Tuesday, September 8, 2015

august books

If I loved a book this month, I really loved it and tore through it. There were some stinkers, too - I couldn't connect with The End of Your Life Bookclub and Days of Awe just never went anywhere and I found myself yelling at it in my car for moving too slowly. That's when I knew it was time to give it up. The past week was really busy and I haven't been able to focus long enough to pay attention to anything, which means I'll go back to the end of the list for Unbreakable. I couldn't get into it - any thoughts? Is it good, or overhyped?

Anyway, onto what I actually read. Audiobooks denoted with an (A).

I'll Give You the Sun - I have no idea how this got on my to-read list, but I'm so glad it did! It's YA and I think it's better than The Fault in Their Stars, which might be blasphemy but it's true to me. The story is told in the alternating points of view of two twins - one tells of what happens to them when they were 13-14, and the other tells the story of what happened later, when they were 16. It isn't as confusing as it sounds, I promise. The way this book was written - described as a literary novel (is that a thing? If so, I think it's my favorite genre) - is what really got me. It was lyrical, descriptive, and really made you feel like you were spending time in the presence of these characters. I read this in two days and wish it would have gone on longer.

Modern Romance - I loved Aziz Ansari in Parks and Rec and his stand-up is hilarious, so I was excited to read his book. It's not a memoir; instead, it's a sociological look at dating and romance in the age of the internet full of statistics and personal stories from Ansari, interviews he conducted, and a subreddit he set up for feedback. I've never really dated in the time of the internet, so I didn't find the book relatable, though it was interesting to an extent. I didn't retain much, and it was just okay overall for me.

(A) Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back - This was a memoir told from the POV of a 15 year old girl who had a drug problem and kept leaving home and her mother, who wanted to do anything to get her daughter back. The daughter was sent to an intensive behavioral correctional facility, and you can see how her perspective changes as she goes through the process. That part was interesting. I found the mom's parts to be a little boring, and she also came across as a little clueless in regards to her daughter. The daughter also went through some traumatic abuse that was honestly stomach churning. I know these things happen, obviously, but the account left me sad and disgusted. I don't want to minimize anyone else's personal experiences, so I feel bad saying I didn't like the book, but if you're looking for a memoir on this subject, I would suggest Beautiful Boy instead.

You - Despite the fact that this book is creepy as anything and the narrator is a despicable human being, I loved this book. You've probably seen this book multiple places, so just add me to the list of fans. Joe's loneliness was something seen often in books, but the method he takes to alleviate it was quite different. Mini spoiler alert: there's a sequel coming out in February and I'm already excited to see how what else Joe can do and see if more is revealed about his younger years.

(A) Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - After falling in love with Love May Fail last month,  I added several of Matthew Quick's books to my "to read" list. This book isn't in my normal wheelhouse. It's a pretty mature YA book in which the main character, Leonard, intends to shoot his bully and kill himself on his 18th birthday. The action all takes place on that day. Leonard goes to the people in his life who are most important and gives them all gifts, all while highlighting his depression and loneliness. Parts of this book were beautifully written and it really made me think about adulthood - Leonard watches adults on the train traveling to and from work and wonders why they all look so miserable and thinks that if he were going to live to adulthood, he would surely find ways to be happier - but some of the characters were stereotypes and Leonard always thought he was better than and smarter than everyone. Overall, it was fine, but it was no Love May Fail.

Where They Found Her - This story is told through multiple perspectives and takes place in a small town, where every character is interconnected. The book held my attention well enough, and it gets points for being mostly unpredictable, but part of that is because of the sheer volume of characters; there were too many possibilities. Too much happened and some plot points seemed unnecessary and could have been eliminated (couldn't her boss just be her boss? Did he need a storyline?). Overall it was fine and I didn't hate it, but I won't rush to recommend it, either.

(A) Beyond Belief - This is the true story of the niece of the leader of the Church of Scientology, who escaped from it when she was 21 years old. I had to do a research paper on things I thought were BS in College, and I chose scientology - it's so bizarre that it's fascinating. This woman had been in the church from the age of two on,  and the way she describes the way children were treated - separated from their parents, forced to do manual labor, and often screamed at and harshly punished - was unbelievable. The way that the church finds a way to control everything about its members and find out all of their secrets through auditing sessions is crazy. After her escape, the author is able to better explain how the church keeps people believing and why so many people stay members. If you're interested in scientology at all, this is the book to read.

One Plus One - After crying through Me Before You, I was hesitant to read another Jojo Moyes book, but I loved this one. It was so different. A single mom ends up on a road trip with a near stranger and everything that can go wrong goes wrong. Just when you think the book is basically over, more happens to extend the story a little longer. The plot reminded me a little bit of Little Miss Sunshine. While it wasn't a literary work of art, it kept me up late because I wanted to know what happened next.

In the Unlikely Event - I loved Judy Blume growing up. I did not love Summer Sisters as an adult. Since I had low expectations for this one, I was pleasantly surprised. The book is a fictionalized account of what happened in Elizabeth, NJ after a series of real-life events. It's told from several different points of view, often changing perspective after just a few pages. It was a little hard to get into, but I found myself curious about how things would end up and overall, it was an enjoyable read.

I want to say that I read fewer than five books in 2014. I'm at over 50 in 2015 (!!!). Part of it is this link-up, which always gives me tons of new book ideas. Thanks as always to Steph and Jana for keeping it going!

Life According to Steph


  1. That's a huge jump in reading numbers from year to year!

    I think I tried the book about the twins and was unable to commit.

    I have hopes that I will like In the Unlikely Event when I go back to read it this winter.

  2. I have One Plus One on my to read list but didn't really know what it's about, I think I'll move it up higher.

    I'm glad someone gave Judy Blume's new book a good review, it's still on my library wait list and I was worried I might be waiting for nothing good.

  3. Beyond Belief sounds super interesting! I love how you have a mix of fiction and non.

  4. I had high hopes for Judy Blume's book so maybe that is why my expectations weren't met.

    I want to read Modern Romance but maybe it would be a good audio book? I've started those now as of this week!

  5. You are the second person to talk about Modern Romance today and I am super excited to read it! It sounds really interesting and something I can relate to. You has been on my list forever and I am sorry to say but I think I am the only person who cares nothing about reading Judy Blume's book. I loved her growing up but I read the plot line for this one and it just doesn't seem like anything that I could get in to. Beyond Belief sounds interesting, I liked watching Going Clear so this might be an informative read.

  6. Beyond Belief and One plus One have been on my to read list. I added Modern Romance, now that it's been mentioned twice on the link-up! I also added I'll Give You the Sun to my list. I read Where They Found Her and liked it. I wasn't a fan of the Judy Blume book.

  7. that's a huge jump from 2014 to 2015, congrats girl! adding I'll give you the sun. I haven't read any Matthew Quick books, I don't know which one to start with! I always try to start with a not so good one so then the better ones blow me away haha. if I read the really good ones, then the others don't compare ;)

  8. I have never heard of YOU the book....am I under a rock for not knowing about this book? It's going on my list right now!

  9. One Plus One and You are two of my favorite books of the year!!! The Matthew Quick book is on my TBR and I have been waiting forever for Aziz Ansari's.

    That is a huge numbers jump! Glad the linkup is helping!

  10. I did not like You but glad you did! Forgive Me sounds like a great book.

  11. I read Where They Found Her last month too and felt very similar! I also really liked In The Unlikely Event, but not a lot of people seem to enjoy it. There were tons of characters, but I really liked them all. I've been meaning to read Beyond Belief forever!

  12. Moyes has been on my list for awhile. Maybe someday? I want to say that I read the Comeback memoir when it first came out but I can't remember. Adding I'll Give You the Sun to my list.

  13. I am really excited for the second book to You to come out. One Plus One has been on my list so I need to bump it up. Scientology and the method behind it intrigues me similar to the LDS churches. Such brainwashing and that they don't leave and defend it so strongly is amazing to me.

  14. Yay for so many books this year! Ireally want to read I'll Give You the Sun now, I'm adding it to my list!

  15. Your list rocks! (maybe because we share similar tastes in book varieties.) Some of these are already on my to-read list, others I've read. I added Beyond Belief.

  16. I'm gonna have to read "I'll Give You the Sun" simply because you put it above "The Fault in Our Stars" which made me sob like a baby. I called my sister when I finished it and I couldn't talk and she simply, "you finished the book" and sat on the phone with me for an hour. A mess I tell you. Anywho, I feel like I also really need to get on board with the audiobook thing... maybe I'll give it a shot with one of these! Thanks for some great suggestions

  17. Impossible to resist,nice look.


  18. maybe i'm a book loser but i've tried to read 2 jojo moyes books and hated both :( perhaps i wasn't in the right state of mind when i read them because everyone loved them!

  19. I read You this month as well, and, like you, I really enjoyed it. I agree that it was creepy, but I feel like I'm one of the only people (if not the only person!) who found portions of it laugh out loud hilarious. I definitely wasn't expecting to have that reaction. I guess I just have a really warped sense of humor.

    Where They Found Her and One Plus One are already on my "To Read" list. I've never read any Jojo Moyes books, and this one seems to be pretty highly recommended. As for the other book, it seems like most people say it's just "okay," but I'm still interested, so I'll probably pick it up at the library at some point.

    I usually say that I'm not really into YA, but lately I've been discovering a lot of YA books that actually sound pretty awesome. (Mostly from this link-up and playing around on Goodreads.) I think I'll have to add I'll Give You the Sun to my list!

    And finally, congratulations on your book reading this year! That's a huge jump! I was in a reading rut for the last couple of years as well, and I definitely think this link-up has helped reignite my passion for reading. I'm glad to see someone else feels the same!

  20. Jojo Moyes quickly became one of my favorite authors after reading a few of her books.
    I was one of the huge fan's of Ansari's book. But it was recently relevant to me as I had just started online dating and I was excited for all the horror stories. I also went into it with zero expectations after being burned by Spinster (which I expected to be less about old dead authors).
    You is on my nightstand waiting for me to get to it. I can't even wait!


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