Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Recommended Reading - July

Most of July was a tough one for Standout books. Either that, or I'm getting too picky. I read a number of books that I liked. That's it. Liked. I enjoyed them but then put them in the donate pile. I also started a bunch of books that I didn't finish.

But, by the end of the month, my Standout drought was over! I was swept away by an historical fiction novel, creeped out by a thriller, and I absolutely fell in love with a contemporary YA book.

*****

Books Read in July:  10

Total Books Read in 2013:  52

Standouts:

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline - I had this book sitting in my TBR pile for quite awhile, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't pick it up sooner. I enjoyed everything about it - the story, the writing, the characters, the way the past and the present day story lines paralleled each other yet managed to bring everything together at the end. Also, I was fascinated by the "orphan trains," a part of US history with which I was unfamiliar. In the back of the edition I read, the author included some of her research and actual photos from the time. If you enjoy coming of age novels, US historical fiction of the 1920s on, and "nice" reads with some humor and lots of hope, definitely pick up this book.



*****

The Never List by Koethi Zan - I read this book with my heart in my throat and with a creepiness that crawled over me time and again. It's a taut, suspenseful psychological thriller that will keep you reading...but only with the lights on. It's definitely a dark read, but I was relieved that it wasn't nearly as graphic as I was afraid it was going to be. I thought the author did a great job of giving the reader just the right amount of horror, of terror, without going over the line.


*****

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - I loved loved loved this contemporary YA novel. It was smart and clever and funny and sweet without being goopy. It reminded me of what it was like to be young again. This book was so well written that the story existed not only on the page but also off the page - in what was said, in what wasn't said, and in what was happening among the characters. [And if you don't believe me, check out M.J.'s review. She is totally right about everything, especially the novel's ending.]



*****

How about you all? Have you read anything wonderful so far this summer? Or are you kind of experiencing a Standout drought? Plan on reading any of the books mentioned above, if you haven't already?

31 comments:

  1. I've read about 15 books this month. (That's what vacation will do to you.) I should be able to say I had several loves, but the truth is, I learned real quick even books I would have normally raved about can fall into the "meh" category. Yikes!

    The Never List sounds awesome.

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    1. I always read a ton on vacation, too. And definitely check out THE NEVER LIST. :)

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  2. Wow you read 10 books in July and I only read one. LOL I have some catching up to do :)

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    1. Maybe add one or two of these to your list of upcoming reads? :)

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  3. The Never List sounds good.
    I've been reading books I picked up during A-Z but only a couple as I was also at Camp. Wait a minute - you were at Camp too. You are an amazing person.

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    1. Ha! I'm so not "amazing." I was reading when I should've been cleaning or cooking or...you get the picture. :)

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  4. I wish I was a faster reader. Over Jun/Jul I read 6 books (plus started 3 that I didn't want to finish). Your list looks good. My stand outs this summer were: Calling Me Home - Julie Kibler and The Light Between the Oceans - M L Stedman. Both women's fiction if you're in to that. Thanks for stopping by my blog Madeline.

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    1. I do enjoy women's fiction - I've got WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD in my TBR pile, which I've been told is similar to THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. Looking forward to that!

      If you liked Stedman's novel, you might also like THE WOMAN AT THE LIGHT by Joanna Brady.

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  5. Haven't read any of those. The one I'm reading now is good, but it won't be a standout either.

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    1. I enjoy a good book - it's just not the same as reading a "great" book. Of course, that's all relative to the reader. :)

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  6. I recently read The Silver Linings Playbook which I thought was brilliant. I haven't seen the film yet, so I might have to do that next. My reading habits are woeful, I'm just too tired when I get to bed and during the day I want to write. Perhaps if I turned off the internet...?

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    1. I haven't read that one or seen the movie yet but the DVD is on my list.

      For me, it's more about turning off the TV and not getting sucked into stuff I'm not really enjoying, or just sitting there because I'm tired and it's just easier.

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  7. i <3 reviews! so glad you found some standouts! i am putting the orphan train and eleanor & park on my tbr list. really like the sounds of those! orphan train sounds like a great read for schools!

    thanks!

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    1. Definitely pick up those two! And THE ORPHAN TRAIN would make a great school/YA read - one of the parallel POVs is in present day and is a teen girl in foster care struggling to find her way.

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  8. Rainbow Rowell is a great writer. I'll be taking a closer look at this. Thanks!

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  9. I want to love Eleanor and Park. I checked it out of the library a couple of months ago, but I just couldn't get past all the profanity in the first few pages. That's just me, though. I've heard so many good things about the book. Maybe I'll give it another chance.

    The Orphan Train sounds great! Maybe I'll check it out and bring it with me on my trip. :)

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    1. Everyone's level for those kinds of things - profanity, gore, etc - is different. I went back to look at the first few pages to see what you were referring to...and then I saw what you meant. In my mind, that was just the way that group of kids spoke, so it didn't send up a red flag for me.

      If I'm remembering correctly, there is more of that sort of thing later on. To me, it's all in context, but it might not be something you'd care to read. If you do give it another chance, I hope you enjoy the story and the characters! :)

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  10. This is a really nice list! Now that I have more time, I can read more.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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    1. If you pick any of these up, I hope you enjoy them!

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  11. I read THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI and honestly, that was *quite* the long book.:-) But really, really beautifully written--a riveting story. And finished Gaiman's THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE in almost one sitting.

    And now I'm adding THE NEVER LIST to MY list. Looks SO good!

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    1. I've heard of THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI - glad you enjoyed it overall. Maybe I'll add it to my list now....

      And THE NEVER LIST is creepy good. :)

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  12. I think I need to check out your list of books read on GR. You find some terrific ones that I haven't seen. And really, my TBR list is not long enough, so I need to add some. (That was sarcasm by the way. :)

    And congrats on reaching your goal for Camp NaNo!

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    1. The 2013 Read Shelf on Goodreads shows all the books I've read so far this year - ones I liked but didn't necessarily love. Now my 2013 Favorites Shelf on Goodreads - that's where most of my Standouts come from. :)

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  13. The Orphan Train sounds really interesting. Definitely going to have to check it out. =) Thanks for making my TBR list longer!

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  14. Believe it or not, I've never read The Shining, so I'm devouring that one currently. Gotta have it read before Doctor Sleep is out, right?

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    1. My husband just did the same thing! :) I don't think it's necessary to read it first, but it certainly won't hurt.

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  15. Thanks for the mention! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!!

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