilers, okay?  Links lead to reviews, if applicable.

July Reads in Review:

**Absolute Favorites (but I liked everything - this was a very good reading month)
*Secondary Favorites

72. **The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy (reread) - WWII and contemporary, a book about kindness and how we're all connected. Loved it even more the second time.

73. **Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt - The unputdownable story of a Jewish divorcee trying to get by in the 1950s and 60s and what happens when a local boy goes missing. 

74. Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell - A reliable man disappears during his morning walk and it turns out to be deliberate.  Family comes together to figure out what happened, solve their problems and locate their missing father.

75. Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad - When a couple is in a horrible car accident, Ana and James become their son's guardians.  Ana was horrid. James is great but I thought the plot twist to make him seem more human felt more than a bit manufactured.  I liked this book a lot but that cliché flaw and Ana's attitude detracted from what could have been a terrific story.

76. French Leave by Anna Gavalda - A short book (translated from the French) about 3 French siblings who skip out on a wedding to have one last get-together.  Started out great but petered out. 

77. Lotería by Mario Alberto Zambrano - A harsh read about a girl who has been abused and how knowing only violence has effected her, told through the use of cards in the lotería game (a Spanish game like Bingo).

78. The Bohemian Love Diaries by Slash Coleman - A fun, quirky memoir about growing up in a Bohemian family and the author's search for love, his drifting and how he sought out the best way to express himself as an artist. A little over-the-top in a good way.

79. **Well Wished by Franny Billingsley - A middle-grade fantasy about a wish that goes wrong and the clever young girl who sets out to undo a series of wishes that have led to a big, tangled mess. I love everything Franny Billingsley writes. Fabulous book.

80. We Go Together by Todd Dunn - A cute Children's board book that I'll review closer to release date.

81. *Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson - This story about a girl named Ruby, told from conception to adulthood, is also a family saga about all the characters in her family,  how some of them go missing and the reverberations from those disappearances.  Bit of a slog but in the end when she explains everything it's such a knockout that it becomes suddenly worth the effort, on reflection.

DNF: Godiva by Nicole Galland - Not much happened but a lot of flirting and a king getting pissed off at Lady Godiva.  Gave up at p. 90.  I don't usually include DNFs in a review post but for some reason I stuck it on my running list, so there you go.

82. Rufus Goes to School by K. Griswell and V. Gorbachev - A children's picture book about a pig who goes to school.  Loved it till the end and I thought the last page was kind of a surprising let-down (the ending didn't fit the beginning) but it's a pig book so I still love it.

83. *The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway - Time travel/paranormal story about a man who is yanked out of time and thrown 200 years into the future, trained to live in the modern world and then summoned to go back to Regency England because of a problem with the time stream. I love time travel and enjoyed this one.  The ending wasn't perfect but I'm looking forward to reading on.

84. **Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - An Icelandic woman convicted of murder is to be beheaded as an example but Iceland has no facilities so a family has to keep her until the details of execution are worked out.  This is based on a true story and really beautifully done. You get to know the family in 3rd person as Agnes slowly reveals her own story.

85. **The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters - Earth is going to be hit by an asteroid in 6 months and a lot of people are committing suicide.  When a detective thinks one suicide was really murder, he sets out to investigate.  Another vague bit of let-down in the ending but I really loved this book because it's smart, clever, funny, engaging . . . just a great read, overall.  Absolutely dying to read the next in the series.


  1. Good grief! I dont take notes at all! Way to go on the numbers too. I think I only read 2 books in July.

    1. I don't do that often, Jenny. Simon's book just happens to have to many characters who touch each other's lives that I had a little trouble keeping track of them (which I hope is not an early sign of Alzheimer's -- I used to be a lot better at keeping those things straight in my head). It probably would have worked better to have little people bubbles instead, but whatever works, right? :)

      Thanks! It was a great month for me. I really enjoyed my reading (and the number was nice, too).

  2. You had a good month! I'm anxious to read Is This Tomorrow. I also need to get a copy of Gaiman's latest. I started it at work a couple of weeks ago and I'm intrigued! I see you've read it twice now. Must be pretty darned good! :)

    1. I always say you're one of the most perplexing readers I know, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you'll really appreciate Is This Tomorrow. It's such a well-written book and Caroline Leavitt's books absolutely grab and won't let go (at least, the two I've read).

      Gaiman's latest is getting such polarized reviews! I'm in the love category, of course. I'm iffy about his books -- some I love, some I just don't get. This one was, I thought, a deeply personal story wrapped in creepy fantasy. It was just as good the second time. I hope you love it as much as I did (both times - and will, again, I'm sure).

    2. Perplexing? ;) Well, we're not exactly reading twins, but you did recommend Anderson Cooper's book, which I loved. And I'm sure there have been many more over the years.

    3. Um . . . unpredictable? I'm usually very, very good at guessing what people will enjoy, based on what I know they liked and disliked in the past (one of the reasons my bookstore boss loved me) but you're one of those rare people I have trouble pegging. Still, there will likely be those few successes and the Anderson Cooper book was definitely a home run, wasn't it?

  3. I'm keen to read the Last Policement - I keep reading good comments about it. And what a lovely eclectic lot of books you read in July.

    1. The Last Policeman is such a fun read, nice and quirky. I love unique reads. Hope you get to read it, soon!

      Yes, I do read an eclectic mix. I have a tendency to burn out if I focus on any particular genre for long, so I always try to mix things up to keep that from happening (again). :)


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