Saturday, August 4, 2018

July Books

July is always one of my biggest reading months, and this year was no exception!

A Study in Charlotte

A friend gave this to me for my birthday.  I really like it at first, I got to a point midway where I wasn't sure of my thoughts on it, and then I finished it really liking it.  I'm not usually a book quitter, and I am really glad I didn't quit on this one.

Okay, so the book takes place in an American boarding school, but the main two characters are British.  Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are descendants of the real life Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  Yes, I know that the Holmes stories are fiction, but just pretend they were real people.  Watson and Holmes are classmates who barely know each other, but, when they are both framed for another classmate's murder, they have to work together to clear their names.

The reason I almost put the book down?  It's dark.  I mean, I know that Holmes was addicted to opium, but I don't remember it being as big of a deal in the original books.  This book made it a big part of the story.

But overall, a really interesting book.  The mystery was engaging, and I enjoyed the two main characters.  There are two other books in this series, and I will definitely check them out!

The Beach Club

In the summer, I love to read Elin Hilderbrand novels.  I usually read a couple a summer, because they are the PERFECT summer read.  The Beach Club was her first novel, and I am just now getting around to reading it.

All of Hilderbrand's books take place on Nantucket.  This book weaves together the lives of several Nantucket dwellers: the owner of a summer hotel, his manager, his manager's girlfriend, a couple of hotel staff members and guests.  This wasn't her best novel, but it was a good read.  I like that Hilderbrand's novels aren't super fluffy, even though I think of them as beach reads.

Force of Nature

In my book post from May, I wrote about The Dry.  Force of Nature is the sequel that I referenced.  Aaron Falk is back into the Australian outback, investigating a missing woman.  The woman was on a corporate hiking trip, and her corporation also happens to be under investigation for financial issues.

I really enjoyed this book.  If you are a Tana French fan, this would be a perfect author to read!

All Rights Reserved

This is another book from my YA book order.  I wanted to read this book for two reasons.  First of all, I ordered it and wanted to know what I was recommending to my students.  Second, I want to use it for my first round of book clubs in the fall; it's a dystopian unit!

The premise of this book is that EVERYTHING has been copyrighted: every world, phrase, song, etc.  Not only that, but people have been fined for their ancestor's copyright infringements.  So if your great-great-grandmother downloaded songs illegally (Napster, anyone?), you could now be help responsible.

Speth is born into a family that is hugely in debt, due to their ancestors.  But, on the day in which she would begin paying for her words, she makes a drastic decision: she doesn't talk.  She becomes silent and, in doing so, starts a whole movement.

I did like this book, and I still want to use it with students.  However, I thought the ending was too short and left some plot holes.  But perhaps there will be a sequel? 


Ah, I love when books magically appear on my kindle.  And by magically appear, I mean my mom buys books for the family kindle account.  But same thing, right?  Thanks, mom, for getting this one.

Robin McKinley has long been a favorite author of mine.  When I was a middle schooler, I read and reread The Hero and the Crown.  Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  This book doesn't do what current retellings do, that is, tell the story from the villains point of view or change the plot.  Instead, this story just gives more of a before story about Belle.  

I really enjoyed this book.  It wasn't earth shattering, but it was beautifully written and just a fun book to read.

And Justice There is None

I'm still enjoying picking my way slowly through Deborah Crombie's books.  There are 17 in the series, and I think I have read 6 by now.  What's nice is that, even though there are plot points throughout the books, you don't have to read them in order.  I am able to pick up on what's going on pretty easily.  This means I can just grab whatever Crombie books are at my local library at any given time.

This book was available before my trip down South, so I checked it out.  I won't say anything really about the plot, because it wouldn't mean much.  But, if you like mysteries, especially Louise Penny, this is a good series to check out.

Rules of Civility

More Amor Towles!   After I read and loved A Gentleman in Moscow last month, I wasted no time reading his first book.

Midway through this book, I was so so about it.  I just wasn't sure if I liked it, if it was worth reading, why it got so much hype.  But I finished and am so glad that I did!

This book reminds me a lot of Great Gatsby, in it's style and subject.  I really loved the main character, Katey.  The book covers a year in the life of Katey, starting on New Years Eve, 1937.  I don't want to tell any of the plot because it is so interesting.  You should read this.  And A Gentleman in Moscow.  They are both so good!

Last Night in Montreal

Station Eleven is on my favorites list.  Emily St. John Mandel has a new book out, but, before I read that, I checked out this older book of hers.

Lilia has always been on the road.  Her father kidnapped her from her mother when she was a young child, and they travelled all around the US, stopping for, at the most, a week before moving on.  Now that she is grown up and on her own, even though the danger is past, she can't stop moving.  She leaves her boyfriend of 6 months, Eli, but Eli doesn't simply just let her go.  He tries to find her and, in the search, discovers more about why her father took her.

This book was hauntingly beautiful.  I didn't love it as much as Station Eleven, but it was still a good book.

I've Got My Eyes on You

Mary Higgins Clark needs to retire, and this book is proof of it.  Look, I know Clark isn't the best writer out there.  She is formulaic.  All of her books are slightly similar.  But the books are still engaging!  

This book, however, was the worst book I've ever read of hers.  If she had been my student and had turned this in, I would have handed it right back and made her work on it.  The plot was interesting enough; that wasn't the problem.  Her writing was ATROCIOUS.  This was almost completely dialogue or simple description.  

I just googled her age.  Mary Higgins Clark is 90.  Mary, put down the pen and stop writing!  Or write more with a co-author.

Flight Season

So I am now on the Green Mountain Book Award Committee.  Basically I help curate a list of great books from each year to suggest to high schoolers across the state.  This also means that when I got home from Mississippi, there were three boxes full of the current YA books to read.  Basically my biggest dreams come true.

Flight Season was in the box, and I pulled it out to read first.  Honestly, I thought it has a beautiful cover.  Are we sensing a theme here?  But I got lucky, because the book was also pretty great too.

There are three narrators: Vivi, an ivy league student whose father passed away several months before, TJ, a Brazilian nursing student, and Angel, a Guatemalan illegal immigrant who is dying.  All three narrators are working together in a hospital in St. Augustine for the summer.  None of them like each other in the beginning, but, of course, they end up being entwined together.  

Will this end up on the GMBA list?  I'm not sure.  That's up to other people as well, and I also need to keep reading to compare it to other books of the year.  But I really liked this book.  And it was pretty clean, so a good book for teens to read.

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