July 29, 2016

Despite all of our travels, or perhaps because of them, I read so many books in July. I guess that’s what happens when you go on 7 plane rides in about 3 weeks. I got two of these awesome books (Lexicon and Good Omens) randomly at a little used bookstore in San Francisco. Aren’t those the best finds — the ones you aren’t even looking for?

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1. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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This was the pick for our online book club, Beyond Words. Do you want to join? Click here.

A couple operates a lighthouse on a small island that they have all to themselves. One night, they make a life-changing decision to keep a baby that washes up in a boat on their shore instead of reporting her to the authorities. While this book took me a little while to get into, what I loved about it was that even though there were so many characters who wanted different things, I felt like I could relate to all of them. Even though the characters did terrible things to each other, and made decisions that I didn’t always agree with, I could understand why every person did exactly what they did. In many books there is a clear protagonist and you are rooting for that one person or for a few people, but in this book, my heart went out to every character.

I think that is a testament to the writing of M.L. Stedman – the ability to get the reader inside the mind of everyone involved and make you realize that things are never as clear-cut as they seem. Sure, you may think that you know what is best, but when there are so many gray areas and complexities at work, the right thing to do isn’t always clear. I think that’s true a lot in life, and I think that we all could spend more time thinking about the gray areas and putting ourselves in each other’s shoes before we rush to conclusions or judgments. I love a good book that makes us think about these things.

This book has beautiful themes of redemption and the love a mother has for her child. A mother truly will do anything for her child. I can’t imagine going through what each of the mothers in this story went through.

2. Lexicon by Max Barry

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I definitely have unusual taste in books and this book is one of my new favorites. In this futuristic world that Max Barry has created, words alone have the power to control. Those who can read others’ personalities can develop the power to persuade them to do anything they want just by saying certain words. A girl named Emily is recruited to an elite school where students learn this power of persuasion, how to read people, and how to use words to get what she wants. I won’t say much else about it because it’s a thriller and the story is quite gripping. If you love words, if you love thrillers, and/or if you love a little bit of sci-fi, I would recommend this book to you.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

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A teenager with Autism has committed himself to finding out who viciously killed his neighbor’s dog. The author of this book has worked with people with Autism and used that experience to influence the writing of this book. Nick and I both read this book so fast and afterwards, we immediately bought tickets to see the Broadway show. This book was so powerful to me because it was written in the first person, so that you understood what the main character was feeling and thinking. Sadly, you also got to receive the messages and reactions from those around him who simply couldn’t understand or relate to him. I recommend this book to everyone.

4. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

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This is a graphic novel/comic based on the blog of Allie Brosh, who writes the blog Hyperbole and a Half. I’ve never read her blog, but my friend Joyce loaned me this book. There are a bunch of different stories that are slightly connected about everything from Brosh’s dogs to what she was like growing up to her battles with depression. I especially loved her chapters on depression because I think it helped me better understand what people who have depression go through. The artwork seems simple, but if you look closely she really nails the facial expressions and it’s all done very skillfully. With her dark sense of humor that had me laughing out loud, Brosh is so relatable, genuine, and raw. She discusses some important issues and has some hilarious stories that I think we all can relate to.

5. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

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I had never heard of this book but I learned that it has a cult following. I have recently put myself on an unofficial mission to read everything Neil Gaiman has ever written. This is a hilarious book that centers around the days leading up to the Apocalypse. An angel and a demon who have found a way to work together over the years decide that they are not ready to leave earth and its worldly pleasures like books and cars. So, they decide to try to stop the impending apocalypse. It’s witty, will make you laugh out loud, and has a great storyline that will have you turing the pages. It’s a bit irreverent so if that throws you off, you might not like this book.

6. Matched by Ally Conde

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I’m a sucker for any YA dystopian book with a controlling government, so I felt like I had no choice but to check this out. I know what I was getting into, I knew that it wasn’t going to be very original, and I knew it wasn’t going to be the best thing I’ve ever read, but it was a nice easy read for a long plane ride. It was a little slow, and predictable, but I liked the main character, Cassia – I thought she was smart and strong. I think that I would have enjoyed this book more if I read it when I was a young teenager. While I enjoyed reading this book, it just didn’t stand out from the other YA dystopian books I’ve loved like The Hunger Games, The Giver, Unwind, or Feed. I thought I would check out the rest of the series, but there are so many other books on my to-read list that I’ll probably skip them.

Link up your book reviews!

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14 responses to “What I read in July.”

  1. I loved the choice for this month, and based on the poll results so far, I’m really looking forward to next month’s read as well! Like you I totally didn’t agree with everything the characters did, but the way that Stedman wrote, I felt like I could relate to all of them. I also really loved how she really transported you to the island of Janus and Australia through her writing. I really want to visit Australia now!
    I also felt the same way that you did about Matched. It was pretty slow at times, and I just couldn’t get myself to really fall in love with the story like some other YA books.

    • Carolann says:

      I already got Salt to the Sea from the library – I am so excited to read this one! I loved The Light Between Oceans. The only character that I did have a hard time connecting to was Isabel. But I haven’t gone through anything like what she’s gone through. I still ached for her when Lucy was taken from her and I really admired her decision to come forward even though she could have ended up keeping Lucy. I was not expecting that. That took a lot of strength.

  2. Audrey says:

    The Light Between Oceans is being made into a movie with Michael Fassbender! (*SWOON!*)
    Also, I freaking love the Hyperbole and a Half blog. She’s spot on with the depression description and I totally need to read that book!
    Good Omens sounds good, too! Have you read The Selection (Kiera Cass) and the series that goes with that? I think you’d like it!

    • Carolann says:

      I did not know about this movie and now I cannot wait! I know that movies are usually not as good as books but after I read a book I love one of the first things I usually do is see if there is a movie version. I love watching the movie right after reading the book.

      I need to start following Hyperbole and a Half. I think that the book might be some of her best blog posts but I think that you would probably enjoy it even if you’ve already read the blog. I kind of don’t want to give it back to my friend 😉

      I haven’t read The Selection but I did a quick search about it and it looks really good. Adding to the list 🙂

  3. Emma says:

    Reading (and the destination obviously) is the best thing about trips away!

    • Carolann says:

      I agree! It’s so nice to be able to sit back and relax with a book without any guilt about all the things you should be doing.

  4. Jenn says:

    I thought the same thing about Matched. The series was fine but the last book did leave a bit to be desired, so you’re not missing much. It was entertaining but nothing special.

    • Carolann says:

      If the mood strikes I might read the rest! I think it would be a great movie – I’m surprised there isn’t one yet. I guess it really is just not as good as all those similar series.

  5. Joyce says:

    I love the posts about what books you read. Can’t wait to read Lexicon!

    • Carolann says:

      That means so much because they are the hardest posts for me to write. It’s so hard for me to put into words what I love about books without giving too much away and without going completely overboard. Sometimes a book just touches you so much and you want to tell everyone to read it so I keep on writing these posts. Thanks so much for reading. I am interested to see what you think about Lexicon!

  6. Amanda says:

    I have had The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on my to-read list for YEARS. Literally, years. I really need to just read it! And I love Hyperbole and a Half. So funny!

    • Carolann says:

      I really enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. There were some parts where he starts getting really detailed about math and I kind of lost him, but if you can stick through – or just get through – those parts, I thought it was beautiful. I am so happy I got to see the Broadway play. I thought it would be hard to make it into a play because so much of the book takes place inside the main character’s mind, but they did a great job. I know that movies are never better than books, but for some reason, I love to go see a movie/play/tv show/whatever after I read a book that I love.

  7. Mandy says:

    I’m so sad I didn’t take part last month! Would you believe I didn’t finish any books? I loved The Curious Incident, am dying to read Good Omens but am especially keen on Lighthouse!

    • Carolann says:

      That happens sometimes! I hope you will join in this month and spread the word! I think you would really enjoy Good Omens. I recommended Lighthouse to my mom and she loved it. She said it’s one of those books that is so sad and makes you cry but you also feel like it was important to read. I love those kind of books.

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