July 2017 books

July 2017 books

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nah. I wanted more from the author of The Wrath and the Dawn. Oh well.

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Thick as Thieves (The Queen's Thief, #5)Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There was a great beginning and then the pace slowed and I realized that it wasn't leading up to anything: this was it. This was the story this book was telling. I know Megan Whalen Turner and her tricks, too, so I figured that not everything was as it seemed and tried to pick out what information was being kept from us (there is always information being kept from us in her books). When Gen and Attolia showed up, my heart practically burst with fondness for them, but the rest was just whatever.

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The Burning Point: A Memoir of Addiction, Destruction, Love, Parenting, Survival, and HopeThe Burning Point: A Memoir of Addiction, Destruction, Love, Parenting, Survival, and Hope by Tracy McKay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know a memoir is good when even if you don't share specific life experiences with the author, you find yourself nodding in agreement, solidarity, and empathy as you read. That is this memoir - there is so much to identify with here, so much to mourn over together, so many times where you sit back and think, "YES. I have done this and felt this and laughed about this and made this mistake, too!"

In a book with faith and religion woven through its pages, McKay is never insufferable; only long-suffering. She is never sanctimonious; only holy. Her story is devastating, but also life-affirming. Read it!

(Full disclosure: It's possible that I might be a bit biased in favor of this book, because I often read McKay's work on BCC and FMH in real-time when the events in this book were going on a few years ago. I had something invested in liking this book, in other words. But I do think any person could pick it up, with no prior knowledge of this story and where it ends up, and have the same experience I did.)

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Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing RussiaBears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia by Lisa Dickey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars - what a treat! I laughed, I cried, I empathized, I enjoyed reading about somebody else having crazy travel experiences. And THIS is how you do an overt author presence in a book, people. TAKE NOTE.

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The Women in the CastleThe Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It could just be that my own personal radar has become more fine-tuned, but it seems that we are getting more books about World War II these days, especially from the European (and even German) perspective. This book is a very good contribution to that category - it provokes a lot of thought about what it was like to experience the war as a German, particularly as a German woman. And it does this without ever getting maudlin - no pages and pages of horrible descriptions of horrible things. The main character of the book is a pragmatist, and her sensible narrative voice anchors the entire story. The book was weaker when it depended on the other two characters' voices - Benita's especially. She was a sympathetic but inconsistent character and I couldn't quite figure her out.

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Real FriendsReal Friends by Shannon Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my heart. This book gave me all the feels - it broke my heart and then put it together again. My 11-year-old read it through, then turned back to the beginning and read it through again. My 8-year-old read it in one sitting. I kept sneaking away from a family dinner to read it. We all laughed (and maybe cried inside a little) at how the parents and kids in this book say and do the same things that we do as a family, for better or for worse. Shannon is all of us and this story is one of the realest things I've ever read. That's what I kept thinking - this book is REAL. I hope everyone can read it.

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August 4th, outsourced

Summer of American food

Summer of American food