What I’m reading, August 2014

I have 21 books left to read if I want 100 read books this year. LET’S DO THIS.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: A lot of folks I know read this in middle school, including some of my classmates. I wasn’t one them. I never thought about this until seeing it at my library and remembered how I didn’t read this book way back when. Time to fix that. And I loved it. The characters were spot on; the story moved steadily and smoothly. There’s a reason this book is frequently challenged, but there’s also a reason this book shows up on so many middle school reading lists. It’s a great book that tells the story like it is. I just wonder about middle school me’s interpretation of the story.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 greasers

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: I tried to like this book. The prose is beautiful and almost worth reading for that alone. But most of the story consisted of snapshots that were difficult to piece together. While I don’t have a problem with stories told as pieces of bigger stories, this one wasn’t easy to follow. The author agrees, as she mentioned in the afterword. Still, elegant prose alone doesn’t save this tale.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 blue eyes

The Fishing Widow by Amy K. Marshall: First, I’ve known the author for quite awhile through Nano. But despite having her book on my phone’s Kindle app for awhile I never got around to reading it until now. The book centers around Alaskan fishermen, their lives, and the creepy adventures they get into aboard the boat. It’s a good read with fun characters, especially once shit gets real in the second half.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 fisherman tales

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente: Valente wrote my favorite 2013 NaNo pep talk. Months later I’m picking up this book. Anyway! I read this book in two sessions and zoomed through most of the book one Saturday afternoon/evening. It’s a good book. Valente’s prose is more like poetry than prose. The words flow just right, and they drew me in like a warm hug. And maybe it’s because I’ve read several books of this nature lately, but I was having a hard time really getting into the multiple narrators thing. Still, the prosetry alone makes this a good read.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 trips to the city

La symphonie pastorale by Andre Gide: I read this in the original French. And while I enjoyed the book, the plot is a bit… strange. As in creepy strange. A pastor adopts a girl and there are some romantic feelings and biblical justifications involved. Yeeeeah. Still, I did enjoy the book, and it was good to get back into reading in French.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 biblical justifications

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: I love dystopian novels, so this was a must-read. Margaret Adwood does it again with her beautiful prose and storytelling. I couldn’t totally get behind the storytelling style–shifting between past and present–but maybe that’s because I’ve read several nonlinear narrations lately. That ending, though…
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 pigoons

Ash by Malinda Lo: Malinda was also a NaNo pep talker last year. This book is a lesbian Cinderella retelling, which immediately excited me. I just couldn’t get into it, though. The pacing felt off, and some of the characters felt one-dimensional (the stepmother immediately comes to mind here).
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 fairy tale retellings

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: I tried. I even finished this book, and at a thousand pages that’s no small feat. But in the end I couldn’t get into this book. It was so slow to get started, and the nearly constant footnotes made keeping track of everything even more difficult.
Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 magicians

Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon: Disclosure: I know the author. And in a strange coincidence, I know several folks who helped her edit this book. That said, this is the first in a series about a girl in a small town with a secret (and a sports team mascot as the Demons). The book flew by, and while the book feels like a very long prologue, I’m very much looking forward to the other books.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 demons

In the End by Alexandra Rowland: Another disclosure: I’ve know the author for…what, a decade? That said, I’m pretty indifferent about this book. It was funny in parts and I like the premise, but in the end (see what I did there?) it just wasn’t my thing.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 wings

Honor’s Lark by Rachel L. Hamm: This book is hard to categorize, and that’s a very good thing. There are science fiction elements, but not so many that it’s a scifi novel. There are romances, but the romance is secondary to the main character’s tale in achieving closure and accepting different types of love, not just what the society prescribes. It’s witty, and even though I wanted to smack Honor sometimes, she was a beautifully flawed character.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 larks

Fleeting Ink by Miriam Joy: Yet another disclosure: I follow the author on Twitter. This is a poetry collection, and many of the poems are about writing and communication and friendship and well, how fleeting our emotions are. I see a lot of myself in these poems–both a teenage me and a present day me, one that is not at all poetic. This collection makes me want to try my hand at poems again.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stanzas

Up next: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. This is the book by @TheBloggess if that handle sounds familiar. It’s also apparently the third lady memoir on my list this year. Neat.

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