09 September 2013

Last Month in Review: August 2013

Some of August, plus one July title
I usually write these posts in a more timely fashion, except when I skip them altogether. (My apologies, July.) Better late than pregnant, though, I reckon.  August was a very satisfying reading month for me. July had been disappointing, so it's just as well I didn't encapsulate it (except for Longbourn, which was excellent and everybody should read it), but I had several terrific back-to-back reads for August, plus a couple of duds. Twelve books in all, including two works of non-fiction, two audio books, one re-read, three YA, and one truly outstanding behemoth of a novel.

In chronological order, they were:

1. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink.  This is narrative nonfiction of the highest order, dealing with Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans, and the misappropriation of both common sense and decency in one of the cities' hospitals. So good. So frustrating. Were medical staff euthanizing patients during those dark hours of madness? If they were, was it justifiable or criminal? I predict that this book will be making the awards circuits when the time comes.

2. These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan.  I had some respiratory issues last month and for those nights when I had to rest (i.e. not sleep) propped up in bed, this was a comfort re-read.  It's the best Jane Austen fanfiction I've ever read.

3. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.  Whoa. I listened to this audio book that is Didion's record of the year she lost her husband and almost lost her daughter, twice.  I can't imagine. Really well written, honest and moving and surprising in equal measure. I'd never read Didion before, but I certainly will in the future.

4. After Her by Joyce Maynard.  This was a decent novel that also made my evenings of respiratory distress easier. Coming of age, a serial killer, misperceptions of youth.  A quick read.

5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  This was outstanding. Sure, it flagged every now and again, but if I had to decide which parts of its 700-page bulk to trim, I would flail with the impossibility of it. I hope to write a review of this one. This is a novel about dealing with tragedy, exploring the effects of what one truly great work of art can have one's life, and learning how to stop blaming one's parents (or upbringing) on one's adult actions. Plus a slew of other things.

6. Uninvited by Sophie Jordan.  This YA novel was so bad that I had to write a review of it. I have since learned that it is supposed to be the first book in a series.  Ugh.  The clap-trap the publishing world pushes off on us is terrible sometimes. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IT IS AWFUL ENOUGH TO MAKE ME WANT TO USE A RUN-ON SENTENCE.

7. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  Read this one as a favor to a friend at Algonquin. It's a fun and lighthearted and improbable romp through the life of a widowed independent bookstore owner on an island suspiciously like Nantucket.

8. Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson. Totally fun read.  Darker moments (armed robbery, car bomb, rape) but overall pretty light and a little fluffy with large doses of Southern charm and humor. Review here.

9. Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor.  Another YA novel, but this one was excellent.  Think Ivy & Bean meets Love Story. Review here.

10. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey.  This audio book was absolutely riveting and I hope to review it soon.  It also earned me a second work of non-fiction on my reading list this month, so YAY.

11. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Many of my blogger friends (Reading the Bricks, What Red Read, Comma Enthusiast, The Terrible Desire, Sarah Says Read) read this book recently, but for whatever reason, this book wasn't on my radar from them (sorry, y'all!). No, it was my customers who were buying this book who did it.  I'm good at my job, so when customers start buying a book in quantities that I am not expecting, it takes me by surprise.  Turns out the author used to live in my area.  AND she's coming back from England to visit my bookstore next month and by a totally happy coincidence, I'd read her book THE DAY BEFORE SHE EMAILED ME. Review here.

12. I should have quit while I was ahead, but I also read Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens. I thought this was pretty terrible. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IT IS ALSO AWFUL ENOUGH TO MAKE ME WANT TO WRITE A RUN-ON SENTENCE.


  1. Man, The Goldfinch totally blew me away. Like you said, there were parts that felt slightly lagging while reading, but when looking at the book as a whole it's amazing how well Tartt pieced everything together. I have no idea how I'm going to write a review of that book without just giggling and sighing.

    1. Yes, I know what you mean! I'm waiting for my ARC to come back to me because a co-worker wanted to read it but he's a SLOW reader. It may take a couple of weeks, and how will I possibly review it then?

  2. I JUST GOT AN ARC OF GOLDFINCH. And thank God you say it doesn't suck. Because it's so fricking long.

    Imma read that Wolves book because of Alley's review. When enough people in our group all love the same book, I kind of grumpily end up agreeing to read it.

    ALSO -- is Five Days at Memorial fictional non-fiction, or nice, journalist-style non-fiction?


      I mean, Yay for you! ARC of the Goldfinch! Please start it soon and then write funny things about it on your blog. Also, the main character's name is Theo, which is nifty.

      My review for Tell The Wolves I'm Home appears on Thursday. Read it. Just do it. It's like YA, but with an adult's maturity. Like Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird. Now you don't even have to read my review.

    2. P. S. Five Days at Memorial is more like narrative nonfiction, but the writer is a journalist, I believe. Fink sets up the POV of the medical people, the patients, and the hurricane itself and how awful it was. Then BAM, part two is all "oh, it's terrible, doctors and nurses were euthanizing the really old, really sick patients, we must sue them. sue them all!

      Then there's the resolution of the two. But reading about the hurricane was harrowing. I never would have believed that I was reading about 21st century US conditions. more like 19th century third world conditions.

    3. Ok, by ARC I mean eBook ARC. Sooooo not like a special one I can have on my shelf. But this is for the best since it's a MILLION pages long and I can only read books like that at work, for at home I do not have the time.

      I'm almost 100 pages in and it started a little slow but then omg. OMG.

    4. I wish I could read at work. I think I want your job! FYI: I think the digital ARC expires on the date the book is published, in case they neglected to mention that to you. so read swiftly, my young friend. read like the wind.

      and yes to the OMG. Where is Theo living right now?

    5. He's with the Barbours, but he's met Hobie. Agh! So great.

  3. "Better late than pregnant" - and then I laughed and laughed

    Can't wait for your Wolves review. EVERYONE READ IT AND THEN WE CAN ALL DISCUSS

  4. GREAT post...nice reviews.

    THANKS for stopping by my review of BURIAL RITES. I am glad you are liking it as well. I think is amazing.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog


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