July 2018 Reads

Last week I thought I had somehow missed linking up with Steph and Jana (and a bunch of other awesome book lovers!), and I was kind of bummed.  When I finally had time to check, though, I realized that Show Us Your Books was actually scheduled for this week.  I'm glad I didn't miss it!  (Though I'll be the first to admit that I'm really sucking when it comes to actually responding to comments.  I do read and appreciate all of them, and I really hope that I'll eventually get my shit together and do a better job of responding.)

I'm going to blame my confusion on pregnancy brain, though it could also have been due to having an incredibly hectic and stressful couple of weeks at work and basically saying, "Fuck it, I'm done!" every evening when I came home.  Eric was definitely my rock during that time, keeping me sane and fed and making sure I had time to decompress each evening and relax.  I don't think I could have dealt with it without him.

But anyway ... Today isn't really about that.  Today is all about one of my favorite topics: books!  So let's get to the reviews, shall we?

Amazing Books I Highly Recommend

July was yet another month in which I didn't read any five star books.  I'm okay with that, though, since I also didn't read any books I hated.

Very Good Books That Are Worth A Read

Only Child by Jack Ketchum
Completed: 07/21/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book I've owned the longest but haven't read yet for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I feel like I need to begin this review by saying that this book is, without question, not for everyone.  There were many things that made my skin crawl, and many things that made me want to hate this book.  In fact, I was sure I was going to give it a terrible rating and review for quite a while ... And then the story shifted and I couldn't put it down.

Here's the thing: the first 200 pages or so are filled with violent, graphic sex.  I don't really mind reading this sort of thing, but I didn't like the way it was presented.  The writing wasn't good enough to make it feel more like art and less like ... Well ... Filth.  As the story went on, the author's decision to include so many of these scenes made more sense.  I'd still say, though, that I wasn't really a fan of the first half of the book.

When Only Child began to focus more on the domestic violence/child abuse court case, however, I was immediately drawn in.  The story became a sad (and probably realistic) portrayal of the problems within the American justice system, and it brought out some intense emotions.

This book made it into this category strictly due to my four star rating.  I don't actually know that I would recommend it to many people since it was such a difficult book to read.  That being said, if you're not one to shy away from books featuring graphic violence, graphic sex, domestic abuse, rape, and child abuse, it could be worth a read.  I'd say this is especially true if you're a fan of Law & Order: SVU since the court case is similar to some of the cases they've featured on that show.  If all of that sounds like too much (or just isn't the kind of thing you'd want to fill your mind with), I'd say that's totally understandable.  After all, I didn't love the first half of the book.  But, like I said, the second half really packed an emotional punch for me ... And that tends to make me really enjoy a book/give it a higher rating.

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Completed: 07/30/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book that has a (mostly) orange cover for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I knew going into this book that it would probably be an emotional, intense read -- and that's exactly how I would describe it now.  At only 260 pages, it was a short novel ... Yet it took me over a week to get through it because I could only handle it in small doses.

To be fair, this may not have been the greatest choice to read while pregnant.  (I would also caution those who are trying to conceive to maybe hold off on reading this book.)  This didn't dampen my enjoyment of Stay with Me, but I think it made it that much more difficult to get through the story.

One of my favorite things about this book was that I felt like I learned a lot about Nigerian history and culture.  I don't think I've ever read a book or seen a film set in this country (and I've never been there myself), so I really appreciated the details that were woven throughout the story that really brought it to life.  If a book is both entertaining and I feel like I've learned something from it, it's definitely a winner!

Although this book was yet another emotionally difficult read, it was well worth it.  It broke my heart so many times, but I loved the story.  There were so many small details that were revealed throughout the novel, and I really appreciated how each of these details gave more insight into what these characters were really experiencing.  Stay with Me was a powerful novel, and I'm beyond impressed that it was the author's debut!

Decent Books That May Work For You

Neighborly by Ellie Monago
Completed: 07/10/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: A book that starts with the letter "N" for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

The best way to describe this book is to compare it to a kinkier episode of Desperate Housewives.  That show was a guilty pleasure of mine, and the whole "things aren't always as they appear to be in this idyllic suburb" theme was a big part of both that show and this book.

While I enjoyed Neighborly, I kept finding myself thinking, "This is so weird" and wondering how everything would tie together in the end.  Unfortunately, the ending was sort of anti-climactic for me (even though there was a decent amount going on).  I just really hate when things are spelled out for me, and that's what the author chose to do here.  It makes me feel as though the author doesn't think the readers are smart enough to come to their own conclusions.  It also leaves no room for interpretation, which, to me, is kind of a bummer.

Despite its flaws, this was an overall fun summer read.  It's not light-hearted at all (and in fact deals with a pretty heavy topic), but it's worth checking out if you're looking for an easy beach read with some sex and mystery.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
Completed: 07/15/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: Freebie for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I've now read all three books by B.A. Paris, and I'd say they're pretty solidly "pass the time just fine" books.  None of them have completely blown me away, but I've enjoyed each of them and tend to get through them pretty quickly.  (Though "quickly" for me these days is much different than what I would have considered "quickly" a year or two ago!)

Bring Me Back was kind of a weird read because I alternated between not wanting to put it down and not really knowing if I cared that much about what happened in the end.  I was a little WTF about the ending, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The premise reminded me of this movie I saw many years ago called The Vanishing (or Spoorloos).  It's an older movie from the 80s, but it's so so good.  I still think about it all the time.  I think I was sort of hoping this book would be for me what that movie was, but sadly it was not.  It was, however, a mostly enjoyable, quick read so I think it's worth checking out (especially if you've read and liked the author's other books).

Mostly Awful Books I Wouldn't Recommend

Since Only Child redeemed itself in a major way, 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 month of July:

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0:
4 books completed
50/200 total points

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge:
0 books completed
Total books completed (January-July): 6 books