Friday, August 4, 2017

Books I Read in July

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin - 4 stars (finished 7/1)
I was gifted an ebook via Netgalley.
Review: here.

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris - 3.5 stars (finished 7/10)
This is where I start to get annoyed with the books and why I never finished the series. This reread was long overdue and I actually started it in January but put it down. Sookie is insufferable. Honestly, the last chapter is the only good part in the book. I think I've read the following book, but not the other two. So on to another reread and hopefully I can finish out the series ASAP. I'm ready to be done.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - 3.5 stars (finished 7/15)
I don't know how to explain why this book wasn't a 4 or 5 star rating for me. It was easy to read, but I just had no desire to pick it up and read it. I don't think it was boring and I don't think it was necessarily slow. It was just missing something. The story is told from two POV: Dennaleia, betrothed to Thandi, and Amaranthine (Mare), Thandi's sister. I did not care for Denna. I wanted to like her, but she irritated me. Loved Mare. Honestly, my favorite parts of the story were Mare and her pal, Nils, and their excursions outside the castle walls. I could read a book just on that and have done without the romance. The romance was a letdown for me and that may be because it was so drawn out and it took forever for it to finally happen. Funny since instalove is such an annoying trope nowadays. I enjoyed the big part towards the end of the story, but side-eyed the actual ending itself. Overall, I was just disappointed. There are so many great elements in this story but I just didn't like how they were put together.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - 5 stars (finished 7/19)
I honestly don't know if I can put into words how much I loved this book. I am not black. I have never lived in a place like Garden Heights. I have never feared being pulled over by a police officer. The MC, Starr, is a perspective that I don't have but appreciate. I was given the opportunity to read an own voices novel to gain some insight of a perspective I will never experience firsthand.

This story was gripping from beginning to end. There was humor and heartbreak. And what a tenacious main character. I loved Starr. I would read 10 more books about her and her family and friends. As the reader, you get to see Starr struggle with her "black self" (as she calls it) and then her Williamson self, having to be careful not to use too much slang around her white friends and classmates. You get to see how people react to Starr dating a white boy.

After her childhood friend, Khalil, is shot...Starr is overcome with grief and that was another part of the story I thought was so well done and honest. I was stunned at many-a-thing in the novel, but know these are common occurrences. I think it's important to immerse yourself in stories that you can never know or truly understand to make sure you can help be supportive of people who live this every day. To make sure that you use your voice to help make a difference because this stuff is not okay.

Freefall by Joshua David Bellin - 1 star (finished 7/20)
I was gifted an ebook via Netgalley.
DNF Review will be posted a week before release date. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - 5 stars (finished 7/26)
I don't know if I can put into words how profound of a read this book is. I wish I hadn't waited so many years to pick it up. Years ago, I read a book called "For the Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation" and all of those different instances of human experimentation really shocked me. While the doctors didn't really experiment on Henrietta, I feel they still violated her. They stole tissue from her body without her knowing. They never told her or her family.

Rebecca Skoot did the Lacks family a great justice by telling Henrietta's story...past just the HeLa cells.  What an extraordinary and selfless woman Henrietta was. What she endured in the last months of her life...I just cannot even imagine. I'm glad Rebecca wrote her story. I'm glad she wrote about Henrietta's five children. She also wrote on many other stories connected to the injustices of the time period where Henrietta's tissue was collected. It still blows my mind that it hasn't been made into law that pieces of you are no longer yours when they leave your body. Rebecca did an incredible job with an insanely large team to collect insurmountable amounts of information. They fact checked in multiple times. It's an insane amount of work but I think after all the Lackses have been through, it was a much deserved story to tell. It needed to be told.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think it raises important questions and touches on very important subjects throughout the novel. I think we are quick to forget our very recent history because it seems like it was so long ago that people weren't treated as people because they were different.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - 5 stars (finished 7/26)
I was flying on through it. I couldn't get enough of it. I enjoy so thoroughly how Becky Albertalli made her book such a diverse read without coming off as forced. It was so seamlessly done. There is representation for many many diversities (underrepresented body types, anxiety, Judaism, bisexual, lesbian, gay, pansexual, LGBTQIA+ parents, etc. I believe there is also a little biracial relationship represented) and they are all wonderfully positive. There is no negative connotation to it, other than some of the character's run-in's with ignorant people. Plus I love the normalization of breastfeeding. YES, BECKY, YES!

I enjoyed reading from Molly's perspective and really connected with her on a personal level. It felt like such an honest read. I loved how family was at the forefront of the story. I loved the pop culture references. It was just the sweetest story. I read most of it in a day and I haven't done that since Everything, Everything.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia - 5 stars (finished 7/28)
This book is a story of a senior in high school named Eliza, who has no interest in being involved in her school social scene. She has Monstrous Sea, a webcomic that she anonymously created. She throws herself into this webcomic heart, mind, body, and soul. She rarely reads comments, but know that it has an insane following. At school, she is the "weird" kid that is the target of many a joke. Her friends are two strangers that she talks to online. Until she meets Wallace, a boy she assumes is a football player, but discovers he writes Monstrous Sea fanfiction. Her first encounter with someone in the fandom she created. Neither speak out loud very much, but start to communicate through short notes back and forth and a friendship is kindled.

I thought most of this book was the cutest and most adorable read ever. The rest was so heart wrenching. At some moments, I wish I could shake Eliza and show her that her parents care and just want to be a part of her life. In other moments, I wish I could shake her parents and tell them to pay attention. I love the way this story was written - in a "normal" novel style mixed with instant messages, emails, online forum posts, texts, and snippets of comics. The artwork is phenomenal. I appreciate how Eliza grew throughout the story too. There was a lot you could pick up on while reading from her perspective and I like that she starting working on some of those issues towards the end of the book.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh - 5 stars (finished 7/30)
While I didn't finish this for the Biannual Bibliothon, I read the last 191 pages this morning, so I can tune into the live show. I was a little nervous starting the book because I peeked at some reviews here on Goodreads and a lot of people said that it was so boring. I can honestly say that I was not bored at all throughout the entire book. I think it was beautifully written and the story was so good. It was similar to Mulan, but not a retelling like it was marketed. I like that it was written in third-person omniscient and jumped around from character to character, so that you get a pretty large scope of what is going on. There are still a few mysteries and I'm looking forward to the second book of the duology to find out more.

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