August/September 2018 Reads

To say I've been MIA when it comes to blogging would be a huge understatement.  I'm not actively avoiding it, nor have I completely lost interest in working on it ... I've just been busy with a lot of other things.  I know that's kind of vague, but I promise you'd rather I be vague than list out every single thing that's been happening lately because it's a lot.

I've also been drained of most of my energy thanks to my pregnancy (34 weeks this week!).  So, basically, blogging has been the furthest thing from my mind for a while.  (And it shows.)

I missed last month's link-up with Steph and Jana, so I really wanted to make an effort to join in this month (especially since it's the four year anniversary!).  I will probably not be as responsive as I'd like on Tuesday, but I'll definitely make it around to some blogs and reply to comments throughout the rest of the week.  (Tuesdays are just bad for me right now, though this is thankfully the last week they will be crazy and long.)

So ... Now that I've given some (probably unnecessary) background, it's time to discuss the books I read in August and September!

Oh, and don't worry ... There aren't that many.  I read a whopping two books the entire month of September.  Like I said before: no time and no energy.  (And, to be honest, I didn't keep up with my reviews so I'm relying solely on memory for each of these.)

I'm also sorry to say that I have no lovely graphic for this post.  I may update it at some point in the future, but I'm dealing with a dead computer (R.I.P.) and a little Chromebook to use the internet.  Apparently this does not have all the capabilities of my laptop (which I guess I already knew), and I wasn't able to easily figure out how to do what I'd normally do when it comes to graphics ... So I didn't make one.  I did, however, snag the link-up graphic.  That's something, I guess.

Life According to Steph

Amazing Books I Highly Recommend

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Completed: 09/01/18
My Rating: *****
Challenge Category: A book with an emotion word in the title for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I'm always a little nervous when I finally get a highly anticipated book from the library.  And if everyone else seems to love it/give it rave reviews, I get even more nervous.  It probably sounds silly, but I hate building a book up in my head only to be let down.

In this case, though, the book was absolutely worthy of all the hype and praise it's received so far.  I loved everything about it!  I love books that make me take a step back and think about things in a different way, and I was very pleased to experience that while reading The Hate U Give.

I expected this book to be emotionally intense, and it definitely delivered.  (I cried quite a bit as I read the ending, and I can't even blame that on hormones.)  It's obviously very timely, considering the shit that's going on in the U.S. right now.  (I won't get into all of that because I don't feel like crying and writing a long ass rant about how fucked up this country is.)  But, with that being said, I'd love to see this become required reading in schools.  I'm sure it won't happen in certain areas (even though those students would probably really benefit from reading it), but it would still be nice.  I know I will be giving this book to my own child to read when he/she gets a little older and can appreciate it.

Very Good Books That Are Worth A Read

And Again by Jessica Chiarella
Completed: 08/08/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book in which each word in the title begins with the same letter (must have at least two words in the title) for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I really didn't know that much about this book beyond the basic premise when I started reading it, so I didn't have any real expectations.  Sometimes that can be nice, especially if I'm pleasantly surprised by the story.  (I definitely was in this case.)

I'll admit that this book is probably not for everyone.  If you don't like books told from multiple points of view, you won't like it.  And if you're not a fan of books with unlikable characters, you won't like it either.  None of the main characters were very good people, but I like flawed/unlikable characters so that wasn't really an issue for me.

This was another book that made me take a step back and look at things in a different way.  And Again was a much more emotional read than I expected, and it raised a lot of questions about how a second chance would affect not only the person given that chance, but also those around them.  

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Completed: 08/14/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: N/A

This was my second Lisa Jewell book, and I think I can safely say that I will continue to read her novels.  While I didn't love this one as much as The Girls in the Garden, it was still full of fucked up surprises.  (And those are, in my opinion, the best kind!)

I read a lot of thrillers, so I feel like I can often predict the twists.  I think I like Lisa Jewell's books so much because I can usually figure out some things, but then she'll throw something else in that makes me think, "I did not see that coming!"  It's refreshing to read books that offer something unexpected, especially in this genre.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Completed: 08/26/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book with an unlikable character for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

Tampa had been on my "To Read" list for years, and I had a feeling I would love it when I eventually got around to reading it.  It's dark and disturbing and completely fucked up ... So, obviously, it was perfect for me!

I think the only reason I didn't give it a five star rating was because it sort of fell apart for me near the end.  I wouldn't say that the ending was bad, it just went in a direction that was a little "meh" for me.  Overall, though, the writing was good enough to get under my skin (which is likely what the author intended given the subject matter and explicit nature of the sex scenes), and I found myself thinking about the story even when I wasn't reading it.  

I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, but if you can stomach it, it's definitely worth checking out.

Decent Books That May Work For You

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
Completed: 08/20/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: A book you didn't get to in 2017 (but really wanted to) for the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge

I mentioned Swear on This Life in this post because I hoped it would encourage me to finally pick it up.  (It also didn't hurt that I could also use it for a reading challenge category!)  And, before I say anything else about it, I feel like I should say that this is most definitely not my typical kind of book.  I think many of you who have connected with me via blogging over the years already knew that, but for those who don't really know much about me, romances are not my thing.

That being said, I was really intrigued by the premise of this book.  I also know that many fellow book loving bloggers have read and loved it, so I had pretty high expectations.  (And maybe that was my fault because I should have probably realized that I might not have the same feelings about it as, say, someone who typically enjoys this genre.)

I wouldn't say that I didn't like this book because that would be a lie.  I found it mostly entertaining, and I read it pretty quickly (especially compared with how slowly I've been reading most books lately!).  I liked the book within a book concept, but I was let down by the quality of the writing in the "J. Colby" book.  (Though maybe that was because it was supposedly this huge literary sensation.  If it had just been touted as a bestselling popular book I might have been slightly less disappointed.)

I also hated the main character's boyfriend.  Why was he even there?  I feel like a lot of stories with romantic elements like to utilize love triangles, which is fine.  But if the love triangle feels forced or like the third person really isn't even necessary, it's annoying.

I did like that the book touched on some more serious topics like child abuse/neglect and growing up in poverty, but it wasn't enough to inspire me to give it a higher rating.  It was a fine book that passed the time, but it's not something I'd go out of my way to recommend to other people.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
Completed: 09/17/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: N/A

I really wanted to love this book.  And, even though a three star rating isn't bad, it actually pained me to give a Megan Abbott book such a low rating.  I've read two of her other novels (The End of Everything and You Will Know Me), and both were five star reads.  I love her writing style and the creeping sense of dread she creates throughout each book.

But when I got to Give Me Your Hand, I just didn't feel the same.  The writing wasn't bad in any way, and that same creeping sense of dread was there ... It just didn't pack the same punch as her other books.

I kept trying to figure out why I didn't like this one as much as the others, and I've come to two conclusions.  First, it just didn't hold my interest.  I don't know exactly why it didn't, but I'd sometimes go a day or two without even opening this book because I just wasn't that invested in it.  The second reason is because the main character's job was similar to mine.  Maybe it's strange that I would dislike that aspect, but one of the reasons I enjoy reading is because it offers escape from my day-to-day life.  And, while I enjoy reading about characters and situations I can relate to, one thing I really don't want to read about is working in a lab.  It's just not an interesting thing for me to read about since I literally spend at least 40 hours each week doing just that.

Like I said, I wish I'd loved this book the way I thought I would -- unfortunately, for me, it was just okay.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Completed: 09/29/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: N/A

While I was reading this book, I alternated between not being able to put it down and feeling sort of bored with it.  It definitely wasn't a bad book, but I think it had the potential to be much better.

I really liked the premise of the story, and it was open-ended enough that it could have ended in several ways.  As things played out, I mostly figured out what had happened (though I didn't know the why until it was revealed).  I had a different theory throughout much of the book, though, and I was both relieved and annoyed that it didn't go in that direction.  I know that probably sounds a little weird, but, depending on how it was handled, it could have potentially either been a really interesting twist or really lame.  It would have been interesting to see how this author would have handled that idea.

As I was reading The Chalk Man, I kept comparing it to a Stephen King novel.  I think this was mainly due to the fact that the story centered around a young group of boys in the 1980s (though the book alternated between the events of the past and the present).  I kept expecting something supernatural to pop up (as in a lot of Stephen King stories), but even though a few weird things happened, nothing was really supernatural.  (And that's totally okay with me since I'm not a huge fan of supernatural stories!)

It's really hard to review this book because I really don't know what I thought of it.  I really enjoyed some parts of it, but by the end, I was just glad it was over.  I'd say it could be worth reading if it sounds interesting to you, but, if you're like me, it may be just an okay book to pass the time.

Mostly Awful Books I Wouldn't Recommend

I don't have anything for this category.

Books That Should Never Have Been Published

Thankfully I don't have anything for this category either.

My challenge tallies for the months of August and September:

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0:
3 books completed
75/200 total points
Total books completed (July-September): 7 books
Total points (July-September): 125/200 points

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge:
1 book completed
Total books completed (January-September): 7 books