What I Read in July

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


July started out as a slower-than-usual reading month for me because it was a suuuuper busy one in all other ways: We went to upstate New York, we checked out the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art, & I went to multiple cycling classes per week. Still, I managed to fit in some really good reads, a few of which I finished in 24 hours or less.

Also, announcement: I started a bookstagram account! You can follow me, should you feel so inclined, at @katereadseverything

And now, what you came here for...

American Panda by Gloria Ghao

I never figured out why this book was called American Panda, which bugged me, though I liked the story overall. It's not an uncommon plot in itself - strict & traditional family, Americanized daughter who doesn't want the life they've demanded of her - but I thought this one was done particularly well. Mei, a Chinese-American freshman at MIT, is supposed to become a doctor, but all she wants is to be a dancer - & to date the cute Japanese-American guy who's pursuing her. To do either of those, she'll risk losing her family. I like that this one didn't necessarily wrap up nicely, like so many others in this vein do. ★★★★☆

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Essie Hicks is the youngest daughter in a fundamentalist Christian family that's been on reality TV since before she was born - & now she's pregnant. She concocts a plot to marry a fellow student she barely knows, one who has secrets of his own to keep, & with his help, she secretly befriends a journalist (who was once in a cult) to help her reveal what's behind the cameras. This was a Book of the Month Club pick that turned out to be completely different than I expected - in a good way. ★★★★☆

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

I really enjoyed Sager's first thriller, Final Girls, so I was excited to see his second novel available on Book of the Month Club this month. I tore through this one, staying up until 2am one night to finish it. The main character, Emma, is a painter with a tortured past: During her time at summer camp at age 13, the three other girls in her cabin disappeared & were never heard from again. When the camp reopened 15 years later, Emma returns as a counselor - but is she the one in danger this time? The language sometimes felt stilted, & much of the ending was wildly unbelievable, but you guys, I loved this one. ★★★★★

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser 

Another BoTM read! Everyone's trying to write the next Gone Girl, so I appreciate when I finally find a thriller that's just a good, old-fashioned thriller. This one was equal parts predictable & unexpected in a way you don't seem to find very often these days. After a night drinking with neighbors, Kristin & her two young kids go missing. Did they leave voluntary, or is something more sinister at play? Her neighbors try to figure out what happened to her... all while dealing with issues of their own. ★★★★★

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Guys, I... kind of hated this book (yet another BoTM choice). I'd heard such good things about it, but I found it to be basically a trashy romance novel disguised as something move - & it just wasn't. Stella is a successful businesswoman on the autism spectrum. She wants to learn to be better at sex so that she can feel comfortable dating, which leads Stella to hire an attractive young escort to teach her - &, of course, they fall in love. I did like & care about the characters; I did enjoy the parts of the book about actual plot, instead of porn & gratuitous swearing. But so much of it was the latter that I didn't get enough of the former to like this book. ★★☆☆☆

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi

I wish everyone would read this book, but I also recognize that the people who need it most are the ones who would never touch it. It tells of Tareq & his family, Syrians living in relative comfort & happiness until the unthinkable happens. Narrated by Destiny - like, actual destiny, not a person named that - the story follows Tareq & his surviving relatives as they set out for a better life - where, they don't yet know. In an era of multiple refugee crises & devastating levels of xenophobia, this book should be required reading for literally every human ever. ★★★★★

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Another Book of the Month read, this one started out a bit meandering - at 128 pages in, I still wasn't sure of the plot - but it was still interesting enough that I stuck with it. The agoraphobic Dr. Anna Fox hasn't left her home in 10 months, subsisting on pills & wine & old films & spying on her NYC neighbors. When she witnesses a horrible crime, no one believes it happened - so how can she possibly help? I anticipated a few of the big reveals in this twisted story, but I still didn't see the end coming - & loved every word of it. ★★★★★

The Selection by Kiera Cass

How was I sleeping on this ridiculously entertaining 2012 YA series?! The Selection is set in a dystopian future in which the U.S. is now known as IllĂ©a, once under Chinese control, & its protagonist is America Singer, a lower-caste teenager chosen to participate in a Bachelor-style competition for the heart of the country's young prince - despite being in love with someone else. It's deeply cheesy, but I appreciate that America is, at least, a pretty feisty female lead. ★★★☆☆

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Onto the next one! America makes her way through the royal Selection process, &... OK, not much happens in this book, though she shows herself to have a lot more tenacity & strength than some other YA female leads (ahem, Twilight, ahem) (but she's still no Katniss Everdeen). I've now moved on to the third book in the series, & I have a feeling I'll be blowing through the rest of them in August. ★★★☆☆

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.

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 if you do, it will help me buy more books.

1 comment:

Katelin said...

I seriously LOVE the Selection series, it's just so entertaining. I've read them all & the first series is definitely the best, but it's all good & such a fun read overall. I just read Beartown by Fredrick Bachman & wow, I can't wait to read the next one of his. Also, loving your bookstagram account!

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