Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Wrap-Up

2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge progress: 24 out of 40 
Total books read so far this year: 26
Books completed in June: 3

June was a good reading month - I completed 3 books and am about halfway through the serious chunkster (800+ pages) Winter, and I enjoyed all of them a lot!

Completed 6/6/16:

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #28: A book written by a comedian
Rating: 4 out of 5

I love Tina Fey. I love her even more after reading this book. She's so down-to-earth, smart, and real. And she's from my home state of PA, which I didn't know. She's the kind of person I could imagine myself being friends with in real life, which sounds a lot more creepy/stalkerish than I mean it to. 

I will say that the book wasn't quite as laugh-out-loud funny as I expected it to be. I felt like the humor was a bit forced in the beginning of the book (even though I still found it enjoyable). I'm not sure if I just got used to her style as the book progressed or possibly she just got more comfortable with telling her story.

Overall, I'm glad I read it and would recommend it. 

Completed 6/9/16:

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #38: A satirical book
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

I had no idea what to read for the satire prompt, since satire typically is not my favorite genre. This slim book turned out to be the perfect choice for me and I would definitely recommend it if you have a degree in English (I do) or you work in a higher education setting (I don't, but there was a time that I wanted to).

It consists entirely of a year of letters (letters of recommendation, mostly) written by a cantankerous novelist-turned-professor in a shrinking English department at a fictional mid-tier school. It makes me really, really glad that my teachers always gave me copies of the letters they wrote about me and also makes me really, really glad that I am no longer in the position of having to ask anyone for a recommendation. It's also funny as hell, with a bit of a twist at the end. 

Completed 6/20/16:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #11: A book that's becoming a movie this year
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed a book so much when I didn't really like the characters as people all that much.

I really liked the flow of the writing, and I actually liked the multiple narrators/jumping of times (surprisingly, since I usually hate multiple POV stories). I just found the book compulsively readable.

I was pretty sure of what happened at about 75% in after suspecting it for a while. After that point, it declined slightly for me. I think the denouement could have been a little more interesting, and the final wrap-up chapter was entirely unremarkable.  The author did an amazing job with developing all of the characters except the villain, in my opinion.  Certain things about this character just seemed "off" to me.

Overall, this was probably one of the more enjoyable books I've read this year, but I'm not sure that it will hold up well in my memory over time (if that makes any sense).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Stacking the Shelves: June

I'm a day late on my Stacking the Shelves post.  Oops.  Check out the host, Tynga's Reviews, to find out what books everyone else is adding to their shelves.

I got on a major Kindle kick this month, adding 11 new books to my virtual shelf:

  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't yet read anything by Cassandra Clare even though I've had City of Bones on my Kindle for at least 2 years
  • Timebound by Rysa Walker - first in a YA time-travel series
  • Die for Me by Amy Plum - first in a YA paranormal zombie series
  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman - YA western standalone
  • I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak - YA standalone that looks really good but really hard to sum up.  Just read the description.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro - first in new (March 2016) YA mystery series about a descendant of Sherlock Holmes
  • Party Girl by Rachel Hollis - first in a new adult/chick lit series about Hollywood event planning
  • Spin by Catherine McKenzie - chick lit about a writer undercover in a rehab
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers by Jennifer Handford - adult contemporary with a main character who seems a lot like me
  • Follow You Home by Mark Edwards - creepy adult horror/psychological thriller
  • Deception Point by Dan Brown - a thriller to tide me over until Dan Brown writes his next Robert Langdon series book
And I won an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway:

  • The Last One by Alexandra Oliva - adult sci-fi set in a reality show
And yesterday my local library was giving away books, yes, actually giving them in boxes and boxes of free books.  I showed restraint and limited myself to 5:
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom - inspirational memoir
  • Tracks by Louise Erdrich - Native American historical fiction
  • Letter from Home by Carolyn Hart - standalone historical mystery by the author of one of my favorite mystery series
  • Midnight by Dean Koontz - paranormal mystery/horror...I've never read anything by Koontz, but I have a coworker who loves his books
  • The Missing by Chris Mooney - adult forensic thriller

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Character Names

I won't pick up a book where I can't figure out how to pronounce a main character's name or if the name just looks annoying.  (This is why I have avoided a lot of high fantasy for a long time!)  I love it when books have great character names that suit the time, place, character itself, and just sound fun and perhaps slightly different.

Here are my top 5 favorite female and male character names (that I can remember) .  Admittedly, I am not great at remembering character names.

Ladies first:

5.  Tris - The Divergent trilogy

Even though Tris is a nickname, I had to put it on this list.  It's easy to say and simple but different.

4.  Alina - The Grisha trilogy

Alina is another simple, easy name.  I find it beautiful and feminine, and it fits the vaguely Eastern European setting well.

3.  Mirren - We Were Liars

I had never heard this name before, but it's beautiful in a preppy, upper class kind of way.

2.  Crissa - Cold Shot to the Heart

I love the name Crissa.  It sounds like a more modern update to the Christine/Chrissy/Kristin family of names.

1.  Sarafine - The Caster Chronicles series

Ok, so, Sarafine is a villain in this series, but you've gotta love this name.  It's interesting, different, and beautiful. (I actually prefer Seraphina, but I didn't read that book, so I'm not adding it to this list.)


5.  Holden - The Catcher in the Rye

I'm not sure why I'm drawn to the name Holden.  It seems like another preppy-type name that's just a little outside of mainstream.

4.  Ranger - Stephanie Plum series

I would never name a kid Ranger or anything, but it suits the character and I don't think I've ever read or met another Ranger.

3.  Finnick - The Hunger Games trilogy

I love how different most of the names are in this series, but Finnick is probably my favorite because I feel it would translate really well to the real world.

2.  Merik - Truthwitch

Honestly, the names are one of the things I enjoyed most about Truthwitch.  (Safi is an honorable mention to my favorite female names list.)  I think Merik is a fun name - easy to say but unusual.

1.  Kai - The Lunar Chronicles series

I love Kai...the character and the name, even though it's technically a nickname.

Check out the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads group to find other people's lists!