July book report

I love reading and discussing books, and I’ve decided to dedicate a blog post here and there to what’s been on my nightstand, in the van’s CD player, or loaded on my phone/Kindle. A monthly (or every other month, depending on how crazy life gets) book report of sorts – what I read, why I chose to read it, and what I thought about it. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments and I’ll add the book to my always growing to-read list. My go-to genres are coming of age, memoirs, women’s fiction, YA contemporary, and historical fiction.

Books read in July:

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by MJ Rose
I don’t remember how this particular book landed on my to-read list. I’m currently about two years behind right now, and the date listed leads me to believe I added it during the PennWriters conference. Someone mentioned the title, I was on the lookout for good historical fiction, and there you have it. I don’t usually go for books that are heavy on romance, and it’s been a while since I’ve read anything supernatural, but I was hooked into this book early on, curious about what dark forces were at work in the main character. The author is prolific and I can see why. Her writing is crisp, her sex scenes steamy. A good book to escape into.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Again, I’m so far behind on my to-read list, that I have no idea who recommended this book to me or why, but the timing was almost comical. Hubs and I finished the latest season of Orange is the New Black the same week I started to read this gritty, girls in juvie, Black Swan-esque book. And no surprise, I had a few jail related nightmares in the days that followed. It’s an intense read. The book is told in alternating POV’s, which I have been devouring lately in an effort to help with my revisions. It is dark, beautifully written, and reminded me of my good friend Kate Karyus Quinn’s book, (Don’t You) Forget About Me  A touch of paranormal subtly woven into a chilly narrative.

Books listened to in July:

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Between the road trip to North Carolina and camp drop-off/pick up, I’ve spent a lot of time in the car. Four books worth of time, to be exact. This book was recommended during book club, and it kept my attention all the way down south. I am a sucker for a good coming of age story, especially when the time period is the same as my own coming of age. The story deals with the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s and examines the fear of what we did not understand through the eyes of a young girl navigating her first love (a love that is not the traditional girl crushes on a boy in her class variety).

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Saw the preview for this movie and was intrigued, but not enough to add the book to my to-read list. But when I was looking for a hubs friendly, 10hr+ audio book that we could listen to on the way home, I saw it on the shelf and decided to give it a try. Eh. I enjoy a good, humanity driven dystopian, and was a big X-Files fan back in the day, but this book didn’t really do much for me. I found the main character a bit too vapid, and the plot not very believable.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
 There are a lot of books about bullying and teen suicide, and there should be because it is an important topic to read about and discuss. This book approached it a bit differently, with the student doing the bullying feeling like she couldn’t go on. Lately I’ve been having a harder time with some YA novels, maybe because my son is rapidly approaching the age where he will make bad choices and take dangerous risks, and I want to reach into the pages of the book and knock some sense into these characters. Honestly, I had a tough time with this one – I didn’t connect with the main character and had very little sympathy for her and her friends, and the misogynistic, homophobic boys that permeated the school.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
I listened to Grasshopper Jungle a few months ago; the main character mentions The Chocolate War and its controversial content. I’d read one other Cormier book before (The Rag and Bone Shop) and know this is a classic, so I decided to give it a listen. Strangely, I found it in the children’s section, not the YA section – it clearly deals with topics not appropriate for the under 12 set. The book was an interesting look at mob mentality, and Cormier portrayed the teenage boy with precision. I didn’t mind the self-pleasuring references, but there is a scene with terrible homophobic slang that made my skin crawl. It’s worth a read and would pair well with Lord of the Flies and my favorite Twilight Zone episode: The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.

Recent ARCS:

No Place Like Home by Dee Romito
Being in the writing community has its perks, and one of them is reading books before they’re released to the general public (known as ARCs or Advanced Reviewer Copies). My wonderful friend, Dee Romito, has two books coming out soon, and my 6th grade son and I read her middle grade novel, No Place Like Home. We loved it, especially when he found out she named a character after him! It is a sweet book about friendship, family, and fitting in and will be out on September 19. Read my full review here.

Happy Reading!

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