13 July 2014

Last Month in Review: June 2014

My goodness--how the time doth fly!  My computer was broken when June rolled into July, but I made a mental note to write up my review of June books when it was fixed.  Now it's almost two weeks later and I'm just now getting around to it. 

I had some vacation time in June, so my reading stats are lookin' pretty good, despite the month's getting off to a slow start because I attended BEA for work and hang out with really cool people.  Ahem.

1. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.  I can't promise that I completely understood this one, but it was fascinating and complicated and weird.  And a little frustrating, too.  And you don't learn until the very end just what the heck these titular bone clocks are, but it's too much of a spoiler to say here what it means. Anyway, it will be published this September, and I'm told that if you loved Cloud Atlas, then there's an excellent chance that you'll love this one, too.

2. The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstacjzer.  Paperback original.  This is the story of what happens when a world-renowned mathematician dies without publishing the proof to an impossible problem that she was rumored to have solved: her colleagues and competitors from around the globe descend upon the grieving family to sit shiva and search for the proof.  Narrated by her adult son, this is a family story and an immigrant one.  The end was particularly satisfying.

3. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  This was an ebook re-read.  My original review of it here.  Sweet story of first love and learning to view your parents as separate human beings and not extensions of  yourself and your needs.

4. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.  Here's a shot-out to Alley from What Red Read, who has been raving about Christopher Moore and this book in particular, for a long time.  She and my co-worker Michael finally convinced me I needed to read this. It's funny and irreverent, but not (I felt) sacrilegious.  I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and though I think there was only one time where I laughed out loud (revising the Sermon on the Mount speech, where, instead of inheriting the earth, the meek were given an 'atta boy.'), I smiled to myself throughout. This of this as Monty Python meets Jesus Christ Superstar.

5. The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan.  Another super-fun read.  I really rocked my vacation reading this year!  This one is fast-paced, with a touch of the supernatural. I like to think of it as The Night Circus meets The Crucible.  It will be published in September.

6. Lexicon by Max Barry. Here's a shout out to Sarah and Megs, who both recommended this book so soundly that I promised to read it on vacation.  And I did.  And I was glad.  Their reviews are better than mine, so go read them now, but the short version is that we're living in a world where words can have power.  REAL power, like the power to destroy, just by being spoken aloud.  The people who wield these words are poets, and they are total badasses.

7. Invisible Love by Eric-Emmanual Schmitt.  This man, is, without a doubt, the finest short story writer of our time.  He's Belgian and he writes in French and this is the third of his collections to be published in English.  He also has written a novel, which is perfectly fine, but his stories are exquisite.  If you like the kind of short stories currently being published by The New Yorker, you probably won't like him.  But if you like Guy De Maupassant, you're gonna love him.  He's amazing.

8. Lila by Marilynne Robinson.  This is the third book set in the small town of Gilead.  It is quiet and wonderful and thoughtful and generous to its characters in a way that many writers are not.  If you love Marilynne Robinson, you will love this one, too. It won't be published until October.

9. This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash.  Wiley Cash is a gentleman among writers with a knack for titles.  My husband gave me this book to read for Christmas and it didn't disappoint one bit. 

10. Ruby by Cynthia Bond.  I have no words for this book.  It is the best book that I've read in years, and the fact that it is a debut novel simply blows my mind.  Think Toni Morrison.  Think Edwidge Danticat. Think Cormac McCarthy.  Now put them all together to create a work whose horrors have a counterpoint in exquisite prose.  Set in a small east Texas down, 1930-1960s, and boy-howdy, does race ever play a role in this book. This is the first book that I've rated 5* this year, if that tells you anything.

11. Zac and Miaby A J Betts.  This was another galley that I downloaded to my e-reader.  This is a YA book that deals with two kids with cancer, but it's not at all like the John Green book. Also, it's set in Australia.

12. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers. Also a galley that I loaded onto my ereader.  It's the conclusion of a trilogy and it just may be my favorite book of the three  Gods of yore, court intrigue, political machinations, and some kick-ass Handmaidens of Death.  I would have swooned to read these as a pre-teen or young teen and no doubt they would have been dog-eared and read to within an inch of their lives. As an adult reading them, I skim a good bit, but I do like the sense of adventure and escape that they provide. And besides, did you not catch the whole HANDMAIDENS OF DEATH part?

What about y'all?  What did you read in June that was great?  Disappointing?


  1. My best and maybe my first two 5 ratings: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Fowler. I think you told me about Constellation and Ann Patchett told us about the other. Both were published in 2013. I liked The Secret Life of Violet Grant pretty good as well. Love, Belle

    1. Belle! Hi, babe. Constellation of Vital Phenomena is an outstanding book. I'm hoping my husband will read it soon so we can talk about it.

      Also, you might not remember your request, it was so long ago, but I finally got a book packed up that you requested ages ago. Look for it in the next couple of week. :)

    2. Okay - now I am so excited!

  2. I loved Lexicon too! What a smart and fascinating thrill ride!

    The Mathematician's Shiva sounds original. Am I going to be totally confused if math isn't my thing??

  3. YAY LAMB! Even if you didn't love it like I love it YAY for enjoying it anyway.


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