July Wrap-Up

July was certainly another one of those whirlwind months. Between work, personal life, and summertime chaos, I feel like I moved through this month in a bit of a trance, and now I can’t believe this month is almost over!

While my reading habits kept up with the business of life, my blogging habits definitely fell off the wagon. I didn’t even make a June Wrap-Up, and I’ve written one review this whole month. Thankfully, I’ve restructured the way I’m going to create content now, so I’m definitely going to improve in August. Sorry for my absence!

Personal Wrap-Up:

July had an irrational amount of ups and downs. I saw some amazing concerts (including my fave band Paramore for the 12th time), took a spontaneous 16-hour road trip after getting stranded on a work trip in New York, and I managed to start writing fiction again! But with all those wild experiences came a pretty huge setback, as has been the theme of 2018.

At the beginning of the month, my boyfriend’s mom passed away. She was only 55, and it came as a huge shock to all of us. She was like a mother-in-law to me, and she was the most amazing actual mother to my boyfriend and her four dog children. It was a really hard loss, but we had amazing friends and family who supported us. We managed to find some light in our days, and I’m so thankful for the support system that surrounded my boyfriend. Now, looking ahead to August, we’ll be moving into her house, which was left to my boyfriend, and semi-adopting her canine family, which means we are officially the proud caretakers of five dogs! I can’t tell you how excited I am for a house full of puppies.

So with all of that said, this month was kind of crazy and weird and as heartwarming as it was difficult, and I’m really happy to be moving ahead. Without further adieu, let’s talk about the books!

July Reading Wrap-Up:

Books Read: 14 / Pages Read: 4,130 / Average Rating: 4.2

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / This retelling of Achilles and his romantic relationship with Patrochlus stole my heart, broke it, and then stole it back to wreak some more havoc. Madeline Miller’s debut is passionate, playful, and so fiercely intelligent. I can’t wait to see this author keep going and immersing us in amazing retellings of Greek mythology.

Least Favorite Read: The Mars Room – Rachel Kushner: ⭐️⭐️ / I procrastinated The Mars Room for a few weeks/months; I think my heart knew that this book wouldn’t be as captivating as I’d hoped when I chose it as a BOTM, especially after hearing mixed reviews. The story of Romy Hall, a stripper imprisoned for killing her stalker, just didn’t really evoke any strong feelings for me. It seemed like a version of Orange is the New Black, except lacking in humor or captivating characters. The story felt bland and even over-complicated at moments, and the characters lended no emotional connection, so this book was just kind of forgettable for me, personally.

Vicious – V.E. Schwab: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Queen Schwab just keeps slaying me. I devoured the Shades of a Magic series and knew I had to keep going, and I’m so happy I did. Victor and Eli are two friends-turned-enemies, fighting for the safety of ExtraOrdinary people everywhere, and debating morality, mortality, and innocence along the way.

Misery – Stephen King: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / I saw Misery in film-form long ago, and I knew I had to get my hands on the book. My second Stephen King read ever, this book did not let me down. It is gory and terrifying and claustrophobic in every way I want a scary book to be. Annie Wilkes is a legendary psycho, and she might just be my favorite villain of all time.

For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs – Kathleen Rooney: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Kathleen Rooney’s autobiographical collection of short-stories is relatable, passionate, quirky, and insightful. She makes the mundane seem grand (like the feminist consequences of a bikini wax, or the integrity of catching a plagiarizing student). I found so much of myself in this story, which amazes me because Rooney managed to make her own nonfiction stories resonate in a stranger.

By Light We Knew Our Names – Anne Valente: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Anne Valente’s short stories are playful, abstract, and magical. The concepts behind in each story are totally weird (like a coven of girls who shapeshift into bears during the war, or a distraught baby who only stops crying when he finds a microscopic friend on a flower), but they are wonderful. The stories embody childhood wonder when addressing complex subjects, and the more mature stories tug insightfully and provoke our thoughts.

Deadeye Dick – Kurt Vonnegut: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Kurt Vonnegut is, as always, near and dear to my heart with my reread of Deadeye Dick. A young by accidentally shoots a pregnant woman from a far distance, and lives with the guilt as a Haitian ex-patriate until his town is destroyed by a neuron bomb. Also featured is his father, who was a benefactor and friend of Adolf Hitler. Vonnegut’s wacky world is, as usual, perforated with poignant commentary on society, and there is so much truth to be found within the crazy story.

Yes – Daniel Bryan: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / This autobiography by WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan was a heartfelt story of an underdog making it to the big time, against so many odds. A must-read for any bookworm/wrestling fan. (This was requested for me to read by my wrestling-loving boyfriend).

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / This dystopian novel has been on my TBR for some time. In a world where children are made in genetically-designed batches in laboratories, and released into a pre-destined social hierarchy, one man challenges the status quo. The utopian society is designed to keep everyone happy, supplied, and secure in their social status, but is happiness without hindrance truly worth anything?

The Sword of Destiny (The Witcher #2) – Andrzej Sapkowski: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / The second installment of the Witcher series is as magical as the first. The stories of Gerald are fantastical and so well developed; this high-fantasy is definitely one of my favorite series.

The Natashas – Yelena Moskovich: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Moskovich’s tale of Béatrice and César is sup vague and weird, but for me, I find that kind of tone wonderfully compelling. The Natashas is a mysterious commentary on womanhood and objectification.

Diary – Chuck Palahniuk: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Palahniuk is morning if not formulaic, but honestly, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Diary tells the story of a woman working in a hotel on an island, who’s carpenter husband left obscene hidden messages in the houses he worked on before his death. As she studies the message and the island, she unveils a deep-seated conspiracy that has been taking place on the island for decades. Diary is really unique, really interesting, and really Palahniuk.

A Lion Among Men (The Wicked Years #3) – Gregory Maguire: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / The third addition to The Wicked Years is the origin story of the Cowardly Lion, Names Brrr in this series, as well as an explanation of the mysterious oracle Yackle, who we’ve seen in books prior. I loved learning more about Maguire’s version of the story, but the end of the book was the most compelling portion. Getting through the first 75% of detailed Oz politics was a bit of a wordy chore.

Damned – Chuck Palahniuk: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again: Palahniuk is nothing if not formulaic. The shock factor in his books usually ranges from campy to actually shocking, and Damned fell more into the former category. Madison had died from a marijuana overdose (so she thinks), and ended up in Hell, where she befriends a Hellish breakfast club of one-dimensional characters. With scenery including names like Swamp of Partial Abortions and Ocean of Wasted Sperm, the book reads like the author of Captain Underpants met Satan and decided to collaborate. At moments funny, and at moments eye-rolling, Damned was just alright by me.

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