Friday, July 1, 2016

What I Read in June


I felt like June was a slow reading month for me, but I guess it wasn't? I still made it through nine books, & nearly all of them were pretty good ones. I'm also in the midst of three really good ones, & I'm planning to read the second Harry Potter book again soon.

Let's jump right into it, shall we?

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

I've never seen any of YouTube star Issa Rae's videos, but I'd heard good things about this memoir & was eager to read it. Luckily, I didn't need any preexisting familiarity with her in order to appreciate her stories. While I agree with the reviewers who said they'd hoped for a liiittle bit more humor, I mostly found Issa Rae's tone to be just right as she addresses serious topics like racism, sexuality, divorce, feminism. She seems like the kind of famous person who you could also totally befriend. ★★★★☆

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Sort of like with Americanah, I figured this book would be too heavy for me. How wrong I was! While the subject matter is indeed heavy - focusing on the mysterious death of a teenage girl - the book is so incredibly written that I fell in love with it within the first few pages. After finishing it, I read the low reviews on Goodreads, wondering what fault anyone could find in this book, & all I can conclude is that anyone who finds the characters to be unlikable simply doesn't grasp the depth or complexity of human emotions. Truly, Ng's writing is a work of art, & her character-driven debut novel is easily one of my favorites of the year. ★★★★★(x100)

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

I got this book free from Kindle First, & I was intrigued right away by the concept: The FBI rescues dozens of young women from a garden compound where they've been held hostage & tattooed to look like butterflies. But is Maya, the survivor in questioning, telling the truth about the horrors of being a victim - or is she somehow involved? This book is gruesome at times, but wasn't horrifying, lazy, or irresponsibly misogynistic like Pretty Girls, which I read earlier this year & gave a disgusted one-star review. This book's ending falls a bit flat, but overall, I found the storytelling to be intricate & interesting, with a back-&-forth between Maya & the FBI that kept me from boredom. A solid thriller. ★★★★☆

The Space Between Heartbeats by Melissa Pearl

This is the first book I got via BookBub, which aggregates Amazon deals in your favorite genres (in this case, YA). It's the sort of YA novel I would've loved as a teen, & I really enjoyed it as an adult, too - I read it within a day! It tells the story of Nicole, a high school mean girl who wakes up after a night of partying... to find that she's sort of a ghost, stuck between life & death. Her badly injured body is in an unidentifiable part of the woods, & the only person who can hear her as a ghost is the guy she bullied mercilessly. Will he help Nicole figure figure out what happened to her & find her body before it's too late? This book got a little weirdly religious for me at points, but overall, a good, fluffy YA fiction read. ★★★☆☆

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teenager by Jazz Jennings

By the time she was 3 years old, Jazz Jennings knew she was meant to be a girl, & her parents, cautious but supportive, set out to make their son's transition into their daughter as painless as possible. Though she's faced plenty of bigotry, Jazz has grown into a happy, intelligent, athletic high school girl... & the country's youngest advocate for transgender rights. This dramatic, boy-crazy book was clearly written by a 15-year-old (or a ghostwriter who's damn good at sounding like one), but it's a quick & interesting read about growing up trans in a world that questions trans women's womanhood. Above all, it's a testament to the importance of a loving family. ★★★★☆

22 Things a Woman Must Know if She Loves a Man with Asperger's Syndrome by Rudy Simone

I picked up this quick, non-fiction read in the hopes of learning a little bit more about the disorder Mike & I suspect may affect him (& therefore us). While it was a quick & easy read that did shed some light on better understanding, relating to, & engaging with people with AS, I ultimately didn't feel the author gives them enough credit for (or delve far enough into looking at) the positive traits that can come with AS or the work that so many people can & do put into overcoming some of the social challenges that can come with it. Worth reading, but I'm not putting much credence in it overall. ★★★☆☆

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Another BookBub buy. When Hallelujah - yes, that's her first name - sets out on a youth group hiking trip, she's the butt of every joke & the focus of all the gossip... all after a mistake & a lie. Soon, though, Hallie gets lost in the woods with her new friend Rachel & her ex-best friend Jonah, & the situation becomes dire. This book, described as a combo of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (about rape) & Gary Paulsen's Hatchet (about survivalism), is not as eloquent or powerful as either of those, but it was still an easy & enjoyable read. ★★★★☆

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

I was so excited to see that this book was available through Book of the Month Club! In typical Lindy West fashion, it's hilarious from page one, but it's also full of really thoughtful, powerful observations about the world, namely feminism & fatness. Some of the essays had me laughing out loud; others had me close to tears; & some had me doing both within just a few paragraphs of one another. I may read this book over again, & I never re-read books. ★★★★★

Night by Elie Wiesel

That it would take me, a proud Jewish woman, nearly 32 years to read this landmark Holocaust memoir is, truly, a shanda. Wiesel, an observant Jew from Transylvania, survived the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps, the only member of his family to make it out of WWII alive. Night is a short novel, &, as explained in the introduction, intentionally so, as a means of driving home the reality & raw pain of the Holocaust. It's a difficult but important read. ★★★★★

Comment to tell me what you're reading! Then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past.

Please note that my "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but please also don't judge me too harshly for including them. 

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